Tuesday, March 16, 2004

News of your day 

Let's lead off with Alice Randall. Three years after controversially trying to retell GONE WITH THE WIND from the point of view of a female black slave, she's baaaack, and taking no prisoners with her new book, PUSHKIN AND THE QUEEN OF SPADES. She wants to know why black women are being spurned in favor of white women when it comes to marriage and relationships, and what this means in terms of the black male psyche and their behavior. Suffice it to say there's already a wee bit of controversy starting up.

The Guardian tries to understand why Plum Sykes is making the Manhattan society world buzz with anticipation about her upcoming debut novel, BERGDORF BLONDES. Probably because it's supposed to be trashier and even more poorly written than THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA? Otherwise, beats the hell out of me...

In the Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley reconsiders Daphne Du Maurier's REBECCA and argues the case for it to be considered on literary merit and not just as "Jane Eyre Lite", while Chris Lehmann examines Geoffrey O'Brien's book about pop music and its power to transport people back to cherished memories, among other things.

Holy crap--a Canadian wins Lit Idol? Yes, it's true: Paul Cavanagh of Ontario has nabbed the top prize and will be represented by Ali Gunn of Curtis Brown. To read an excerpt from Cavanagh's winning novel, NORTHWEST PASSAGE, go here. Karen Barichievy was the runner-up, and it remains to be seen whether more of the shortlist will ink publishing deals, as Cavanagh is tipped to do.

Yesterday wasn't just the Ides of March--it was also the 440th anniversary of the first book ever printed in Russia, THE APOSTLE, printed up by Ivan Federov and his printing press.

Scottish literature is enjoying an unexpected but enjoyable boom in foreign countries, as novels from the likes of Alisdair Gray, Michel Faber and Louise Welsh are being translated into a variety of different languages.

The Evening Standard seems to think that the Orange Prize might be Monica Ali's chance to finally snag a prize, although I think there's some very stiff competition that she would have to overcome to do just that. Meanwhile, the G&M has a Canadian perspective on the Orange Prize longlist, focusing on Margaret Atwood, the lone Canadian entry.

The Globe and Mail offers up an interview with Lillian Nattel, whose new book THE SINGING FIRE is racking up plenty of praise. She talks about its elements of magical realism and her place in contemporary Jewish literature.

More on Katie Price (better known to Brits as Jordan, though for the life of me, I can't figure out why) and her upcoming autobiography, which will ship out 250,000 copies based on pre-advanced orders. Yeesh, what people will do to try to find out if she slept with Becks once and for all. Does it really matter? I guess I'm just waiting for her to make news when her breast implants explode or something.

Rosemary Goring laments the books she's left unread even though she's received many recommendations to read them, and discusses such a plight in general. Hell, that's why people have TBR piles in the hundreds, if not thousands....

The very first book in the Complete Peanuts Collection is out. (In fact, I saw someone buying it at Chapters yesterday afternoon while there to engage in my semi-regular book reading binge.) It will take Fantagraphics 12 and a half years to complete the project, and USA Today takes a look at the impetus behind it.

Speaking of USA Today, they are the latest in line to shower praise on Laurie Lynn Drummond's fabulous collection of short stories, ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU. While it's early days yet, this is tops on my list of my own Best of 2004.

Brad Meltzer is the cover boy of this week's Tropical Life magazine, where he talks about his new novel, THE ZERO GAME, how deeply involved he is with comics, and why he left Washington for South Florida.

One of the leading literary festivals in Northern Ireland, Between the Lines, will be held from March 30-April 4. Among the authors making an apperance is one of my absolute favorites, Eoin McNamee, who'll be reading an exclusive preview from his upcoming novel, THE ULTRAS. I bring this up because my copy of the proof arrived in the mail yesterday, and there aren't that many things that can make this girl happier--well, at least when it comes to books...

And finally, I'm still scratching my head about this: Ian Rankin was asked by the Austin-American Statesman to profile people based on their choice of 10 favorite songs. Uh, OK? It's extremely amusing and entertaining, but like I said, I'm confused about the whole damn thing. OTOH, he really ought to know who Bob Schneider is, although I assume he does now. (link via Bookslut.)

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