The PEN American Center hosted its annual literary gala last night, and the list of speakers celebrating freedom of expression included Salman Rushdie, two members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot, and Toni Morrison. Jewher Ulham accepted the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award on behalf of her father, Ilham Tohti, a scholar arrested in January and charged with inciting separation among China’s ethnic Uighurs. Words are “all he has ever had at his disposal and all that he has ever needed. And this is what China finds so threatening,” she said in her acceptance speech. Other awards went to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who was given the inaugural Digital Freedom Award and to Salman Rushdie who won the PEN’s Literary Service Award. [Yahoo] READ FULL STORY
Category: News (31-40 of 620)
An uncut edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s fourth short story collection, “Taps at Reveille,” was published this week in the U.K. by the Cambridge University Press. A Penn State English professor discovered that the original editors had deleted or replaced many words in Fitzgerald’s stories to make the book more acceptable to the public. “They excised or inserted substitutions for profanity and certain slang words, cut out references to sex and drugs and drunkenness, masked specific locations and names, and either deleted or softened several anti-Semitic slurs uttered by some of the author’s less pleasant characters,” writes the New York Times. Some changes completely altered the characters and plot of the stories, and other changes merely took the spice out of his tone. We can expect the uncensored collection to be published in the U.S. in June.
The Mystery Writers of America announced the Edgar Awards winners last night. You can check their website for a complete list of winners, but the category of Best Novel went to William Kent Krueger for Ordinary Grace. Krueger’s website gives this synopsis:
Minnesota, 1961. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, “Ordinary Grace” is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.
Since March, people have been protesting the British prison system’s new rules that effectively prevent prisoners from accepting books in the mail. The protests have garnered the support of high-profile authors like Salman Rushdie, but apparently things are still pretty hairy because Philip Pullman, current president of the Society of Authors, has sent a snarly letter to justice minister Chris Grayling denouncing the law. No one wants to draw the wrath of Pullman’s sharp tongue (just ask the Catholic Church.) [Guardian]
Have you ever gone to a book reading by your favorite author and agonized over what question to ask. You want to ask something smart, but deferential; something that reveals you are a true fan, but not truly creepy. Well, keep agonizing. According to this article, writers really do notice the questions you ask and judge the heck out of you for it. [NY Books]
To close, let’s appreciate this photo of Pablo Picasso dressed as Popeye. Happy Friday, folks!
Two newly discovered stories by science fiction author Octavia Butler are being published together as an ebook called Unexpected Stories. Butler is a recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards and one of the pioneering female writers in the science fiction field. She won the the prestigious PEN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. One of the new stories, “Childminder” was commissioned by Harlan Ellison for his legendary (and never-published) anthology The Last Dangerous Visions. A disaffected telepath connects with a young girl in a desperate attempt to help her harness her growing powers. But in the richly evocative fiction of Octavia Butler, mentorship is a rocky path, and every lesson comes at a price. [Open Road]
Stefanie Zweig, the author of Nowhere in Africa, a best-selling autobiography of her Jewish family escaping Nazi Germany to live in Kenya, died on Friday at 81. Zweig adapted the book into a screenplay, which was made into a German movie directed by Caroline Link. The film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2003. [New York Times]
Harper’s put together an interactive storytelling feature by Jill Sobule called “Dottie’s Charms.” When Sobule bought a charm bracelet on eBay, she was inspired to write a song for each charm. The Harper’s feature includes music written by Sobule and lyrics for each song written by a different author, some are paired with illustrations and video. [Harper's]
Dave Eggers wrote an effusive forward to the 10th Anniversary edition of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Funny thing though, he didn’t mention his scathing review of the book in 1996. “Besides frequently losing itself in superfluous and wildly tangential flights of lexical diarrhea, the book suffers under the sheer burden of its incredible length,” Egger wrote back in the day. Yikes. [Reluctant Habits]
Here’s a rant against National Poetry Month from J.T. Barbarese, an English professor at Rutgers. He’s railing against the idea that poetry can be commodified and that this whole “month” idea was a marketing ploy by well-meaning fools. “Umberto Eco, years ago, suggested that the only way to save civilization was to abolish compulsory education. I am not sure he was just kidding,” Barbarese writes. I’m sure you’re not kidding. [Newsworks]
I’ll leave you with this Guardian headline: Scanner for ebook cannot tell its ‘arms’ from its ‘anus.’
As Harper Lee celebrates her 88th birthday today, she unexpectedly announced an eBook version of To Kill A Mockingbird would be published this July. Until today, To Kill A Mockingbird and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye were the two white rhinos that still eluded the eBook library’s collection of classics. [Guardian] READ FULL STORY
Melissa Etheridge was in Harrisburg, PA for a concert last night and popped into the local indie bookstore, the Midtown Scholar. She and her partner Linda Wallem “sipped tea and browsed the book selection,” while one of the employees watched completely starstruck. “I looked at her, and it looked like her and I was like ‘It can’t be her.’ I was like shocked,” said David Kern, the bookstore’s events coordinator. Etheridge asked if he and his husband were going to the show, but he told her they couldn’t afford to buy tickets after their wedding last month. So Etheridge surprised him with a pair of tickets as a wedding gift! “She was just so amazingly sweet,” said Kern. Good things happen in indie bookstores!! [PennLive]
The author and journalist Elena Poniatowska is this year’s winner of the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious literary prize in the Spanish language. Poniatowska has written more than three dozen books, including “La Noche de Tlatelolco,” a groundbreaking oral history of the 1968 army massacre of student protesters in Mexico City. Apparently she told El Pais that Diego Rivera used to call her the “little Polish girl who asks too many questions.” [Los Angeles Times]
Is it O.K. to mine real relationships for literary material? That’s the question that the New York Times asked two writers in their Book Ends forum this week and what great question it is! It can be a difficult call to make, how much is too much when it comes to writing about your family, friends and lovers. What do you guys think? [New York Times]
Kevin Clouther breaks down a sentence from Denis Johnson’s short story collection Jesus’ Son, which won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1992. Clouther really dives deep into the grammatical and vocabulary choices that Johnson made, unpacking this superficially unexciting line to reveal the crux of the whole story. Johnson’s newest novel, The Laughing Monsters, comes out in November 2014. [Tin House]
And if you read nothing else today, read the recipe for Tartine’s rustic country bread. San Francisco’s Tartine is the Mecca of bakeries. New York’s cronut craze is laughable when you think about the flaky, buttery, salty, sweet deliciousness of a croissant from Tartine. Their new cookbook shares all their secrets, but this NYT article will give you the key to one of their bestsellers, the rustic country loaf. Mmm delectable. [New York Times]
On The Books: Claudia Rankine wins poetry prize; the trials of building Noah's Ark and Shakespeare's Globe Theater
Jamaican poet Claudia Rankine won the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize this year, which comes with a sweet award of $50,000. Rankine has published four books of poetry; her last was 2004’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. She told The New York Times that she plans to publish a follow-up in October called Citizen. “Both books reside in the realm where one’s attempts to negotiate a day are complicated by racial interactions,” Ms. Rankine said. “Where ‘Lonely’ looked at the role of media in our private lives, ‘Citizen’ attempts to understand how black people, like tennis star Serena Williams, negotiate racism on a public stage.” Rankine was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets last year and currently teaches at Pomona College. [New York Times]
The Financial Times ran a story (on their salmon pink website to match their salmon pink paper) about the battle for Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theater. The Bard had a little known nemesis, the maniacal Lady Elizabeth Russell, who lived next door to his playhouse. She was your typical belligerent neighbor who’s always snooping in your business. To take her down a notch, “the playwright had lampooned members of the Dowager’s coterie in Henry IV, Part 1,” and he skewered her husband as a drunk buffoon — so Russell was out for payback. She turned many of Shakespeare’s friends against him and pushed through a petition to have the Globe shuttered, but the story ends with an ironic twist – classic Will! – so you have to finish the article to get the joke of the whole thing. [Financial Times]
Check out the cover of David Mitchell’s new novel The Bone Clocks, which will be hitting shelves on September 9th. Mitchell, a two-time Booker Prize finalist, is the author of five novels, including Cloud Atlas, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and Number9Dream.
As with his previous books, this new story will feature mystical elements and skip through time and space. For more plot detail, Random House released this description:
Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.
For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.
A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.
Doris Pilkington Garimara, the Aboriginal novelist who wrote Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence, has passed away at 76 years old in Perth, Australia. Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence, her most well known book, was published in 1996 and tells the heart-wrenching story of her own mother’s life. As a young aboriginal in the 1930’s she was torn from her family and sent to a government “re-education camp,” but she broke free and spent nine weeks braving the Outback to return to her home. In 2002, the book was adapted into a film called Rabbit Proof Fence starring Kenneth Branagh. The success of Doris’ story helped draw attention to the aboriginal cause, and she used her fame to further promote reparations between natives and white Australians. The New York Times says that Doris was a member of the Reconciliation Committee and a principal promoter of National Sorry Day, an annual event started in 1998 to commemorate the government’s mistreatment of Aborigines. [New York Times]
If you’re a vocabulary stickler, a strict constructionist for wordsmithing or just into useless apps, then you should be pleased to hear about this new app for Google Chrome that replaces all appearances of “literally” on webpages with the more proper usage of “figuratively.” So the next time one of your friends posts a status update like, “I’m literally perishing from the heat,” you’ll read “I’m figuratively perishing from the heat.” The caveat is that it will replace even proper usages of literally. So when I say that “I could literally kill someone for a coffee,” then you’ll think I’m kidding. It’s Monday – don’t cross me. [Slate]
Over at The Guardian, Elizabeth Edmondson is also getting into a huff over definitions. She’s taking aim at “literary fiction,” which she thinks is a crock. She argues that “Lit Fic” is just a fancy way of marketing books that posterity has decided are exemplary, while the original authors were just trying to entertain folks like the rest of us hacks. Agreed. [Guardian]
Ann Brashares, author of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, has a new book coming out and it’s less “traveling pants” and more “traveling time and blood plagues.” Her publisher probably told her that dystopian blood plagues are very now. [NPR]
Fans have browbeat the Hugo Award judging committee into shortlisting The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan’s 15 book, 4.5 million word epic series that a some Sci-Fi academics (What?) have slated as being “a long-winded Lord of the Rings.” Ouch. [Guardian]
Check out the cover for Pittacus Lore’s The Revenge of Seven, the fifth installment of the I Am Number Four series. (God, that’s a numbers jumble, isn’t it?) The book goes on sale August 26th. HarperCollins gave this preview of the story: READ FULL STORY
Laura Hillenbrand has rewritten her best-seller Unbroken, the life story of Olympic runner Louie Zamperini, as a YA nonfiction book that will be published on Veterans Day (Nov. 11, 2014). The original Unbroken tells the tale of Zamperini’s Odysseian journey from a hard-scrabble kid in Southern California during the Depression to his meteoric rise as an Olympic runner in the 1936 Berlin Games. Later he signed up as a fighter pilot during World War II and flew planes in the South Pacific. His bomber crashed 850 miles off the coast of Hawaii and he spent 47 days stranded on a raft before being captured by the Japanese and brutally abused in a POW camp until the end up the war. But it’s not a downer! He perseveres and with the same buoyant spirit that carried him to the Olympics, he recovers from his wartime experiences and finds new life for himself.
I’m not sure why this needs a “YA” version. It sounds pretty appropriate for the 12+ ages of the “young adult” genre. Surely if you can be conscripted to read Lord of the Flies at 13, you can read this amazing real-life tale of the triumph of human spirit. Hillenbrand didn’t say specifically what she changed for the younger version, only that “Louie Zamperini’s story is spellbinding to people of every age. At the urging of librarians, teachers, and parents, I’ve created this edition specifically for younger readers. I’m delighted to bring Louie’s inspiring, exhilarating story to a new generation.” Since its original publication in November 2010, Unbroken has sold nearly 4 million copies and has remained on the bestseller list for over 160 weeks, with 14 weeks at #1. Angelina Jolie is directing a film adaptation (written by the Cohen brothers no less!) which is set for release on Christmas Day 2014.
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