Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book News Vol. 7 No. 2




Pico Iyer will appear in a special Incite event on February 20 at the Improv Centre on Granville Island, admission is by donation. Details:

Pico Iyer, born to dazzling Indian parents, educated in England and California, is a very modern kind of guy, writes Richard Rayner, interested In Graham Greene, the solitary traveler. Iyer's look at Graham Greene in The Man Within My Head is literary criticism disguised as autobiography.,0,6835374.story

At the next Incite on February 8, Tess Gallagher reads from Midnight Lantern, and Merilyn Simonds reads from A New Leaf. Details: 8. Also appearing at Incite in the next few months are Linden MacIntyre, Richard Wagamese, Anne DeGrace, Will Ferguson, Richard Stursberg, John Boyne, Yasuko Thanh and Robert Hough, among others.

Richard Ford
Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author Richard Ford appears with his latest novel, Canada. Details:


News that the Costa is to add a new short story category to its roster of awards this year has left the book industry hoping that this will prove a "breakthrough moment" for the genre. The prize will be awarded to a single short story and the winner will not be competing for the overall Costa book of the year prize.

Karen Press, first prize winner of the First Annual Geist Erasure Poetry Contest, has created an R-Rated prize-winning poem from a century-old memoir. The poem contains explicit language.

Aurora, Ontario's Kayt Burges is this year's winner of the national 3-Day Novel writing contest. Her book, Heidegger Stairwell, was chosen from 590 submissions.


Poland's 1996 Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska has died, aged 88.The Nobel award committee's citation called her the "Mozart of poetry," a woman who mixed the elegance of language with "the fury of Beethoven" and tackled serious subjects with humour.

In response to the US government's efforts to bring in SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) legislation, Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho embraces piracy as a boon, not a bane. "As an author, I should be defending ‘intellectual property', but I'm not. Pirates of the world, unite and pirate everything I've ever written!" says Coelho.

Off the heels of the high-profile defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US, renewed attention is being paid towards similar legislation that is currently working its way through the House of Commons in Ottawa. Critics of the proposed law have derided the federal government for reintroducing a bill they claim undermines the rights of Canadian consumers and extends government control deeper into the Internet.

'All creativity Is political' says Fred Wah, Canada's fifth Parliamentary poet laureate. In a recent email interview, Fred Wah shared with Fiona Tinwei Lam his thoughts on the current state of poetry in Canada.

2012 is a big year for poetry in Britain. Regular readers will recall a poetry dust-up in the U.S. reported in Book News in early January. More recently was a punch-up between the first female poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Oxford professor of poetry Geoffrey Hall, who likened Duffy to a Mills & Boon (Harlequin Romance equivalent) writer. A reminder that poets are not, nor are they required to be, team players.

Hundreds of writers including children's laureate and Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson, Philip Pullman and Anne Fine are protesting the government's plans to amend educational copyright, with many saying they will be forced to stop writing for schools if the changes go ahead.

The publication in 1962 of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (after 26 rejections) showed that science fiction isn't just for guys, writes Pamela Paul.

Charles Dickens wasn't just a stickler for the intricacies of plot and character development. Home decoration was also a lifelong obsession, writes Hilary Macaskill.

If one poet edits another, whose work is it? In the week that John Burnside won the T S Eliot Prize, Sameer Rahim investigates the mystery of poetry editing.

Peter Florence, Director of the Hay Festivals in Britain, writing about the recent Jaipur Festival, says: "Follow the hashtags. The overwhelming response from the wry, unbullyable and free-thinking Indian tweeters is, more or less: It's about time I got round to reading The Satanic Verses – if it gets people so engaged, it must be worth looking at."

City University in London is turning to crime, with the launch of an MA devoted to teaching crime fiction and thriller writing. Launched in response to student demand, and to the growing popularity of the genre, the UK's first creative writing masters dedicated to crime and thriller novels is another harbinger of a "second golden age of crime writing", writes Alison Flood.

Jeanette Winterson and Helen Dunmore are two authors venturing into the horror genre this year. Dunmore's thriller called The Greatcoat, has been published by Hammer Books. Winterson will bring out her treatment of the 17th-century Pendle witch case this summer.

Crawford Kilian writes of a fascinating Canadian book urging 'political action for the 99%'. Make This Your Canada, by David Lewis and Frank Scott, was written in 1943. In other words, Occupy's basic critique of society is at least 70 years old, writes Kilian.

Kaui Hart Hemmings describes the experience of the filming of her first novel, The Descendants, featuring George Clooney.

Hemmings describes how she changed from being a Johnson to a Hemmings, after receiving the gift she wanted for her eleventh birthday—being adopted.

Six of the nine nominations announced this week for the Oscars' Best Picture are based on books, reflecting a recent pattern in which the Oscar lists have consistently affirmed cinema's dependence on literature. These include Kaui Hart Hemmings's The Descendants, Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret (filmed as Hugo), and Kathryn Stockett's The Help.

Educator Howard Eaton gives useful advice on how reading impacts the young mind, and more importantly, how to encourage teenagers to pick up a book.

Caitlin Flanagan's Girl Land argues that the Internet has a damaging effect on teenage girls. As an argument it's not convincing, writes Sarah Hughes, adding that for both boys and girls, adolescence is a time when mistakes will be made and directions changed.

From whoopensocker to upscuddle, strubbly to swivet, 50 years after it was first conceived, the Dictionary of American Regional English is finally about to reach the end of the alphabet. The Dictionary will be published in March.

Mother Tongue Publishing's second annual Search for the Great B.C. Novel contest has been announced. Entrants must be from B.C. The winner will get their book published and a $1,000 advance. The winner of the first contest was Gurjinder Basran, who wrote Everything Was Goodbye, a novel that went on to win the Ethel Wilson Prize in 2011. Full details, along with the submission address, are available at

There's still time to enter the Geist Postcard Story Contest . Get your entries in before February 15, 2012 for a chance at literary fame and fortune. Contest submissions guidelines and Postcard FAQs can be found on the Geist website.

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.


Julie Otsuka calls The Buddha in the Attic a novel, factually based on history/ies of a group portrait of Japanese 'picture brides' in America. Ursula K. Le Guin was 12 when "the Japanese disappeared" from Berkeley; now she wishes Otsuka had gone with her heroines into the exile from exile.

On the 50th anniversary of Henry Miller's novel, Frederick Turner's study Renegade examines how it was written and banned, and went on to become an American classic, writes Jeanette Winterson.

Robert K. Massie's biography of Catherine the Great is more compelling than many novels, writes Monique Polak. His Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman is loaded with important facts about European history, but it's the characters that propel it, says Polak.

John Lanchester's Capital is effortlessly brilliant–gripping, hugely moving and outrageously funny–as he tracks the lives of a group of characters in present-day London who have a connection with a single south London street, writes William Skidelsky.

George Jonas' Jonas Variations brings a dependable toolkit of poetic devices, multilingual fluency and, occasionally, Nabokovian resourcefulness, writes Fraser Sutherland, reworking 50 other poets as thematic improvisations, imitative impromptus and more or less straight translations from Latin, French, Italian, German, Russian and Hungarian.

In Dotter of Her Father's Eyes, a graphic memoir-cum-biography, Mary M. Talbot tells the complicated story of James Joyce's daughter, Lucia. She longed to be a dancer but spent 30 years in a mental institution.

Family stories are not arrows shot straight. They arc backwards, from grandparents to parents, and then on to children. In the magnificent Love and Shame and Love, Peter Orner proves he is one of the finest American poets of family weather, writes John Freeman.

Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son has taken the papier-mâché creation that is North Korea and turned it into a real and riveting place that readers will find unforgettable, writes David Ignatius.

This is precisely the work of fiction to help us comprehend the complex psyche of North Korea, writes Sarah Weinman.

South America is an intersection of stereotype and surprise. Edward Docx's South American jungle eco-thriller The Devil's Garden addresses big questions about power and progress set in a remote South American research station.

"The Devil led us to the wrong crib," was a phrase Jeanette Winterson often heard her adoptive mother say. Memoirs of childhood are as common as peanuts, writes Sarah Barmak, but Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? fulfills a greater purpose than most confessionals.


Readings by Lynn Coady (The Antagonist) and Anne Perdue (I'm a Registered Nurse Not a Whore). Thursday, February 2 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore/Library at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street. More information at

Readings by Cathy Stonehouse, Daniel Zomparelli, and Catherine Owen. Thursday, February 2 at 7:00pm. Kranky Cafe, 16-228 4th Ave. East, Vancouver. More information at

Claudia Cornwall discusses her new book At the World's Edge–Curt Lang's Vancouver: 1937–1998. Thursday, February 2 at 7:30pm, free. McGill branch, Burnaby Public Library, 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby. More information at 604-299-8955.

The VIFF VanCity presents Jose and Pillar, the story of Jose Saramago and his wife Pilar del Rio. Graced with apparently unfettered access to the Portugese Nobel prize-winning novelist (Blindness) for more than two years, Miguel Goncalves Mendes delivers something much more than a conventional "portrait of an artist".

Readings by Garry Thomas Morse and Marita Dachsel. Hosted by Elizabeth Bachinsky and music by DJ That's So Raven. Friday, February 3 at 8pm. Cost: $5 suggested donation at the door. Project Space, 222 E. Georgia Street.

The Non-Profit Organization to Destroy the World celebrates the publication of it's third literature anthology. Local artists and writers are featured. Saturday, February 4 at 4pm. Tickets: $10 at the door. Russian Hall, 600 Campbell. More information at

Release of Tightrope Book's annual anthology with editor Priscila Uppal and contributors Marita Dachsel and Onjana Yawnghwe as they read selections from the book along side local poets Rob Taylor, Timothy Shay, Daniela Elza and Warren Dean Fulton. Saturday, February 4 at 7:00pm. W2 Media Cafe, 111 West Hastings Street.

Evening of stories and live music includes storytellers Helen May, Jane Slemon, Abegael Fisher-Lang, Alyson Quinn, and Briana Hedge, as well as live music by the Deaf Dogs, Jane Slemon, and Amanda's Alchemy. Sunday, February 5 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $7/$5 at the door. Silk Purse Arts Centre, 1570 Argyle Ave., West Vancouver. More information at

Talk by Barbara Hand Clow and Gerry Clow, authors of Awakening the Planetary Mind: Beyond the Trauma of the Past to a New Era of Creativity and Alchemy of Nine Dimensions. Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00pm, free. Alice MacKay room, Central Branch, VPL, 350 West Georgia. More information at

Coauthors BJ McHugh and Bob Nixon talk about McHugh's story of how she became the world's fastest senior long-distance runner. Registration required. Thursday, February 9 at 7:00pm, free. Lynn Valley Main Library, 1277 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver. More information at 604-984-0286.

Evening of fast-paced reviews of recommended crime and mystery novels from around the world. Thursday, February 9 at 7:00pm, free. McGill branch, Burnaby Public Library, 4595 Albert Street. More information at

Poets E.D. Blodgett and Susan McCaslin will be reading from their recent volumes of poetry. Thursday, February 9 at 7:00pm, free. Cadboro Bay Book Company, 3840B Cadboro Bay Road, Victoria. More information at

The Writers Studio at Simon Fraser University presents an evening of storytelling and poetry from talented local writers. This month's feature artists are Dennis Bolen and Soressa Gardner. Friday, February 10 at 7:00pm. Take 5 Caf, 429 Granville Street.

Federation of BC Writers is hosting a membership drive with featured readings by Ian Weir, Trevor Carolan, Pam Galloway, Calvin Wharton, S.R. Duncan, Dennis Bolen, and Sylvia Taylor. All memberships are discounted at the event. Saturday, February 11 at 1pm-4pm. Backstage room, Heritage Grill, 447 Columbia Street, New Westminster. More information at

Author reads from Cinder, the first novel in the Lunar Chronicles series. Saturday, February 11 at 2:00pm. Chapters Metrotown, 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby. More information at 604-431-0463.


Launch of the new anthology with readings from Peter Trower, Daniela Elza, Susan McCaslin, Elsie Neufeld, Berenice Freedome, Jocelyn Pitsch, Meg Torwl, Leanne Dunic, Lenore Rowntree, and Robin Susanto. Sunday, February 12 at 3:00pm. Tickets: $15 (includes wine and chocolate). Historic Joy Kogawa House, 1450 64th Ave. W. RSVP to

Jennifer Kramer will sign copies of the catalogue written to accompany the exhibition Kesu': The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer. Tuesday, February 14 at 4:00pm. Museum of Anthropology, UBC, 6393 NW Marine Drive. More information at

Readings by Steve Burgess (Who Killed Mom?) and Daniel Griffin (Stopping for Strangers). Thursday, February 16 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore/Library at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street. More information at

Reading by Sharon Thesen, author of The Serial Poems. Saturday, February 18 at 8:00pm. Cost: $5/pay what you can. 3966 Ontario Street, Vancouver. More information at 604-879-5200.

Third annual literary festival featuring George Bowering, Patrick Friesen, Susan Juby, Rhea Tregebov and many others. February 24-26, 2012. Galiano Island. More information at

Eleventh annual Words on the Water Festival featuring Gurjinder Basran, Trevor Herriot, Daphne Marlatt, Garry Thomas Morse and others. March 23-24, 2012. Tickets on sale starting February 1. Maritime Heritage Centre, Campbell River. Details at

Second annual festival and poetry slam championship. April 23-28, 2012. Registration deadlines and complete details here:

Three days of poetry, song and storytelling featuring Carolyn Forche', Tony Hoagland and many others. May 17-20, 2012. La Conner, WA. Complete information at

The author will talk about his new novel In One Person on Friday, May 18th, 2012 at 7:30 pm at the North Shore Credit Union Centre for the Performing Arts. Capilano University, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver. Ticket price of $30 includes a copy of the new novel available for pick up at the event. More information at 604.990.7810 or

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