Having taken the inaugural award in 2000, Howard Jacobson has this week won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for the second time, garnering top honours for his novel Zoo Time. The Bloomsbury-published title beat Joseph Connolly’s England’s Lane, Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods, Michael Frayn’s Skios and Deborah Moggach’s Heartbreak Hotel. It now only remains to be seen what Jacobson is going to do with the traditional prize, seeing as, having won previously, he presumably has a set of the complete works of PG Wodehouse going spare. Maybe he can mull it over over a glass of the Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée that also forms part of his winning haul, possibly musing aloud to the Gloucestershire Old Spots pig that will now be named after his triumphant novel.
In what is either one of the more leftfield viral marketing ploys in recent memory or a typically shameless Buzzfeed attempt to ride the zeitgeist to maximum page views, evidence of Dan Brown’s mythical pre-literary career as a
bestselling author soft rock musician has surfaced online in concordance with today’s release of his first novel in four years, Inferno. Since there’s no way of not talking about it, we’ll get it out of the way upfront: Said evidence includes a song from 1993 about phone sex, which is exactly as subtly, insinuatingly seductive as you’d expect of a song from 1993 about phone sex written and performed by the author of The Da Vinci Code, i.e. yes, there is a blaring sax solo. Is everybody naked yet?
In what is proving to be quite the week for spotting otherwise reclusive authors in the wild, the cultishly adored Japanese writer Haruki Murakami has appeared in public in his native land for the first time in eighteen years. Turns out all you have to do to tempt him into plain sight is to be a noted Jungian psychologist with whom Murakami can empathise from the very depths of his heart, die at 79, then hope that a few years later someone will name a literary prize after you and that Murakami will turn up to aid its launch. Bully for Hayao Kawai then, who did just that, having died in 2007 as a professor emiritus at Kyoto University and a former head of Japan’s Cultural Affairs Agency.
In wholly unpleasant news that, on the bright side, has returned Harper Lee to public life, the beloved author of To Kill A Mockingbird and only a further handful of essays is suing her agent in a bid to regain copyright over her sole novel. 87 year old Lee claims that one Samuel Pinkus –
president of the Pinkus plumbing company literary agent and son-in-law of Eugene Winick, formerly Lee’s agent of many years – took advantage of her declining health to trick her into signing over the rights to the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning book.
Fresh off its successful launch of stand-up turned historical novelist Rob Newman’s The Trade Secret, indie publishing house Cargo has announced a few of its acquisitions for 2013 and 2014, with the promise of more forthcoming along with the soon to be released details of the first leg of its Margins Book and Music Festival to venture outside of Glasgow. It’s a typically eclectic mix, both in terms of subject matter and in pedigree of author.
Almost exactly a year on from the untimely death of the much missed Adam (MCA) Yauch comes word in the New York Times that Michael (Mike D) Diamond and Adam (Ad-Rock) Horowitz, his surviving bandmates in Beastie Boys, have signed a memoir deal with Random House imprint Spiegel & Grau. The as-yet-untitled book will be gettin’ stupid in your area, causin’ all kinds of hysteria in the autumn of 2015 and, as you would expect from one of the most inventive, influential musical acts of the past thirty years – especially one that has mad hits like it was Rod Carew – will emphatically not be a straightforward ghost-written tell-all.
With Bret Easton Ellis seeming at long last to have gotten the message that no, he will have absolutely nothing to do with the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, no matter how often he creepily insists that James Deen would be perfect to star whilst staring, unblinking, into your own eyes (again, please do not Google James Deen if you’re unfamiliar with the name and at work or around children), another long-time chronicler of the beautiful and vacant has proven a source of unexpected ardour for the project: Film-maker Gus Van Sant, director of American arthouse classics like Gerry, My Own Private Idaho and Drugstore Cowboy, is seemingly so eager to steer the book to the screen that he’s already filmed one of the sex scenes, entirely unsolicited and off his own back, if that phrasing isn’t too misleading given the circumstances.
Today, 23 April, is known across the world as the day when Harold Bloom traditionally lays a single red rose at the entrance to the Globe Theatre and sighs wistfully, i.e. the date of Shakespeare’s birth and death. As every literary murder truther knows, it is also the recorded date of Cervantes’ death, the very same year as Shakespeare’s (and you thought we had it rough when Princess Di and Mother Theresa died in the same week). In what is either a massively fortuitous coincidence or somehow deliberately planned to commemorate these events, 23 April is also the UNESCO-appointed international day of the book, upon which is celebrated World Book Night, the post-watershed equivalent to the more kid-oriented World Book Day.
Having decided not to present an award after all in 2012 – with Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!, David Foster Wallace’s posthumous The Pale King and Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams collectively seen as a spit in the face to the prestige of the entire organisation, the first time such steps were taken since 1977 (or maybe the board just failed to agree on a clear winner) – the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction resumed its regular business this week, deeming Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son as worthy of taking its place alongside work by prior winners Cormac McCarthy, Edith Wharton, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Harper Lee, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth and pretty much every other major American author of the past century.
In a stirring example of the reporters becoming the reported, or something, BookMachine’s very own Glorious Fearless Leader Laura Austin has found herself on the shortlist for this year’s Kim Scott Walwyn prize. Glorious Fearless Leader Laura Austin – seen here in this file photo lovingly framed by her BookMachine colleagues/loyal subjects - is nominated for her work on the BookMachine events that have taken place across the country over the past two years and are now spreading out internationally too, like so many troops marching in perfect synchronisation across the motherland at her command.