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Nobel Prize-winning novelist Sir VS Naipaul dies aged 85

Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:06
Novelist Sir VS Naipaul, who won the Nobel Prize in literature, has died at his home in London aged 85, his family have said. Sir Vidia, who was born in rural Trinidad in 1932, wrote more than 30 books including A Bend in the River and his masterpiece, A House for Mr Biswas.

UK bookstore stormed and vandalized by far-right protestors, one wearing a Trump mask

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 20:51
Bookmarks Bookshop, a socialist bookstore in Bloomsbury, in London, has received outpourings of support after 12 far-right protesters stormed in and vandalized the store on Saturday evening, the Guardian reported.

As two staff members were closing the store on August 4, a dozen men, one of them wearing a Donald Trump mask, entered the store and began "knocking over displays and ripping up magazines while chanting far-right slogans." It is believed that the men took part in demonstrations earlier that day protesting the "censorship" of Alex Jones's website InfoWars.

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Mon, 08/06/2018 - 11:35
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Amazon grew 20% in UK in 2017 but halved its taxes

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 05:00
Although Amazon's sales in the U.K. continue to grow--rising 20%, to $11.4 billion, in 2017--for the second straight year the company was able to halve the amount of corporate tax it paid.

Why is China afraid of bookseller Gui Minhai?

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 05:00
The Washington Post asks why China is so afraid of author and book publisher Gui Minhai (also known as Michael Gui):

Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen, was riding a train from Shanghai to Beijing in the company of two Swedish diplomats in January when 10 Chinese plainclothesmen stormed aboard, lifted him up and carried him off the train and out of sight.

Three weeks later, Gui was paraded before Chinese media to recite a bizarre and apparently coerced confession. He hasn't been heard from since.

This is what passes for the rule of law in China today.

I think of Gui sometimes when I hear Chinese President Xi Jinping boasting about a country that "has stood up, grown rich and is becoming strong."

Would a truly strong and self-confident nation behave this way? Why would it feel the need to kidnap -- for the second time, no less -- a peaceable 54-year-old gentleman such as Gui and keep him, in poor health, locked up for, now, more than a thousand days?

Is Dr. Seuss's Lorax Real?

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 05:00
New research suggests that Dr. Seuss's Lorax is based on a particular monkey that the writer encountered in Kenya...

Recently, a group of researchers revisited this query, and came up with a unique answer. The Lorax, they posit, is not entirely invented, like Sam I Am or Things 1 and 2. Instead, it's inspired by a particular real-life species, a fuzzy-faced primate called the patas monkey that Geisel got to know in Kenya. Their conclusion, a paper called "Dr. Seuss and the Real Lorax," was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution earlier this week.

Tsundoku: The art of buying books and never reading them

Sun, 07/29/2018 - 17:15
Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading?

If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku - a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature.

10 of the best words in the world (that don't translate into English)

Sat, 07/28/2018 - 11:28
One of the many great things about languages worldwide is the sizeable number of words for which there is no real English translation. Often they tell us about concepts and ideas that we are missing out on in the anglophone world.

As the northern hemisphere heads abroad in the coming holiday season, here are a few to be looking out for:

SPAIN: sobremesa
You may have witnessed the ritual, knowingly or not, while on the hunt for a coffee or a cold beer towards the end of another long Spanish afternoon...

'Lost chapters' of Malcolm X's autobiography sold at auction

Sat, 07/28/2018 - 11:26
"Lost" material from The Autobiography of Malcolm X, reportedly seen as too controversial to publish in the 1960s, has emerged this week at an auction in New York.

Along with the original typed manuscript, which reveals the back and forth between the black activist and his collaborator Alex Haley, to whom he told his story, the unpublished writing was put up for sale on Thursday by New York auctioneer Guernsey's. The papers, including an unpublished chapter and a series of unpublished pages, were acquired by the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Revisiting Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" on the bicentennial of her birth

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 05:00
Even the light of 200 birthday candles couldn't pierce the gloom of "Wuthering Heights." But the fire that burned within Emily Brontë roars across the centuries.

How remarkable that on the bicentennial of her birth, this reclusive woman should still be crying at our window like Catherine, "Let me in -- let me in! I'm come home!" ...

Man Booker Prize longlist released

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 10:53
The Guardian posted the Man Booker Prize longlist early, in advance of Wednesday's scheduled announcement, and then promptly took it down. But the list survived in the Google cache and across social media and thus is now public.

Author of <i>Stig of the Dump</i>, Clive King, dies aged 94

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 10:31
Clive King, who has died aged 94, was the author of several children's books and is best known for Stig of the Dump, the original and imaginative fantasy story of the friendship between Barney, a boy of the modern era, with Stig, a boy from long, long ago who lives in a nearby chalk pit in a home created from things he can creatively and skilfully repurpose from waste, including a chimney from tin cans and windows from glass bottles....

Movies based on books take 53% more on average at the box office than original screenplays

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 05:00
Films based on books might have the intolerable disadvantage of people smugly claiming "the book is so much better", but they also result in a huge boost at the box office.

According to new research from the Publishers Association, films based on books take 44% more at the box office in the UK and 53% more worldwide than original screenplays.

..."In short, published material is the basis of 52% of top UK films in the last 10 years, and accounts for an even higher share of revenue from these leading performers, at 61% of UK box office gross and 65% of worldwide gross," the report reads.

Anne Tyler has something to say...

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 11:16
The New York Times has a rare interview with Anne Tyler to coincide with the publication of her latest novel, Clock Dance Tyler rarely does interviews because she dislikes the way they make her feel the next morning. "I'll go upstairs to my writing room to do my regular stint of work and I'll probably hear myself blathering on about writing and I won't do a very good job that day. I always say that the way you write a novel is for the first 83 drafts you pretend that nobody is ever, ever going to read it."

The good news for fans is that Tyler has no plans to retire: "What happens is six months go by after I finish a book," she said "and I start to go out of my mind. I have no hobbies, I don't garden, I hate travel. The impetus is not inspiration, just a feeling that I better do this. There's something addictive about leading another life at the same time you're living your own." She paused and added: "If you think about it, it's a very strange way to make a living."

The changing face of romance novels

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 11:08
The New York Times reports on the changing face of the romance novel genre:

...The landscape is slowly starting to change, as more diverse writers break into the genre, and publishers take chances on love stories that reflect a broader range of experiences and don't always fit the stereotypical girl-meets-boy mold. Forever Yours, an imprint at Grand Central, publishes Karelia Stetz-Waters, who writes romances about lesbian couples. Uzma Jalaluddin's debut novel, Ayesha at Last, takes place in a close-knit immigrant Muslim community in Canada, and features an outspoken Muslim heroine who falls for a more conservative Muslim man, a Darcy to her Lizzie Bennett...

...."Readers want books that reflect the world they live in, and they won't settle for a book about a small town where every single person is white," said Leah Koch, co-owner of the romance bookstore the Ripped Bodice in Culver City, Calif. Last year, six of her store's top 10 best-selling novels were written by authors of color, Ms. Koch said.

Michael Ondaatje?s 'The English Patient' wins Golden Man Booker Prize in honor of the Prize's 50th anniversary.

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 05:00
Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (Bloomsbury), the story of an injured, anonymous English WWII pilot and his Italian nurse, has been named the winner of the Golden Man Booker Prize, awarded to the best work of fiction previously awarded the Man Booker Prize over the last 50 years.

Barnes & Noble fires another CEO

Wed, 07/04/2018 - 00:32
In a brief statement released late Tuesday afternoon, Barnes & Noble said CEO Demos Parneros (who had been named CEO in April 2017) had been terminated for "violations of the Company's policies." While not saying what policies Parneros violated, B&N said his termination "is not due to any disagreement with the Company regarding its financial reporting, policies, or practices or any potential fraud relating thereto." In addition to being fired immediately, Parneros will not receive any severance, B&N said. B&N said Parneros's removal was undertaken by its board of directors, who were advised by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Junot Díaz adamantly denies allegations of inappropriate behavior

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 09:54
n his first interview since being accused of inappropriate behavior with women, celebrated novelist Junot Díaz adamantly denied the allegations, including a claim he once "forcibly kissed" writer Zinzi Clemmons.

Díaz, who was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," said he was "distressed," "confused," and "panicked" by the accusations, but insisted he had not bullied the women or been sexually inappropriate.

Harlan Ellison: where to start reading

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 10:44
Harlan Ellison, a major figure in the New Wave of science fiction writers in the 1960s who became a legend in science fiction and fantasy circles for his award-winning stories and notoriously outspoken and combative persona, died this week 84. During his life, he wrote more than 1,700 stories, film and TV scripts. The Guardian recommends five of his best...

Donald Hall, US poet laureate and prize-winning man of letters, dies at 89

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 10:40
Donald Hall, a prolific and award-winning poet and man of letters who was widely admired for his sharp humor and painful candor about nature, mortality, baseball and the distant past, has died. He was 89.

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