The best recent crime and thrillers – review roundup


This post is by Laura Wilson from Books | The Guardian


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American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson; The Most Difficult Thing by Charlotte Philby; The Chain by Adrian McKinty; The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood; The Reunion by Guillaume Musso and The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun by Sébastien Japrisot

If your idea of a cold war thriller is a “white saviour” hero with conservative values rescuing the world from the Soviet menace, think again: American Spy (Dialogue, £14.99), Lauren Wilkinson’s intelligent and pacy debut set against the background of a real coup d’état, injects new life into this tired formula. It’s 1987, and black FBI agent Marie Mitchell, her career stalled by racism and sexism, is recruited by the CIA as the bait in a honeytrap. The target is Burkina Faso’s president Thomas Sankara, and the aim is to destabilise his fledgling government, whose Marxist leanings run counter to American interests. Despite misgivings, Mitchell ...

Andrea Camilleri had the latest, but greatest, career in crime writing | Mark Lawson


This post is by Mark Lawson from Books | The Guardian


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The author, who has died aged 93, was almost 70 when he took up the genre, but his novels are as rich with serious thinking as with thrilling plots

Andrea Camilleri, who has died aged 93, was one of the latest starters and latest finishers in crime fiction.

He was almost 70 – after a rich career as a theatre director, TV producer, playwright and novelist in other genres – when, finding himself stuck on a historical story, he distracted himself by quickly writing a detective story. In a sort of literary European Union, he was influenced by three literary heroes: the Belgian Georges Simenon, creator of Inspector Maigret; Leonardo Sciascia, author of The Day of the Owl, who was a native of Sicily like Camilleri; and the Spanish writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán.

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Turkish translation of Paulo Coelho ‘removed mention of Kurdistan’


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Publisher and translator express shock that version of Eleven Minutes published in Turkey had reference cut

A Turkish publishing house is pulling its translation of the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes after readers discovered that the translation had removed a reference to Kurdistan and changed it to the Middle East.

In the English translation of the original Portuguese, Coelho writes: “She went into an internet cafe and discovered that the Kurds came from Kurdistan, a nonexistent country, now divided between Turkey and Iraq.” The Turkish translation changes the second part of the sentence to “it was written on the internet that the Kurds lived in the Middle East.”

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


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


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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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‘Police officers demanded to see my books’: Elif Shafak on Turkey’s war on free-speech


This post is by Elif Shafak from Books | The Guardian


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The author once put on trial for ‘insulting Turkishness’ explains why writers, academics and especially women, face escalating hostility in Erdoğan’s Turkey

One day two months ago I woke up to thousands of abusive messages on Turkish social media, many of them generated by bots and trolls. Sentences had been plucked from one of my novels, The Gaze, and were being circulated by people demanding fiction writers be put on trial for “obscenity”. My new novel, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, was also targeted. Both books explore difficult subjects – sexual harassment, gender violence and child abuse – and I was far from the only writer targeted in this way. Soon the hysteria turned into a kind of digital lynching of Turkish authors who had even slightly touched on similar issues in their novels and short stories.

I received a distressed call from my Turkish publisher ...

Assad Or We Burn the Country by Sam Dagher review – scoop-filled history of Syria’s downfall


This post is by Ian Black from Books | The Guardian


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The Wall Street Journal writer gives a compelling insider account of the deadly ambition of the Assads

In the summer of 2012, news broke that Manaf Tlass, a general in Syria’s elite Republican Guard and a confidante of Bashar al-Assad, had defected and was en route to exile in France. Tlass was not just the tennis partner of the shy ophthalmologist who was presiding over the greatest crisis of the Arab spring; they were close, indeed intimate, family friends.

Tlass had been alarmed by Assad’s brutal crackdown since protests erupted in the southern city of Daraa in March 2011: young people inspired by the historic changes taking place in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya called for dignity, freedom and the overthrow of their own oppressive regime. Syria, however, seemed destined from the start to be a different story – and a far bloodier one.

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My gonzo night at Hunter S Thompson’s cabin – now on Airbnb


This post is by Kevin EG Perry from Books | The Guardian


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Fuelled by hard drugs and righteous anger, his incendiary prose changed journalism – and America. Could our writer channel his spirit by spending a night at the typewriter where it all happened?

It is 4.30 on a Thursday morning and I am writing these words on the big red IBM Selectric III that once belonged to Hunter S Thompson. Owl Farm, Thompson’s “fortified compound” in Woody Creek, Colorado, is dark and silent outside. Even the peacocks he raised are sleeping. The only sound anywhere is the warm hum of this electric typewriter and the mechanical rhythm of its key strikes, as clear and certain as gunfire.

In April, Thompson’s widow, Anita, began renting out the writer’s cabin to help support the Hunter S Thompson scholarship for veterans at Columbia University, where both she and Hunter studied. It sits beside the main Thompson home on a 17-hectare estate marked with ...

My gonzo night at Hunter S Thompson’s cabin – now on Airbnb


This post is by Kevin EG Perry from Books | The Guardian


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Fuelled by hard drugs and righteous anger, his incendiary prose changed journalism – and America. Could our writer channel his spirit by spending a night at the typewriter where it all happened?

It is 4.30 on a Thursday morning and I am writing these words on the big red IBM Selectric III that once belonged to Hunter S Thompson. Owl Farm, Thompson’s “fortified compound” in Woody Creek, Colorado, is dark and silent outside. Even the peacocks he raised are sleeping. The only sound anywhere is the warm hum of this electric typewriter and the mechanical rhythm of its key strikes, as clear and certain as gunfire.

In April, Thompson’s widow, Anita, began renting out the writer’s cabin to help support the Hunter S Thompson scholarship for veterans at Columbia University, where both she and Hunter studied. It sits beside the main Thompson home on a 17-hectare estate marked with ...

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


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


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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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Saving ‘woman hand’: the artist rescuing female-only writing


This post is by Elizabeth Dearnley from Books | The Guardian


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Kana let women express themselves freely and was used to write the world’s first novel – then it was wiped out. Meet the master calligrapher keeping the script alive

Anyone who has ever fired off a text in haste will sympathise with the first point on 11th-century Japanese writer Sei Shōnagon’s list of “infuriating things”: “Thinking of one or two changes in the wording after you’ve sent off a reply to someone’s message.”

This list, her messages, and her Pillow Book in which they’re recorded – a sparklingly acerbic, blog-style frolic through the lives of Heian-era aristocrats – were written using kana, a Japanese script mainly used by women for nearly a millennium to write literature, arrange secret assignations and express themselves freely within the confines of court life.

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No luxury: book containing tampons is runaway hit


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


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Protest against Germany’s 19% tax on sanitary products sells out first print run in one day

Open up a book and you can find a whole world. But the first book from the German startup the Female Company offers something more straightforward: within its covers are 15 tampons. And it is flying off the shelves.

The Tampon Book is a protest against Germany’s 19% tax on tampons as “luxury goods” – and a way of getting round it. Books are taxed at 7% in Germany, and so the founders of the Female Company, which sells organic sanitary products, decided to publish one and include tampons inside it. Released earlier this spring, the first print-run sold out in a day and the second in a week, said the publisher, with around 10,000 copies sold to date. Only the English-language edition is currently available.

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Uighur author dies following detention in Chinese ‘re-education’ camp


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


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PEN America condemns death of Nurmuhammad Tohti, who had been held in a Xinjiang internment camp, as a grave example of China’s violations of free expression

The death of the prominent Uighur writer Nurmuhammad Tohti after being held in one of Xinjiang’s internment camps has been condemned as a tragic loss by human rights organisations.

Radio Free Asia reported that Tohti, who was 70, had been detained in one of the controversial “re-education” camps from November 2018 to March 2019. His granddaughter, Zorigul, who is based in Canada, said he had been denied treatment for diabetes and heart disease, and was only released once his medical condition meant he had become incapacitated. She wrote on a Facebook page for the Uighur exile community that she had only learned of his death 11 days after it happened because her family in Xinjiang had been frightened that making the information public would ...

What Cambridge University taught us about racism


This post is by Anita Sethi from Books | The Guardian


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Cambridge graduates Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi have written a guide to help students – and it’s the second title published by Stormzy’s #Merky Books

CChelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi are the co-authors of Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change, the second title from #Merky Books, a partnership between Penguin and grime star Stormzy, who has also announced he is funding two Cambridge scholarships for black students in the UK. The book explores the lack of diversity in education, tackling topics including access, curriculums, mental health, relationships and activism. The two women, both 22, graduated from Cambridge University last year, Kwakye with a degree in history and Ogunbiyi in human, social and political sciences. Kwakye was born and raised in Chingford and is studying at the University of Law in preparation for a training contract with a City law firm. Ogunbiyi was born in Croydon, moved ...

What Cambridge University taught us about racism


This post is by Anita Sethi from Books | The Guardian


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Cambridge graduates Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi have written a guide to help students – and it’s the second title published by Stormzy’s #Merky Books

CChelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi are the co-authors of Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change, the second title from #Merky Books, a partnership between Penguin and grime star Stormzy, who has also announced he is funding two Cambridge scholarships for black students in the UK. The book explores the lack of diversity in education, tackling topics including access, curriculums, mental health, relationships and activism. The two women, both 22, graduated from Cambridge University last year, Kwakye with a degree in history and Ogunbiyi in human, social and political sciences. Kwakye was born and raised in Chingford and is studying at the University of Law in preparation for a training contract with a City law firm. Ogunbiyi was born in Croydon, moved ...

Kylie Jenner’s party was stupid. But it won’t curtail the power of The Handmaid’s Tale | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett


This post is by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett from Books | The Guardian


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Celebs can drink their Gilead cocktails. Margaret Atwood’s story remains a pertinent warning about misogyny’s mission creep

I felt a small spark of joy yesterday, as I imagined Margaret Atwood’s facial expression when confronted with the news that a member of the Kardashian family – Kylie Jenner – had provoked internet outrage by organising a Handmaid’s Tale-themed party. The novelist is known for taking no prisoners, and the footage, which shows Jenner and her friends squealing as they are confronted with Handmaid-themed costumes and cocktails, lays bare some of the most flagrant stupidity I think I have ever witnessed.

Was I particularly offended? Before anyone cries “snowflake”, I was not. But I was astonished at the ignorance and privilege of the women in the video, who will never suffer if Roe v Wade is repealed, abortion is outlawed in the US and women’s bodily autonomy is drastically curtailed. The ...

Here’s to bandit country: the Irish border, writing’s new frontier


This post is by James Patterson from Books | The Guardian


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Once overshadowed by Dublin and Belfast, the border regions are finally being recognised for inspiring some of Ireland’s best writing – and it’s not all about Brexit

Ask anyone where they think about when they think about Irish writing and they’ll probably say Dublin or Belfast. When it comes to writers from the border regions, they may mention Brian Friel or Seamus Heaney, but for most people, the border between the republic and Northern Ireland is usually regarded as an area whose existence is contentious, where terms are unfavourable and the writing is characteristically unfeminine. It is an area that Labour’s former secretary of state for Northern Ireland Merlyn Rees referred to as “bandit country” in 1974, and perceptions have been slow to shift.

Yet the region has catalysed some of the country’s finest writing and never more so than today. Since the Good Friday agreement, the border region ...

Here’s to bandit country: the Irish border, writing’s new frontier


This post is by James Patterson from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Once overshadowed by Dublin and Belfast, the border regions are finally being recognised for inspiring some of Ireland’s best writing – and it’s not all about Brexit

Ask anyone where they think about when they think about Irish writing and they’ll probably say Dublin or Belfast. When it comes to writers from the border regions, they may mention Brian Friel or Seamus Heaney, but for most people, the border between the republic and Northern Ireland is usually regarded as an area whose existence is contentious, where terms are unfavourable and the writing is characteristically unfeminine. It is an area that Labour’s former secretary of state for Northern Ireland Merlyn Rees referred to as “bandit country” in 1974, and perceptions have been slow to shift.

Yet the region has catalysed some of the country’s finest writing and never more so than today. Since the Good Friday agreement, the border region ...

Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman review – the prequel to Life and Fate


This post is by Marcel Theroux from Books | The Guardian


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The precursor to Grossman’s masterpiece of Soviet society is an amazing achievement of translation and scholarship, with some fascinating flaws

Although it was first published in English in 1985, it’s only in the last 10 years or so that Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate has been widely acclaimed as a masterpiece. The publication of Robert Chandler’s revised translation in 2006 was a tipping point for the book’s reputation in the UK. It began to receive huge praise – “World War II’s War and Peace”, “equal to anything in the great canon of Russian literature”, “it took me three weeks to read and three weeks to recover from the experience” (Niall Ferguson, Gillian Slovo and Linda Grant, respectively). In 2011, an eight-hour BBC adaptation was broadcast on Radio 4. This won a new audience for the book, though the actual number of people who made it through the 850-page ...

Elif Shafak: Turkish novelist calls for support as writers face crackdown


This post is by Sian Cain from Books | The Guardian


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Author speaks out as the regime’s prosecutors ask to examine her novels

A leading Turkish novelist Elif Shafak on Saturday urged the international community to show support for the country’s authors, journalists and academics, and warned that all traces of democracy were being crushed there.

“Turkey today is the world’s leading jailer of journalists,” she told the Hay Festival. “It’s also very tough for academics. Thousands of people have lost their jobs just for signing a peace petition.”

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Brexit too complicated for referendum, says Jared Diamond


This post is by Sian Cain from Books | The Guardian


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Why did Britain not look to other countries for examples of best practice, asks expert

Brexit was too complex to be decided by referendum and should have been left in the hands of elected representatives, not voters, the leading US historian Jared Diamond has said.

Speaking at the Hay festival on Saturday about his latest book, Upheaval, an analysis of world crises, Diamond said both individuals and nations could solve crises by “having a model of someone or a country who had a similar problem and solved it successfully”.

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