Vol. 6 No. 49


The VIWF wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Book News will be taking a break for the remainder of the year and will be back on January 5.


The Green Carnation prize 'for modern gay writing' goes to Catherine Hall’s The Proof of Love, beating work by Colm Tóibín and Jackie Kay.

The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction has announced eleven titles on its long list, including books by: Carmen Aguirre, Wade Davis, Ryan Flavelle, Charlotte Gill, Richard Gwyn, J.J. Lee, David Adams Richards, Ray Robertson, Madeline Sonik, Andrew Westoll, and Joel Yanofsky. The short list will be announced on January 10, 2012.


Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy is to become a series of graphic novels. DC Comics have signed the Glaswegian crime writer Denise Mina to adapt the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novels. The first graphic novel will be released in March, 2012.

Jay Parini writes a centenary tribute to Nobel prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz, born in Egypt December 11, 1911, author of 30 novels and numerous volumes of stories (he wrote about 350), a master of both detailed realism and fabulous storytelling.

There are calls for a judge to exhume the remains of Pablo Neruda for medical testing, due to allegations the poet and Nobel laureate died of poisoning and not of cancer. The request will be reviewed by Chilean Judge Mario Carroza who has been conducting probes into hundreds of deaths allegedly connected to abuses of Pinochet's regime from 1973 to 1990.

Margaret Atwood describes Twitter followers as "dedicated readers" boldly exploring new frontiers in literacy. "Your brain lights up a lot," she said. Neuroscientists, however, have come to different conclusions, worrying the "expert reading brain" will become obsolete and its replacement, a completely different organ.

Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad, author of The Bookseller of Kabul, has been cleared of invading the privacy of the Afghan family with whom she’d lived, while she researched her book.

John Kinsella has joined Alice Oswald in withdrawing from the shortlist for the TS Eliot Poetry Prize, due to the Prize’s sponsor. Observer books editor William Skidelsky and novelist Geoff Dyer debate the issue.

It should be noted that other arts are reviewing their sponsorships. The Tate galleries are reviewing their 20-year partnership with BP, after demonstrations by green campaigners, including a petition from 8,000 Tate members and visitors.

A new facsimile edition of Dickens’s Great Expectations, showing the writer's decisions and revisions, as well as his terrible handwriting, provides fresh insight into his creative genius.

Vancouver’s Ryan Nadel, a self-described "digital hustler", has created MetaMaus, a digital version of Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust memoir, Maus.

The science of poetry, the poetry of science: both depend on metaphor, which is as crucial to scientific discovery as it is to lyric. The deepest thing science and poetry share, perhaps, is the way they can tolerate uncertainty, writes Ruth Padel.

Michael Morpurgo, former children's laureate, author of more than 120 books, including War Horse, and judge of the Wicked young writers' award, offers his top advice for writers of all ages.

Congrats! You’re the best. For now. That’s the message Alison Espach received in June, when her novel The Adults was listed as an Amazon Best Book of 2011. It appears that Amazon simultaneously honours its writers and hedges its bets. Months later, books by Russell Banks, Haruki Murakami, Jeffrey Eugenides were launched and made Amazon’s Best Books of 2011 list. As for Espach’s book? Its gold medal had disappeared.

The hardline "Chinese way" of raising children revealed by Amy Chua in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has prompted The Complete Book of Combat With Mum, written by Chen Leshui and Deng Xinyi, a pair of Beijing schoolgirls, describing how to cope when you're being over-parented.

Unbound is one of many start-ups offering to crowd fund literary endeavour. Authors pitch their ideas for a book; people who like them are invited to show their support in the form of donations. If enough money is raised, the author writes it, thus publishing books that "otherwise might never see the light of day".

Michael Holroyd explains why the 15 years it took to write his biography of George Bernard Shaw was 'remarkably quick'.

Two significant literary figures have died this week: Russell Hoban, aged 86, author of post-apocalyptic classic Riddley Walker, as well as numerous children's books and George Whitman, aged 98, the proprietor of Shakespeare and Company in Paris, probably the world's most famous bookshop.

The Writers' Trust of Canada is accepting submissions for the Bronwen Wallace Emerging Author Award, which is awarded to authors under the age of 35 whose work has been published in a magazine or anthology. The deadline for submissions is January 30, 2012. Full submission guidelines here:

The Writers Union of Canada has announced the jury and the submission deadlines for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which will be awarded to the best first short fiction collection by a Canadian writer. The submission deadline is January 31, 2012 and submitted words must have been published in 2011.


Michael Torosian started 25 years ago to produce, in the tradition of Johannes Gutenberg, exquisitely crafted, limited-edition books on photography and photographers. His latest labour of love is a 52-page volume, published in a case-bound edition of only 250 copies, titled Steichen: Eduard et Voulangis.

Many books have been written about Catherine The Great. Robert K. Massie’s Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman brings a novelistic effect to his profile of this unique woman. He is a storyteller in the true sense, writes Jennifer Hunter.

Simon Sebag Montefiore's epic survey of Jerusalem's history does not inspire confidence in the civilizing qualities of religion, writes Wendy Smith. "Most of Jerusalem's shrines...have been borrowed or stolen." And Jerusalem's political and social history is equally complex.

In I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Alan Bradley weaves a ghoulish yuletide tale against the backdrop of the crumbling Buckshaw mansion. The narrator is the 11-year-old hobby sleuth and compulsively curious Flavia de Luce. A lighthearted holiday read, writes Dravgana Kovacevic.

American writer Tim Mueller lives in Italy in a farmhouse surrounded by olive groves. Mueller’s Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil is filled with information mindful eaters will wish to have, writes Dwight Garner.

Jonathan P. Kuehlein, the Toronto Star’s resident graphic novel and comics expert reviews four of the latest offerings.

A good winter read is Willa Cather’s My Antonia, writes Xan Brooks. A story of the hardships of a bitter winter in the American west, this is also a stirring tribute to unfreezable human spirit, says Brooks.

Kurt Vonnegut's son Mark disputes the portrait of his father drawn by Charles Shields in And So It Goes.

David L. Ulin writes that And So It Goes is a problematic portrait of Vonnegut, sketchy and pedantic by turns. Although Shields loads the book with information, he never develops an integrated overview.

Alison Preston is unique among Canadian crime writers, writes Jack Batten, no one else matching Preston’s combination of humour and creepiness. In The Girl in the Wall, readers experience both giggles and an impulse to pull the covers over their heads.

Sarah Murdoch reviews ten coffee table books including Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide, an updated volume of the Smithsonian Institution’s respected animal catalogue. Compiled by more than 70 biologists, zoologists and naturalists, it includes nearly 2,000 animal profiles.

In India, where deep-rooted tradition meets the engine of unbridled capitalism, stories of loss, beauty and hurt abound, Anita Desai explores the personal effects of India’s modernization with The Artist of Disappearance. India is a multifarious world, unlike any other, concludes Hector Tobar.

Ian McGillis speaks with Kevin Chong about Beauty Plus Pity, Chong’s first novel since 2001. The book is well-paced, smartly structured, and packs a sting in the tail. It was, in short, one of my favourite novels of 2011, says McGillis.

Anna Porter writes that P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley is a story to savour. There are, of course, numerous suspects. Porter’s sole complaint is that the book is not long enough.


Readings by Esi Edugyan and Jen Sookfong Lee. Thursday, December 15 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore/Library at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street. More information at www.robsonreadingseries.ubc.ca.

The local news reporter and author signs copies of his new book Here's Mike. Proceeds from the sale of each book go to Variety-The Children's Charity. Saturday, December 17 at 1:00pm. Black Bond Books Warehouse, 1-15562-24th Ave., Surrey. More information at www.blackbondbooks.com.

People's Co-Op Books is holding an open house with many writers including Kevin Chong, Timothy Taylor, Dennis Bolen, Ivan Coyote, Elizabeth Bachinsky and many more. Sunday, December 18 starting at 5pm. People's Co-Op Books, 1391 Commercial Drive. More information at talonbooks.com/events.

Winter Solstice stories told by Mary Gavan, Erin Graham, and Chen Ha. Includes seasonal music and stories by Philomena Jordan. Sunday, December 18 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $6. St. Mark's Anglican Church, 1805 Larch Street. More information at www.vancouverstorytellers.ca.

subTerrain magazine launches its Vancouver 125 issue with readings from many of the 95 poets featured in the issue. Tuesday, December 20 at 5:00pm. Army, Navy, and Air Force Veteran's Club, 3917 Main. More information at www.subterrain.ca.


Readings by three members of the Vancouver Poetry Dogs: Stephanie Bolster, Barbara Nickel, and Elise Partridge. Tuesday, January 3 at 7:00pm, free. Peter Kaye room, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia Street.

Reading featuring David Zieroth, Diane Tucker, Miranda Pearson, Garry Thomas Morse, and John Donlan. Sunday, January 8 at 3:00pm. Project Space, 222 East Georgia Street. More information at http://www.deadpoetslive.com.

Come hear about forgotten Chinatowns and stories about growing up Chinese in Vancouver and in Mexico. Meet authors Rebeca Lau, Chad Reimer, and Larry Wong and learn more about the new book series Gold Mountain Stories. Wednesday, January 11 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye Rooms, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street.

Author of Ghost Dancing with Colonialism discusses her new book. Thursday, January 12 at 7:00pm, free. Alma vanDusen room, lower level, Central Branch, 350 W. Georgia Street.

Madeline Sonik, award-winning author and university teacher of writing, will teach autobiographical writing techniques, structure and theme. Saturday, January 14 at 1:00pm, free. Alma vanDusen room, lower level, Central Branch, 350 W. Georgia Street. More information at www.vpl.ca.

Please join the author as she reads from My Road to Rome: The Running Times of BJ McHugh, the story of how she became the world's fastest senior long-distance runner. Monday, January 16 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye Rooms, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street.

Readings by bill bissett and Alex Leslie. Wednesday, January 18 at 5:00pm. Piano lounge, Graham House, Green College, UBC. More information at talonbooks.com.

Readings by Sachiko Murakami (Rebuild) and Nick Thran (Earworm). Thursday, January 19 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore/Library at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street. More information at www.robsonreadingseries.ubc.ca.

Reading by the author of his debut poetry collection, Embouchure. Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 2:00pm. Rm301, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre 1961 East Mall, UBC.

The author will talk about his new novel In One Person on Friday, May 18th, 2012 at 7:30 pm at the North Shore Credit Union Centre for the Performing Arts. Capilano University, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver. Ticket price of $30 includes a copy of the new novel available for pick up at the event. More information at 604.990.7810 or http://www2.capilanou.ca/news-events/nscucentre.html.