Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bookworm News: August 2011

Exiled Cuban writer Eliseo Alberto dies
The fifty-nine-year-old Cuban writer, who was living in exile in Mexico, died at the end of July a few days after receiving a kidney transplant. Alberto, who was the author of Caracol Beach, worked for many years as a journalist in Cuba before being exiled to Mexico in 1990. He received Mexican citizenship in 2000 and his work typically explored Christian themes, such as forgiveness, punishment and regret. He also wrote poetry, TV and movie scripts and taught at film schools in Mexico, Cuba and the US. In 1998 he received the Spanish literary award Premio Alfaguara de Novela, and his screen credits include the film Guantanamera.

Award news
Plenty of award news to be had this month:
  • John Grisham won the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, for his novel The Confession
  • A range of prizes from the PEN American Center were awarded to a number of authors including Susanna Daniel, Danielle Evans, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Aleksandar Hemon, and Robert Perkinson. The full list of winners can be found here.   
  • Tatjani Soli and Hilary Spurling won the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes, which are awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh and are worth £10,000 each. Previous winners include Ian McEwan, AS Byatt and Cormac McCarthy.
The ReLit ring
Raindrops on roses, longlists and shortlists...
The shortlist for the Canadian Indie Press 2011 ReLit Awards was announced this month, celebrating novels, poetry, and short fiction titles published by Canadian independent presses. The list includes works by Kathy Page, Dani Couture, and Brian Joseph Davis. Category winners receive a ReLit ring - a ring with four dials, each one struck with the entire alphabet, for spelling words.  
Pan Macmillan South Africa also announced the finalists of this year's Citizen Book Prize; the winner will receive R10,000 and either publication by Pan Macmillan or a place on a creative writing course. The full list can be found here, along with synopses of the nominated novels.
Finalists for the Guardian's Not The Booker Prize have also been named, with the winner being announced in October.
Finally, the Center for Fiction announced its shortlist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize; the winner will be announced on December 6th and the nominees are Carolyn Cooke, Sarah Braunstein, David Bezmozgis, Bonnie Nadzam, Ismet Prcic, Alexi Zentner, and Ida Hattemer-Higgins.

Fifty over-50s who have made their mark
Recently the website www.high50.com decided to list 50 public figures over the age of 50 who matter most. Author Tony Parsons, who produced such bestsellers as Man And Boy, made the cut, and so did other authors Linton Kwesi Johnson, David Sedaris, and Jeannette Winterson. Well done to them all - everybody certainly needs an inspiration, and these people definitely provide a good place to look to.

Sales soar for poet laureate books
Sales of Philip Levine's books have shot up since he was named as America's new poet laureate. Within days of the announcement that the Pulitzer Prize winner would be taking up the post, several of his books sold out on Amazon, with one rising to 110 in the bestseller list - a rank not often seen by a poetry book. The 83-year-old author is known for his celebration of the working class and has won many other accolades alongside his Pulitzer, including a National Book Award. 

Eleven literary friendships we can learn from
Website www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com has recently published an article on 11 Literary Friendships We Can Learn From. Their summation of the friendships of such luminaries as Byron and Shelley, and Larkin and Amis, concisely deliver us every lesson in friendship from "choose your friends carefully" and "forgive and forget" to..."don't do opium". Have fun reflecting on the friendships between these literary lights...no matter how crazy they were!

Boosting Mississippi tourism
The film version of Kathryn Stockett's The Help has only been out in American movie theatres for a couple of weeks, but already increased interest is being seen in visits to its Mississippi setting. Tourism agencies in Greenwood and Jackson have been rolling out tours to appeal to fans of the book and the film - Jackson currently offers two self-guided driving tours, The Help in Bellhaven Neighborhood and The Help in Jackson. Direct economic contribution to the area as a result is estimated to be at $13 million.

New words added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary
With 'tweet' and 'retweet' having recently cut the mustard in the UK, it's interesting to see how our American cousins are expanding their vocabularies. The latest words to be set in stone by lexical giants Merriam-Webster include bromance, cougar and, of course, tweet. Tweeting of which, I'm off to do so now. Happy September!

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