Thursday, December 3, 2015

Modern fiction: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks' powerful novel, set in France before and during the First World War, received huge acclaim and achieved both literary and popular international success when it was published in 1993. 

It was deemed extraordinary for a writer as young as Faulks to treat both the period and the subject with such understanding, depth, scholarship and sensitivity. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Modern Fiction: Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

The literary output of Juan Rulfo, the highly esteemed Mexican novelist, short story writer and photographer, adds up to just 300 pages and yet he has been a. major influence on Spanish American writing and on the development of magical realism in fiction worldwide.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez cites Pedro Pdramo as a masterpiece which influenced his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Rulfo's work was considered revolutionary in the Mexican canon, writing as he did with confused chronology, short sentences, a confection of fantasy and reality; and non-judgmental characterizations.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Man Booker Prize longlist 2015

The longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize has been announced. This year’s list of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges chaired by Michael Wood, who said: “The range of different performances and forms of these novels is amazing. All of them do something exciting with the language they have chosen to use.” The judges considered 156 books for this year’s prize and, first awarded in 1969, it is the second year in which it has been open to any writer, writing originally in English and published in the UK, irrespective of nationality.

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015 is chaired by Michael Wood. The judges are: Ellah Allfrey, John Burnside, Sam Leith and Frances Osborne.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New books: "Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee

We could not be more excited to announce the forthcoming publication of Go Set a Watchman, the new novel from Harper Lee, 55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee’s second book, Go Set a Watchman, was written first, and To Kill a Mockingbird was born from its flashback sequences. The sequel, whose title is taken from a biblical quote, tells the story of the same characters from Mockingbird, featuring a grown-up Scout now living in New York.

Harper Lee says: "In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout's childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn't realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years."

Instant reaction to the announcement has been mixed. While many fans of such a seminal novel are delighted, others, who have treasured the tale of the charismatic lawyer Atticus Finch fighting racial injustice in the American deep south, are not best pleased by the thought of a sequel.

Go Set a Watchman will be published on 14th July 2015. Go Set a Watchman will be published in the UK by William Heinemann, the original UK publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Stay tuned!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Poetry: Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955)

Born in Pennsylvania, Wallace Stevens was educated at Harvard College and New York University Law School. He practiced law in New York City from 1904 to 1916, a time of great artistic and poetic activity there. On moving to Hartford, Connecticut, to become an insurance executive in 1916, he continued writing poetry. His life is remarkable for its compartmentalisation: His associates in the insurance company did not know that he was a major poet.

In private he continued to develop extremely complex ideas of aesthetic order throughout his life in aptly named books such as Harmonium (enlarged edition 1931), Ideas of Order (1935), and Parts of the World (1942). Some of his best known poems are "Sunday Morning", "Peter Quince at the Clavier", "The Emperoro of Ice-Cream", "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", and "The Idea of Order at Key West".
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