The Vancouver Writers Fest and the entire arts community in Vancouver lost a dear friend this week with the passing of Diane Loomer, the Director of the men's choir Chor Leoni. Over the past five years Chor Leoni performed in events at the Festival with Alistair MacLeod, Jack Hodgins and Jane Urquhart. Diane's consummate skill in choosing the right songs and the choir's flawless execution under her direction helped make those events some of the most popular presentations in Festival history.
The season is officially upon us! But don't panic-there's still time to order great gifts for the readers on your holiday list. Details: http://www.writersfest.bc.ca/content/perfect-gifts-book-lovers
AWARDS & LISTS
The finalists for the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction were announced today in Vancouver, while a long list of titles for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction was announced in Toronto.
The late Angela Carter has been named the best ever winner of James Tait Black award. The James Tait Black award has chosen the 1984 novel Nights at the Circus from nearly a century's worth of great names.
The Costa short story prize is to be decided by an online vote. Judges sifted through more than 1,800 anonymous entries to decide their final six short stories by six anonymous writers. The public will decide by online vote which of the six stories will take the £3,500 prize on 29 January.
The stories can be read online and listened to here:
The long list of titles for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction include works by George Bowering, Tim Cook, Modris Eksteins, Robert R. Fowler, Ross King, Noah Richler and Candace Savage. The short list will be announced January 9, 2013.
Nine poets are on the short list for the Second Annual Geist Erasure Poetry Contest. The winning entries will be announced in Geist 87, in mailboxes and on
newsstands January 2013.
Mr. Zinger's Hat is a wonderful story about the shared process of creating...a story! Leo is bored with playing catch with the brick wall in his courtyard–until one day his ball knocks the hat off the head of Mr. Zinger, who "made up stories...published in magazines and in books, too." Mr. Zinger invites Leo to sit with him and look into his hat to see what story is inside trying to get out, writes Saeyong Kim. For ages 6 to 9.
Faulkner's little-known, odd children's book, the genesis for The Sound and the Fury, is my kids' bedtime story, writes Nichole Bernier. In academic journals, The Wishing Tree is described as Alice in Wonderland. It was originally written in 1927 but not published until 1964, when one of the children for whom it had been handmade offered it for publication. For ages 8 to 11.
Fifteen year-old Parvana, the heroine of Deborah Ellis's most famous books, The Breadwinner Trilogy, is forced to do whatever it takes, including dressing up as a boy, to help her family survive the Taliban's brutal rule. The book is based on a true story that Ellis was told. Remaining hopeful in the face of what appears hopeless is a way of honoring the people she meets, says Ellis, who donates much of her royalty income to worthy causes. For young adults.
NEWS & FEATURES
One of the greatest books written about science in the past century, hailed as a work that combines the plot line of a racy novel with deep insights about the nature of modern research, came close to being suppressed. James Watson, author of The Double Helix, has revealed that the intervention of Lady Alice Bragg saved The Double Helix.
As part of a campaign with the Folio Society to celebrate beautiful books, writers and artists describe the illustration that means the most to them. From Will Self's childhood fascination with John Tenniel's depiction of Alice in Wonderland to the terror and enchantment Ros Asquith found in Arthur Rackham's depiction of Grimm's Fairy Tales, take a tour through some of literature's most potent visions, here:
Censorship is a must, says China's Nobel winner. Mo Yan, who has won this year's Nobel Prize in literature, says censorship is as necessary as checks at airport security.
Salman Rushdie offers a withering rebuke.
A new school curriculum that will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.
Reading in general seems to be on the rise as a result of ebooks and ereaders. And statistics show that 88% of people who read ebooks also read printed books. The rise of the ebook has also seen a rise in self-published material. What we can take away from this is that the traditional book industry is not dying–it is simply evolving.
Lydia Syson has identified the top 10 historical novels that inspired her to set A World Between Us, her first teen novel, in the past. Her recommended titles of particular interest to teens include: E Nesbit's The House of Arden; Alison Uttley's A Traveller in Time; Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love; Barbara Leonie Picard's The Young Pretenders.
In an interview with Vanessa Thorpe, Rick Riordan, the bestselling Texan author of children's fantasy adventures talks about the magic of myths and legends and their relevance to children and the modern world. "Myths are universal and are totally ingrained in our culture," says Riordan.
W.T. Stead is considered to be the founding father of investigative journalism and the inventor of the sensationalism that gave rise to tabloid newspapers. His famous investigation into the trafficking of young girls in 1885 landed him in jail, but it helped to ensure a law was passed that raised the age of consent. To mark the centenary of Stead's death aboard the Titanic, the British Library has published W.T. Stead: Newspaper Revolutionary.
A rare copy of the Bay Psalm, the first book ever printed in what is now the United States, is set to be sold by a Boston church, amidst controversy.
A bookshop has collected some of the odd, intriguing personal treasures left within the pages of 'pre-loved' volumes. These include pressed flowers, bookmarks, dog photos, tickets, postcards, tickets and photos.
"Bravely and willingly we bear our share of the world's burdens. Why then deny us the right to vote which would dignify our labour and increase our power of service?" writes suffragette and feminist icon Sylvia Pankhurst. A rare autograph album collecting the thoughts of dozens of her fellow suffragettes is set to go up for auction next week.
Acacia O'Connor, project coordinator for the Kids' Right to Read Project, said of the removal of Alan Moore's horror comic Neonomicon from a South Carolina library "they may be calling it 'deselection' but we have another name for it: censorship". The row began when a 14-year-old borrowed the novel and her mother objected.
The Sydney Writers Festival featured Ian Rankin who spoke about his latest work, Edinburgh and the return of his protagonist, Rebus. The audio of the event is available here:
While the average Canadian worker retires at around 62, many professional writers continue to produce award-winning work well into their 80s. These include Elmore Leonard, 87, who received the National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contribution this month. Poet David Ferry also won a National Book Award this year, at 88. Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison's, 81, is working on a new book.
Michael Posner interviews Gordon Pinsent, now 82, on his charmed life—a play on words since Pinsent always referred to his wife Charmion King as Charm—and his new autobiography, Next, deftly ghosted by CBC programmer George Anthony, writes Posner.
Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels grounded my economics, writes Paul Krugman. My Book–the one that has stayed with me for four-and-a-half decades–is Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, written when Asimov was barely out of his teens himself. The fantastical tale offers a still-inspiring dream of a social science that could save civilization.
Hilary Mantel describes how she came to write Wolf Hall, declaring that "It wasn't that I wanted to rehabilitate him (Thomas Cromwell). I do not run a Priory clinic for the dead."
The New York Times Book Review has made its selection of the ten best books of 2012: five fiction, five non-fiction.
BOOKS & WRITERS
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, considered by many the most important environmental book of the 20th century, has been reissued after 50 years. In Margaret Atwood's 2009 novel, The Year of the Flood–set in the Near Future–Rachel Carson is a saint. Of course, many people think she's a saint anyway, but in this book, it's official, says Atwood.
Esther Freud is enchanted by Tove Jansson's The Moomins and the Great Flood, Jansson's very first picture book. Jansson's own drawings, printed in their original hues, with all their humour and mystery shining through, took six years, until the end of the war, for The Moomins and the Great Flood to be published. When it was, Jansson described it as her "very first happy ending".
A Week in Winter is Irish writer Maeve Binchy's final book, completed a few weeks prior to her death in July, writes Deborah Dundas. Binchy is known for her hopeful, if not always entirely happy, endings. Still, we all make the choice, ultimately, as to who we want to be. It's a philosophy of common sense and wisdom, both of which we've come to expect from Binchy.
An elegant crime boss, a mild-mannered detective and the world's most valuable necklace make for a ripping yarn, writes Laura Miller. Why is The Great Pearl Heist: True Crime in Edwardian London the first book to appear on the crime in over 80 years? asks Miller.
Susan Swan's The Western Light includes a soupçon of an adolescent Huck Finn and his friendship with the escaped slave Jim. Swan's portrayal of the spunky, fearless, young Mouse Bradford is a character as captivating as Huck, writes Jennifer Hunter. The character in Swan's book is a gallivanting read bound to become a classic, at least on Canadian shelves and in computers, says Hunter.
Ian McGillis didn't read fairy tales as a child. Now reading Phllip Pullman's Grimm collection, he writes of his discovery that the stories tap into something deep in the collective DNA, dramatizing primal fears, hopes and impulses of which we're not always necessarily aware. Who are these stories for? The question hangs over the collection, says McGillis.
A new translation of The Outsider, Albert Camus's 1942 masterpiece, deserves to become the standard English text, writes Lucian Robinson.
A Poet and Bin-Laden, Hamid Ismailov's picaresque novel mixes genres and viewpoints to provide a fascinating commentary on Islam and central Asia, writes Kate Kellaway. An extraordinary book and a difficult read, worth persevering because it takes one deep into Islamic fundamentalism in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Hamid Ismailov, Uzbek writer in residence of the BBC World Service, calls it a "reality novel".
ROBSON READING SERIES
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 www.robsonreadingseries.ubc.ca.
Launch of Jan Zwicky's The Book of Frog. Thursday, December 13 at 7:00pm. Our Town, 245 East Broadway.
POETRY OF SCIENCE
What happens when you have 5 scientists, and 5 poets, and ask them to write poems together? Featured readers include Olive Dempsey, Adrienne Drobnies, Leanne Dunic, Jonina Kirton, Pamela Lincez, Kelty McKinnon, Ben Paylor, Lynne Quarmby, Carol Shillibeer and Meg Torwl. Friday, December 14 at 7:00pm. 1695 Gallery, 1695 Main Street.
THE ART OF THE IMPOSSIBLE
Talk by Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs and journalist Rod Mickleburgh, authors of The Art of the Impossible: Dave Barrett and the NDP in Power 1972-1975. Friday, December 14 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $25. Marpole Place Neighbourhood house, 1305 70th Ave. W.
A spoken word performance recounting the author Kagan Goh's struggles with manic depression as he tries to survive the highs of mania and the lows of depression. Friday, December 14 at 8:00pm. The Prophouse Cafe, 1636 Venables Ave.
TALK AND BOOK LAUNCH
Inspector Ken Burton will discuss his recreation of the historic voyages of the St. Roch and will discuss the challenges facing Canada and the "ice free" northern passage. Also features a launch of Kenneth John Haycock's new book The History of the RCMP Marine Services. Sunday, December 16 at 2:00pm, free. Vancouver Maritime Museum - TK Gallery, 1905 Ogden Avenue. More information at vancouvermaritimemuseum.com.
LISTEN! LAUGH! ENJOY! STORIES!
Seasonal stories by Vancouver storytellers Abegael Fisher-Lang, Jennifer Martin, Kira Van Deusen, and Mariella Bertelli. Sunday, December 16 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $6. St. Mark's Anglican Church, 1805 Larch St.
TWISTED POETS LITERARY SALON
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 www.pandorascollective.com.
YOUTH POETRY SLAM
Youth slam featuring roving poets known as 2 Dope Boys and a Cadillac. Monday, December 17 at 8:00pm. Tickets: $4/$6. Cafe Deux Soleils, 2096 Commercial Drive.
LUNCH POEMS @ SFU
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.
LIQUOR, LUST AND THE LAW
Book-signing and meet-and-greet session with author Aaron Chapman and nightclub owner Danny Filippone. Thursday, December 20 at 6:00pm. Edgewater Casino, 311-750 Pacific Blvd. S.
MINIMALISM: LIVE A MEANINGFUL LIFE
Talk/reading, Q&A, and book signing by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Saturday, December 22 at 7:00pm, free. Our Town Cafe, 245 E. Broadway.
UNIQUE LIVES & EXPERIENCES
A lecture series featuring four outstanding women. First lecture will feature Valerie Plame Wilson, a former CIA spy and author of a bestselling autobiography, My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal By the White House, on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 7:30pm. Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, 777 Homer Street. For complete season details and ticket information, visit www.uniquelives.com.