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The Lit Review |38| Book of Kells

The Book of Kells as Beautifully Packaged Gifts

Having overcome the hurdle of assuring Burger King that the branding ‘BK’ would not infringe on the multinational burger chain’s trademark, the Book of Kells has now become a registered global brand. This is thanks to a new partnership with art book publishers Thames & Hudson in the UK to produce ‘five exquisitely designed gift products’.

Some may protest this as the blatant commercialisation of art. But in the bid to balance the books, Paul Corrigan, retail and merchandising manager for Trinity College at the Old Library, defends the commodification of what is considered by some as a ‘national treasure’ saying: ‘We don’t want to be seen as exploiting the Book of Kells but, as you know, governments have cut university funding and we have to find new ways of financing our preservation of the manuscript and the other ancient texts we look after’.

This now means that the illustrations of the world famous manuscript (that we were only allowed see one bloody page of on school tours) will be available as either a journal, a set of three large notebooks, three small notebooks, a boxed collection of 20 different note cards with envelopes, and a boxed collection of 30 postcards. It’s the perfect Christmas stocking filler (sorry for mentioning Christmas, folks).


Russian Publishers Fail to Ask Permission

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Russian publishing house, Algorithm, has released books about Vladimir Putin published under the names of British journalists and writers who had no prior knowledge of the release of these books. This has resulted in allegations about breach of copyright. One of the disputed books, Nobody But Putin, has appeared on the Algorithm website, and it develops ideas explored in Guardian writer Luke Harding’s book Mafia State, published by Guardian Faber. It was only when a friend of Harding’s informed the journalist that he [the friend] had seen a copy of ‘his book’ on a bookshelf in Moscow that Harding grew suspicious and the story began to unfold. Since then two other writers, Edward Lucas of The Economist and Donald Jensen, a US based Russia expert, have made claims that the publishing house has also published illegally under their names. Lucas has stated he had ‘no idea’ the book How the West Lost to Putin was published under his name. ‘I have not given permission of any kind. It is clearly a breach of copyright.’ Despite strict copyright laws, Russia is notorious for piracy of international music, film and book content.

Algorithm has admitted to publishing Harding’s book without permission. The director of the company, Sergei Nikolayev, released a statement saying: ‘If he [Harding] surfaces then we will come to some agreement and pay him a fee… I think that we will sign an agreement and everything will be fine.’ He has declined to comment on the other two authors, saying that he has been off work for a few days. Gosh, you would think the director of a company might check in on his emails in a crisis.


Ukraine Bans Adds 38 Russian Books to Blacklist

While Russians are busy pinching novels from UK journalists, Ukrainian leaders have banned a number of Russian ‘hate novels’ including works from Russian nationalists Alexander Dugin, Eduard Limonov and Sergei Glazyev. The blacklist, published by the Ukraine State Television and Radio Committee, has accused Russia of waging ‘information warfare’.

Some are apprehensive about such a drastic move. The blacklist has been referred to by Amnesty spokesperson Bogdan Ovcharuk as a ‘cultural war’. ‘It’s one thing to restrict access to texts advocating violence, but in general banning books because their authors have views deemed unacceptable to politicians in either Kiev or Moscow is deeply dangerous.’


Guardian’s First Book Award

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Click to buy me

Sara Baume is the first author to make the long list for the Guardian’s First Book Award for her novel Spill Simmer Falter Wither, the story of an old man and his dependable, misfit dog. 9 of the 10 longlisted titles are selected each year from publishers’ submissions, but the first one is always left to the reader to choose. The rest of the longlist will be announced tomorrow, 14th of August, and the shortlist will be released sometime in November.


A Lazarus Beside Me

A story has been found which details a passionate encounter between the-then 70 year old W.B. Yeats and Avies Platt, an art mistress (which is just a saucier name for a Teacher), at Wellington County High School for Girls. Platt encountered Yeats at an open meeting of a sex education group and found him strikingly handsome. Approaching him after the discussion the pair spent the evening together discussing art and writing, their shared passion. Despite their relationship remaining a platonic one, Platt describes this meeting as ‘one of the greatest events, if not the supreme event of my life’.  A Lazarus Beside Me will be published on the 27th of August by the London Review of Books.


Banshee: A Literary Journal

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The first issue of Banshee, a new Irish literary journal and the brainchild of writers Eimear Ryan, Claire Hennessy and Laura Jane Cassidy, will launch this September. The trio has already passed its Kickstarter target in order to pay contributors (woo!) and to publish beautiful copies of the first two editions, but there are still 18 days left for those of you who wish to support the excellent cause. The Autumn issue has 26 submissions to share, 24 of which are stories by women, which is lovely news.


Creative Writing and Publishing

The creative writing industry in Ireland over the last few years has flourished. We are awash with writing courses, retreats, festivals, fairs and a host of great literary journals (see above) which nurture the stories of talented, new writers. This means Ireland is producing some really good home-grown work that needs publishing. Michael McLoughlin, managing director of Penguin Ireland, says the publishing climate at the moment is ‘very good’; last year the company published 7 first time novels. He gives some advice to writers, saying: ‘Each writer needs to think about which publishers seem the best fit for their work. The most important thing is to find an editor who loves the work. Writers need to canvass opinion among other aspiring writers and established writers, go to workshops, attend festivals, talk to agents and then decide what’s best for them.’ Publicity manager of independent publishing house Lilliput Press, Emma Flynn, discusses the dynamics of smaller publishing houses, explaining how signed authors meet every member of the publishing team: ‘It’s a business model that fosters the relationship’. On the contrary, author of Spinning Heart, Donal Ryan, encourages writers to look further afield, to spread your story as far as it will stretch and to prepare yourself for multiple rejections. It’s character building, right? Anyway, read the full article for some more interesting experiences and tips.