News of the week

Buying books for Syria, Jane Austen App and Goldsmiths book prize


Good evening!

As always, it is time to go back on a week rich in events!


First, I’d like to tell you about a literary prize I had never heard about but which looks absolutely fantastic: the Goldsmiths book prize. This Prize was only created 3 years ago with the aim to honour “fiction that breaks the mould or opens up new possibilities for the novel form”. The Jury of this year’s Prize includes Josh Cohen, who chairs it, Eimear McBride, the prize’s first winner, writer Jon McGregor, and a journalist and cultural critic. They have just announced the titles shortlisted for the Prize, whose winner will be announced on the 11th of November. Among the short-listed novels, I have only heard about one, Satin Island by Tom McCarthy, which was also shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize and which looks indeed quite original and interesting because not driven by a strictly narrative plot. The other novels look as interesting and I am definitely going to check some of them out: Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, a debut novel by Max Porter, Lurid & Cute by Adam Thirlwell, Beatlebone by Kevin Barry (a novel about John Lennon’s magical adventures on an island close to Ireland in 1978!), The Field of the Cloth of Gold by Magnus Mills and Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard — these last two books being historical fictions.

This list obviously puts forward novels with diverse and original subjects, which above all explore and offer new fictional ways. I am glad and relieved to see that there are so many wonderful literary prizes promoting diversity in this country, and that more and more appear each year. The winner of this prize will get £10,000 and this is quite nice to see that this money won’t go into the pocket of a mainstream author who doesn’t need it. Plus, it is really good to see that so many books published by independent publishers feature in this list: Canongate, Faber, Cape…!  I am just hoping that this will be another author than Tom McCarthy who will win the prize because even if Satin Island looks great and has been on my reading list for some weeks, this author has already had his publicity stunt this year with the Man Booker Prize, and I’d like to see another novel being thrust into the limelight. Answer in a bit more than a month!


Let’s move to another great initiative to help Syrian refugees. I am glad to let you know guys that Waterstones has joined the rest of the book industry in their effort to raise money for the Syrian refugees by teaming up with Oxfam to raise money for the Syria Crisis Appeal charity. In the framework of its “Buy Books for Syria” campaign, which kicked off on the 1st of October, Waterstones has set up a list of bestselling titles whose full retail prices will be donated to the Syria Crisis Appeal. The books were donated to Waterstones by their publishers (so wonderful initiative from their part as well) and Waterstones will put 100% of their retail prices back to the charity, which is quite great (usually, these are never 100% of the profits that go to a cause, the retailer/supplier always keeps a profit margin….).  So not only is this initiative generous and useful (Waterstones is planning to raise £1 million thanks to this initiative), it is also a great opportunity for us, readers, to go and buy some amazing books. Yes, the bestselling list comprises more than 80 books and all of them are GREAT books. Let me quote you a few titles to give you a taste of this quality list: Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson… The authors whose books are part of this list are also quite glad to take part in this effort (well, those who are alive, obviously), as Salman Rushdie and Philip Pullman publicly declared. This is a beautiful example of a common effort gathering authors, publishers and booksellers around a cause and I really hope that if you were planning to buy some of these books in a more or less near future, you will do it now to help the campaign! Here is a link to Waterstones’s page listing all the books included in the campaign.


Finally, good news that will delight Jane Austen’s fan: the launch of the Jane Austen Daily Quote app, which as you may guess by its name will send out daily witty quotes from her novels to your mobile. Isn’t that brilliant? You can even choose when you want the quotations to arrive on your mobile. The app comprises 350 quotes and was created by the Jane Austen Centre in Bath whose director, David Baldock, rightfully thought that Austen’s quotes would perfectly fit into people’s lives and mobiles thanks to their “witty, lively and succinct” aspect. I can only approve, one always needs a bit of Jane Austen’s witt in their lives, don’t you think so? Plus it is free, so why should we do without it? By the way, if you have a favourite Jane Austen’s quote, please share it in the comments 😉

See you next week!


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