Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book News Vol. 6 No. 31



Michael Ondaatje - September 21, 2011
Join us for an evening with the Booker Prize-winning author of The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje, as he discusses his forthcoming novel, The Cat's Table. Details:

An Evening with Anthony Bourdain - 8pm, October 29, 2011
The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. Tickets: $47.50/$55.00/$62.50/VIP package: $152.50. Tickets now on sale at Ticketmaster. Support the Writers Festival: use the code "writers" when purchasing your ticket, a portion of the ticket proceeds will go to the VIWF and you will receive a $5 discount per ticket. Details:

An Evening with David Sedaris - 8pm, November 5, 2011
The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. Tickets: $45.00/$50.00/$57.50. Tickets now on sale at Ticketmaster. Support the Writers Festival: use the code "writers" when purchasing your ticket, a portion of the ticket proceeds will go to the VIWF and you will receive a $5 discount per ticket. Details:

Wade Davis - November 10, 2011
An evening with scientist, anthropologist and bestselling author Wade Davis discussing his latest book Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest. Details:


In his profile of Peter Behrens, John Barber writes that Behrens's disclaimer is another part of the fiction. The family history is not. From the "famine Irish" immigrant to the 20th century tycoon, Behrens has made his family unforgettably alive.

Randy Boyagoda's Beggar's Feast tells a concise rags-to-riches story that spans the hundred years of a self-made Sri Lankan man. Sent off at 10 because a horoscope portends family disaster, Sam becomes very much his own man.

Tessa McWatt's Vital Signs is a relatively short, character-driven novel set in Toronto and surrounding countryside. Although we communicate in hundreds of different ways, this book focuses on the end of a couple's marriage, writes Vit Wagner.


A sentence by Sue Fondrie, a University of Wisconsin professor, comparing forgotten memories to the bloodied corpses of sparrows, has won the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Writers are invited to compose the worst opening sentence to an imaginary novel.


This year's is the bravest Booker longlist of all time, says former judge Louise Doughty, with its first novels, small presses, and eclectic range of topics.

The Not the Booker 2011 uses roughly the same entry criteria as the Booker panel. Readers are invited to nominate—on the Guardian website—one book the reader would like to see considered for the prize.

CBC Books invites Canadian fiction fans to nominate a book for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2011 longlist—and become eligible for prizes. The most nominated book will be added to the official longlist. More information, and nomination forms are here:

Last week's New Yorker includes a Booker Review Round-up, in part because many of the titles on the long list haven't made it to the U.S. yet (or are not set to be published in the US at all).

The Booker-longlisted author Sebastian Barry (On Canaan's Side) tells Leyla Sanai how his own ancestors' bloody history inspires his novels about Ireland's violent past.

Sandstone Press, operating out of a bedroom in a flat in the Scottish Highlands, has Jane Rogers' The Testament of Jessie Lamb on the Booker longlist. All but four of the 13-strong longlist are from a "non-conglomerate" publisher.

Acclaimed Chinese author Ma Jian (Red Dust and Beijing Coma) was barred from entering mainland China during a recent visit to Hong Kong. It's not known how long the ban will last.

Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and young adult novel Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler have both been banned from a school curriculum and library in a Missouri school following complaints from a local professor about children being exposed to "shocking material".

Author Sarah Selecky writes about the experience of her home being broken into, with many things moved, tossed, taken. But her books—on shelves in every room in the house—were left, untouched. It seems her books were invisible.

Nordic crime writers' work is full of social commentary, many of the writers are former or working journalists, and there is a clear sense of difference from the mainstream. How will they respond to the Ut√łya massacre? asks Brian Oliver.

Robert McCrum brings back to our attention Elizabeth Mackintosh, who wrote as Josephine Tey or Gordon Daviot, was a friend of John Gielgud, and has influenced writers from Stephen King to Sarah Waters.

Chapters is offering a 30 per-cent discount off all Margaret Atwood books in its stores across Canada, after the author took a stand against funding cuts at Toronto libraries.

Internet pioneer Brewster Kahle wants to preserve a physical copy of every book ever published. So far, Kahle has gathered about 500,000 books which will be stored in converted shipping containers.

Boyd Tonkin reflects on "the law of unintended consequences" as they apply to publishers, especially those providing educational materials in Africa and other areas with which Britain has historical links.

Stephen Henighan's opinion piece on Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship—a booklet he read because of his partner's application for Canadian citizenship—identifies some content that doesn't conform to Henighan's experience and knowledge of Canada.

Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists is a novel about journalists. Here are Rachman's 20 favourite books on the journalist, starting with his pick for the greatest press novel of all.

Will Lavender used to think genre fiction was for the slow-minded. And then he read a book by Michael Connelly—and learned to stop worrying and love the thriller.

Author Sarah Thornton has won £65,000 in libel damages over a "spiteful" book review that was written by a journalist for the Daily Telegraph, a broadsheet newspaper.

Alan Shadrake's Once a Jolly Hangman resulted in 14 charges for "scandalising the judiciary" and six weeks' imprisonment in Singapore. Still, Shandrake is proud of what he considers his best work in his 50-year career and has no regrets.

Should novelists double as book critics? David Gates thinks a fellow fiction writer can bring a unique perspective to critical discourse. Lev Grossman says "Being a novelist demands arrogance. To be a good critic, you have to be humble."

U.S. bookstores' buyers have recently received announcements of a mysterious last-minute addition to the Little, Brown & Company fall lineup. "Untitled," by Anonymous, it's "the inside story of life with one of the most controversial figures of our time."

Bumble-Ardy, the first book in thirty years written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, will be released in September.

Vanity Fair includes Dave Eggers' print portrait of Sendak.

The August 18 issue of the New York Review of Books has a series of four articles about Google: how it works; what it's like to work for Google; why we should worry; or not.

The headline for an interview with D.J. McIntosh asks whether she is the next Dan Brown. Someone posted on the Globe website that s/he found the Witch of Babylon as riveting as the Stieg Larsson trilogy.

Vancouver continues the search for its third Poet Laureate. Nominations and submissions will be accepted until Aug. 24.


Townie: A Memoir is Andre Dubus III's mesmerising account of his adolescent descent into a life of violence in small-town America. He turned himself into a small-town Clint Eastwood, capable of standing up to the bullies, says William Skidelsky.

Edward Thomas and Robert Frost met in London in 1913, neither having yet made his name as a poet. Matthew Hollis' Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas describes a remarkable literary friendship.

The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes's Booker-longlisted novella, is a meditation on ageing, memory and regret, scrutinising its own workings from every possible angle, writes Justine Jordan. The novella's narrator acts as if "all my memories are true".

Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin confirm how exotic and exhilarating was the world that Chatwin saw, says Stephen Smith, decrying the downfall of letter writers and wagging a finger at e-mailers. Thankfully, we still have Chatwin's books.

One day, Rebecca Kraatz bought a photo album from the 1940s at a flea market in Victoria, and studied the unknown people in the pictures, looking for connections between them. These ties invest Snaps with real excitement, says John Semley.

Growing up in China with a grandmother who had "golden lotus" feet, Xiaolan Zhao has pondered the tyranny of beauty. In Inner Beauty, Zhao draws parallels with foot destroying stilettos and cosmetic surgery, urging women to strive for inner beauty.

Tom Carson's Daisy Buchanan's Daughter is messy and sprawling. It also brings the past alive and is a very engaging showcase for the most distinctive voice to be found in any recent American novel, says Jason Anderson.

America Walks Into a Bar is more than a book about America's tavern history; it is a book about America itself. Christine Sismondo's erudition and wit make this a lively, very readable study, writes Nicholas Pashley.

Ballet is a beautiful con job, writes Jim Bartley, and every aspiring prima knows there will be blood. Six pages in, Martha Schabas had Bartley in her authorial palm. Every parent and teacher should read Schabas's Various Positions, says Bartley.

Carol Birch's Jamrach's Menagerie is set in 19th-century London and at sea. It's a story about male friendship, survival, human decency and what matters most. And, says Monique Polak, Birch is a masterful stylist.

The Globe and Mail has commissioned short stories to run over six weeks. This week: Second Person From Hughtopia by Marina Endicott.


World Poetry, Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast, and the City of Richmond present a First Nations welcome by World Poetry First Nations ambassador Roberta Price, a biography by Loretta Todd, music by Russell Wallace, and readings of Johnson's poems. Friday, July 29 at 6:30pm, free. Richmond Cultural Centre, 180 - 7700 Minoru Gate.

The American mystery-suspense writers promote their two new titles I'll Walk Alone and Mobbed. Wednesday, August 3 at 7:00pm, free. Chapters Granville, 2505 Granville Street.

Literary readings by authors from both sides of the Canada-US border, curated by Rachel Rose, featuring John Barton, Jen Currin, Lydia Kwa, Elizabeth Colen, Carol Guess and Wayne Koestenbaum. Wednesday, August 3 at 7:30pm; donation. Roundhouse Exhibition Hall, 181 Roundhouse Mews. More information at

A long weekend of papers, presentations, workshops, readings, and other activities in celebration of haiku poetry, held at the Seattle Center. August 3-7, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. More information at

Canada's longest running summer gathering of Canadian writers and readers, featuring Charles Foran, Susan Juby, Alexander MacLeod and Margaret Trudeau and many more. August 4-7, 2011. Rockwood Centre (5511 Shorncliffe Ave.), Sechelt, BC. Complete details at

Display of Rand Holmes' art curated by Martha Holmes and Patrick Rosenkrantz. Holmes, who passed away in 2002, is best known for his Harold Hedd comics and covers for the Georgia Straight in the '70s. Saturday, August 6 at 7:00pm. Lucky's Comics, 3972 Main Street. More information at

Ten local authors traverse not only the wide breadth of queer sex, desire and identities, but also explore how different literary genres and modes of storytelling all make fine bedmates for erotica. Monday, August 8 at 7:30pm; donation. Roundhouse Exhibition Hall, 181 Roundhouse Mews. More information at

Three stages of music, poetry, panel discussions, workshops, and kids' entertainment. Sunday, August 13 from 11:45 to 8pm. Lumberman's Arch, Stanley Park. More information at


A celebration in honour of all the young readers who are participating in North Vancouver District Public Library’s Summer Reading Club. Wednesday, August 17 at 2:00pm, free. Pick up tickets at the children's department at any North Vancouver District Library branch. Community Meeting room, Lynn Valley Main Library, 1277 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver. More info at 604-984-0286.

For the next CBC Studio One Book Club, author William Gibson suggested British writer Sarah Salway. Her three novels and her short stories all share a common theme of how identity is formed through the stories we tell about ourselves - or those that are told about us. William is a big fan of Sarah's writing, so he's going to co-host with Sheryl MacKay, on Thursday August 25th at 6:30 pm. Check out Sarah's writing and enter to win free tickets at

Writers Fred Wah, Joanne Arnott, and Tanya Evanson engage the audience in mixed root dialogue and share their literary expression in fiction, poetry and spoken-word performance. Wednesday, September 7 at 7:00pm, free. Alice MacKay room, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia Street.

The 8th Annual Kootenay Book Weekend will take place in Nelson B.C. September 23, 24 an 25. The featured books are: Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap; Kathryn Stockett's The Help; Li Cunxin's Mao's Last Dancer, and special guest Ruth Ozeki and her books My Year of Meats and All Over Creation. Further information and registration forms can be found at

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