The Orwell Prize, presented annually to political books and journalism that come closest to realising George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’, has revealed its 2015 shortlists.
The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society has published the results of its report into the money made by professional authors, and none of it will likely come as a surprise to the vast majority of writers forced to subsidise their work through a variety of endurable-to-menial day jobs. Based on research carried out by Queen Mary University of London, The Business of Being an Author: A Survey of Authors’ Earnings and Contracts finds that 58% of all the money earned by professional authors is earned by the top 10% of those authors, resulting in a massive inequality of wealth between that 10% and the remaining 90%.
BACK OF THE NET – Orion has acquired a second book by Alan Partridge, the former BBC chat show host, sometime sports correspondent, current North Norfolk Digital DJ and wholly fictional comic creation of Steve Coogan named ‘man of the moment’ by TV Quick Magazine in 1994. The as yet untitled book will be, according to The Bookseller, ‘a collection of diary entries, letters, “think pieces” and programme and business ideas.’ PARTRIDGE THINK PIECES. If we’re lucky there might even be some hot takes. As was the case with Partridge’s earlier memoir – I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan – the book will be, uh, co-written with Coogan, Rob Gibbons and Neil Gibbons. It is scheduled for publication in October 2016.
Revered punk-poet-musician Patti Smith released her first volume of memoir, Just Kids, in 2010. Focusing on her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe as the pair traversed the art world of 1970s New York City, the book was warmly received even outside of Smith’s expected fanbase, winning the National Book Award for non-fiction and placing on many best of 2010 lists. Now, Smith has announced a second volume, M Train, to be published in October of this year by Knopf.
Social Bite is, as the name suggests, a social enterprise: a chain of cafes selling soups and sandwiches, whose profits are given entirely to charitable causes. With two outlets apiece in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the business currently invests in Shelter Scotland, the Vision Eye Care Hospital in Bangladesh, the MicroLoan Foundation in Malawi and Zambia, and the STV Appeal. One in four of its staff are from homeless backgrounds and customers can ‘suspend’ coffee and food – pay for a meal that can later be given to a homeless person.
Next week’s London Book Fair is, for the first time, incorporating poetry, with its Poetry Pavilion space giving publishers of poetry a place to exhibit. To mark the occasion, the Fair and Inpress have joined forces to bestow the inaugural Poetry Pavilion Prize. The prize is open to anyone either attending the event, connected in any way with exhibitors or otherwise working in the international book trade.
The shortlist has been unveiled for the 2015 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, pitting three debuting novelists (all of them women, incidentally) against three long-established authors (all of them men, incidentally). Competing for the prize this year are: Losing It by Helen Lederer; Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith; How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran; The Dog by Joseph O’Neill; Men at the Helm by Nina Stibbe; and A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh.
The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction – which, just over a month ago, made its longlist public for the first time – has unveiled the shortlist for its 2015 award. Those initial fifteen titles have been cut back to seven: The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis; The Lie by Helen Dunmore; Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre; In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds; Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut; A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie; and The Ten Thousand Things by John Spurling.
Penguin has revealed that, on 13 October, it will publish a memoir by Elvis Costello (through its Blue Rider Press imprint) with the very Costellonian title of Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. So far those details are only up on the publisher’s American site, meaning there is still time to shift it to Penguin Classics for its UK release.
This year’s Folio Prize has been awarded to Akhil Sharma for his novel Family Life. It’s a case of seconds for both prize and author – the second year that the Folio has run (following George Saunders’ inaugural victory in 2014 for his short story collection Tenth of December) and only Sharma’s second novel, one on which he worked for 13 years prior to publication.