Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book News Vol. 6 No. 47


The perfect gift for book lovers!
Gift certificates, in increments of $20, are now available for the 2012 Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival. To purchase gift certificates, valid towards events during the 2012 Festival from October 16 to 21, please call 604-681-6330 x0. Gift certificates are available for purchase until December 16, 2011. Some restrictions apply.

Incite - Complete details here:
Join us Wednesdays at 7:30pm in the Alice MacKay Room at VPL Central Library.

December 7: Two writers bring their debut books to Incite. JJ Lee and Heather Jessup read from their work and discuss the writing process;

After the above event, Incite takes a break for the holidays and resumes on January 25th. Writers featured in the 2012 series will include William Gibson, Tess Gallagher, and Linden McIntyre.


Rhea Tregebov and Myrna Kostash are two of the five authors short listed for the Kobzar 2012 Literary Award. The Kobzar Literary $25,000 Biennial Award recognizes outstanding contributions to Canadian literary arts by authors who develop a Ukrainian Canadian theme with literary merit.

Globe Books editors select the best-reviewed poetry collections of the year.

Globe Books editors select the best-reviewed Canadian novels and story collections of the year.

Globe Books editors select the best-reviewed fiction from around the world.

Globe Books editors select the best-reviewed non-fiction titles of the year.


Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer has accused the ANC of apartheid-style censorship. A new secrecy law to muzzle press will affect all writers, says the poet and fighter against black oppression.

From Wall St to Athens and Occupy sit-ins worldwide, protesters are wearing masks inspired by Alan Moore's V for Vendetta. Moore talks to Tom Lamont about why his avenging hero has such potency today.

The compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary have chosen the phrase "squeezed middle" as word of the year. OED lexicographers on both sides of the Atlantic picked the phrase – popularised by (Labour Party leader) Ed Miliband – as their first global word of the year. Surprisingly, the accolade does not guarantee the phrase's inclusion into the dictionary.

The National Geographic's list of the top ten literary cities includes two American cities, but no Canadian cities.

PD James is not just the author of a slew of detective novels; she has slipped with ease into other genres. She is also an author of fanfiction with Death Comes to Pemberley. This finally shows that fanfiction is a worthwhile literary pursuit, writes Mathilda Gregory.

Having an existential crisis? Or just caught in a reading rut? Bibliotherapy is the new service offering solace to jaded souls – by revitalising your reading list. The Guardian sent six of their writers to find out if it works.

Of the 12 authors short listed for the Bad Sex Award, only two are women. Nominations for the Literary Review Bad Sex awards are always dominated by men, says Rowan Pelling. Why are women so much better at writing about sex?

CBC Radio One has released the names of five celebrities and the books they will champion for next year's Canada Reads. For the first time, the books are all non-fiction. Participants selected their favorite books from 10 chosen by readers at CBC Books. In early February, the panellists will debate their books in front of audiences in Toronto before choosing a single book as the Canada Reads winner.

Peter Waugh, nephew of Evelyn, talks to Patrick Barkham about the father whose love he couldn't accept – and the uncle who scared him.

Among the snippets of stories, Simon Hoggart's finds a splendid article demolishing the many bonkers theories about who wrote the works of Shakespeare. It couldn't be better timed, writes Hoggart.

In an interview with Michelle Paul, Jeff Kinney says that he had never intended the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series to be for kids, although he is certainly happy with their response to the books.

Over forty authors were invited to identify the books that most impressed them in 2011. A novel about a dinner-party guest who won't leave, a history of Henry VII... Several made the same choices.

The Writers' Trust of Canada is accepting submissions for the Bronwen Wallace Emerging Author Award, which is awarded to authors under the age of 35 whose work has been published in a magazine or anthology. The deadline for submissions is January 30, 2012. Full submission guidelines here:

The Writers Union of Canada has announced the jury and the submission deadlines for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which will be awarded to the best first short fiction collection by a Canadian writer. The submission deadline is January 31, 2012 and submitted words must have been published in 2011.


William Carlos Williams was a furious poetic revolutionary. To many, he was the greatest poet of the 20th century. He would have been furious at the egregious proofreading of Herbert Leibowitz's Something Urgent I Have to Say to You, says Daisy Fried.

Jack Kerouac's long-lost first novel will finally see the light of day. The Sea Is My Brother, a semi-autographical work, was written when Kerouac was 20 and drew on his experience as a merchant seaman. The work is important because "it opens up and shows a side to (Kerouac) that we don't normally see in his books," says Dawn Ward, the book's editor. The book will be published in North America in March.

Three years after Geist received a review copy of Somewhere Towards the End (Granta), Diana Athill's memoir about getting old, Mary Schendlinger comments that everything is connected. Diana Athill generally makes old people look smart, generous, complicated and interesting, says Schendlinger.

David Lodge's The Campus Trilogy, about a fictional English university, are solidly crafted pieces of comedy, writes Natasha Tripney, the last oddly prescient about academic life and British society.

In Johanna Skibsrud's This Will Be Difficult to Explain, stories hinge on a failure to communicate, writes Ian McGillis. Whole lives can turn on a misunderstood comment, an ambiguous choice of words, a language barrier. This writer is here to stay, says McGillis.

Candace Fertile became so engaged in Anne DeGrace's Flying with Amelia, she was late for a date. Life is hard, people move to find work or escape a bad situation. DeGrace delivers emotionally rich and aesthetically enticing fiction, says Fertile.

The Granta Collection of Irish Short Stories attempts to define the essential Irish aspects of the stories chosen. As Anne Enright says, only some countries make the form their own. A book to dip into, rather than devour, writes Isobel Montgomery.

Marina Endicott's The Little Shadows should come with a warning label, writes Monique Polak: you will stay up too late at night reading this book. In the morning, your first thoughts will be about its characters. Are they all right?

The literature of wartime France and the Holocaust is by now so vast as to confound the imagination, but there is always room for something new, writes Jonathan Yardley. Caroline Moorehead's A Train in Winter shows that friendship enabled women's survival.

Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007, but one gets the sense from Charles J. Shields's sad, often heartbreaking biography, And So It Goes, that he would have been happy to depart this vale of tears sooner, writes Christopher Buckley. "So it goes."

Howard Mandel comments that Christopher Buckley's New York Times Book Review frontpage piece on And So It Goes, Charles J. Shields' biography of Kurt Vonnegut, is as lazy a bit of evaluation as it's possible to pick up a paycheck for. Vonnegut deserves better, says Mandel.

A casual observer might assume that big, continent-spanning sagas with magic in them are always set in some imaginary variation on Medieval Britain. And would be of little interest for African-American readers and writers. Dead wrong, writes Laura Miller.

Since readers rarely read plays for pleasure, Robert Lepage and long-time collaborator Marie Michaud have published the play The Blue Dragon in the format of a graphic novel, combining traditional panels with wide-angle, two-page spreads.

Marc Lewis's Memoirs of an Addicted Brain is a primer on the neural chemistry of addiction. At one stage, Lewis shot, snorted, swallowed and drank his way through nature's dangerous bounty, finally finding successful therapy. An inherently appealing story, says Brett Josef Grubisic.

In The Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman's haunting re-imagining of the historical destruction of Masada and the defiance of its defenders, distinctions between fact and fable fall away, writes Nancy Richler.

A long-forgotten smallpox outbreak in the U.S. from 1898 to 1903 forms the basis for Michael Willrich's Pox: An American History, a combined medical thriller and courthouse drama, writes Crawford Kilian. That outbreak changed American law and politics.


Postponed until early 2012. Book launch and reading by Caitlin Vernon from her new book Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest. For more information, visit

Arley McNeney launches her new novel set during the 1930s and 1940s in the BC interior. Thursday, December 1 at 7:00pm, free. Meeting room. level 3, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. More information at

Readings by Michael Christie (The Beggar's Garden), Kim Clark (Attemptations) and Ashley Little (PRICK: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist). Thursday, December 1 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore/Library at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street. More information at

The New Westminster author and Governor General's Literary Award nominee talks about his new book The Measure of a Man. Thursday, December 1 at 7:00pm. New Westminster Public Library, 716 6th Ave. W., New Westminster).

A discussion of Christian Parenti's book Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. Friday, December 2 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $10 at the door. Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, SFU Woodward's (149 W. Hastings). More information at

Abegael Fisher-Lang hosts an evening of storytelling with Sepand Blank, Manuel Salgado, Patricia Smith, Pauline Wenn, and Allison Cox. Sunday, December 4 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $7/$5. Silk Purse Arts Centre, 1570 Argyle Road, West Vancouver. More information at

Join journalist Allen Garr, publisher Howard White, broadcaster Red Robinson and others to celebrate the launch of The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver. Tuesday, December 6 at 7:00pm, free. Central Branch, VPL (350 West Georgia Street, Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye Rooms). More information at

Editor Fiona Tinwei Lam and local poets Elise Partridge, Miranda Pearson, Rachel Rose, and Betsy Warland read poems from The Bright Well, Canada's first collection of contemporary poems about facing cancer. Tuesday, December 6 at 7:00pm, free. Central Branch, VPL, 350 W. Georgia Street. More information at

Readings by poets Cecily Nicholson and Jim Johnstone. Wednesday, December 7 at 5pm, free. Graham House at Green College UBC, 6201 Cecil Green Park Road. For more information, email

After a six-year absence, Chris Paolini comes to Vancouver with the final book in the cycle: Inheritance, Wednesday December 7 at 7 pm at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Gymnasium, 2550 Camosun Street (at W.10th Ave.) Vancouver. Note: Each person will require a ticket to attend. Tickets are $5.00 each and are fully redeemable toward any of Chris Paolini's books on the night of the event only. For more information, call Kidsbooks at 604-738-5335.

Come and hear poems and stories related to the theme of 'New Beginnings'. December's guest author, Dan Green, published his first novel, Blue Saltwater, last year. Thursday, December 8 at 7:00pm. Rhizome Cafe, 317 East Broadway.


Readings by Esi Edugyan and Jen Sookfong Lee. Thursday, December 15 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore/Library at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street. More information at

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