Man Booker Shortlist
To say that one enjoys reading a harrowing story is a stretch. But stories that reflect the true tragedy of the world are important and necessary. This year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist has been announced, and the titles explore some very complex themes such as self-harm, child abuse, gangster violence, exploitation of illegal workers. The list goes on. ‘Frankly, they are pretty grim’ was the comment made by historian and one of this year’s judges, Micheal Wood. ‘That’s not to say they are not all outstanding books,’ he added.
This year’s shortlist is comprised of four men and two women. Tom McCarthy for Satin Island; Sunjeev Sahota for The Year of the Runaways; Anne Tyler for A Spool of Blue Thread; Hanya Yanagihara for A Little Life; Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, and Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen.
Irish Laureate and former Booker Prize winner Anne Enright was omitted from the final six for her poignant novel, The Green Road, as was front runner Marilynn Robinson for Lila. The other judges this year are journalist Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, poet John Burnside, and author Frances Osborne. The winner, who will receive £50,000, will be announced at a ceremony on October 13th.
Roald Dahl Day
Roald Dahl Day took place this week on the 13th of September, so all the fun has been and gone, but did you know that there is an app dedicated to the devious story of two terrible Twits? It’s called Twit or Miss, it’s basically a digital food fight, and it’s available here.
Also, the Roald Dahl website has put together a list of facts about the children’s writer. Did you know that he contributed to the script for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, that James and the Giant Peach was not Roald Dahl’s first book, it was a book called Gremlins? It also appears that the original Miss Honey from Matilda had a gambling addiction, and the Minpins, published in 1991 – Dahl’s final book – was inspired by the countryside near where he lived. You can find out more lovely facts about his stories here.
Franzen and Burritos
Jonathan Franzen, author of Purity, is the latest contributor to Chipotle’s Cultivating Thought author series. The concept was developed by Jonathan Safran Foer, who felt his burrito would benefit from having something to read alongside it: ‘Must a cup, or bag, suffer an existence that is limited to just one humble purpose, defined merely by its simple function?’. Fair point. Hence we now have short, illustrated musings from literary figures on Chipotle bags and cups. Franzen justified his contribution by saying ‘Chipotle is my go-to fast food restaurant … I also admire its wish to be a good corporate citizen’.
He contributed his words of wisdom in the form of an essay entitled Two-Minute Driving Lesson, which revolves around his displeasure with the intricacies of road traffic signage. So pretty deep stuff we have on our hands.
Despite being a good alternative to typical fast food, an average order at Chipotle is about 1,070 calories. So at least diners can walk away safe in the knowledge that their brain will also be fed.
National Book Award for Young People
The long list for the 2015 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature was announced Monday. You can take a peek at the books that made it here.
Judges will narrow the list to five on October 14th, and the winner will be announced at a ceremony in New York on November 18th.
Guess How Much I Love You
The programme for the 19th Baboró International Arts Festival for children has been announced, with wonderful contributions from Ireland and abroad. A particular highlight this year will be the Irish premiere of the stage adaptation of Guess How Much I Love You, the touching story written by Irish author Sam McBratney, and beautifully illustrated by Anita Jeram’s.
Recreate will provide workshops highlighting interesting ways to reuse materials to create art. Their ‘Warehouse of Wonders’ will run for the duration of the festival in order for children and adults to unleash their lurking creativity.
The festival will take place from 12th– 18th October. You can delve into the delightful programme here.
Irish Writers Centre Appoints Inaugural Patron
President Michael D Higgins has been announced as the new patron of the Irish Writers Centre. The President will attend the centre on January 13th marking the centre’s 25th anniversary. The literary hub also welcomes six new ambassadors this year: John Banville, Anne Enright, Roy Foster, Marian Keyes, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Joseph O’Connor. All are Irish literary figures who will promote and endorse the aims and activity of the centre at home and abroad.
Are Books Décor?
A plug for one our own at HeadStuff, but a very important point: Books are not for decoration. They may come on electronic screens now, but the value of holding a beautifully bound book is so special. Buy wallpaper, please. Read more from Mary Morrissey here.
Police Racism and Batman
The latest issue of DC Comics Batman series has dealt with the topical and brutal stories of police racism and violence. This is the first time in the comic’s 75 year history that its creators have dealt directly with institutional racism. Batman #44 is a fictional representation of police brutality and racism, which is timely given the recent controversial killing of 18 year old Micheal Browne by police officer Darren Wilson in the town Ferguson in the U.S. Lead writer of the comic, Scott Synder, has explained that this topic is a thesis ‘on what our Batman is’.
‘We’ve tried to be pretty relentlessly on-point about him being a symbol of inspiration in the face of tremendous fear’.
He explains how he began to think on the idea of addressing the intersection of police brutality and gentrification: ‘If we were going to do an issue that dealt with potent problems that people face in cities that are reflected fictitiously in Gotham, then we want to really put our money where our mouth is and explore something that’s extremely resonant right now, and, I think, tricky, murky waters’.
Elana Levin, of the politically-minded Graphic Policy blog and podcast, has said this is the first experience she can remember of a mainstream comic looking at police brutality.
‘Mainstream comics have touched on economic justice a lot – in the past more than in the present. At times they’ve directly looked at racism, though never institutional racism without relying on a metaphor’.