Tag Archives: The Guardian

Not the Booker Prize 2013

Not the Booker Prize, The Guardian, MugSo if you haven’t heard of the Not the Booker Prize, here’s a quick summary for you… Not the Booker was created as a counterpoint against the Man Booker prize by The Guardian – with the same selection criteria as the Booker – but with one key aim: to be a truly democratic, all-encompassing prize. Books can be any length and any genre, and are voted for by the public.

You can read more about the Not the Booker Prize over at the Guardian website. Continue reading



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Iain Banks – the Final Interview

Iain Banks, Final InterviewRather than write a post here today (which I know I’ve been remiss at lately anyway), I’m simply posting a link… Continue reading

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Calling all Sherlocks: The OED Needs You

Dictionary[I spotted this story on The Guardian website and it just captured my imagination, so I had to write about it!]

Veronica Hurst, principal bibliographer of the Oxford English Dictionary has asked for the public’s help – to find a book. Continue reading

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A Salute to Iain Banks

Iain BanksUnless you’ve been under a rock for the past few days, you will have heard that eminent writer Iain Banks (whose sci-fi alter ego is Iain M. Banks) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and announced that his latest novel – forthcoming The Quarry – will be his last. Continue reading

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The Folio Prize

The Folio PrizeSo it’s been announced – the founders* of the Literature Prize have teamed up with specialist publishers the Folio Society to create the brand new Folio Prize.

The Literature Prize (now the Folio) was created from the fallout of the 2011 Booker Prize, when the prize was dismissed as “dumbing down” and the fall of the Booker was gloomily predicted as critics denounced it as celebrating popularity over quality. Continue reading

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Man Booker Prize Shortlist

The Man Booker is one of the most coveted prizes in literature. And this year’s longlist already caused a stir with the appearance of indie publishers and some more unusual picks. But the shortlist has been announced, and we are edging ever closer to the winner. Continue reading

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New Stephen King

If you haven’t heard… one of my favourite writers of all time Stephen King is writing a new book! In fact, two new books!

Joyland is due out in June 2013 and it looks like he’s back to his top form. Set in 1970s North Carolina, the novel tells the story of college student Devin Jones, who comes to work as a carny and instead finds himself in the middle of a whodunit. Not forgetting his horror roots, the grisly murder in a small-town amusement park is both dark and emotional.

Editor Charles Adai told We Love this Book:

“It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time. Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved. When I finished it, I sent a note saying, ‘Goddamn it, Steve, you made me cry.’ “

Titan Books’ pulp press imprint Hard Case Crime will publish the book, and Stephen King has promised an eBook version – but not quite yet…

“[I]  loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being.”

Stephen King is a well-known advocate of digital print, publishing Riding the Bullet in 2000, making it the first mass-market eBook, and selling half a million copies of it in two days. Later that year, he posted instalments of The Plant on his website, charging a dollar for each download. Going back to good old paperbacks might seem like a step away from digital publishing, but he has already put that to rest – promising next year’s sequel to The Shining will be available as an eBook as well as a hardback.

Doctor Sleep revisits a now adult Danny Torrance as he tries to move on from the nightmare of the Overlook Hotel. Settling in a New Hampshire town and getting a job in a nursing home, he meets gifted young girl Abra Stone. But rather than having a normal life, Danny Torrance soon becomes involved in a battle to rescue her from a tribe of semi-immortal people, who torture and sacrifice children who have the Shining.

Reviewers are already doing backflips over both the books, and I am itching to get my hands on them! What do you think of the upcoming Stephen King novels?

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The Divine Comedy: It’s Unfunny and Offensive, Apparently

Dante. Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. The Divine Comedy.

Written in the 14th Century, it is rivalled in length only by The Odyssey. It is considered one of the greatest poems ever written, and an integral part of Italian literature. But now Gherush92, an Italian Human Rights organisation, are asking for it to be banned from being taught in schools.

Of all the cantos, Inferno‘s 24th and 34th, and Purgatorio‘s 26th have been criticised in particular – for their depictions of Judas (chewed in the teeth of Lucifer), Mohammed (torn from chin to… erm… other end) and homosexuals (under a constant rain of fire) – leaving the poem open to accusations of slandering the Jewish people, depicting Islam as a heresy and homophobia.

“We do not advocate censorship or burning but we would like it acknowledged, clearly and unambiguously, that in the Divine Comedy there is racist, Islamophobic and antisemitic content … Art cannot be above criticism.”
Valentina Sereni, president of Gherush92, speaking to the Adnkronos news agency

Labelled as offensive and discriminatory, Gherush92 explain that if Dante’s Divine Comedy were to be taught in Italian schools,  it should be wielded with caution, because children lack the “filters” to understand it in context. The Italian literacy world has quickly come to the poem’s defence, saying that the stories it tells has shaped culture and humanity for centuries.

I’m not sure my opinion would really count – I’ve never read it, though I well know the famous line “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” – but I somehow feel that a little of the point is being missed. Of course it’s considered offensive and discriminatory, it was written 700 years ago and the world was a very different place with very different views. Why should we shield children from this? We will only end up perpetuating the cycle of ignorance and prejudices unless we educate people. We can only educate by showing an example and proving why that example is wrong.

Dante’s poem really is an integral part of culture and humanity – and let’s be fair here, he’s writing about Hell, it’s hardly glitter and unicorns and cake. It’s going to be unpleasant. I do get what Gherush92 are trying to say, and I don’t believe that racism, antisemitism or homophobia are right in any way at all, but I don’t think hiding it from schoolchildren makes it go away, and I think that it means the children miss out on studying one of the greatest works of literature in the world.

What do you think? Have your say – comment below, or chat about it on Facebook and Twitter.*


*Don’t forget to check out the Guardian article and some of the fantastic comments on there!

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