Moscow Library of Ukranian Books
A library in Moscow was subjected to a police raid last week, targeting ‘anti-Russian’ books, and have detained its director, Natalya Sharina, accusing her of ‘inciting ethnic hatred’.
The library first ran into conflict in 2010 when the interior ministry confiscated 50 books and issued a case against the library for inciting ethnic hatred resumed. Following this incident, the library made a decision to hold books on controversial topics in a closed ‘special collection’. Salil Tripathy, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, referred to Sharina’s arrest saying; ‘Whatever the content of the material alleged to have been in the library, the state’s response, to arrest a librarian, clearly seems disproportionate’.
Protestors in Bangladesh
The streets of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, were occupied by hundreds of people last week, as protests broke out over numerous fatal attacks on secular writers and publishers. This was in response to the recent murder of Faisal Arefin Dipan, a publisher of secular books, based in Dhaka.
Rallies are being held in other cities across the country as an act of solidarity, and to campaign for the protection of writers, bloggers and other social commentators. These attacks are suspected to have been carried out by fundamental Islamic groups. With many writers fleeing or going underground, Mustafa Selim, head of the Bangladesh Creative Publishers Society, explained to The Guardian that this was not an isolated case: ‘They first started killing authors, then the bloggers and now they’ve targeted the publishers’. Mohiuddin Ahmed, a publisher in Dhaka, has said: ‘The people who have so far fallen victim to the attacks are thinking people, those who believe in freedom of expression, and those who believe in secular values. A series of killings have taken place but now the focus is on publishers … I feel absolutely traumatised.’
Fears around extremist violence have risen since the death of four atheist bloggers, who were killed with machetes earlier in the year.
More than 150 writers, including Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Yann Martel and Colm Tóibín have signed a letter condemning the series of fatal attacks and calling on the government of Bangladesh ‘to ensure that the tragic events… are not repeated’.
Bord Gais Energy Irish Books Awards
Bord Gais Energy Irish Books Awards, established in 2011, brings together the entire literary community, from writers and publishers to booksellers and readers; to award the best of Irish literary talent. The awards have grown from just three categories in 2011, to fifteen in 2015. This includes awards for works of non-fiction, popular fiction, children’s book of the year, cookbook of the year and many more. Mary Costello was awarded the Book of the Year in 2014 for her novel, Academy Street. Tender by Belinda McKeon, Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor, The Green Road by Anne Enright, The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray, Beatlebone by Kevin Barry and The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien have been shortlisted for the Eason Book Club Novel of the Year. The shortlists for the fifteen other categories are available here.
New Amazon Bookshop
After years of life online, Amazon has opened its flagship bookstore in Seattle. The store will stock books drawing data from website sales figures, and placards featuring online customer reviews will be placed in front of books. In store, books will match the price of online books, so customers will still get to purchase their book from a real human, ensuring the ‘authentic’ bookstore experience, while still availing of online prices.
Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books has said, ‘We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping’.
National Library of Ireland calls for Funding
The outgoing Directors of the National Library of Ireland have called for additional funding of €500,000 per annum to ensure the preservation of Irish manuscripts and to carry out its stutory function of collecting the nation’s documentary heritage. A letter to Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphries, explains that ‘collections are deteriorating owing to the absence of environmental controls and there is a high ongoing risk of a catastrophic event such as a fire because approximately 75% of the collections are stored in premises without adequate fire protection’.
The library houses some of Ireland’s most important collections, including Gaelic manuscripts dating from the 14th century and the personal papers of Irish politicians such as Daniel O’Connell and Sean T O’Kelly. It is responsible for maintaining correspondence and notes from writers such as Maria Edgeworth, James Joyce, WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Colm Tóibín, and it houses 5.2 million photographs capturing major Irish political and historical events.
Eoin Colfer to Recreate Iron Man
Children’s writer Eoin Colfer, has announced his partnership with Marvel to present ‘an electrifying new take’ on the next Iron Man novel. The Irish Laureate for Children’s Books and creator of the acclaimed Artemis Fowl novels will recreate the story of the billionaire superhero, Tony Stark. The new novel will be published in autumn 2016.
Fair Play for Women
The Abbey Theatre has announced its programme Waking the Nation to celebrate the 1916 centenary, with 90% of plays written by men. The programme reflects the ambiguous role played by women in the events surrounding 1916, as just one women has made the grade, Ali White for her play Me, Mollser. Abbey Director has defended the programme saying ‘I’m sorry that I have no female playwrights next season. But I’m not going to produce a play that is not ready and undermine the writer’. Una Mullally writes in the Irish Times: ‘Gender equality in Ireland’s artistic institutions is not about tokenism, it is about redressing a historical imbalance, it is about representing the population, it is about showcasing multiple perspectives not just a male ones, it is about reflecting the whole audience and not just a part of it’. A facebook page entitled #FairPlayForWomen has been set up in response to next year’s programme. Its message is the celebration of women in Irish theatre.
New York Times Children’s Illustrated Books 2015
Since 1952, the Book Review has selected an independent panel of judges to choose a list of New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books. These books are judged purely on artistic merit, this is the only annual award of its kind. My favourites this year are Leo: A Ghost Story written Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson, and Alice Brière-Haquet’s Madame Eiffel: The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower, illustrated by Csil. You can peruse the other winners here, and select your favourite from the list.
Moscow City: ruslanguage.com
Bangladesh Protests: www.huffingtonpost.com
Leo: A Ghost Story: www.chroniclebooks.com