Thirteen writers have made it on to the judges' list of finalists under serious consideration for the fourth Man Booker International Prize, the £60,000 award which recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction.
The authors come from eight countries, five are published in translation and there are four women on the list. One writer has previously won the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction and two have been shortlisted. Famously, another, John le Carré, asked that his books should not be submitted for the annual prize to give less established authors the opportunity to win.
The Finalists' List is announced by the chair of judges, Rick Gekoski, at a press conference held at the University of Sydney, today Wednesday 30 March 2011 at 10.00 (EST).
The thirteen authors on the list are:
Announcing the list, Rick Gekoski comments: ‘The 2011 List of Finalists honours thirteen great writers from around the world. It is, we think, diverse, fresh and thought-provoking, and serves to remind us anew of the importance of fiction in defining both ourselves and the world in which we live. Each of these writers is a delight, and any of them would make a worthy winner.'
The Man Booker International Prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.
The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel; there are no submissions from publishers. Alice Munro won in 2009, Chinua Achebe in 2007 and Ismail Kadare the inaugural prize in 2005. In addition, there is a separate award for translation and, if applicable, the winner may choose a translator of his or her work into English to receive a prize of £15,000.
The Man Booker International Prize winner will be announced at the Sydney Writers' Festival on 18 May and the winner will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in London on 28 June 2011.
John le Carré has donated his vast literary archive to the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. With interest in the collection from various American institutions, the author wanted to ensure that Oxford, ‘Smiley’s spiritual home’, would benefit from it. ‘I am delighted to be able to do this ... while I have the greatest respect for American universities, the Bodleian is where I shall most happily rest.’ Of particular interest to le Carré’s legions of fans is what the archive reveals about the author’s working practices. Included in the collection are typed and handwritten drafts of his most famous novels, including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (which, we learn, was originally going to be entitled The Reluctant Autumn of George Smiley), along with fascinating private correspondence and photographs. The Telegraph quotes Richard Ovenden, keeper of special collections and associate director of the Bodleian Libraries, who says of le Carré’s technique: ‘He is a good, old-fashioned pen-and-ink chap. He handwrote all of the novels in a distinctive script and then you see the ideas evolve over time as editors and publishers become involved.’
The Bodleian intends to make the archive available online, and as a research resource.
Bonfire of the Vanities
How often have you read about some guy finding a hoard of viking treasure in Farmer Giles' field, and wished you'd bought that second-hand metal detecter for £3.50 at the boot sale last week? Or seen on the Antiques Roadshow, the discovery of a rare painting by Picasso (e.g., that amazing stash of his undocumented paintings and drawings that "turned up" last year??). Well the latest find recorded in this week's Guardian reports that a translation of Virgil’s Aeneid, which C. S. Lewis began working on in 1937, has resurfaced nearly fifty years after it was thought destroyed in a bonfire. The event occurred in 1964, just one year after Lewis’s death, but it now appears the manuscript translation was rescued by Lewis’s former secretary Walter Hooper at the time. After setting aside items of personal significance, Lewis’s brother, Major Warren Lewis, instructed his brother’s gardener to burn the author’s manuscripts in a bonfire as preparations were made to clear out the author’s former home, The Kilns. Hooper managed to rescue quite a few boxes of manuscripts in time, but until very recently he wasn’t aware that the Aeneid translation - which was in fragments - was among them. Now it will be published in its entirety in a new book, C. S. Lewis’s Lost Aeneid, out in April.
Back from the dead
It seems that when you're dead these days, we don't have to mourn the end of the line for the body of work an author may be famous for. What was previously only the territory of the Virginia Andrews fan, has been afforded the followers of Winnie the Pooh ("Return to the Hundred Acre Wood"), James Bond ("Devil May Care" and the impending "Carte Blanche") and now Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Sherlock Holmes. I'm not entirely sure it's a good thing but if it ain't broke, there's no need to fix it - just do more of the same - being dead is clearly no bar. I'm not sure though, that a camper van will have the same appeal to me as the classic car fashioned from a rowboat that was the original Chitty - the Bookseller states "Millions author Frank Cottrell Boyce is writing a trilogy based on Ian Fleming's children's classic, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, in which the flying car makes a return alongside a modern family who are descended from the family in the original story.
The first in the trilogy, Chitty Flies Again, will be published by Macmillan Children's Books on 4th November. The original story was published in 1964, two months after Fleming's death, and was illustrated by John Burningham. Cottrell Boyce was approached by the Fleming family to write the story.
The three-book deal, for UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights, including serial, was done by Simon Trewin at United Agents (acting on behalf of the Fleming family) working in conjunction with Boyce's agent Zoe Waldie at Rogers Coleridge and White Literary Agency.
The new story is about a family where the father has been made redundant and sets about trying to reconstruct a VW Camper Van. He unwittingly uses the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang engine for the camper van, which has its own agenda, to restore itself. The trilogy follows the car's adventures during its restoration and is illustrated with black-and-white line drawings by Joe Berger.
The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film script was written by Roald Dahl – he wrote himself in as the Child Catcher – and with this and Fleming's heritage, Cottrell Boyce said: "That is two giant pairs of shoes to step into." He added: "It's been the most enjoyable writing experience ever, partly because I knew I had this safety net - the car is a great idea - and I could play with the Bond heritage as well; a fantastic car, lots of action and a really great villain. While there is no Child Catcher in his story, Cottrell Boyce has created his own "super-villain", descended from the ‘baddie' Man-Mountain Fink in the original book. Cottrell Boyce said: "He is the best super-villain ever and I hope he will have the same unnerving and eerie quality as the Child Catcher."
I can clearly recall going to see CCBB on a day-trip funded by the Royal British Legion when I was a kid - I have never quite gotten over the (literal) cliff-hanger from the unexpected intermission as Chitty went over the cliff, only to be left hanging there as the usherette touted her wares ("Wlf Nipple Chips, get 'em while they're hot, they're lovely!" - oops - sorry - that was "Life of Brian"........)
Who'd be Willy the Wizard?
It'll cost you a downpayment of £1.5 million to find out if Harry would. According to the Daily Mail today, the man claiming that one of JK Rowling's Harry Potter books was lifted from another work has been ordered to pay more than £1.5 million into court as security for the costs of the author and her publisher - or the case will be struck out.
The order was made by Mr Justice Kitchin at a hearing in the Chancery Division of the High Court. The claim has been brought by Paul Allen, trustee of the estate of the late Adrian Jacobs, who died in 1997, who alleges that the fourth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was plagiarised from Mr Jacobs' book, Willy the Wizard.
Mr Allen is suing Ms Rowling and her publisher, Bloomsbury, for some £5 million.
Mr Justice Kitchen last year rejected an application by Ms Rowling and Bloomsbury to strike the case out - although he said it had only an 'improbable' chance of success.
Now he has ordered Mr Allen to make a series of staged payments into court as security for 65 per cent of the costs faced by Ms Rowling and Bloomsbury.
He said Mr Allen should pay £322.691 for Bloomsbury's costs and £571,613 for Ms Rowling's costs by April 21, with a further £24,650 for Bloomsbury's costs and £178,441 for Ms Rowling's costs to follow by August 5.
The final payments - £129,373 for Bloomsbury's costs and £318,975 for Ms Rowling's - must be made by November 11. The judge said failure to make any of the payments into court by the specified time would lead to the claim being struck out and Mr Allen being ordered to pay all the defendants' costs of the action.
Ms Rowling had described the claim that her book was copied from Willy the Wizard as 'not only unfounded but absurd', and said she had never even seen the book until the claim was launched in 2004.
I love walk-in bookshops – I find it very hard to pass one by, on the street, without walking in for a browse. But how often do I physically buy a book in a store? Not often. Although I love the atmosphere, the layout (especially in Waterstone’s, although not enough of them have a coffee shop) and I obviously love the opportunity to pick up a book, to hold it in my hands, and yes – dare I say it – even smell the paper (I literally will have my nose stuck in a book!) – you can’t beat a good sniff of a high-quality book. But when it comes to buying the book itself, it will invariably be from Amazon, or from one of the speciality on-line booksellers. This does not bode well for my own (pipe) dream of owning my own bookshop – I had it all planned out in my head, you know. It would have mahogany-panelled walls, with matching shelves, dim overhead lighting, but with armchairs and lamps. You could get a decent coffee or tea, without the pretentious branding (and you could buy a small or a large cup, not a medium or large - clearly, there’s no medium, if there’s no small – a concept Starbuck’s still fails to grasp). It would have thousands of volumes to choose from, and none of them would be bumped or damaged (they’d never pass the strict Quality Checks) and everyone who came in would do so for the love of bo0oks, and never crack the spines when no-one was looking. But I myself am typical of the reason this will never happen – without the overheads (and I could never run a shop like that unless I was rich enough never to have to rely on it for a living) the on-line store are able to discount heavily, they sell more, their buying power increases, they get better discounts, and they discount further. And so it goes on.
Amazon, of course, is the most popular of all the on-line book stores, and are believed to have 80% of the on-line share, according to recent research. Ten times as many people shop at Amazon than online at Waterstone's, a survey has revealed, while more than half of respondents bought books online. The research, carried out by the Institute of Direct Marketing, showed that 80% of some 2,000 readers surveyed bought books from Amazon, in comparison to just 8% of people who shopped at the high street book retailer’s website. The figures also revealed that the proportion of those who shopped at Waterstone's stores, 23%, was equal to the number of people who bought books from supermarkets, also at 23%. Slightly fewer consumers, 21%, said they bought titles from WH Smith.
But of course, there are exceptions to every rule – if you want a signed, lined and dated first edition, you’re unlikely to get one from Amazon. Ditto for remarqued (sketched) copies, that have been through the hands of the cover artist or interior illustrator. Hopefully, there will always be a place for the “niche” bookseller...........
One book (well, I cheat a little - series) that I would have to take on a desert island with me is the astonishingly brilliant "Gormenghast" trilogy by Mervyn Peake. If you have never read this series, beginning with "Titus Groan" and followed by "Gormenghast" and "Titus Alone" (the latter being written whilst Peake's powers as a writer began to wane, as he fell ill - neverthess, still a must-read) then you really should pick up a copy. You'll probably be scarcely able to avoid one, given that it's Peake's centenery celebration, this year - news that has been made all the more exciting by the discovery of a fourth book, in manuscript form - the never-before published fourth part in the Gormenghast trilogy will form part of an extensive period of publishing to mark Mervyn’s Peake’s life and works. TheBookseller.Com reports -
"Vintage will publish Titus Awakes by Mervyn Peake and his late wife Maeve Gilmore on 7th July, as a £7.99 paperback. After Peake’s death in 1968, Gilmour completed the manuscript to Titus Awakes. Laura Hassan, editorial director at Vintage, said: “Mervyn envisaged it as a series rather than a trilogy that went on and on through Titus’ life.”
The manuscript was lost on completion but found last year in a family attic. Hassan said: “The manuscript was a finished book and it looks like Maeve, or someone else, worked on editing it somewhat. There are notes in the margins and annotations.”
The book has been edited in conjunction with Peake’s three children. It is about Titus, the lord of the Gormenghast kingdom, who travels to the modern world.
Also on the 7th July, Vintage will publish the Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy, which features more than 100 sketches from Peake with 75% of them never before published. The hardback will be priced £20. Hassan said: “Before Peake wrote the books, he drew the characters. It’s so unbelievable for a writer to be such a remarkable draughtsman.”
Both books form part of a wider programme of titles on Peake. Constable & Robinson will publish a memoir by his daughter Clare Penate, Under a Canvas Sky, on 26th May as a £14.99 hardback. Queen Anne Press will release a special centenary edition of Peake’s works, limited to 150 sets. Peter Owen will release the centenary edition of A Book of Nonsense on 30th June as a £12.99 paperback.
The BBC is planning to repeat the Gormenghast trilogy on BBC4, with a new radio broadcast set for Radio 4 and a repeat of the original radio series on BBC Radio 7.
The British Library will host an exhibition celebrating Peake’s life and work with further exhibitions across the UK, including his Alice in Wonderland illustrations at the University of Sheffield and his Sark drawings at the Museum of Art in Guernsey".
I strongly urge you to go straight to your bookshop and pick up the first installment - you have a real treat in store..............
Posted by Steve Sargent.