Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book News Vol. 5 No. 51


The perfect gift for book lovers! Ignite a passion for reading and writing in your loved ones this holiday season with a gift certificate for events at the 2011 Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival (October 18–23). To purchase gift certificates (available in $20 increments), please call us at 604-681-6330 ext 0 by December 16. Non-fattening and easy to wrap!

Stay tuned for exciting news about the Vancouver International Writers Festival's new year-round reading series. Twice a month, we will present established and emerging writers discussing their new books—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, spoken word, travel, biography and more—in partnership with the Vancouver Public Library. And it’s free! The first event will be in the Alice MacKay Room at the Central Library on January 26 at 7:30 pm. Mark your calendar! Info:


The finalists for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction are Stevie Cameron for On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver's Missing Women, James FitzGerald for What Disturbs Our Blood: A Son's Quest to Redeem the Past, Charles Foran for Mordecai: The Life & Times, and John Vaillant for The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival. The Award will be presented January 31, 2011.

U.S. poet Elyse Fenton has won the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize of £30,000 (about $47,000 Cdn) for writers under age 30, for her poetry collection, Clamor.

Christopher Fowler's Paperboy, a memoir of growing up in 1960s London has won the inaugural Green Carnation prize for literature by gay men, one of the few prizes for gay literature.

Japan has bestowed the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun on Joy Kogawa, author of several books, including Obasan, for her contribution to the understanding and preservation of Japanese Canadian history and the promotion of friendship between Japan and Canada.

The Guardian First Book Award—along with £10,000—has been won by Alexandra Harris’s Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper, a choice described as counter-intuitive since serious works of art history have difficulty finding publishers, let alone win populist prizes.


A copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America became the most expensive book ever when it sold at Sotheby's for £7.3m ($11.6 million Cdn.) earlier this week. will soon be unveiled as an experiment in online literature.Developed by two New Yorker staff (one current, one former), is a free platform for young people to read and write fiction, both on their computers and on their cellphones.

Philip Marchand explores how it is that some writers are loved by the New Yorker.

Why is there no Good Sex in Fiction Award, asks Toby Lichtig.

Onnesha Roychoudhuri explores the question: does Amazon have too much power over bookselling? and concludes that "publishers and readers will finally know what happens when you sell a book like it’s a can of soup".

Amazon now sponsors the US literary prize, the Best Translated Book Award. Some independent booksellers, including prize judges, have suggested that taking money from the retail giant would be "akin to the medical researchers who take money from cigarette companies."

Google is challenging with its long-awaited launch this week of an on-line bookstore in the U.S.

More than 100 independent book retailers in 36 states have already agreed to team up with Google.

On the other hand, Robert McCrum says that "For all the kvetching about the digital era, the books world's vital signs are looking very healthy."

World Book Night is an ingenious scheme and celebration in which one million books will be given away for free across the UK and Ireland on March 5 2011. Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi are among the books to be distributed.

Susan Swan notes that Canadian literature is widely acclaimed internationally but barely included in Canadian schools’ curricula. Why aren’t we teaching more of these books? she asks.

While Anthony Burgess was a teacher at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (considered the "Eton of the East"), he composed Ode: Celebration for a Malay College for the college's golden jubilee in 1955. The work was suppressed—and rediscovered only recently.

The Globe and Mail has hand-picked the best eye candy (books) of the season for your gift-giving pleasure.

Here is the New York Times’ annual list of 100 notable books in fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

And eight notable children’s books of 2010.

The Star recommends eleven entrancing fantasy books for kids for holiday reading.


In her Eisner Award-winning coming-of-art memoir, What It Is, Lynda Barry prodded would-be writers to pick up a pen (or a brush) and put it to paper. Jennifer B. McDonald writes that Barry’s latest book, Picture This taps into something more elemental and asks, "Do you wish you could draw?"

David L. Ulin says about Garry Trudeau’s 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective that "the narrative elements quickly grow seductive, just as the strip, at its best, has always been".

Once upon a time, writes Joe Friesen, not many people grew old. Much has now changed, as is clearly outlined in Ted C. Fishman’s Shock of Gray.

Many better-known writers will be lucky to leave behind a monument as memorable as John Lavery’s first novel, Sandra Beck, writes John Barber.

Kate Taylor interviews prolific author Anita Shreve about, among other things, the continuing desire (by some) to pigeonhole books written by women.

Those who used to follow Maira Kalman’s blog for the Opinion section of will be particularly pleased at the news that she’s "written" a picture book for grown-ups. Leah Hager Cohen writes that And The Pursuit of Happiness is like an impromptu interpretive dance about America.

Nadine Gordimer’s Life Times: Stories 1952-2007 map Gordimer's engagement with the moral dimension of her art.

Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon have written a young adult mystery featuring the iconic Harlem author Zora Neale Hurston. Zora and Me thrills and chills, writes Mary Quattlebaum.

In Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Fall: Book Two of The Strain Trilogy, vampires spread like a virus. The Strain, Book One in the series, is now out in paperback.

Bernhard Schlink’s new novel The Weekend focuses attention on one member of the German terrorist movement of the 1970s that called itself the Red Army Faction, since pardoned by the German President. Schlink is interested in how memories linger or don’t.

John Gilkey is a serial stealer of books and the focus of Allison Hoover Bartlett’s The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. And then there is Ken Sanders, a book-dealer and sleuth.

Julia Franck’s The Blind Side of the Heart, beginning in the chaos of the German withdrawal from Stettin in 1945, is a rich affecting novel, writes David Evans.

Annie Proulx hails an outstanding debut about Sicilian immigrants making lives in America in Salvatore Scibona’s The End. The reader gets the strong sense of standing just inside the door of the characters' shifting worlds, says Proulx.

Fannie Flagg, the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, continues using her foolproof recipe for whimsical tales of Southern discomfort, and skeletons in Southern closets, with I Still Dream About You, says Emma Hagestadt.


Turner Music's "All Things Spoken" presents the competitive performance poet and Vancouver SLAM champion with special guest R.C. Weslowski. Thursday, December 9 at 6:00pm. Tickets $10. Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club, 3611 W. Broadway. More information at

Readings by Anna Swanson (The Nights Also) and Deborah Willis (Vanishing and Other Stories). Thursday, December 9 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Library/Bookstore Robson Square, Plaza level, 800 Robson Street. For more information, visit

Canadian publisher presents Spaz author Bonnie Bowman, Ravenna Gets author Tony Burgess, A Mountie In Niagara Falls author Salvatore Difalco, Spat the Dummy author Ed Macdonald, and Vs. author Kerry Ryan reading selections from their newest works. Friday, December 10 at 7:00pm, free. Cafe Montmartre, 4362 Main Street. More information at

Vikram Vij, author of Vij's at Home and Evaleen Jaager Roy, author of Four Chefs One Garden are signing their new cookbooks. Saturday, December 11 at 12:00pm. Chapters Granville, 2505 Granville Street.

Book launch and signing by New Westminster Poet Laureate. Sunday, December 12 at 2:30pm, free. Renaissance Bookstore, 43 6th Street, New Westminster. For more information, phone (604) 525-4566.

Featuring Jive Poetic. Monday, December 13 at 8:00pm. Cover: $5-10 sliding scale. Cafe Deux Soleils, 2096 Commercial Drive. More information at

Vancouver Sun columnist will give a reading and talk based on his new book A Walk With the Rainy Sisters: In Praise of British Columbia's Places. Wednesday, December 15 at 7:00pm, free. Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. More information at

Sara Bynoe hosts an evening of deliciously rotten writing, as read by Ryan Steele, Billeh Nickerson, Andrew Barber, Eric Fell, and Jeff Gladstone. Wednesday, December 15 at 8:00pm. Tickets $10/5. Cottage Bistro, 4470 Main Street. More information at


Author reads from her warm and witty novel, Advice for Italian Boys. Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye Rooms, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street. For more information please contact Vancouver Public Library at 604-331-3603.

Writers' Trust co-founder Margaret Atwood will narrate a theatrical performance based on her best-selling novel, The Year of the Flood at a Writers' Trust of Canada fundraiser on February 3. The performance at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver will feature the singers and actors from the VIWF's sold out 2009 production. Tickets for the event, which features special guest and Writers' Trust co-founder Graeme Gibson, a cocktail reception, and an auction of original postcard stories from celebrated Canadian writers and other select items, are $175. Tickets and more information here,

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