UPCOMING VIWF EVENTS
At the next Incite on February 8, Tess Gallagher reads from Midnight Lantern, and Merilyn Simonds reads from A New Leaf. Details: http://www.writersfest.bc.ca/events/incitefebruary 8. Also appearing at Incite in the next few months are Linden MacIntyre, Richard Wagamese, Anne DeGrace, Will Ferguson, Richard Stursberg, John Boyne, Yasuko Thanh and Robert Hough, among others.
Pico Iyer will appear in a special Incite event on February 20 at the Improv Centre on Granville Island, admission is by donation. Details: http://www.writersfest.bc.ca/events/incitefebruary20
Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author Richard Ford appears with his latest novel, Canada. Details: http://www.writersfest.bc.ca/events/richardford.
AWARDS & LISTS
The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its 2011 book awards at a public ceremony in New York on Saturday. Diana Ackerman, Jeffrey Eugenides, Alan Hollinghurst, Adam Hochschild and Jonathan Lethem are among the 30 finalists in six categories.
Jack Gantos's "screwball mystery" Dead End in Norvelt has won the Newbery medal, America's most prestigious award for children's writing. Former Newbery winner Susan Cooper was named winner of the Margaret A Edwards award for her "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature". The 75th Caldecott medal, for an illustrator, went to A Ball for Daisy, illustrated and written by Chris Raschka.
Andrew Miller's historical novel Pure, a vivid tale of life in pre-revolutionary Paris, has won the 2011 Costa Prize.
The Ontario Arts Council has created The Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award in recognition of the distinctive contributions made by Aboriginal artists and arts leaders in Ontario in a variety of media, including literature. The award will be presented annually. The winner will receive a cash award of $7,500.
China Miéville is short listed in two categories of the British Science Fiction awards. The winners of the awards will be announced in April. The complete list of short listed authors is here:
NEWS & FEATURES
The tributes of an anonymous man in black with a white scarf and a wide-brimmed hat, who leaves three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at Poe's original grave on the writer's birthday (January 19), are thought to date to at least the 1940s. Edgar Allan Poe fans waited long past a midnight dreary this year but the Poe Taster failed to visit the grave for the third consecutive year. That tradition is now, quietly, over.
Writers read excerpts from The Satanic Verses in support of Salman Rushdie, who pulled out of the Jaipur literary festival event amid assassination fears. Festival organisers fear for the event's future after high-profile writers read excerpts from the book, which is banned in India.
A video-linked appearance by Rushdie was cancelled when the venue owners decided it was unsafe to allow it.
Rushdie launched a scathing attack on the Indian government for failing to protect free speech, reserving his harshest words for the "Muslim groups that were so unscrupulous, and whose idea of free speech is that they are the only ones entitled to it".
Hari Kunzru, one of the readers, explained "I wanted to give a voice to Salman Rushdie, a writer silenced by a death threat, not offend anyone's religious sensibilities."
The Wall Street Journal describes the Jaipur festival as one of the world's largest and cites Rushdie's 2007 festival appearance as a turning point, attracting global attention.
William Dalrymple, the co-director of the Jaipur Festival, offers a detailed description of how difficult decisions were made regarding Rushdie’s speaking by video link from London, citing the combination of an upcoming election (described as ‘razor edge’) in Utter Pradesh and a history of politicians encouraging protesters rather than protecting writers and artists.
Some books haunt the reader. Others haunt the writer. The Handmaid's Tale has done both, writes Margaret Atwood. Atwood reflects on her thinking as she wrote.
A new Folio Society edition of Atwood's landmark dystopian novel is accompanied by striking illustrations from Anna and Elena Balbusso. Here are a selection:
Chinese dissident author Yu Jie and his family left China for the US last week, blaming harassment by Chinese authorities. Best known for his book Wen Jiabao: China's Greatest Actor, Yu now expects to complete his biography of his friend Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Nobel laureate.
As holder of the book's copyright, the state of Bavaria has restricted access to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and has not allowed its publication inside Germany. British publisher Peter McGee has announced his intention to flout the ban and sell portions of the book.
On Wednesday, a regional court in Munich ruled that Mein Kampf may not appear on newsstands. Extracts from Mein Kampf will go on sale in kiosks in Germany today, but with the text blacked out since the court ruled that reprinting the Nazi manifesto broke copyright laws. Peter McGee said in a letter to readers that he would himself censor the text after the court's decision, under the title The Unreadable Book.
The Waterstones 11, which gathers together the new authors that the chain thinks are most likely to scoop literary prizes and hefty sales, is notable for the fact that eight of the writers are women. So far, however, the most talked-about novel on the list is by a man– The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.
The giant online retailer, Amazon, seems to have its hands in all aspects of the business, from publishing books to selling them—and that has some in the book world wondering if there is any end to Amazon's influence.
Launching this month in Amazon's Kindle Store, Coliloquy e-books are peppered with "choice points" that allow readers to take the story in the direction most appealing to them. Colloquy titles are so far available only in the US.
There's still time to enter the Geist Postcard Story Contest . Get your entries in before February 15, 2012 for a chance at literary fame and fortune. Contest submissions guidelines and Postcard FAQs can be found on the Geist website.
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.
BOOKS & WRITERS
Six Winters, the brief sequence of poems by Tomas Tranströmer is a vivid illustration of the Nobel prizewinner's singular gifts, writes Carol Rumens.
Dennis O'Donnell's memoir of his time as a psychiatric nurse should help to banish our prejudices – and fears – about madness, writes John Burnside. O'Donnell's main purpose in The Locked Ward is to get us to see the patients as people very much like ourselves.
Gillian Slovo's An Honourable Man explores the nature of goodness, writes Clare Clark. The story begins when the siege of Khartoum is eight months old, with food supplies nearly exhausted. They are cut off by "the vicious tourniquets of class and rank and propriety".
The word "genius" tends to be overused, but it applies to Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, writes Elaine Kalman Naves. Many critics rate him the greatest novelist ever. In Tolstoy: A Russian Life, British biographer Rosamund Bartlett rates him equally high as a humanitarian.
Kevin Brophy's The Berlin Crossing is a story about reconciliation between the former east and west. Brophy's is an unusual and interesting perspective, writes Kapka Kassabova. In the end, says Kassabova, the reconciliation is between dogma and real lives.
The main thrust of Tvetan Todorov's The Totalitarian Experience is a challenging assertion that totalitarianism survives, despite the collapse of Communism, in the ultraliberalism that emerged in its wake. It is a challenging and thought-provoking essay, says Michel Basilières.
The award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 brought the name of Liu Xiaobo to the attention of the entire world. No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems tells the truth about China's tyranny, says Simon Leys.
William Gass' Life Sentence is a brilliant new book of essays that explores the unique experience of reading fine writing, writes Troy Jollimore. It might well have been called "Live Sentences" as Gass' sentences are among the liveliest being written today, says Jollimore.
Some rank Mildred Valley Thornton's work with Emily Carr's. In addition to her portraits, Thornton published Indian Lives and Legends though she didn't understand that the stories were not hers to tell. The book opens the door to cross-cultural discussion, writes Mary Ann Moore.
Eva Stachniak's The Winter Palace is a setting, a character and a symbol, and Stachniak lays out in riveting detail how life is lived there by all sorts of characters, writes Jane Smiley. Stachniak's vision also casts light over recent Russian history.
Boyet Hernandez arrived in New York from Manila, determined to triumph in the fashion world—and ends up imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. In Alex Gilvarry's debut novel, From the Memoirs of a Non-enemy Combatant, satire reigns and worlds collide, writes Nancy Wigston.
Hilarious, fast-paced and exhilarating to the point of nausea, Sara Levine's Treasure Island!!! is a strikingly original creation that reads like a collaboration between Vladimir Nabokov and Jodi Picoult, writes John Barber.
75 YEARS OF CONTROVERSY
75 Years of Controversy: The Governor-General's Literary Awards come to UBC for all of January. The UBC Library's Rare Books and Special Collections, located on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, will display a number of the Literary Award-winning books. The exhibition is open to the public Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. More information at: http://wire.arts.ubc.ca/events/75-years-of-controversy-the-ggs-come-to-ubc/.
SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY IN CONTEMPORARY MONGOLIAN LITERATURE
Presentation traces the internal and external forces that influence the expression of spirituality and ecology in the work of contemporary poets. Thursday, January 26 at 5:00pm, free. Room 120, Institute of Asian Research, 1855 West Mall, UBC.
Local author Cathy Stonehouse launches her second collection of poetry. Friday, January 27 at 7:00pm, free. People's Co-op Bookstore, 1391 Commercial Drive.
Spoken word and music mash up where poets create new work based on songs from Gordon by the Barenaked Ladies. Friday, January 27 at 8:00pm. Tickets: $10. The Kosmik Zoo, 53 West Broadway. For more information, phone 604-215-9230.
Vancouver Book Club presents an intimate conversation with the author of Eating Dirt. Saturday, January 28 at 2:00pm. Project Space, 222 East Georgia Street. For more information, contact email@example.com.
For the first time ever, Canada Reads 2012 is a battle of non-fiction books! CBC Radio's North by Northwest is running a special writing contest celebrating the themes of the two BC books in the battle, and the winners will receive all the 2012 Canada Reads books, plus the Canada Reads book bag! To enter, describe in 400 words or less: your own true life experience with an amazing animal OR your own true life experience with being in personal danger. For all the details, go to www.cbc.ca/nxnw. Contest closes January 29 at midnight.
Reading by the author of Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe. Monday, January 30 at 7:00pm, free. World Arts Centre, 2nd floor, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (149 W. Hastings Street). More information at www.sfuwoodwards.ca.
ROBSON READING SERIES
Readings by Lynn Coady (The Antagonist) and Anne Perdue (I'm a Registered Nurse Not a Whore). Thursday, February 2 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore/Library at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street. More information at www.robsonreadingseries.ubc.ca.
KRANKY READING SERIES
Readings by Cathy Stonehouse, Daniel Zomparelli, and Catherine Owen. Thursday, February 2 at 7:00pm. Kranky Cafe, 16-228 4th Ave. East, Vancouver. More information at talonbooks.com/events.
AT THE WORLD'S EDGE
Claudia Cornwall discusses her new book At the World's Edge–Curt Lang's Vancouver: 1937–1998. Thursday, February 2 at 7:30pm, free. McGill branch, Burnaby Public Library, 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby. More information at 604-299-8955.
JOSE AND PILAR
The VIFF VanCity presents Jose and Pillar, the story of Jose Saramago and his wife Pilar del Rio. Graced with apparently unfettered access to the Portugese Nobel prize-winning novelist (Blindness) for more than two years, Miguel Goncalves Mendes delivers something much more than a conventional “portrait of an artist”.
Evening of fast-paced reviews of recommended crime and mystery novels from around the world. Thursday, February 9 at 7:00pm, free. McGill branch, Burnaby Public Library, 4595 Albert Street. More information at www.bpl.bc.ca/events/librarians-choice-international-crime-mystery.
Poets E.D. Blodgett and Susan McCaslin will be reading from their recent volumes of poetry. Thursday, February 9 at 7:00pm, free. Cadboro Bay Book Company, 3840B Cadboro Bay Road, Victoria. More information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author reads from Cinder, the first novel in the Lunar Chronicles series. Saturday, February 11 at 2:00pm. Chapters Metrotown, 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby. More information at 604-431-0463.
Jennifer Kramer will sign copies of the catalogue written to accompany the exhibition Kesu': The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer. Tuesday, February 14 at 4:00pm. Museum of Anthropology, UBC, 6393 NW Marine Drive. More information at www.moa.ubc.ca/events.
ROBSON READING SERIES
Readings by Steve Burgess (Who Killed Mom?) and Daniel Griffin (Stopping for Strangers). Thursday, February 16 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore/Library at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street. More information at www.robsonreadingseries.ubc.ca.
HOME FRONT, A READING SERIES
Reading by Sharon Thesen, author of The Serial Poems. Saturday, February 18 at 8:00pm. Cost: $5/pay what you can. 3966 Ontario Street, Vancouver. More information at 604-879-5200.
GALIANO LITERARY FESTIVAL
Third annual literary festival featuring George Bowering, Patrick Friesen, Susan Juby, Rhea Tregebov and many others. February 24-26, 2012. Galiano Island. More information at galianoliteraryfestival.wordpress.com.
CAMPBELL RIVER WRITERS' FESTIVAL
Eleventh annual Words on the Water Festival featuring Gurjinder Basran, Trevor Herriot, Daphne Marlatt, Garry Thomas Morse and others. March 23-24, 2012. Tickets on sale starting February 1. Maritime Heritage Centre, Campbell River. Details at www.wordsonthewater.ca.
VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL POETRY FESTIVAL
Second annual festival and poetry slam championship. April 23-28, 2012. Registration deadlines and complete details here: http://www.vancouverpoetryhouse.com/vipf-2012-is-coming/.
SKAGIT RIVER POETRY FESTIVAL
Three days of poetry, song and storytelling featuring Carolyn Forche', Tony Hoagland and many others. May 17-20, 2012. La Conner, WA. Complete information at www.skagitriverpoetry.org.
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.