‘A unique and slightly mad effort’: mapping the UK in poetry


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A national community arts project, where poems are matched to precise locations, is reinventing a 17th-century classic for the digital age

Pinned just west of Marsden, Yorkshire on a 17th-century map of the UK, is a poem by the UK’s new poet laureate, Simon Armitage. “The sky has delivered / its blank missive. / The moor in coma.” Move west, to the Isle of Man, and the poet is a little less well known – she’s dubbed herself Mrs Yorkshire the Baking Bard – but the sense of place is just as strong (and the rhymes are better, too): “I climbed Maughold Head as the morning sun rose / And the darkness surrendered to light / Where the buttery bloom of the golden gorse grows / And adventurous seabirds take flight.”

The poems – two of almost 2,000, and growing – are part of the Places of Poetry ...

Andrea Camilleri, beloved creator of Inspector Montalbano, dies aged 93


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One of Italy’s most popular authors, Camilleri wrote 23 novels starring his Sicilian detective, selling more than 30m copies around the world

One of Italy’s most popular authors and creator of the Inspector Montalbano series, Andrea Camilleri has died at the age of 93.

Camilleri, who was born in Sicily in 1925, was taken to hospital in Rome in June after going into cardiac arrest.

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Cressida Cowell: ‘Books are better than films at teaching children creativity and intelligence’


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The new children’s laureate and How to Train Your Dragon author talks about how to get kids reading and why we need the space to make mistakes

There is a primary school across the road from Cressida Cowell’s west London home, so the author of the How to Train Your Dragon series writes with a backdrop of shouts and yells from the playground. The little garden shed where she dreams up and illustrates the stories of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and his dragon Toothless is stuffed with drawings and maps, pencils and paints, and piles and piles of books.

“I have been into that school but not recently, so maybe I’m incognito to this generation,” says Cowell, who has lived in the area for decades. She does sometimes get recognised when she’s out and about. After all, she’s sold over 11m books around the world, in 38 languages, with her ...

Fancy buying Philip Roth’s stereo? Auction appeals to literary fetishists


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A forthcoming sale will cash in on our attraction to anything – but anything – touched by a revered writer. Has bookish bric a brac gone too far?

Would you like to own a large straw giraffe and a “shh” sign from the Ritz Carlton, both of which used to sit in the corner of Philip Roth’s front guest bedroom? Or how about the great American novelist’s seven-piece wicker patio suite? No? Then surely you’d go for a folding ladder found in his barn, or his stereo, doorstop or Samsonite rolling suitcase (“with original luggage tag filled out by Roth”)?

Litchfield County Auctions has just listed a bewildering number and variety of items from the estate of the writer, who died last year aged 85. It turns out that we have not only the towering majesty of novels such as Portnoy’s Complaint and American Pastoral to remember ...

‘They said we used cheddar!’: chef demands removal from Michelin Guide


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Marc Veyrat of Le Maison des Bois said he had been depressed for months after losing a coveted star following ‘amateur’ inspection

Knives are being sharpened in the elite world of French gastronomy after an acclaimed chef demanded that his restaurant, which recently lost one of its three stars, be withdrawn from the Michelin Guide – a request the publishers of the iconic red book have refused.

In an extraordinary letter, revealed by Le Point, Marc Veyrat railed against his demotion in January, voicing his doubts that the guide’s inspectors had even visited his restaurant, La Maison des Bois, in the Haute Savoie.

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‘Book ripper’ on vandalism spree in seaside town


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Hundreds of volumes in the library and bookshops of Herne Bay have had pages torn in half, but police remain baffled

A literary vandal is stalking the streets of Herne Bay in Kent, ripping pages in half in dozens of books in a charity shop and library before replacing them on shelves.

Ryan Campbell, the chief executive of the charity Demelza, which runs a bookshop on Mortimer Street, told the Guardian that since April, around 100 books in the shop have had their pages torn in half horizontally before being reshelved.

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Jilly Cooper tops inaugural Comedy women in print awards


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The Rutshire Chronicles author received the lifetime achievement honour, with prizes for rising stars Laura Steven and Kirsty Eyre

Reigning queen of the pun Jilly Cooper has been awarded the inaugural Comedy women in print (CWIP) lifetime achievement award “in recognition of her legacy and inspiration to comic women writers everywhere”.

The bestselling author, who at one point describes her hero Rupert Campbell-Black’s aggressive love-making as “like a power drill … her Campbell-Black-and-Decker”, was named winner on Wednesday night.

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Game of Thrones prequel: no Targaryens or Lannisters – but plenty of Starks


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George RR Martin reveals new details of HBO’s forthcoming spin-off serial, which is set to star Naomi Watts and Miranda Richardson

George RR Martin has let slip a few details about the forthcoming Game of Thrones prequel, revealing that while there may be fewer dragons in the HBO television show, there will be direwolves, mammoths and White Walkers.

The serial, which is currently being filmed in Northern Ireland, takes places thousands of years before the events in Game of Thrones and “chronicles the world’s descent from the golden age of heroes into its darkest hour”, according to HBO. Naomi Watts is lined up to star as “a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret”, with Miranda Richardson also part of the cast. Jane Goldman and Martin himself are the show’s creators, with Goldman the showrunner.

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How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell named new children’s laureate


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The author and illustrator comes to role with ‘giant to-do list’, which includes making school libraries a legal requirement, and more time for creativity

How to Train Your Dragon author and illustrator Cressida Cowell has been named the new Waterstones children’s laureate, and has promised she will use her two-year incumbency to make the magic of books “urgently available to absolutely everyone”.

Following 10 previous laureates, from Quentin Blake to, most recently, Lauren Child, Cowell’s stories about the adventures of timid Viking Hiccup and his dragon Toothless, have sold more than 11m books around the world. They have also been adapted into a popular film series by DreamWorks.

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‘It sickens me’: Gillian Flynn slams Gone Girl theory in missing woman case


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Lawyer for Jennifer Dulos’s husband is exploring whether her disappearance is a ‘Gone Girl-type case’, provoking fury of author behind book

Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn has said an estranged husband’s claim that his missing wife may have faked her disappearance in the manner of Flynn’s bestselling novel “absolutely sickens” her.

Connecticut woman Jennifer Dulos has not been seen since 24 May when she was collecting her children from school, according to ABC News. Police believe the mother of five was assaulted in her home, where bloodstains were found. She was in the process of what has been described as a bitter custody dispute with her husband, Fotis Dulos, whose lawyer, Norm Pattis, insists does not know where she is.

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From Uber driving to huge book deal: Adrian McKinty’s life-changing phone call


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Despite awards and acclaim for his crime fiction, the impoverished novelist lost his home and was set to quit – then the phone rang

It was1.30 in the morning in Melbourne and Adrian McKinty had just got home after dropping off his last Uber customer of the night at the airport. His phone rang. It was Shane Salerno, agent to authors including Don Winslow, and it was a call that would pull McKinty into “some major league craziness”, ending in a six-figure English-language book deal and, last week, a seven-figure film deal from Paramount for his forthcoming novel The Chain.

“Don told me you’ve given up writing,” said Salerno. McKinty, an award-winning crime novelist, had recently blogged about his decision to quit being an author. Beginning with his debut, Dead I May Well Be, written while he taught high school English in Colorado, and continuing with his award-winning series ...

Crime writers react with fury to claim their books hinder rape trials


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Novelists have condemned the Staunch prize – for thrillers without violence against women – as a ‘gagging order’, after organisers said the genre could bias jurors

Crime novelists have hit out at the claim that fictional depictions of sexual assault influence the outcomes of rape cases, after a prize for books with no violence against women asserted that stereotypical portrayals of attackers could “seriously affect justice”.

The Staunch prize, awarded to a thriller in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered, was launched last year to “offer an alternative narrative to stories based around violence to women”. When it was announced, it was widely criticised by major writers including Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah. McDermid said that “as long as men commit appalling acts of misogyny and violence against women, I will write about it so that it does not go unnoticed”, and Hannah told her ...

Crime writers react with fury to claim their books hinder rape trials


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


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Novelists have condemned the Staunch prize – for thrillers without violence against women – as a ‘gagging order’, after organisers said the genre could bias jurors

Crime novelists have hit out at the claim that fictional depictions of sexual assault influence the outcomes of rape cases, after a prize for books with no violence against women asserted that stereotypical portrayals of attackers could “seriously affect justice”.

The Staunch prize, awarded to a thriller in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered, was launched last year to “offer an alternative narrative to stories based around violence to women”. When it was announced, it was widely criticised by major writers including Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah. McDermid said that “as long as men commit appalling acts of misogyny and violence against women, I will write about it so that it does not go unnoticed”, and Hannah told her ...

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is green lit by Netflix


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After several attempts to film Gaiman’s acclaimed comic book series, the streaming giant has picked it up in a ‘massive’ deal with Warner Bros

After multiple failed attempts to make a screen adaptation, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comic book series has been acquired by Netflix, in what is being reported as a “massive” deal with Warner Bros.

The news comes 30 years after Gaiman published the first comic in the series, in which the Dream King Morpheus wakes up from 70 years of captivity at the hands of a mortal. The series ran for 75 issues, and has often been described as unfilmable, with previous attempts to adapt it foundering. The most recent was in 2016, when actor and fan Joseph Gordon-Levitt acquired the rights and was due to direct a film adaptation in which he also played Morpheus – but left the project due to “creative differences” ...

Why should authors read your bad reviews?


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After Angie Thomas requested that she not be tagged into negative reviews of her books on social media, she has received a torrent of abuse

History has yet to find the book that is universally adored – or the author who enjoys reading bad reviews. While Angie Thomas has topped the charts and scooped up armloads of awards for her two young adult novels, The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, her recent request that book bloggers stop sending her their negative reviews saw her on the receiving end of a wave of vitriol.

Thomas wasn’t asking reviewers to stop writing bad reviews. She was just asking that they didn’t give her a prod on Twitter or Instagram to tell her about it.

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Activist held in US after reciting poem attacking immigration rules


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American Civil Liberties Union files court petition arguing that the detention of Jose Bello violates the first amendment

A student activist who was arrested in California 36 hours after reading a poem critical of immigration policy is being supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is arguing that his arrest violates the first amendment.

Jose Bello read the poem, Dear America, at a public forum held by the Kern County board of supervisors in May. Written after his detention by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in 2018, the poem reads: “We demand our respect. We want our dignity back. / Our roots run deep in this country, now that’s a true fact … We don’t want your jobs. We don’t want your money. / We’re here to work hard, pay taxes, and study.”

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Over 40 and loving it: let’s celebrate fiction with positive older characters


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Too many books feature sterotypical older women who can’t use phones and don’t like sex. Gransnet and imprint HQ are looking for writers to change all that

There is a passage from Jilly Cooper’s Rivals which, despite first reading it in my early teens, has stayed with me, popping into my head with increasing frequency now I’ve stepped over the threshold into the over-40 bracket. Lizzie Vereker, the curvy, middle-aged wife whose rat of a husband is cheating on her, is contemplating her misery and “feeling rather old and dried-up”.

So she rubs “skin-food into her face, only to realise she’d forgotten her neck, which is supposed to betray your age most, so she rubbed the excess skin-food down into it. Then she remembered you were supposed never to rub skin-food downwards as it made your face droop. Would her life have been different, she wondered, if she’d always remembered ...

Death of the novel is greatly exaggerated, say UK booksellers


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Books industry shrugs off a 3% decline in fiction sales, with strong stories driving recent growth in non-fiction

The death of the novel has been pronounced for more than a century, in a series that stretches back from Will Self through VS Naipaul as far as Jules Verne. But the latest rumblings of its demise, which come courtesy of a drop in fiction sales in 2018, have been comprehensively dismissed by the books world, with new books from Margaret Atwood and Philip Pullman expected to drive a return to growth this year.

The Publishers Association’s yearbook suggested this week that sales of fiction dropped in physical formats last year, down 7% to £359m. The fall was not offset by a 4% rise in digital fiction sales, to £229m, with overall fiction sales down 3% in 2018 to £588m.

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Penguin stops printing Pedro Baños book after antisemitism claims


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Investigation led by Julia Neuberger finds Spanish edition of How They Rule the World has ‘echoes of Jewish conspiracy theories’

Penguin Random House has stopped short of demands to withdraw Pedro Baños’s How They Rule the World from sale, but will print no further copies of the book after an external review found the Spanish-language edition contains “echoes of Jewish conspiracy theories”.

The publisher initially rejected allegations of antisemitism in the book, which claims to reveal “the 22 secret strategies of global power”. But after continued pressure from organisations including the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which called for the book’s withdrawal, Penguin commissioned an external review, led by Julia Neuberger, which yesterday announced its results.

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