The Lit Review |56| Michael Faber’s Outrage
Michael Faber Sends Satirical Note to Prime Minister
Author Michael Faber has sent a copy of his latest book The Book of Strange New Things, along with a note, to David Cameron. Faber claims this is a satirical gesture ‘of exasperation and rage’ over the decision at Westminster last week to intervene in the Syrian conflict. The writer of acclaimed novels The Crimson Petal and the White and Under the Skin, explained that his action was his attempt ‘to let off some impotent steam’. He added in his letter: ‘I am donating this copy of my latest novel to the war effort. With luck, we might even kill a child: their skulls are quite soft.’
He explains his reasons for doing this saying; ‘What the West sadly lacks is the humility to accept that it’s actually not in our power to sort out immensely complicated problems in the world … It’s all so adolescent male, the idea that something goes wrong and you just find out who the bad guy is and take them out, you drop a bomb on them or you blow them up with a gun or something, and that’s it, sorted’.
Faber has claimed The Book of Strange New Things will be his last novel. He has previously expressed a wish to write a novel with no humans in it at all because he has become so disgusted with the actions of humanity’.
Festive Pop Up
Ireland’s independent bookshops have joined forces for the festive season and with an independent bookshop on Drury Street. It will open every day from 11-6pm from now until December 23rd.
47DS, named so for its location on Drury Street, is a celebration of independent publishers and a collaboration between Liberties Press; New Island Books; Little Island; Lilliput Press; The Stinging Fly; The O’Brien Press; Roads Publishing; Irish Academic Press; Merrion Press *pauses for breath* The Salvage Press; Swan River Press; Mercier Press; UCD Academic Press; Columba Press, and Four Courts Press. All pressed together in one lovely shop. Make sure to pop in for a closer look.
Reading List for Freedom
Following extremist attacks in Paris on November 13th, The French Booksellers Association Le Syndicat de la Librarie Francaise (SLF), has taken action by releasing a reading list to promote an understanding of the complexities of extremist violence and the history of conflict between political and religious groups. The list is aimed at booksellers, libraries, the media and the general public.
The list of 40 contemporary and classic titles cover themes such as the history and politics of the Middle East; the philosophy and psychoanalysis of religious extremism, and an examination of Islamic radicalism.
13 titles have been proposed for children, including Michaël Foessel’s book on why people fight over religion, Pourquoi les Homes se Disputent-ils à Propos de Dieu?
The guidelines for the selection of these titles is not clear; however, such a decision will hopefully encourage people to remember that booksellers are a great resource for exchanging ideas and expressions of freedom, and that books can help us to empathise with the unfamiliar.
We Should All Be Feminists
While the UK plans to drop feminism from the politics A level, Swedish publisher Albert Bonniers is working with the Swedish Women’s Lobby to present Chimamanda Ngozi Acdichi’s award-winning essay, We Should All Be Feminists, to every 16 year-old in the country.
At their launch in Norra Real High School last week, they explained that their hope was that the book would be ‘a stepping stone for a discussion about gender equality and feminism’.
Clara Berglund, Chair of the Swedish Women’s Lobby, spoke about the campaign, saying: ‘It feels so important to contribute to this project. It is a gift to all second-grade high-school students, but it is also a gift to ourselves and future generations.’
The hope is that teachers will integrate this essay into their teaching itinerary to inspire young people to want to live ‘in a world that’s more just … a world where men and women are happier, where they are not constrained by gender roles’.
Christmas Books for Kids
Every child should have a book in their stocking at Christmas. The Guardian has selected some favourite Christmassy tales for children this year. One selection, The Christmas Eve Tree, is about a little Christmas tree which is discarded because it is short, twisted and scrawny, but ends up bringing cheer and Christmas magic to a homeless boy and his friends.
Another selection, Mog’s Christmas Calamity, is top of the bestseller list this year. Mog the Forgetful Cat won the hearts of children in 1970 and has not appeared in a title by children’s writer Judith Kerr since 2002. Mog’s Christmas Calamity is an amusing and heart-warming story that captures the special way in which Christmas can bring people together. Profits from this special release will go to Save the Children and the Read On Get On campaign, a national campaign to promote literacy in the UK.
If you want to venture into some classic Christmas tales, Jane Ray has recaptured the joy and magic of The Nutcracker with beautiful illustrations, or The Last of the Spirits is a spooky reworking of the Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. You can read the other top picks for the festive season here.
‘The Dead’, a James Joyce short story first published in his collection Dubliners 100 years ago this month, will be retold again at the Project Arts Centre this week. Especially for the event, ‘The Dead’ will be reconstructed as an opera in a bid to explore the strong musical references throughout the original story. The show will run from 9th – 12th December, with a matinee on 12th December at 3.00pm. There will be a post-show discussion on December 10th.
Following its run at the Project Arts Centre this December, ‘The Dead’ will tour in the US and Canada for Culture Ireland’s 2016 International Centenary Programme. There is also the possibility of a tour around Ireland in the New Year.
You can listen to The Lass of Aughrim, a song composed for the play, here. Find out more and book tickets here.
Give 100 Francs
A signed note from the acclaimed French writer Victor Hugo, imploring its recipient to ‘kindly give 100 francs to the people of your country’ (prière de donner cent francs aux pauvres de votre pays), has been put up for sale. Hugo gained a reputation as a charitable figure in his lifetime. For example, the writer of Les Miserables wrote before his death: ‘I leave 50,000 francs to the poor. I want to be buried in their hearse. I refuse [funeral] orations of all churches. I beg a prayer to all souls. I believe in God.’ The Rabb collection is selling the note for $3,000.