This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to Patrick Modiano. The 69 year old Frenchman was recognised ‘for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation’. Peter Englund, the Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary, compared him to Proust.
The shortlists for this year’s Saltire Literary Awards – widely held to be among the most prestigious literary prizes in Scotland – were revealed this past weekend as part of the annual Wigtown Book Festival, with women leading the field for the Literary Book of the Year. Five of that category’s six nominees are female: A L Kennedy (All the Rage), Anne Donovan (Gone Are the Leaves), Sally Magnusson (Where Memories Go), Rona Munro (The James Plays) and Booker nominee Ali Smith (How to Be Good), with the lone man Martin MacIntyre (Cala Bendita ‘S aBheannachdan).
Ahead of this year’s National Poetry Day (happening this Thursday, 2 October), the Forward Arts Foundation has awarded its annual prizes for poetry. Regarded, in terms of its ability to make writers’ reputations, as the Booker of the poetry world, the £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Collection went to Kei Miller’s The Cartographer Tries to Map A Way to Zion, in which a mapmaker ‘is gradually compelled to recognise – even to envy – a wholly different understanding of place, as he tries to map his way to the rastaman’s eternal city of Zion.’
Early next year Faber will reissue several titles from throughout its 85 year history as part of its new Modern Classics line. Focusing on work that is at least 25 years old, be it fiction, non-fiction, drama or poetry, the paperbacks will contain supplementary material including readers’ notes, introductions and reproductions of articles of note from the Faber archives, and will be adorned in their own livery designed by Faber art director Donna Payne. The initial line-up of ten will be published in April 2015, joined by six more in June.
This is a guest post from John Pettigrew, CEO of FutureProofs.
At Futureproofs we’ve spent the past year creating a solution to a problem that most editors and proofreaders recognise. Handling book proofs on paper works very nicely, but it’s a bit slow and cumbersome, it’s often hard to read, and it’s surprisingly expensive. Many companies have moved to PDF proofing to save money, but the available tools are laughably poorly designed for this job and make the process take longer. The reason for this, of course, is that they weren’t designed for this job at all but just for basic annotation!
So, at the Frankfurt Book Fair on 8 October, we’re launching Futureproofs. This is our solution to these problems, designed by editors for editors. We hope that it will help publishing teams create quality books more cheaply and quickly. A browser-based platform, it addresses the problems I mentioned above by providing three key advantages over the current options.
In what’s turning out to be quite the week for internet-based publishing innovations, Amazon has brought its Kindle Unlimited service to British shores. The subscription service, billed as a literary equivalent to Netflix and Spotify, allows users unlimited access (as the name implies) to over 650,000 Kindle books and an extensive library of Audible audiobooks for £7.99 a month (at current exchange rates nearly £2 more, incidentally, than the $9.99 a month charged by the American service, which launched earlier this summer). Amazon is offering a free 30 day trial of the service to all those who sign up.
This week sees the launch of Advance Editions, a platform for crowdsourced editing allowing readers early access to soon-to-be-published books in the hope that they’ll spot any previously missed errors – factual, linguistic or otherwise – or be able to provide any other suggestions on how to improve. The idea is that, having already been professionally edited, books will be uploaded to the site for three months ahead of their official release, with the site’s users able to download either the first half for free or the complete book for a 60% discount on the RRP. Readers can then suggest changes through the site for the authors to make prior to final publication.
Having unveiled its 13-strong longlist in July, the Man Booker Prize today revealed the six books that survived the cut and made this year’s shortlist for one of the literary world’s most prestigious awards. They are: Joshua Ferris’ To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Howard Jacobson’s J, Neel Mukherjee’s The Lives of Others and Ali Smith’s How to be Both. This is the first year of the prize in which the Americans Ferris and Fowler have been eligible to be nominated, being the first in which the prize has opened up its field of potential nominees to any book written in English and published in the UK.
Continuing in the grand tradition of posthumous work by 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Big Pun, Big L and Pimp C, the late author and poet Maya Angelou – who died in May of this year aged 86 – is set to release a hip-hop album in November. Caged Bird Songs – named for Angelou’s first volume of memoir, 1969’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – sees thirteen recordings of Angelou reading her work laid over beats produced by Shawn Rivera and RoccStarr, and was undertaken with Angelou’s blessing, mixing previously existing audio with vocals recorded shortly before her death.
Little over a fortnight following Robin Williams’ death at the age of 63, author and journalist Dave Itzkoff has revealed plans to write a biography of the late comedian. Itzkoff – by day a culture reporter for the New York Times – is not quite the crass opportunist that such timing might suggest, haven written several features on Williams for the Times in the past, including a celebrated 2009 profile written in the months following Williams’ aortic valve replacement surgery, which itself followed a divorce and time spent in rehab for alcoholism.