Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book News Vol. 6 No.22


Now that our spring season is wrapped up, we are busy planning the 2011 Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival (as well as the fall Incite series and special events). We are part way through the process of inviting authors and we're very excited about the line-up. We'll be telling you about who's coming over the next weeks and months. You can also learn about Festival authors by reading our blog,

Tickets are now on sale for the 29th Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, Canada's longest-running literary festival, taking place August 4-7, 2011 in beautiful downtown Sechelt. Call 1-800-565-9631 to order tickets. Information:


Barcelona-based Peruvian writer Santiago Roncagliolo has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for Red April, a murder story with a fictional serial killer to dramatize the impact of Shining Path in Peru. He shares the £10,000 award, the annual honour for fiction from beyond the English language, with his translator Edith Grossman.

Irish novelist John Banville has won the Franz Kafka award. The prize is given by the Kafka Society to an international author whose work is "exceptional for its artistic quality", and "addresses readers regardless of their origin, nationality or culture, just like the work of Franz Kafka".

Political economist and writer Stephen Clarkson was among 43 people invested with the Order of Canada at a ceremony at Rideau Hall last week.

Irish poet Seamus Heaney is one of seven finalists for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Three Canadians and four international nominees are in the running for two separate awards.

William Deverell is to receive the lifetime achievement award at this weekend's Bloody Words, the annual crime writers' convention.

Thirty-plus books in seven categories are shortlisted for Arthur Ellis Awards for best Canadian mystery writing. Awards will be given the night before Bloody Word begins.

Traitor, by New Zealand soldier Stephen Daisley, is one of five finalists for the fiction prize among the (Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards. Two other finalists are also shortlisted for the Miles Franklin.

Emma Donoghue and Michael Winter are among the six English-language finalists for the 2011 Trillium Book Awards. There are twenty French- and English-language finalists for Ontario's annual literary honour. The Trillium Book Award is open to writers of all genres, living in Ontario and working in English or French.


Boyd Tonkin talks to Santiago Roncagliolo, the author of Red April.

David Grossman's new novel Falling Out of Time, about coming to terms with the death of a child, is not autobiographical, nor is it set in Israel. The novel will be published in Hebrew in June and later, in English.

The flood of Canadian literary prizes is great for book marketers. But some worry the emphasis on winning is misplaced in a world of fewer book reviews and little recognition for lifetime achievement.

The P.E.I. government has reinstated its publishers assistance program, following a meeting between the Island's publishing community and the culture minister, with the minister's acknowledging a greater understanding of the program.

Over the last 12 months, Christopher Hitchens has provided an account of how to face death that is matched in contemporary literature only by French philosopher Albert Camus's 1947 masterpiece, The Plague, writes Nicolaus Mills.

Here is an early piece.

Hitchens's latest installment reflects on his wondering if perhaps there is room for a short handbook of cancer etiquette, applying to sufferers as well as to sympathizers.

Gil Scott-Heron, whose poetry set to rhythmic jazz music, especially "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," was one of the most important and obvious inspirations for rap music, has died.

The May 30, 2011 issue of the New Yorker includes the August 2010 profile of Scott-Heron.

Along with a postscript by Rollo Romig.

There has been a flurry of online rumours that some of Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book was not written by Mao himself, but by his secretary Hu Qiaomu and others.

Several authors have developed writing programs for adult prisoners in various countries' jails. Caspar Walsh, ex-con, author and founder of Write to Freedom, reveals how writing can lead to rehabilitation for young offenders.

After fifteen years of a very public feud, V.S. Naipaul and Paul Theroux have finally buried the hatchet. The literary titans shook hands again at the Hay Festival, the scene of their original public falling out in 1996, after a gentle intervention by the writer Ian McEwan.

Robert Munsch launched a new children's book in Rigolet, Labrador this past weekend. Give Me Back My Dad is based on a fishing trip he made there two decades ago and is the story of a girl on an ice fishing trip in Rigolet, who is caught by a fish herself.

Despite the emerging popularity of e-books, millions of books first emerge in the paper and ink version, reports Seattle Times Book Editor Mary Ann Gwinn.


Love and money are joined at the hip in the Irish, Booker Prize-winning Anne Enright's latest offering, the novel The Forgotten Waltz, The narrative plays out against a hot economy turned very chilly indeed, writes Nancy Wigston.

A love story from Anne Enright was never going to be a heart-warming romance of the happily-ever-after variety. Nor would we want it to be, says Liam Davison in his review of The Forgotten Waltz.

Shilpi Somaya Gowda began writing to see if she could produce a novel. Secret Daughter, the story of two families, one Indian, one American, and an adopted child, sold 300,000 copies in the first 12 months, reports Geeta Nadkarni.

Philip Marchand writes that Clark Blaise's appropriation of voice in The Meagre Tarmac, a collection of short fiction, is a literary felony justified in this case by the results.

Stephanie Merritt believes fans will approve of Jeffery Deaver's James Bond in Carte Blanche—both the daring spy of old and a product of the 21st century. It's a nail-biter!

Anxiety about the ability of a US thriller writer to handle this most British of spies was misplaced, says Alexandra Heminsley. No detectives sitting, glaring at computer screens. A classic Bond is with us again, she says.

Susan Salter Reynolds writes that in Caleb's Crossing, Geraldine Brooks has created multidimensional, inspiring yet unpredictable characters in 1640's Martha's Vineyard—Caleb's journey from his (native) world and Bethia's, from the Puritan colony of her birth.,0,404752.story

Ron Charles says that The Sisters' Brothers, Patrick deWitt's tale of two hired guns during the Gold Rush, is weirdly funny, startlingly violent and steeped in sadness.

Lila Azam Zanganeh loved Nabokov from an early age and has just published a deeply unconventional study of the Russian émigré writer. The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness is a book unlike anything else I've ever come across, writes William Skidelsky.

Viv Groskrop asks: is Nabokov a narcissist or a genius? Perhaps he's only a writer's writer. To the average reader though, The Enchanted has a lot of the same problems as Nabokov's work. Beautiful, but...

Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly ends when U.S. Navy Lt. Pinkerton returns to Nagasaki with an American wife. Tragic ending. Curtain down. In Butterfly's Child, Angela Davis-Gardner raises that curtain again to imagine the consequences—unique and entirely enchanting, writes Eugenia Zukerman.

Terrible things happen in old country songs. Steve Earle embraces this heartbreaky landscape in his first novel I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive, a rowdy country music song turned into narration. We're in for some heartbreak, says Don Waters.

“He who writes, dies," writes Roberto Saviano. Beauty and the Inferno is a collection of essays that continue the themes that dominate Saviano's thinking: the purpose of writing and the need to take a stand, says Matthew Hoffman.

Embassytown is China Miéville's first foray into what has been called “pure” or even “hardcore” science fiction. The novel is decidedly a thing of complicated wonder, writes Geoff Pevere.

If there's one writer who embodies the changes sweeping through our reading culture, it's probably China Miéville, writes James Bradley.

Although the heaviness of the past sometimes outweighs the present in Edna O'Brien's Saints and Sinners, she hasn't lost her eye for contemporary Ireland's petty jealousies, its covert malice and its never-quite-extinguished violent history, writes Elizabeth Grove-Whites.

Roddy Doyle's new collection Bullfighting is filled with stragglers and loners, men who have come loose from the pack and don't know how to get back. It's both hilarious and heartbreaking, writes Tom Shone.

After writing 12 books for children, Linda Hutsell-Manning, at 70, has published That Summer in Franklin, an upbeat adult novel about dealing with the final years of elderly parents—as much about reunions as losses, says Sharon Abron Drache.


Spoken word and storytelling performances by C.R. Avery, Bill McNamara, Mary Gavan, Bryant Ross and Rosemary Nowicki. Saturday, June 4 at 7:00pm. Location TBA. For information, visit

Ying-Ying Chang reads from her memoir The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond the Rape of Nanking , which chronicles her daughter's life. Sunday, June 5 at 2:00pm, free. Alice MacKay room, Central Branch, 350 W. Georgia St.

The Vancouver author launches Something About the Animal, her debut collection of short stories. Includes a performance by guitarist Phil DeMarsh. Sunday, June 5 at 7:30pm, free. Cafe Deux Soleils, 2096 Commercial Drive. More information at

Launch of the author's new book The Life and Art of Mildred Valley Thornton. Thursday, June 9 at 8:00pm. Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street. More information at

Canadian author and journalist discusses her new book Allah, Liberty, and Love. Friday, June 10 at 7:30pm. Tickets: $18/$15. Capilano Performing Arts Theatre, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver. More information at

Manolis Aligizakis is going to talk about his translation of the works of renowned Greek poet, Yiannis Ritsos and about his book The Vernal Equinox. Saturday, June 11 at 3:00pm, free. Kitsilano Branch, VPL, 2425 Macdonald Street.

WordPlay is a program of Vancouver Poetry House that sends poets to classrooms to perform spoken word poetry and to run workshops. This year marks the debut of Summer Youth Slam Camp (July 4 to 8) at Little Mountain Gallery. Fifteen youth poets will work with Vancouver's best slam poets in this spoken word intensive. The deadline for registration for Slam Camp is June 15. For more details, go to


A screening of the award-winning film based on the work of Sherman Alexie. Thursday, June 16 at 7:00pm, free. Alice MacKay room. lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia Street.

Reading by the author of Embouchure, his debut poetry collection. Thursday, June 16 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore Robson Square, plaza level, 800 Robson Street. More information at

Simon Fraser University's 11th annual English Graduate Conference will be held from Thursday, June 16 to Saturday, June 18 at SFU's Harbour Centre (Thursday and Friday) and the Segal Graduate School of Business (Saturday). All events are open to the general public. There is no fee for attendance. For more information check the website:

Join Vancouver author as he reads from his latest book, They Live Longer: The Secrets of Healthy and Active Ninety-Year-Olds. Saturday, June 18 at 3:00pm, free. Kitsilano Branch, 2425 Macdonald Street.

Award-winning novelist Joan Thomas reads from her love story, Curiosity. Tuesday, June 21 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye rooms, lower level, Central Library. 350 W. Georgia St.

Join writers from all over the Lower Mainland for a series of intensive, interactive writing workshops, panel presentations, and other events. July 8 to 11, Artisan Square, Bowen Island. For complete details, visit

A long weekend of papers, presentations, workshops, readings, and other activities in celebration of haiku poetry, held at the Seattle Center, at the foot of the Space Needle. Featured presenters include Cor van den Heuvel, Richard Gilbert, David Lanoue, Carlos Colón, Fay Aoyagi, Jim Kacian, Emiko Miyashita, George Swede, and many others. August 3-7, 2011. For more information, visit

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