Thursday, November 22, 2012

Book News Vol. 7 No. 43


Holiday Giving

Looking for a special gift for the book-lovers on your list? Look no further! The VWF has gift ideas to bring joy to readers of all persuasions, from gift certificates to a limited edition chapbook. Details:

Jewish Book Festival - November 24 to 29
28th annual Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival. Featuring Maya Arad, Stan Coren, Deborah Hodge, Sayed Kashua and many others, including VWF Artistic Director Hal Wake interviewing Shalom Auslander in the opening event Saturday November 24th. For complete details, visit

Shalom Auslander's writing is shocking, fearless, outrageous, funny and very, very dark. He's been described as "an unapologetically paranoid, guilt-ridden, self-loathing Diaspora kvetch, enraged by a God he can't live with or without", and The Guardian calls his latest novel "a raging, hilarious polemic on the inescapability of history and the ambiguous nature of hope". In a recent interview Auslander credits Curious George for pulling him back from the abyss."

While Canadians know that we are a country of immigrants, it is less well known that in the 18th Century, Quebec was a province where non-Catholic immigrants were forbidden entry. Susan Glickman's The Tale Teller features a young woman who arrives from France disguised as a boy, concealing her Jewish faith. Glickman will appear at the JCC Jewish Book Festival on Nov. 26.


The American novelist Maggie Shipstead–once a student of Zadie Smith–has won the Dylan Thomas prize for her debut Seating Arrangements, a £30,000 award for writers under 30.

The U.S. National Book Awards has honoured Louise Erdrich for The Round House and Katherine Boo for her debut work, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers.

Bonnie Nadzam's Lamb is a lyrical, if disturbing, debut that has won the Flaherty-Dunnan first novel prize in the US. Nadzam says that the novel was shaped by a news report she saw on CNN.

The Guardian First Book award 2012 shortlist Include: Kevin Powers' The Yellow Birds, Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding, and Kerry Hudson's Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma. The two non-fiction titles for the shortlist are Lindsey Hilsum's Sandstorm, and journalist Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

Two graphic works are the first ever shortlisted for the Costa novel of the year. Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart competes with works by Hilary Mantel, James Meek and Stephen May. A biography/memoir by Mary Talbot is one of four books in the best biography shortlist.

My Big Shouting Day, by Rebecca Patterson, is the winner of the 2012 Roald Dahl Funny prize in the category aged 6 and under. Jamie Thomson's Dark Lord: The Teenage Years, a tale about a powerful netherworld lord who finds himself inhabiting the body of a chubby teenager, scooped the seven to 14 year category prize.

The list of Winners of the 2012 Canadian Children's Literature Awards can be found here:


Geneviève Côté's Mr. King's Things features a silly cat named Mr. King who likes "LOTS of new things." If something becomes a bit old, he "tosses it into the nearby pond and replaces it with a new one." One day, Mr. King goes fishing in the pond, and something really BIG tugs the line. Alarmed, Mr. King pulls hard and hauls in the "scariest-looking thing" he's ever seen. Ages 3 to 7.

A teen detective with Asperger's, Colin Fischer is obsessed with truth and lies, as well as math and other subjects. That makes him a good guy to have around. Not naturally adept at social life, Colin works hard to make up for what doesn't come easily.,0,5785554.story


"Do you have a copy of Tequila Mockingbird?" "Did Charles Dickens ever write anything fun?" "This Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has to be the most historically accurate fiction book I've read." Those are just a few of the remarks featured in the amusing hardback Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores (Overlook Press), by English bookseller Jen Campbell.

In an edited version of a keynote speech given by Miriam Toews in Toronto as part of the Edinburgh World Writers' Conference, she tells of discovering that for the Italians, her Mennonite identity was of far greater interest than her Canadian identity. She comes away asking: "Is there such a thing as a national literature?" An edited version of her keynote speech is here:

The full version is here:

Jeanette Winterson, one of many authors to have spoken in defence of the UK's libraries, is calling for the millions of pounds of profit which Amazon, Starbucks and Google were last week accused of diverting from the UK to be used to save Britain's beleaguered public libraries. She also suggested that libraries be removed from local councils' leisure budgets and put into the national education budget.

Reading isn't only a matter of our brains; it's something that we do with our bodies, writes Andrew Piper. It's an integral part of our lived experience, our sense of being in the world, beginning with how we hold our reading materials.

The New Republic writes that Canada is hipper than America, says Thomas Rogers. How did this happen?

In The Hunger Angel, Nobel laureate Herta Müller captures the misery of life in the 1940s gulag for Romanian Germans. Müller takes an important look at one of the 20th century's lesser known persecutions and paints a bleak portrait of life inside Stalin's labour camps.

Novelist Richard Russo pays homage to the shop where he fell in love with reading—and to the crucial role bookstores can still play in our lives. We may be all the same in how we view bookstores–as places to learn, relax, find something new, escape the day, engage the mind. Maybe something more.

A lawsuit filed in Utah is claiming that the removal of a children's book from library shelves is a violation of the first amendment. In Our Mothers' House, described as a "gem" by the School Library Journal, is the story of a family of adopted children with two mothers.

Is crime fiction ready for black villains? There's a long-running literary joke that the black guy never makes it past chapter 10, writes Fiona Snyckers. It is heartening, therefore, to know that South African crime writers are leading the pack when it comes to creating believable black villains.

Shortly before Philip Roth announced his retirement from writing, Julian Tepper served Roth's café breakfast, and showed Roth his book Balls. "Great title", said Roth. "I'm surprised I didn't think of it myself." "Quit while you're ahead," advised Roth. "What will he do when boredom sets in?" asks Tepper.

Following the death of T.S. Eliot's wife Valerie Eliot, her friends and former colleagues say access to all the poet's personal papers may now be granted. If so, the great poet's alleged antisemitism is also likely to come under fresh scrutiny. Love poems presented to his second wife every Sunday of their married life can also be published, according to her wishes.

Did anyone really believe Ian Rankin was going to stop writing about John Rebus, the cantankerous, alcoholic detective who was retired by his creator, in 2006? We should all have known better, says Alison Flood. Rebus is back and working for the serious crime review unit, albeit in a civilian capacity.

In a conversation with the Los Angeles Times' Carolyn Kellogg, Margaret Atwood is full of cheer, seeing the humor in the darkest situations. Atwood tells us, in this video interview, that she's not alone; even Kafka laughed while writing his tales of desperation.,0,3745538.story

The Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest, the writing contest whose name is almost as long as the entries, is back! The 9th annual contest is now underway. More details here:


Adam Gopnik's love letter to the snowy season makes a perfect fireside companion, writes Tim Adams. Since Gopnik grew up in Montreal, his ideas of winter have a dramatic cast. Winter: Five Windows on the Season began as a lecture series; there is an anecdotal, homecoming quality to it.

Benoît Peeters has ransacked the voluminous Derrida archives and interviewed scores of Derrida's friends and colleagues. The result is Derrida: A Biography, a marvellously compelling account, lucidly translated by Andrew Brown, writes Terry Eagleton. The man who emerges from this portrait is an agonised soul and an astonishingly original thinker.

While few will have expected the war in Iraq to bring forth a novel that can stand beside All Quiet on the Western Front, Kevin Powers' debut novel The Yellow Birds does just that, writes John Burnside. Powers' book is short listed for The Guardian First Book Award 2012.

Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, aims to build bridges to Kabul with his new book And The Mountains Echoed, now in draft form, publication planned for May. 2013. There are too many myths about Afghanistan, warns Hosseini.

Ali Smith's Artful consists of four essays woven together into one deeply original story of love and loss that illustrates the power of inspiration, says Julie Myerson.

One of "20 writers for the 21st century" identified by the New Yorker in 1999, Sherman Alexie hasn't always angled his work toward the most marketable of reputations: he writes of Pacific Northwest Native Americans. His fifth collection, Blasphemy, seems intent on rectifying his place in contemporary letters once and for all, writes Dmitri Nasrallah.


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

Author Aaron Chapman, nightclub owner Danny Filippone, and Arsenal Pulp Press celebrate the release of Liquor, Lust, and the Law: The Story of Vancouver's Legendary Penthouse Nightclub. Includes cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, live swing music by Goby Catt, and master of ceremonies Will Woods. Thursday, November 22 at 7:00pm. Penthouse Night Club, 1019 Seymour Street. More information at

The Canadian author explores whether or not one can write about the future, why prophecy is dodgy, and the meaning of the zombie apocalypse. Thursday, November 22 at 8:00pm. Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, 6265 Crescent Road. More information at

Meet actor-turned-author Jackson Davies at the launch for Bruno and the Beach: The Beachcombers at 40, a new book that celebrates the 40th anniversary of the CBC's longest-running drama. Friday, November 23 at 5:30pm. CBC Studio 700, 700 Hamilton Street. More information at

Musician, playwright, and storyteller Kempton Dexter launches his first collection of short stories. Friday, November 23 at 7:00pm, free. People's Co-op Bookstore, 1391 Commercial Drive. More information at

Vancouver author Rikia Saddy signs copies of her new book. Saturday, November 24 at 1:00pm. Hager Books, 2176 41st Ave. W. More information at

Book launch for Patrik Sampler's To the Stoning: Leftist Erotica, with butoh choreography by Carolyn Chan of Kokoro Dance. Saturday, November 24 at 7:00pm, free. Visual Space, 2075 Alberta. More information at

A fundraiser featuring theatrical reading with musical accompaniment about finding humour, home and meaning in the Alzheimer's experience. Performed by Cathie Borrie, Patti Allan, and Ariel Barnes with a special appearance by The Marcus Mosley Chorale. Sunday, November 25 at 1:30pm. Tickets: $15. St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church (Nelson and Burrard), Vancouver. More information at

Readings featuring Kathleen Katon Tonnesen, Robert Martens, and Janet Kvammen. Sunday, November 25 at 3:00pm. Heritage Grill Backroom, 447 Columbia Street, New Westminster. More information at

The author and historian presents Juan de Fuca's Straight: Voyages in the Waterway of Forgotten Dreams, a history of intrigue and exploration on the high seas. Monday, November 26 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen room, VPL, 350 W. Georgia St. More information at

Youth poetry slam featuring Susan Cormier. Monday, November 26 at 8:00pm. Cost: $4/$6. Cafe Deux Soleils, 2096 Commercial Drive. 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.

Author reads from her new book Ginty's Ghost. Wednesday, November 28 at 7:00pm, free but pre-register by calling 604-299-8955. McGill branch, Burnaby Public Library, 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby. More information at 604-299-8955.


Award-winning map historian presents his new volume, British Columbia: A New Historical Atlas, the story of British Columbia in maps from the 1500s to the Vancouver Olympics. Monday, December 3 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen room, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia Street.

Bestselling author has just ended her Otherworld series and is ready to wrap up her Vancouver Island-based Darkness Rising Young Adult trilogy. Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00pm, free. Alice MacKay room, lower level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia St.

Reading by internationally-recognized ornithologist and author of The Curse of the Labrador Duck. Will talk about his new book, Attack of the Killer Rhododendrons. Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm, free. Semiahmoo Library, 1815 - 152 152nd Street, Surrey.

Readings by Nyla Matuk, Alix Ohlin and Matthew Tierney. Thursday, December 13 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street, Plaza level. More information at

Features Fiona Lam and Raoul Fernandes, Sunday, December 16, 7-9:30pm, at The Cottage Bistro, 4468 Main Street Vancouver. This will be a special evening. No open mic that night. Suggested donation at the door:
$5. All are welcome. In 2013 Twisted Poets will run the 2nd Wednesday and the 4th Thursday of
every month. More information at

Reading by poet Garry Thomas Morse. Wednesday, December 19 at 12:00 noon. Teck Gallery in SFU's Harbour Centre campus, 515 West Hastings Street. Vancouver.

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