Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book News Vol. 7 No. 39


The Vancouver Writers Fest wrapped up our 25th anniversary year on Sunday, breaking all previous attendance records. More than 100 Canadian and international authors appeared at events on Granville Island, coming from Australia, the UK, Ireland, the US, France, New Zealand, South Africa, China, Somalia and Pakistan. There is an increasing appetite in this city for engaging discussions and storytelling from the world’s greatest writers…if you judge success by the number of sold-out events, this was the most successful Festival in its 25-year history.

Hal Wake
Artistic Director

Thank you to all of you who turned out for remarkable events with Margaret Atwood, Jane Urquhart, Junot Díaz, Chris Cleave, Chip Kidd, Louise Penny and others. Check out our website for festival photos:

Continue Your Festival Experience

The Electric Company’s Initiation Trilogy, which was part of this year’s Festival, continues with 7 more shows this week. These three theatrical pieces are intimate adaptations of three poems by Elizabeth Bachinsky, Marita Dachsel and Jennica Harper presented in secret locations on Granville Island.

Click here for more information.

Tonight, use the code RED BOOTS to see Initiation Trilogy for just $20; tickets available online or at the door.


The prize that used to be Orange has been saved–and re-branded. The Women's Prize for Fiction has now been launched; Kate Mosse tells how an award so important to writers and the industry was saved.

However, the Man Asian literary prize has lost its sponsorship.

October was a big month for Chinese writers. Mo Yan was recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. That same week, Liao Yiwu received this year's Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. And in early October, the Taiwan poet and scholar Yang Muwas was awarded the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature.

Irish journalist Gene Kerrigan has won the Gold Dagger for the best crime novel of the year for The Rage. Winners in other categories can be found here:

Novels by Angela Carter, Graham Greene, James Kelman, Cormac McCarthy, Caryl Phillips and Muriel Spark have been short-listed for the James Tait Black Prize, celebrating the 250th anniversary of English literature study at the University of Edinburgh. The winning book will be announced in December.

Sean Borodale joins Simon Armitage, Sharon Olds and Kathleen Jamie on the shortlist for the TS Eliot prize for poetry. The prizewinner will be announced January 14.

Winners of The Walrus magazine's inaugural poetry contest are: Meira Cook, for The Devil's Advocate and Bardia Sinaee, for Barnacle Goose Ballad. Cook receives $5,000 for the Walrus Poetry Prize while Sinaee wins $1,000 for capturing the Readers' Choice Award. Both poems will be published in the December issue of The Walrus magazine.


Words + Numbers = Wumbers. The text intersperses words with numbers that, when read aloud, complete various sentences. For age 6 and up.

Who Could That Be at This Hour? marks the welcome return of Lemony Snicket, who narrates a mystery tale from when he was 12. What is a bombinating beast, and why would anyone make a statue of it, much less steal it? This, and other alliterative oddities, are at the center of Who Could That Be at This Hour? For readers 8 and up.,0,6108653.story

Here is a trailer:


A discussion during a Festival event has resulted in the establishment of a new literary prize—the Rosalind Prize for Fiction (named for the protagonist of Shakespeare's As You Like It).

Raymond Souster, the prolific Toronto poet who helped advance the careers of Canada's most famous writers, has died at the age of 91. A resident of Toronto all his life, Souster wrote more than 50 works of poetry, much of it about Toronto. Critic Robert Fulford called him "the poet-in-chief of Toronto."

Douglas & McIntyre, one of Canada's largest remaining independent publishers has filed for bankruptcy protection.

In a twist of bitter irony for the Canadian publishing industry, the founder of D&M Publishing won the inaugural Ivy award for contributions to Canadian publishing. the same day his company filed for bankruptcy protection.

D&M, which includes Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone Books, says it plans to continue operations while it restructures.

In a move that has left comic book fans around the world stunned, Clark Kent, better known as Superman, has quit his job at The Daily Planet. In a "Jerry Maguire-type moment", Kent stands up in front of his colleagues, rails against the paper's editorial direction, and quits.

Books and educational toys can make a child smarter, but they also influence how the brain grows, according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. The findings point to a "sensitive period" early in life during which the developing brain is strongly influenced by environmental factors. brain/all/1?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Findex+%28Wired%3A+Top+Stories%29

In the most recent New Yorker, Larissa Macfarquhar writes about Hilary Mantel's capacity to revitalize historical fiction.

A recent issue of The Guardian includes The Long QT, a short story by Hilary Mantel.

J.R.R. Tolkien began writing The Fall of Arthur a few years before he wrote The Hobbit. The previously unseen 299-page poem of Arthurian legend—The Fall of Arthur—draws on tales of ancient Britain rather than Middle-earth. This story of King Arthur, knights and princesses, swords, sorcery, quests and betrayals, will be published next spring.

Johnny Depp is getting into book publishing, helping run a publishing imprint with the same name as his production company, Infinitum Nihil ("Nothing is forever"). The imprint will be part of HarperCollins Publishers, which announced Monday that Depp will seek "authentic, outspoken and visionary ideas and voices."

The Independent (UK) reports that readers who complain that novels are too bloated and baggy these days will welcome the news of the first Twitter Fiction Festival next month. It won't take place in a physical space; it will occur online, under the hashtag #twitterfiction. And it has so few rules, the organizers are asking contributors to make them up. Will it get followers?

John Barber notes that there are increasing numbers of writers emerging from creative-writing programs, and wonders whether they can find readers. Bill Gaston, author and professor of creative-writing, is convinced that the spread of professional training has elevated the stature of Canadian literature.

In the November 8, 2012 issue of The New York Review of Books, Allan Gurganus honours John Cheever as he turns 100, reflecting on Cheever as teacher, friend, a man with old world courtesy, snobbery, and mischief.

The competition for shopper dollars is always fierce during the winter holidays. Last year, no retailer was as aggressive as Amazon, which boldly stole customers with a price-checking app promotion. This year, bricks-and-mortar giants such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart are taking the fight to Amazon.

Amazon profits from a tax loophole In Britain, forcing UK publishers to pay 20% VAT (sales tax) on ebook sales, while the Luxembourg-based company itself pays only 3% VAT on digital books sold to UK readers.

While in Vancouver for the Festival, Cory Doctorow spoke with The Tyee about Canada's problematic copyright policies, and what the harm is in hiding copyright protections from users. He also talked about Bill C-11 and the worries around digital locks, or software embedded in digital media to restrict usage.


In an interview, Joanne Harris, the British author of Chocolat, explains why the niqab plays a central role in Peaches for Monsieur le Curé. "Because I'd written books about identity and perception, it just struck me as a very natural thing to progress to", says Harris.

She is the most famous mother in history, yet her story is unknown. Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary voices the grief-filled thoughts of Mary, as she pieces together the events that led to the death of her son, Jesus. In an interview, Tóibín describes the origins of the book. Read an extract here:

M.G. Vassanji's The Magic of Saida is a dense novel about culture and family, writes Candace Fertile. Kamal Punja, born in East Africa to an African mother and Indian father, became a wealthy doctor in Edmonton and decided to go back to Africa to find his childhood love.

Sharon Olds' Stag's Leap is an out-of-the-ordinary collection that goes beyond the confessional. Olds, who has always had a gift for describing intimacy, has, in a sense, had these poems thrown at her by life, writes Kate Kellaway. They are stunning, says Kellaway.

This year is the bicentennial of the first publication of Grimms' Fairy Tales. In celebration, Philip Pullman has written a new collection in Grimm Tales for Young and Old, retelling his 50 favourites from the original 200 stories, and reiterating the oral tradition from which these stories come.

The Globe and Mail includes Miranda Hill's short story, The Idea of Kentucky.

About 90 million baby girls went "missing" in India in the last two decades because of what is euphemistically called "prenatal selection." The word "missing" implies a mystery, but everyone knows why fewer female babies than normal are born in India every year. Shauna Singh Baldwin cites the statistics, but offers readers hope that attitudes are changing.

Writing about Alice Munro's Dear Life, Carrie Snyder says "These stories are perfect. Of course they are." From the title itself, which is both a radiant address and a reference to the much darker image of a mother holding her baby "for dear life," Dear Life is a collection as rich and surprising as any in Alice Munro's deep career, writes Snyder.

Just in time for Halloween, Margaret Atwood has co-written a serialized zombie novel with a promising British author—Naomi Alderman—that will be posted chapter by chapter on the Canadian-based story-sharing website Wattpad.

An excerpt is here:


Participants in The Writer's Studio 2012 (@ SFU Harbour Centre) are pleased to announce the launch of emerge 2012, an anthology of new work -- Fiction, Poetry, Non-Fiction -- at the W2 Media Cafe, Woodward's Atrium, 111 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25th, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm (Doors open at 6:30 pm) -- FREE ADMISSION -- Come early to secure a seat!!

Meet the author of A History of Forgetting, Sitting Practice and The Sky is Falling. Tuesday, October 30 at 10:00am. City Centre Library, 10350 University Drive, Surrey. To register, phone 604-598-7426.

Reading by the author of Chinese Blue. Tuesday, October 30 at 3:30pm, free. Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, 1961 East Mall, Point Grey campus, UBC. More information at

Come and celebrate the Giller Prize, Canada's richest literary award for Canadian Fiction. Tuesday, October 30 at 5:00pm. Cost: $25. Studio 700, CBC Broadcast Centre, 700 Hamilton Street, Vancouver. For more information and to buy tickets, visit

Readings by Michael Kenyon (A Year at River Mountain) and Grant Lawrence (Adventures in Solitude). Thursday, November 1 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street, plaza level. More information at

Marina Endicott discusses her novel The Little Shadows. Thursday, November 1 at 7:00 PM. Christianne's Lyceum. 3696 W. 8th Ave. $20 (includes refreshments). To reserve your space call 604.733.1356 or email More information at

Features Diana E. Hayes + Taryn Hubbard + Open Mic. Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7:00pm. (Sign up for open mic at 7, readings begin at 7:30). Hosts: Daniela Elza & Timothy Shay. Suggested donation at the door: $5. Our new location is @Cafe Montmartre, 4362 Main Street, Vancouver. All are welcome. More information at

Anton Piatigorsky's fascinating, award-winning play Eternal Hydra will open Touchstone's 2012/13 season. Sex, identity politics and the myth of genius are some of the themes tackled, as the play looks for the truth about the origins of a long lost literary masterpiece.

The third annual Celebrate Science, a Festival of Science Writers for Children and Youth-and Canada's only science writer's festival-will be held November 3rd at UBC's Beaty Biodiversity Museum, in conjunction with Family Science Day. Events include a panel discussion with top science writers for children, a keynote speech and introduction by the Dean of Education, and storytelling for younger children as well as hands on science activities. The event is free and open to the public and includes admission to the Beaty Museum.

legendary broadcaster and the longest-serving TV news anchor in Canadian history, talks about his extraordinary career and the fascinating anecdotes shared in his memoir, The Kind of Life It's Been. Saturday, November 3 at 2:00pm. Chapters Granville, 2505 Granville St., Vancouver. More information at 604-731-7822.

"Who Could That Be at This Hour?" is Lemony Snicket's autobiographical account of his childhood and is the first book in the new series called All the Wrong Questions. Don't miss hearing all the truth (and more) from Lemony himself. Tuesday, November 6 at 6:30pm. Cost: $5. West Point Grey United Church sanctuary, 4595 8th Ave. W. More information at www.kidsbooks.

Author Sandra Djwa presents her biography of poet and artist P.K. Page. Wednesday, November 7 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye rooms, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. More information at

Photographer Barry Peterson discusses his new book that featuring rare portraits of writers who have lived in B.C., accompanied by excerpts of their writing. Guest writers will also speak at the event. Wednesday, November 7 at 7:00pm, free. McGill branch, Burnaby Public Library, 4595 Albert St. For more information and to register, phone 604-299-8955.

The Alcuin Society will hold an auction of new books submitted to the Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada in March, 2012, as well as books which won awards in 2011. Saturday, November 10 at 11:00am. Cost: $18 and includes a light lunch. University Golf Club, 5185 University Blvd., Vancouver. For reservations, email


Readings of works by Robin Blaser, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Hayden, Glyn Hughes and Roy Kiyooka. Sunday, November 11 at 3:00pm. Admission by donation. Project Space, 222 East Georgia Street. More information at

Author Rahela Nayebzadah reads from her new book. Tuesday, November 13 at 6:30pm, free. Tommy Douglas branch, Burnaby Public Library, 7311 Kingsway, Burnaby. More information at

Writer Garry Thomas Morse reads from his new book of fiction Minor Episodes/Major Ruckus, concerning surrealist and speculative genres. Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00pm, free. Peter Kaye room, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. More information at

Reading by the award-winning author of teen novels ‘The Opposite of Tidy', 'The Beckoners', 'The Gryphon Project', the Triskelia trilogy, and others. Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00pm, free. McGill branch, Burnaby Public Library, 4595 Albert St. More information at 604-297-4803.

Meet the author of The Truth About Rats (and Dogs), Dog House Blues, The Reunion and The Trickster. Monday, November 19 at 1:30pm. Newton Library, SPL, 13795 70 Ave., Surrey. More information at 604-598-7408.

Readings by Garry Thomas Morse and Brad Cran. Wednesday, November 21 at 5:00pm. Piano lounge, Green College, UBC.

Readings by Dani Couture (Algoma) and Julie Wilson (Seen Reading). Thursday, November 22 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street, Plaza level. More information at

Authors John Francis Hughes and George Bowering read from their recent non-fiction collections Nobody Rides for Free: a Drifter in the Americas and The Diamond Alphabet: Baseball in Shorts. Wednesday, November 28 at 7:00pm, free. Meeting room, level 3, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia Street. More information at

Reading by the author of Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter. Wednesday, November 28 at 7:00pm. North Vancouver City Library, 120 14th Street W., North Vancouver.

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