Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mary GORDON wins the 2006 Story Prize

MARY GORDON has won the 2006 Story Prize for The Stories of Mary Gordon (2006), a collection of stories written over a period of 30 years. The other finalists were Rick Bass for The Lives of Rocks (2006) and George Saunders for In Persuasion Nation (2006). The 2006 Story Prize is a prize awarded to the year’s most outstanding collection of short stories published in the U.S.

The winner of the 2005 Story Prize was Patrick O’Keeffe for The Hill Road (2005). The inaugural winner in 2004 was Edwidge Danticat for The Dew Breaker (2004).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

2007 Kiriyama Prize for Fiction and Nonfiction Shortlist

THE SHORTLIST for the 2007 Kiriyama Prize for Fiction and Nonfiction has been announced with writers hailing from Canada, China, India, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Though eligible writers can be from anywhere in the world, books that are considered for the prize must be available in English and published in the U.S. or Canada. The annual Kiriyama Prize recognises and awards outstanding books that promote greater understanding of and among the nations of the Pacific Rim and of South Asia.

The 2007 Kiriyama Prize finalists are:

1. The Inheritance of Loss / Kiran Desai (Grove Atlantic)
2. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman / Haruki Murakami (trans. Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin) (Alfred A. Knopf)
3. Stick Out Your Tongue / Ma Jian (trans. Flora Drew) (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
4. Certainty / Madeleine Thien (McClelland & Stewart, Canada; Little, Brown, U.S.)
5. Behold the Many / Lois-Ann Yamanaka (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Picador)

1. The Haiku Apprentice / Abigail Friedman (Stone Bridge Press)
2. Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir / Ernestine Hayes (University of Arizona Press)
3. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations / Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Viking)
4. Tigers in Red Weather: A Quest for the Last Wild Tigers / Ruth Padel (Walker & Company)
5. Chinese Lessons: An American, His Classmates, and the Story of the New China / John Pomfret (Henry Holt)

The winners will be announced on March 30, 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival 2007

LOCATED at the heart of a thriving community that appreciates literature and the finer things in life, Bangsar Village is set to be the rendezvous for book lovers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival 2007, organised by Silverfish Books, will be held at Bangsar Village in Kuala Lumpur on March 28-30, 2007. The following writers will be appearing at the festival:

Tash Aw / The Harmony Silk Factory (Malaysia)
Brian Castro / Shanghai Dancing (Australia)
Camilla Gibb / Sweetness in the Belly (Canada)
Eda Kriseova (Czech Republic)
Laksmi Pamuntjak (Indonesia)
Randa Abdel-Fattah / Does My Head Look Big in This? (Australia)
Salleh Ben Joned / As I Please (Malaysia)
Elizabeth Smither (New Zealand)
Wong Phui Nam / An Acre of a Day’s Glass (Malaysia)
Dina Zaman / I am Muslim (Malaysia)
Benjamin Zephaniah (United Kingdom)

Silverfish Books is at No. 67-1 Jalan Telawi Tiga, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-22844837
Fax: 603-22844839

Monday, February 19, 2007

Andrew HUSSEY ... Paris: The Secret History (2006)

HISTORIAN Andrew Hussey explores the sordid aspects of Paris, supposedly the most romantic city on Earth, in Paris: The Secret History (Bloomsbury, 2007), first published in the U.K. in 2006. For an idea of what the book is all about, here are some extracts from it:

“As the siege [the Prussian attack of 1870] hardened, the most desperate among them took to digging up corpses in various cemeteries around the city, mincing the bones to make a thin sort of gruel, which offered little nutritional value but at least kept them warm.”

“In 1776, the common grave, into which the poor of Paris had been flung like so much garbage over the centuries, began to subside; dead bodies began to appear in rotten lumps, breaking through the cellar walls of nearby houses alongside flesh-eating rats.”

On François Ravaillac, the fanatic who assassinated King Henri IV in 1607:

“He was scalded, ripped into pieces and part of his torso was roasted and eaten by the mob before the rest of him was reduced to ashes.”

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Judith O'Reilly

IN LATE 2006, Judith O’Reilly started a blog called to vent her frustration after reluctantly moving to Northumberland from London. Northumberland is not exactly for the faint-hearted. Her blog charts her adventures and misadventures raising her family in the north. Surprise of surprises, her blog will soon be published as a book by Viking Penguin. Congratulations on the book deal, Judith!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The 1st MPH Breakfast Club for LitBloggers

Friday, February 16, 2007

2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize: Shortlists

Best Book
Native Commissioner / Shaun Johnson (South Africa), Penguin Books
What Kind of Child / Ken Barris (South Africa), Kwela Books
Half of a Yellow Sun / Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria), HarperCollins
The Wizard of the Crow / Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya), Random House U.K.
Playing in the Light / Zoe Wicomb (South Africa), Umuzi
Song of the Atman / Ronnie Govender (South Africa), Jacana

Best First Book
All We Have Left Unsaid / Maxime Case (South Africa), Kwela Books
Ice in the Lungs / Gerald Kraak (South Africa), Jacana
A Life Elsewhere / Segun Afolabi (Nigeria), Jonathan Cape
Room 207 / Kgebeti Moele (South Africa), Kwela Books
The Beggars Sign Writer / Louis Greenberg (South Africa), Umuzi
The Shadow Follows / David Medalie (South Africa), Picador Africa

Best Book
The Law of Dreams / Peter Behrens (Canada), House of Anansi Press
Chutney Power / Willi Chen (Trinidad), Macmillan Caribbean
Fabrizios Return / Mark Frutkin (Canada), Knopf Canada
The Emperor’s Children / Claire Messud (Canada), Picador
The Unfortunate Marriage of Azeb Yitades / Nega Mezlekia (Canada), Penguin Group (Canada)
The View from Castle Rock / Alice Munro (Canada), Chatto and Windus
The Friends of Meager Fortune / David Adams Richards (Canada), Doubleday Canada

Best First Book
Baby Khakis Wings / Anar Ali (Canada), Viking
Vandal Love / D.Y. Bechard (Canada), Doubleday
De Niros Game / Rawi Hage (Canada), House of Anansi Press
The Fear of Stones / Kei Miller (Jamaica), Macmillan Caribbean
Indigenous Beasts / Nathan Sellyn (Canada), Raincoast Books
The Hour of Bad Decisions / Russell Wangersky (Canada), Coteau Books

Best Book
Sacred Games / Vikram Chandra (India), Penguin
Miss Webster and Chérif / Patricia Duncker (UK), Bloomsbury
The Sweet and Simple Kind / Yasmine Gooneratne (Sri Lanka), Perera Hussein
Carry Me Down / M.J. Hyland (UK), Canongate
Black Swan Green / David Mitchell (UK), Sceptre
The Perfect Man / Naeem Murr (UK), Heinemann
The Testament of Gideon Mack / James Robertson (UK), Hamish Hamilton

Best First Book
The Saffron Kitchen / Yasmin Crowther (UK) Abacus/Little Brown
The Mathematics of Love / Emma Darwin (UK) Headline/Review
This Time of Dying / Reina James (UK) Portobello
Giraffe / J.M. Ledgard (UK), Jonathan Cape
Londonstani / Gautam Malkani (UK), Fourth Estate
In the Country of Men / Hisham Matar (UK), Viking
The Amnesia Clinic / James Scudamore (UK), Harvill Secker

Best Book
Ocean Roads / James George (New Zealand), Huia
Theft: A Love Story / Peter Carey (Australia), Knopf/Random House
Mister Pip / Lloyd Jones (New Zealand), Penguin
Carpentaria / Alexis Wright (Australia), Giramondo
The Fainter / Damien Wilkins (New Zealand), Victoria University Press
Red Spikes / Margo Lanagan (Australia), Allen and Unwin
Careless / Deborah Robertson (Australia), Picador

Best First Book
Tuvalu / Andrew O’Connor (Australia), Allen and Unwin
Davey Darling / Paul Shannon (New Zealand), Penguin
The Fish & Chip Song / Carl Nixon (New Zealand), Vintage
The Long Road of the Junkmailer / Patrick Holland (Australia), University of Queensland Press
Poinciana / Jane Turner Goldsmith (Australia), Wakefield

The overall best book and best first book winners will be announced on May 27, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 2007 Highlights

1. All Whom I Have Loved (2007) / Aharon Appelfeld [trans. from the Hebrew by Aloma Halter]
2. The Yacoubian Building (2007) / Alaa Al Aswany [trans. from the Arabic, Imarat Yaqubyan (2002), by Humphrey Davies)
3. The Nature of Monsters (2007) / Clare Clark
4. Wounded (2007) / Percival Everett
5. Oystercatchers (2007) / Susan Fletcher
6. Measuring Time (2007) / Helon Habila
7. The Solitude of Thomas Cave (2007) / Georgina Harding
8. The Welsh Girl (2007) / Peter Ho Davies
9. Fireproof (2007) / Raj Kamal Jha
10. Wintering (2007) / Derek Johns
11. Nada (2007) / Carmen Laforet [trans. from the Spanish, Nada (1944), by Edith Grossman)
12. Devotion (2007) / Howard Norman
13. David Golder (2007) / Irène Némirovsky [trans. from the French, David Golder (1929), by Sandra Smith]
14. The Friends of Meager Fortune (2007) / David Adams Richards
15. The Peacock Throne (2007) / Sujit Saraf

First Novels
1. The Lizard Cage (2007) / Karen Connelly
2. Fieldwork (2007) / Mischa Berlinski
3. Radiance (2007) / Shaena Lambert

1. I Think of You (2007) / Ahdaf Soueif
2. Amok and Other Stories (2007) / Stefan Zweig (trans. from the German by Anthea Bell) (2007)

1. Next Life (Wesleyan, 2007) / Rae Armantrout
2. A Worldly Country: New Poems (2007) / John Ashbery
3. Chinese Apples: New and Selected Poems (2007) / W.S. Di Piero
4. Glad of These Times (2007) / Helen Dunmore
5. The Collected Poems, 1956-1998 (2007) / Zbigniew Herbert (trans. from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott and edited by Alissa Valles)
6. Work Life: New Poems (Turtle Point Press, 2007) / Paul Kane
7. A Book of Lives (2007) / Edwin Morgan
8. Look We Have Coming to Dover! (2007) / Daljit Nagra
9. The Black River (2007) / C.K. Stead

1. The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks, and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction (2007) / Patrick Anderson
2. The Invinsible Wall (2007) / Harry Bernstein
3. The Meaning of Life (2007) / Terry Eagleton
4. That or Which, and Why: A Usage Guide for Thoughtful Writers and Editors (Routledge, 2007) / Evan Jenkins
5. Family Romance (2007) / John Lanchester
6. Edith Wharton (2007) / Hermione Lee
7. Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North (2007) / Stuart Maconie
8. The Story of Poetry: From Pope to Burns (2007) / Michael Schmidt

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Middle Eastern Literature

1. The Yacoubian Building (2007) / Alaa Al Aswany [trans. from the Arabic, Imarat Yaqubyan (2002), by Humphrey Davies)
2. Gate of the Sun (1998; 2006) / Elias Khoury [trans. from the Arabic by Humphrey Davies
3. Palace Walk (1956; 1990) / Naguib Mahfouz
4. Palace of Desire (1957; 1991) / Naguib Mahfouz
5. Sugar Street (1957; 1992) / Naguib Mahfouz
6. The Gaze (2006) / Elif Shafak (trans. from the Turkish by Brendan Freely)
7. A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear (2006) / Atiq Rahimi (trans. from the Dari by Sarah Maguire and Yama Yari)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Malaysian Anecdotes

THE PERDANA LEADERSHIP FOUNDATION (PLF) is putting together a book of Malaysian anecdotes to commemorate Malaysia’s 50th Malaysia Day on August 31, 2007 and is on the look-out for articles.

Anecdotes must be about Malaysian life and written in a light-hearted and humorous vein that every Malaysian can identify with. Anecdotes must reflect the Malaysian spirit and way of life. Only original and unpublished articles will be considered. All articles won’t be paid but you will receive a complimentary copy of the book for your effort when it comes out. And it’s for a good cause. All writers whose contributions are selected will be credited in the book.

Anecdotes must be edited for clarity and should reach me at or by March 15, 2007.

Thanks a billion to Lee Su Kim and Adibah Amin for contributing three articles each. And thanks also to all those who are working on their anecdotes now.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

First-time novelist Stef PENNEY wins the Costa!

FIRST-TIME NOVELIST Stef Penney has clinched the inaugural 2006 Costa Book of the Year Award with The Tenderness of Wolves (Quercus Publishing, 2006), a murder mystery set in the snowy wastelands of Canada in the 19th century, beating such favourites as William Boyd for Restless (2006) and Brian Thomson for Keeping Mum (2006). Penney is a perfect example of a writer who creates stories set in a landscape foreign or alien to her. She has not been to Canada. Of course, by now everyone knows that the Costa Awards used to be called the Whitbread Awards. This win also heralds the arrival of independent publisher Quercus Publishing on the literary landscape. However, I must confess that I have yet to read her prize-winning book despite the fact that I have a copy of it with me. I must get to it soon.

The Tenderness of Wolves was published by Quercus Publishing, a small, independent publisher, in 2006

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Patrick HAMILTON ... The Slaves of Solitude (1947)

HAMILTON Patrick [1904-1962] Novelist, playwright. Born Anthony Walter Patrick Hamilton in Hassocks, Sussex, England. Novels Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky [comprising The Midnight Bell (1929), The Siege of Pleasure (1932), The Plains of Cement (1934)] (1987); Unknown Assailant (1955); Mister Stimpson and Mister Gorse (1953); The West Pier (1952); The Slaves of Solitude (1947); Hangover Square (1941); Impromptu in Moribundia (1939); The Plains of Cement (1934); The Siege of Pleasure (1932); The Midnight Bell (1929); Twopence Coloured (1928); Craven House (1926); Monday Morning (1925) Drama Angel Street (1966); The Man Upstairs (1954); The Governess (1946); The Duke in Darkness (1942); Money with Menaces (1939); Gas Light (1939); John Brown’s Body (1930); The Procuration of Judea (1930); Rope (also known as Rope’s End) (1929)

Monday, February 05, 2007


“SO, WHAT DO YOU READ?” I asked an aspiring author when she visited me at the office the other day. She looked like a very well-read person to me.

“I don’t really read nowadays, you know. I have done all the reading I need in school and, anyway, I don’t really have the time for it now,” she answered, nonchalantly and without the slightest hesitation. “I have been an English-language teacher all my life. I don’t think I really need to learn how to write,” she continued. Wow, that was profound!

I was flabbergasted because I always thought writers should always read more than they write.

Sadly, most writers don’t think like a reader because they do not read enough. That’s what I always thought—and believed in. And still believed in. Wasn’t it Samuel Johnson, the English lexicographer, who said that he “disliked conversing with a man who has written more than he has read.”

I took a look at her manuscript. The grammar and syntax were all in a puddle of murkiness. The opening wasn’t memorable at all. The paragraphs were disjointed. The characters did not connect with me at all. Clichés abounded, one after another. I started recalling my good pal’s advice for writers: “Go back to the basics: read, read, read, read and read. Of all the writers that I admire, not one went to writing school. They taught themselves how to write by reading everything that had ever been written. They were able to dismantle the books they’d read, whether consciously or unconsciously, in order to understand what made the writing work.” Sterling advice for aspiring writers surely.

So, what’ve you been reading lately?

Roy Hayes is the author of The Hungarian Game (1973) and two novels-in-progress, “The Last Days of Las Vegas” and “Big Gap.” He lives in Henderson, Nevada, U.S.