We always have something to look forward to – especially at this time of year! In the UK and the rest of Europe we are enjoying an Indian summer – also of books. So, if you are packing away your summer dresses and sandals (I speak personally), your hearts will soar thanks to a late summer blooming of book news. In fact, so much to tell you, so many books, so much gossip and so little space, that I’m resorting to a round-up of literary titbits. (And yes, this is very personal and very biased!)
The Autumn Literature Prizes
For me there is nothing more wonderful than wading through the autumn flood of new books, the newspaper preview and review columns and the UK’s Big Hitting Prize Long Lists – eg. the Man Booker List for Fiction http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/longlist-2014-announced – the short list will be announced 9th September – and the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction http://www.thesamueljohnsonprize.co.uk/node/353
I am hyper-ventilating over which favourite author to read first. Will it be…..?
David Mitchell – The Bone Clocks Can the author of Cloud Atlas do it again? DM is one of the most articulate and profound human beings I’ve met. This new novel is launched in the UK this week.
David Nicholls – Us One of the UK’s most successful and best-loved fiction and screenwriters. Is Us the next One Day?
Ali Smith – How To Be Both Brilliant, generous person, writer, translator, internationalist.
Siri Hustvedt – The Blazing World I can claim little in common with this magnificent Norwegian-American writer except migraine, a love of art and of the colour red but, in my whole career as a journalist, she is one of my favourite interviewees.
The Autumn Heavyweights
Our Beautiful Book Lives are, of course, not confined to a slavish pursuit of Prizes! There are some delicious additional gourmet feasts awaiting us (and to my mind everything these writers write tastes good:
Martin Amis – The Zone of Interest
Sarah Waters – The Paying Guests
Hilary Mantel – The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Atwood – Stone Mattress
Ian McEwan – The Children Act
….As well as Howard Jacobson, Richard Ford, Peter Carey, Nick Horny and …and… and….
And here’s The Guardian Newspaper’s own autumn pick to help you choose your favourites: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/09/autumn-fiction-new-novels-big-names
Frankfurt Book Fair/An Amazonian Rant
Important, unmissable – but hard work. My main hope is that FBF will talk some sense into greedy retailer-multi-nationals Amazon and Hachette. I could rant on for several pages about this dispute over the future of publishing (no less!) but you’ll be relieved to know that I won’t. However, may I still remind the Big Guys that: authors write the books that publishers sell; authors need to earn a living; authors are not all vain; readers are needed to read the books; e-books are also books; self-published authors also have rights; authors in translation are equal in status to English-language authors (&c &c &c = A Rosie Rant)
Scottish Literary Independence
Independence Day looms – at least, the 18th September Referendum on Scottish Independence does. As an English-woman (well, Cornish) I feel desperately sad at the prospect of ‘losing Scotland’ but from a literary point of view they are perfectly capable of holding their own in the pantheon of World Culture – although I’d rather not have to think of Scottish literature in the future as ‘foreign fiction’! Here are a few thought-provoking articles to help you make up YOUR mind: IN or OUT for Scottish Literature?http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jul/19/scottish-independence-literature-nationalismhttp://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/authors-lose-plot-over-foul-play-claim.25168785http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jul/19/scottish-referendum-independence-uk-how-writers-vote
London Literature Festival
This week I start my reading for the months ahead – for my author-interviewing at the autumn literature festivals. The biggest and brightest stars in the UK festival firmament are Birmingham, Manchester, Cheltenham and – my first, starting end of this month – London, at the Southbank Centre, under the inspirational author, TV documentary maker, BBC colleague and Literature Programmer James Runcie. I’ll be interviewing Ranulph Fiennes, amongst others.
And Finally: International News
Do you honestly think I would neglect international fiction?! There will be Blogs galore over the next few months on this (my favourite) topic but I look forward to flitting across the Channel to participate in favourite foreign festivals such as…
ELIT European Literary Days in Wachau http://wachau.readme.cc/
followed by the SILK international festival of Literature in Norway http://silkfestival.no/in-english/