Way back in October of 2011, we posted news of The Literature Prize, a potential rival to the Booker whose creation was implicitly a reaction to that year’s infamously ‘readable’ Booker shortlist. Spokesperson Andrew Kidd, the literary agent, suggested at the time that the prize could be up and running as soon as 2012. That estimate proved to be a little overly optimistic, as evidenced by the prize’s still not having happened (just so we’re all on the same page, it’s 2013 now), but just when everyone had forgotten it had ever been mooted, the prize has resurfaced with a new name, a sponsor and a date for its inaugural ceremony: As of March 2014, the Booker will be joined on the literary prize circuit by the Folio Prize, unexepectedly taking its title – and sponsorship – from The Folio Society.
It’s been a hot, awkwardly phrased minute since we last had anything worth reporting on the ol’ Fifty Shades of Grey front. Thankfully however, after three months, our long, hard, throbbing national nightmare is over with the news that Vintage is set to publish the excessively punctuated Fifty Shades of Grey: Inner Goddess (A Journal), which is either a canny piece of Fifty Shades merchandising or a spin-off of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
Today, as most people reading this will be aware, is World Book Day, the self-explanatory global celebration of reading with a particular focus on encouraging children and young people to read: vouchers are distributed, books given away for free and, following the success of last year’s efforts, an event organisers are calling The Biggest Book Show On Earth will be streaming live on the World Book Day website for an hour from 11am to classrooms (and more) across the country.
In perhaps the most welcome news of a musician having written a memoir since R. Kelly unleashed Soula Coasta: The Diary of Me upon the world last year, universally beloved Roots drummer, producer, tweeter, house band anchor and all-round muso extraordinaire Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson will publish an autobiography this summer entitled Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. Presumably seeking to right the wrong of his not being included in Barnes & Noble’s children’s hip-hop biographies section, Questlove has co-authored the book with Ben Greenman, acclaimed author of fiction in his own right and an editor at The New Yorker. The memoir will be released by Hachette imprint Grand Central Publishing on June 18 in America and a week later in the UK and, as you can see by casting an eye above, has the cover art to beat this year.
The Booksellers Association last week released its annual membership figures, and they made for grim reading for lovers of independent bookshops: for the sixth year running, the total number of indies on the UK high street remained in decline.
I do love a good first. The first t-shirt day of the summer; the first beer on a night out; the first time you wear a new hoodie. Last week saw the announcement of the first digital-only literary list in the UK, Blackfriars from Little, Brown. The list promises to curate 9 to 12 titles a year from new or established authors, and is launching in June. Now there’s a first to get out of bed for.
Author and icon of the cool internet nerds movement Neil Gaiman has released a new, part-crowdsourced, online-only short story collection. The thirty-one pages of A Calendar of Tales contain twelve new stories, one for each month of the year, written over the past few weeks after Gaiman tweeted various questions related to the months and took inspiration from the responses garnered.
In the latest example of the strange, mystical power already exhibited by 2013 to draw maddeningly non-prolific artists out of hiding – following on from My Bloody Valentine’s twenty-two-years-later follow-up to Loveless, Terrence Malick’s second film in less than two years (his sixth in forty) and the promise of new work from Thomas Pynchon to come – author of The Secret History and The Little Friend Donna Tartt will release her third novel this October.
A HYPOTHETICAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN AHMET ZAPPA (PRODUCER, WRITER, SON OF FRANK) AND HIS AGENT:
Following a successful inaugural year that saw victory claimed by Caleb Klaces for his collection Bottled Air, Eyewear Publishing is accepting submissions for the sophomore edition of its Melita Hume Poetry Prize from this Wednesday (13/02). Named for the eponymous collector of books and compiler of poems, the prize awards £1,000 and a publishing deal with Eyewear to the best first full collection of poetry written in English by a poet born in 1978 or later (i.e. no older than 35).