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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Early morning roundup 

Let's begin with the Whitbread Prize, which has been awarded in all the major categories with an "overall winner" to be announced later this month (you know, like all the beauty pageant winners in various countries going up for Miss Universe. Or something.) Mark Haddon takes the best novel prize, and DBC Pierre wins the first novel. Other winner include David Almond for his children's book THE FIRE-EATERS, Don Paterson for best poetry, DJ Taylor for his biography of Orwell. Hmm, so a Booker judge is up against 2 of the books he helped to put on the longlist. Interesting, indeed. My vote for the overall prize, naturally, is for Mark Haddon's book, if only because I had very little use for VERNON GOD LITTLE.

Alexander McCall Smith's books have now topped 3 million sales worldwide. Not surprisingly, he's rather stunned by the news: "I am astonished by the whole thing, but really I am just delighted that so many people around the world are enjoying my books." Amazingly, the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series was originally meant for Canongate, which had published earlier work of his (like the short story collection HEAVENLY DATE AND OTHER STORIES) but they rejected it on the grounds of needing further editing, leading to McCall Smith approaching Polygon. The rest, of course, is history.

Looks like Amazon's in a spot of trouble: they're being investigated for "parallel importing": selling music CDs to UK customers who should supposedly be buying said product in their home country.

Judy Moir, who left Canogate after many years as editorial director, has landed with Penguin. She'll help set up a Scottish branch for them, following on the heels of Hodder Headline's move to do just that.

Michiko's back up to her old tricks, finding lots to carp about in her review of John Le Carre's ABSOLUTE FRIENDS. And for someone loath to give interviews, Le Carre has been awfully ubiqutious of late.

Andrea Badenoch, the author of four Newscastle-set crime novels including LOVING GEORDIE (2002), has died at the age of 52.

As well, author Joan Aiken, who wrote many suspense novels over the years, has died at the age of 79.

Mark Sarvas, who initially pointed to the story that the NYTBR seems to be more biased in favor of male authors, has the original study report available for perusal.

Jonathan Lethem is interviewed in the Telegraph about well, you know, his latest book and stuff.

Mark. T Conard's DARK AS NIGHT has been getting quite a bit of buzz of late as a noir tale that's truly that. The Uglytown author is interviewed at his publisher's website.

Want to be in Janet Evanovich's next book? Simply send in a five dollar (or more) donation to the Trenton Crime Stoppers unit and you're eligible to have your name entered in the grand prize. As Jiro Kimura points out, it's a rather novel idea.

And finally, now that Saddam's been captured and is ready for trial, the most important piece of news has hit: his most famous impersonator, actor Jerry Haleva, is coming out of retirement:

"When the war broke out, I actually did turn down about 50 interview requests, including BBC London, because I didn't think it was appropriate given the active stage of combat and the fact that we had so many young men in Saddam's target," Haleva said over the phone from his Sacramento office this week.

But now that Saddam is no longer at large, Haleva believes it's possible to laugh at the mustachioed dictator once again. "The fact that I'm doing this interview probably indicates that I think it's more light-hearted again," Haleva said. "Clearly, there's still a tragic situation going on with insurgents in Iraq that gives me pause, but the actual Saddam representation takes on a little bit more humour again."

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