Saturday, April 30, 2016

Fiction Is a Trudge, Poetry Is a Dance: On Poet Novelists

By - April 28, 2016 - The Millions

In my last semester of graduate school, I sat in my advisor’s office discussing with him my struggle with plot. I didn’t much care about it, and it felt unnatural to graft it onto my stories. He said that my strength was “an ear for language,” which was something I’d heard before. Toward the end of the meeting, he declared, a bit too casually, “You know, maybe you’re actually a poet.”

My heart sank. Too little too late, I thought. I was 25 and had never written a poem in my life. To this day, I confess the idea haunts me a little. But prose writers don’t up and become poets. It just doesn’t happen. Or does it?

It certainly happens the other way around, and that’s always fascinated me. Whenever I teach Denis Johnson’s work, for example, I often save “the big reveal” for the end of the discussion: “Johnson started out as a poet. Can’t you tell?” The students nod and consider; some of them light up. There is a sense in which I am making a subtle argument — that “literary fiction” as a genre is in fact the fiction of poets: language-rich, language-precise, language-driven. Secretly, I want to fake like I actually was a poet before I started writing fiction; because that’s how you develop the full range of skill and originality.

Enter April Bernard, Idra Novey, and Jennifer Tseng — three talented poet novelists (among many more, I should say) who kindly took the time to answer some questions about moving between the genres, blurring the genres themselves, authorly identity, and their most recent works.

Carl Phillips - Letters to a Young Poet ---- Leviathan in the Sun: Les Murray Ishion Hutchinson

Courting Danger
Carl Phillips Letters to a Young Poet
At one point in his Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke addresses the poet's anxiety about solitude - specifically, the way in which solitude has allowed the poet to spend more time thinking about self-doubts, life's insecurities, and a general fear and helplessness in the face of what seems unknowable. Rilke suggests that it is precisely in these moments of fear that we, in a sense, get closest to life itself, to a reality of life that is indeed frightening, namely, that it is everywhere unpredictable, and that unpredictability, if we look at it squarely, belies the emptiness - the falseness, at least - of our desire to construct a life that consists of pattern, routine, reliability.

Read on...
Leviathan in the Sun: Les Murray
Ishion Hutchinson On Writers
I first read Hamlet in Jamaica. The bleak daylight surrounding my high school Happy Grove was like the faded glow of an old photograph. Rain was expected; it never came. There might've been thunder, or that could just have been the pages turning in unison.

Read on...

Series Adaptation of a Certain Margaret Atwood Book About a Certain Handmaid

Auckland Libraries - Book events on in May

Saturday 21 May
Thursday 12 May
Monday 23 May
Wednesday 18 May
Author talks
Tuesday 10 May // Takapuna Library
Book your ten-minute consultation and let emergency poet Deborah Alma assess your vital signs and prescribe a poem!

Book clubs
Thursday 5 May // Venues around central Auckland
A book club held at local bars in the central suburbs.

Tickets to the June 3-6 Escape! festival in Tauranga are on sale

Highlights include former New Zealander of the Year Dame Anne Salmond, an historian and anthropologist (June 5); Dr Siouxsie Wiles, head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland and an award-winning science communicator (June 3 and June 5); Steve Braunias discussing his latest book, Scene of the Crime, with Paul Mabey, QC, veteran defence lawyer; award-winning writer Greg McGee discussing his latest novel, The Antipodeans; and a panel discussion on the state of New Zealand society featuring business commentator Rod Oram, Tauranga Moana iwi leader Awanui Black, former Cabinet minister Margaret Wilson and Generation Z co-creator Charlie McDermott.

The festival also offers a children’s art workshop with award-winning author and illustrator Donovan Bixley (June 4), a cooking demonstration by Peter Gordon (June 4),  and a travel writing workshop with Steve Braunias (June 6).

Tickets to three events – an Italian-theme morning tea with novelist Nicky Pellegrino (June 6), the one-man show No Holds Bard with Michael Hurst (June 3 and 4), and UK-based Kiwi chef Peter Gordon in conversation with food writer Jesse Mulligan (June 4) – were released ahead of the programme launch last night (April 27).

The full programme is available at the Tauranga Arts Festival website,, with tickets from (booking fees apply). Tauranga area residents who are TECT cardholders are offered discounted ticket prices until May 27.

London Book Fair 2016 was ‘a testament to publishing's twin pillars: optimism and indefatigability'

Dotti Irving from four - colman getty writes:
If you ever thought that the book was dead – and there are quite a few of you out there – you would have done well to visit the London Book Fair at Olympia earlier this month.

Olympia, drenched in sunshine for all five days of the fair, was positively humming with activity. Wherever you turned, deals were being struck, authors were being feted, glasses were being raised. As Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller commented, London 2016 was ‘a testament to publishing's twin pillars: optimism and indefatigability.’

Latest News from The Bookseller

Elsevier has sought to set aside public criticism of its Open Access (OA) and pricing policies and to restate its value for the academy, emphasising how, as a profit-generating company, it has the means to invest in innovation to serve researchers’ fast-changing needs.
Pearson saw sales fall 4% in the first quarter of 2016, but has maintained trading is "in line with expectations".
Amazon has reported its most profitable quarter ever, achieving $513m (£351m) up from $57m (£39m) the previous year.
Mark Nicholas
Hachette Children’s Group (HCG) has announced Mark Nicholas as the winner of the inaugural Carmelite Prize, its new award recognising excellence in children’s book illustration.
Orion Publishing Group has acquired a biography of Prince by bestselling British music journalist Mick Wall. 
Leilah Skelton
Author Jessie Burton has named a setting in her new novel The Muse after Waterstones bookseller Leilah Skelton (pictured) as a thank you for a “stellar” effort in hand-selling her début novel.
The 11th book in Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid series, which will go on sale on 1st November, will be entitled Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down.
Online writing community Wattpad is looking to monetise its content by selling stories to other entertainment businesses through the new Wattpad Studios division.
Little, Brown has acquired three new novels by bestseller Mark Billingham.
Pavilion Books has appointed Ione Walder to the role of commissioning editor.
Janetta Otter-Barry, the founder of independent publisher Otter-Barry Books, is hoping to publish new voices in children’s poetry with her new list.
The author Jenny Diski, who published a memoir about living with inoperable lung cancer only last week, has died aged 68.

The Roundup with PW

Diversity Celebrated at 2016 Edgar Awards
The Mystery Writers of America named Walter Mosley its first African-American grand master and gave out awards to Pulitzer winner Viet Thanh Nguyen and Sisters in Crime, among others, at last night’s event. more »

Diversity Celebrated at 2016 Edgar Awards
The Mystery Writers of America named Walter Mosley its first African-American grand master and gave out awards to Pulitzer winner Viet Thanh Nguyen and Sisters in Crime, among others, at last night’s event. more »

Penguin Random Sees Lower E-book Demand
In a review of first quarter results, Pearson said Penguin Random House had solid first quarter results as integration benefits offset reduced demand for e-books. »

 Jim Harrison's Literary Friendships: Remembering the late author not with endless Hemingway comparisons, but by looking at his life.

Don DeLillo, Apocalyptic Prophet: Looking at the author's disaster-heavy catalog through the lens of his latest novel, 'Zero K.'

Australia Resists Copyright Proposals: Writers and publishers down under vocally oppose new proposed fair use intellectual property laws.

Get to Know Paula Hawkins: The 'Girl on the Train' author discusses the surprises of success, wanting no children, and giving up on the romcom.

Author Jenny Diski Dies at 68: The British novelist penned such works as 'Nothing Natural' and 'Skating to Antarctica,' writing often of mental illness.


Oscar’s Book Prize 2016

Lively debate as judging panel chooses finalists

Following our dreams, learning to speak up for ourselves and putting up with the daily annoyances of our  nearest and dearest are the major themes in the five books shortlisted for Oscar’s Book Prize 2016. 

Princess Beatrice, one of our six judges, declared herself particularly smitten by the empowered princess in Sir Lilypad, a story about a frog who goes in search of rescuing a princess, only to find that she’s doing fine on her own. “This story shows all girls can be princesses and I loved the fact the princess was wearing Converses, had her own sword and red hair,” she said. 

Together with our other judges Rebecca Nicolson, publisher and  co-founder of Short Books, Nicky Dunne, chairman of Heywood Hill Books, Rupert Thomas, marketing director of Waitrose, and Oscar’s parents, Viveka Alvestrand and Evening Standard columnist James Ashton, Princess Beatrice spent a lively hour and a half choosing the final five.

by Gemma Merino (Macmillan): “I loved the great splodges of colour and how Tina struck out from her snarky sisters. Great for anyone with older siblings.” James Ashton

by Coralie Bickford- Smith  (Particular/Penguin): “The publisher should be applauded for producing such a beautiful object with an extremely moving story.” Nicky Dunne

by Nicholas John Frith (Scholastic): “This explains that it’s OK to be annoyed by someone you love. Good for both adults and children.” Rebecca Nicolson  

by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster): “Hugely expressive illustrations and I wish the frog would defend me.” Viveka Alvestrand

by Rachel Bright and Jim Field (Orchard/Hachette): “This book teaches children to be brave, I loved the heart of it.” Rupert Thomas

The winner will be announced on May 23, when culture minister Ed Vaizey will make a speech and Princess Beatrice will award the £5,000  Waitrose-sponsored prize


Obituary Note: Jenny Diski

Shelf Awareness

Jenny Diski, a prolific writer "for whom no subject was taboo" and who "was her own woman on the page, incapable of sounding like anyone else," died yesterday, the Guardian reported. She was 68. The author of novels, short stories, essays, memoirs and travelogues, Diski published 18 books.

Her columns in the London Review of Books "were virtuoso performances," the Guardian noted. "She was original, opinionated and wayward. In the LRB, writing about her diagnosis with inoperable cancer, she brazened it out: 'Under no circumstances is anyone to say that I lost a battle with cancer. Or that I bore it bravely. I am not fighting, losing, winning or bearing.' The columns that followed were collected in In Gratitude (2016). She knew how to use her life as copy, and her self-commentary had a gallantry to it. It required her to take a step back, and write with a willed casualness about her past, as if on the brink of disowning it. 'I start with me and often enough end with me,' she wrote."

Describing Diski as "an extraordinary writer of rare spirit and vision," Peter Straus, her literary agent, told BBC News: "In all her writings spanning 40 years she showed herself to be funny, frank and fearless and she leaves as a legacy a remarkable body of work."

Alexandra Pringle, group editor-in-chief of Bloomsbury, commented: "I had the pleasure of working with Jenny some years ago and we were reunited for her latest book, In Gratitude. She was, to the very end, remarkable to work with--funny, acerbic, clever, demanding and entertaining. Peter Straus and I went to see her a few days before publication. It was wonderful to see her joy at holding the first copy of what we all knew was her final book. As her publishers we are very proud of her achievement."

Lennie Goodings, publisher at Virago, told the Bookseller: "We publish nine of Jenny’s extraordinary books, both novels and nonfiction. Her fiction was fascinating: intelligent and searching and quite unlike other novels. I would say though that her best subject was herself.  Beginning with the astonishing, award-winning Skating to Antarctica, and the three memoirs that followed (Stranger on a Train; On Trying to Keep Still and What I Don’t Know about Animals) she used her own inner life to observe the world and it was always utterly fascinating and surprising--even gripping. I honestly can’t think of another writer like Jenny Diski. Original seems too weak a word for her."

Griffiths Is Managing Director of Melville House U.K.

Shelf Awarenes

Nikki Griffiths is the new managing director of Melville House U.K., succeeding Zeljka Marosevic, who left the company to become co-publisher at Daunt Books earlier this month, the Bookseller reported. Griffiths, who will be based in the company's London headquarters, was previously head of publishing at Hesperus Press, and has also worked at Random House, Profile Books and Granta Books.

"Nikki was the first person we asked to run Melville House U.K. back in 2013, but she had a mega-bestseller just breaking--The Hundred-Year-Old Man--and so our timing then wasn't fortuitous," said Melville House co-publisher Dennis Johnson. "But we're thrilled to finally hook up with her now. An experienced company head who's savvy at acquisitions, production, sales and marketing, her skill-set is formidable."

Griffiths said she is "incredibly proud to have joined the Melville House team, extending our reach in the U.K. The list is exciting and diverse and I look forward to contributing to the future of such a vibrant and respected independent."

The Edgar Awards

Publishers Lunch

The Edgar Awards were announced Thursday evening, including several milestones: 

Lori Roy, Best Novel winner for Let Me Die in His Footsteps (Dutton), is the first woman to win both this and the Best First Novel category (and the third writer overall), while Pulitzer winner Viet Thanh Nguyen also won Best First Novel for The Sympathizer (Atlantic Monthly), the first author to win both awards concurrently. Other winners included:

Best Paperback Original: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (William Morrow)
Best Short Story: "Obits" – The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (Scribner)
Best Fact Crime: Whipping Boy by Allen Kurzweil (Harper)
Best Critical/Biographical: The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards (Harper360)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Australia: Productivity Commission Recommendation Threatens Livelihood Of Book Industry

Book2Book Friday 29 Apr 2016

On Friday the Productivity Commission draft report on intellectual property recommended the government repeal parallel import restrictions for books – to take effect no later than the end of 2017.

Australian Financial Review

Children's Books Roundup with PW

Wimpy Kid #11 Cover and Title Revealed
Today, Abrams/Amulet revealed the cover and title of Jeff Kinney's 11th volume in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down, goes on sale November 1, 2016. Kinney joined an exuberant crowd of fans in New York City during a live webcast in partnership with Scholastic Reading Club. more


From the Guardian:
The battle over banning Looking for Alaska continues in Kentucky. Click here
From School Library Journal:
Authors and Illustrators Remember Their Mentors. Click here
From the New York Times:
Review for Tuck Everlasting: A Lyrical Meditation on Life, Death and Immortality. Click here
From the Washington Post:
YA author Jessica Spotswood on why girls want more than to just have fun. Click here
From the Atlantic:
The Absurd Joy of Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Click here
From Tablet:
Children's Books and Censorship. Click here
From BuzzFeed:
This Woman Painted The First Page of Harry Potter on Her Wall. Click here
From Romper:
17 Books Every Parent Should Read Their Child Before They Can Talk. Click here
From the Guardian:
Unseen Beatrix Potter illustration to go on display for the first time. Click here
From the Guardian:
Illustration for The Little Prince goes up for auction. Click here
From Publishing Perspectives:
Kalimat publisher Sheikha Bodour of Sharjah: "We have to be ahead of the curve." Click here
From Entertainment Weekly:
American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang. on writing outside his comfort zone. Click here
From BuzzFeed:
See This Timeline of Fred And George Weasley's Pranks. Click here
From Mental Floss:
Nine Facts About Peter Rabbit. Click here
From the Guardian:
Why the Shakespeare authorship question matters to teenagers. Click here
From PopSugar:
These 17 New Kids' Books Deserve a Spot on Your Child's Bookshelf. Click here