Paperback romance maven Mills & Boon isn’t a literary brand you would normally associate with formal or technological innovation – unless your sole exposure to the books is listening to your gran unconsciously recite passages she’s read from them as she drifts in and out of sleep in her armchair, in which case they might come across as automatic writing sprung straight from Barbara Cartland’s id – but it seems to be looking to change that with the launch of a new multi-platform venture. The Chatsfield centres around a fictional London hotel, telling multiple stories through a central website and across social media, e-mail, YouTube, blogs and even text messages.
DAN RANGER. Breathe that name in: DAN. RANGER. Magnificent. Like a piece of Alan Partridge-penned Chris Ryan fanfic made wonderfully real. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
On the occasion of her 88th birthday, HarperCollins has announced that it will finally release an authorised digital edition of Harper (no relation) Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird on 8 July, 54 years after the book’s initial publication. A long-time holdout against the transition to digital, Lee acknowledged the changing times in a statement through her publisher (newsworthy in and of itself, so infrequently does she make public utterances), saying: ‘I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries. I am amazed and humbled that ‘Mockingbird’ has survived this long. This is ‘Mockingbird’ for a new generation.’
The shortlists for this year’s Orwell Prize, awarded annually to political books and journalism, have been revealed. Nominated books are: Gaiutra Bahadur’s Coolie Woman (Hurst); Frank Dikötter’s The Tragedy of Liberation (Bloomsbury); James Fergusson’s The World’s Most Dangerous Place (Bantam, Random House); David Goodhart’s The British Dream (Atlantic); Alan Johnson’s This Boy (Bantam, Random House); and Charles Moore’s Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography (Penguin Allen Lane). Nominated journalists are Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, James Astill, Aditya Chakrabortty, Jonathan Freedland, AA Gill, Gideon Rachman and Mary Riddell.
Last month the first pictures emerged of Jason Segel in costume as the late, celebrated American author David Foster Wallace in the upcoming film End of the Road, based on David Lipsky’s 2010 book Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, itself based around a five day road trip Lipsky took with Wallace in 1996 while interviewing him for Rolling Stone. To Wallace’s fans, at least, the photos did not bode well, and it seems Wallace’s family shares that sense of trepidation: they, along with the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust and Wallace’s publishers Little, Brown, have issued a statement outlining their objections to the film.
Several outlets are reporting the death of Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian author of 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, at the age of 87. Following a decade and a half of declining health, including a successful fight with lymphatic cancer (diagnosed in 1999) and the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease (made public in 2012), a dehydrated Márquez was hospitalised earlier this month with infections of the lungs and urinary tract, ultimately succumbing to pneumonia.
Donna Tartt’s third novel, The Goldfinch, has won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The Pulitzer – one of the most prestigious prizes in American cultural life, awarded annually (for the most part) by Columbia University – is undoubtedly the most high-profile recognition Tartt’s novel has had since its October release. The $10,000 award joins the book’s placement in several publications’ 2013 year-end lists, its nomination for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (where it was beaten by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah) and its being shortlisted for the yet-to-be-announced Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. Tartt’s previous novel, 2002’s The Little Friend, was the recipient of the WH Smith Literary Award in 2003, was also nominated for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize (then known as the Orange Prize for Fiction) and took home the Chris Ward Prize for Best Book I Read That Year That I Didn’t Have to Read for School (‘NOT A CASH PRIZE’ scrawled in black ink over the notification of victory).
The Guardian has teamed with publisher Legend Times to launch a monthly prize that aims to find the best from amongst the vast swathes of self-published novels. Open to work either written in or translated into English of 40,000 words or longer, and having been self-published after 31 December 2011, each month a panel of readers (currently standing at 20, but ready to be broadened as demand requires) will whittle down submissions into a shortlist of ten titles, which will then be read by a panel of ‘expert judges’, with the winner’s prize a review in The Guardian, either online or in print, and the prestige of being named The Guardian Legend Self-Published Book of the Month. Authors can only submit one entry per month, and cannot submit the same title twice. The final submission date for the first month is 18 April.
The Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction yesterday revealed its 2014 shortlist, exactly one month after the longlist was initially published. Those 20 titles have been pared down to work from six authors, whose number includes a previous winner, one previously shortlisted and three debuting novelists.
Though initially thought by some to be an April Fool’s prank, due to its appearance on YouTube on 1 April, a repost by Canongate’s YouTube account earlier today confirms that Russell Brand’s video announcing his plans to rewrite a series of fairy tales for children is, in fact, for real, and the first instalment of Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales will be with us by the end of the year. The two minute video finds Brand reading extracts from his retelling of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” and waxing philosophical about the power of fairy tales to shape children’s outlook on the world, striking a tone midway between Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and a Richard Kelly film.