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Adam Johnson wins 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

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.

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BookMachine’s Laura Austin on Kim Scott Walwyn shortlist

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.

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Shortlist revealed for 2013 Impac Award

The shortlist has been revealed for the 2013 International Impac Dublin Literary Award, the annual prize based (as the name suggests) in Dublin but awarded to international authors and voted for by libraries in cities around the world. One of the most financially rewarding prizes on the awards circuit, the winning author will take home €100,000 if their novel is written in English, or €75,000 for international work, with the remaining €25,000 going to the work’s translator. The award is open to novels two years after their initial printing in English, meaning that all of this year’s entries first saw publication in 2011.

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Body of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda exhumed

In fascinating news that may have been lost among word of death of a more recent vintage, the body of Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda has been exhumed in a bid to discover whether he died of prostate cancer – as is stated on his death certificate – or if he was, in fact, murdered in September 1973 by an agent of the dictator Augusto Pinochet. There now follows a pause, the better that you may aver that you are familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda.

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Gender has no place in media coverage of book awards

The shortlist for one of the most coveted awards in science fiction was announced last week – the Arthur C. Clarke award for 2013 has an incredible line up of SF names, or, if you read The Guardian, is a great testament to male domination of the science fiction genre. Alison Flood’s opening sentence ‘reinforcing science fiction’s image as a boys club’ (sorry Angela Carter, Mira Grant, Connie Wilis, Margaret Atwood – seems your memberships are perhaps not as authentic as we all believed), leaves us little doubt that the following coverage will be everything other than informative.

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Reasons to celebrate Iain Banks while we have the chance

Yesterday’s shattering news that Iain Banks has terminal cancer and, at this point, is expected to live for less than a year is difficult to write about for many reasons, not least of which is resisting the temptation to turn in some sort of living eulogy. The widely beloved author of, amongst many others, The Crow Road, The Wasp Factory, The Bridge and Complicity, and, as Iain M. Banks, the Culture series of science fiction novels, would also surely abhor any notion of soliciting prayers, or ‘sending positive thoughts’, or being subject to maudlin rending of garments, or any such thing. What follows, then, is a few muddled, scattered, still reeling reasons, from a fan, why we should put such thoughts aside and celebrate Banks while we still have him amongst us:

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Seanan McGuire breaks records with Hugo nominations

The nominees for this year’s Hugo Awards were announced this past weekend, and brought with them a record-breaking number of nods for author Seanan McGuire. The annual awards recognising the best in science-fiction and fantasy this year see McGuire up for four awards under both her own name and her pen name, Mira Grant, with two nominees in one of those categories. As McGuire noted on her own blog: ‘here are my firsts for this year: First woman to appear on the ballot four times in fiction categories alone. First person to appear on the ballot five times in a single year. First person to appear on the ballot with a purely self-published work.’ She added: ‘I have eaten nothing but ice cream today. I have cried a lot.’

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Jim Carrey’s metaphysical children’s book is a thing now

‘It’s called How Roland Rolls, and if you wanna know about it, it’s at Roland, at, and I’m gonna self-publish, ’cause that’s just the world right now and I think it’s cool, and it’s gonna be beautifully illustrated, and it’s a story about a wave named Roland, who’s afraid that one day when he hits the beach, his life will be over, but when he gets deep, he’s struck by the notion he’s not just the wave, he’s the great big wide ocean. So it’s a metaphysical children’s book and it deals with a lot of serious things in a really fun way, and I think kids are gonna like it and parents are gonna go to bed feeling a little safer.’

So sayeth Jim Carrey – noted metaphysicist, courter of Emma Stone and sometime arse-speaker – in an interview with HitFix, ostensibly to promote his latest cinematic exploration of the hidden chasms of the soul, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which only seems like it should have been directed by Terrence Malick, because of all the metaphysics.

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Kickstart Brian Blessed shouting for the children

Clearly familiar with the internet’s love of all things Brian Blessed, London music teacher Matt Parry has taken to Kickstarter in a bid to source funding for his mixed media project for children, Sheherazade. Parry’s aim is to introduce children to classical music through a series of stories told as both audio plays available on CD, scored by a relevant piece of music, and as accompanying graphic novels. (Readers of a certain age who are also progeny of a certain level of aspirational parent might recall the similarly-pitched 90s magazine series The Magical Music Box, whose fortnightly issues contained a radio play on CD or tape that had some thematic or narrative ties to a particular piece of classical music, as well as the complete piece of classical music excerpted in the play and an illustrated print telling of the play in the magazine, alongside some historical context for the music. So yeah, this is like that, to bring to completion an illustrative reference an exceptionally limited number of people will recognise.)

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R.I.P. horror novelist James Herbert

An author who held a particularly special place in the hearts of those genre connoiseurs who came of age between the 70s and the dawn of the internet age, James Herbert has died aged 69, says his publisher Pan Macmillan. No cause of death was disclosed, but Herbert is reputed to have passed peacefully in bed. A perennial library checkout of fathers and older cousins, at least in this writer’s family, the novelist’s bibliography spans from his 1974 debut, The Rats, to what would prove to be his final work, 2012’s Ash.

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