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Esi Edugyan, Emma Donoghue make Orange Prize longlist

Esi Edugyan

In honour of International Women’s Day, the Orange Prize for Fiction, celebrating “excellence, originality, and accessibility in women’s writing,” has announced its 2012 longlist, which includes two celebrated Canadian authors.

Emma Donoghue, whose novel Room was shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize and won the 2010 Writers’ Trust Prize, is nominated for The Sealed Letter, a 2008 novel published by HarperCollins. Picador reissued a special paperback version for the U.K. market in early 2012, one of 12 titles marking the publisher’s 40th anniversary.

Donoghue is accompanied by fellow Canadian Esi Edugyan, who made the longlist with Half-Blood Blues (Thomas Allen Publishers), which won the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was  nominated today for the B.C. Book Prize.

Here is the Orange Prize longlist:

  • Esi Edugyan, Half-Blood Blues (Thomas Allen Publishers)
  • Karin Altenberg, Island of Wings (House of Anansi Press)
  • Aifric Campbell, On the Floor (Serpent’s Tail/Consortium)
  • Leah Hager Cohen, The Grief of Others (Riverhead/Penguin)
  • Emma Donoghue, The Sealed Letter (HarperCollins)
  • Anne Enright, The Forgotten Waltz (McClelland & Stewart)
  • Roopa Farooki, The Flying Man (Headline Review)
  • Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule (Vintage Canada)
  • Georgina Harding, Painter of Silence (Bloomsbury)
  • Jane Harris, Gillespie and I (HarperCollins)
  • Francesca Kay, The Translation of the Bones (Phoenix)
  • A.L. Kennedy, The Blue Book (Jonathan Cape)
  • Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus (Doubleday Canada)
  • Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles (HarperCollins)
  • Cynthia Ozick, Foreign Bodies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Thomas Allen)
  • Ann Patchett, State of Wonder (HarperCollins)
  • Ali Smith, There but for the (Penguin)
  • Anna Stothard, The Pink Hotel (Alma Books)
  • Stella Tillyard, Tides of War (Vintage Canada)
  • Amy Waldman, The Submission (HarperCollins)

Judged by Joanna Trollope, Lisa Appignanesi, Victoria Derbyshire, Natalie Haynes, and Natasha Kaplinksy, the Orange Prize awards the winner with a cheque for £30,000 and a limited-edition bronze figurine known as “Bessie.” The shortlist will be announced April 17 and the awards ceremony takes place May 30.

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Jacob Scheier’s first rule of awards controversies: don’t talk about awards controversies

Governor General’s Literary Award–winning poet Jacob Scheier has weighed in on the Ali Smith/Giller Prize controversy on Now Magazine‘s website. As you may recall, Scheier himself was at the centre of an awards scandal after winning the GG in 2008, when it was discovered that jurors Di Brandt and Pier Giorgio Di Cicco had clear ties to both him and his collection, More to Keep Us Warm.

I [want] to draw a significant parallel between that controversy and this year’s Giller uproar, a parallel that holds true for many, if not every, literary award controversy.

What happens in these ‘controversies’ is the mainstream media jumps on conflict, regardless of the facts (or lack thereof), and stamps the words  ‘scandal’ in a big bold writing. They use these words, of course, to get us to read about it. If they could, with any legitimacy, add the word ‘sex’ to the headline, they would.

But I don’t blame media outlets for that. I blame the fiction writers and poets, the ones who fuel these dust-ups, by writing their speculations on their blogs and Facebook pages for the media to pick up.

[...]

I would urge all writers when they hear the siren sizzle of juicy gossip to stay off Facebook and blogs, and, if you have to, put that gossip where it belongs: into a good story.

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Daily book biz round-up: Giller scandal edition

There’s a lot of outraged buzz in online book circles this morning about whether Scotiabank Giller Prize juror Ali Smith broke jury protocol and engaged in a form of literary insider trading by arranging for her U.K. agent, Tracy Bohan, to sign winner Johanna Skibsrud before the longlist was even announced. As Q&Q reported earlier this month, Bohan then went and brokered a healthy deal for U.K. and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) with William Heinemann editor Jason Arthur (who we’ve since learned is Bohan’s boyfriend). The question now is: did Smith inform her fellow jurors that she was involved in promoting one of the authors in contention?

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Ali Smith among Giller jurors

Scotiabank Giller Prize founder Jack Rabinovitch announced the jurors for this year’s prize this morning. They are: Michael Enright, host of CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition, Canadian-born U.S. author Claire Messud (The Emperor’s Children), and U.K. author Ali Smith (Hotel World, The Accidental).

The 2010 prize longlist will be announced on Sept. 20. The shortlist will be announced at a press conference in Toronto on Oct. 5. The awards ceremony will be held at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel on Nov. 9, 2010.

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Peck does it again

Bad-boy book reviewer and author Dale Peck has taken his literary-criticism-as-theatre approach (or perhaps literary criticism as pro wrestling) to its logical conclusion with a new look-at-me stunt.

The U.S. website The Morning News asked Peck to serve as one of the later-stage judges for its “Tournament of Books,” in which 16 notable novels from 2005 are pitted against each other in pairs until a sole winner emerges. Peck was asked to judge between Ali Smith’s The Accidental and Ian McEwan’s Saturday — which one would be worthy of advancing to the semi-finals?

Well, as it turns out, neither: Peck refused to choose one over the other, insisting that they were equally undeserving. “The truth is, contemporary fiction’s nothing more than an enabler of certain bourgeois illusions,” he wrote. “[U]ntil writers realize the social compact is spiritual and species suicide, a pseudoethical pressure valve that allows Western society to pretend it’s examining its troubled conscience when all it’s doing is assuaging the guilt we feel for exploiting the rest of the world—and destroying it in the process—then the literary novel will remain little more than a series of embarrassing, irrelevant mea culpas.”

Peck also dishes out some small-minded cynicism to anyone foolish enough to take an interest in what he has to say: “But speaking more generally—hell, you’re all just waiting for the pull quote anyway—books like these make me want to join al Qaeda” (emphasis added). So can we all just start ignoring him now, please? (Well, er, starting as soon as In Other Media finishes this post.)

Anyway, the Morning News folks went ahead and flipped a coin, thus advancing The Accidental to the next round. And Peck’s next book is a children’s fantasy adventure novel called The Drift House, set to publish this fall. According to its Amazon listing, the book starts off with three children moving to Canada after 9/11, to live with their “Uncle Farley” (!).

Related links:
Click here for Dale Peck’s contribution to the Tournament of Books

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Booker shortlist announced

In a year that saw landmark books written by the big names of British fiction — Rushdie, Barnes, Coetzee, McEwan, and Ali and Zadie Smith to name a few — the big question preceding this year’s Man Booker shortlist announcement was as much “who will be left out?” as “who will be kept in?”

Among the ranks of longlisted books that didn’t make it are Nobel Prize-winner and two-time Booker-winner J.M. Coetzee’s Slow Man and books by two other past Booker Prize recipients, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan.

There are few surprises among the shortlisted books. Each of them was written by an established novelist, with the possible exception of Sebastian Barry, better known as a playwright than as a long form fiction writer.

This year’s Booker shortlist includes John Banville’s The Sea (Picador); Julian Barnes’ Arthur & George (Jonathan Cape); Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way (Faber & Faber); Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (Faber & Faber); Ali Smith’s The Accidental (Hamish Hamilton); and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty (Hamish Hamilton). The bookmakers at William Hill favour the thrice-shortlisted Julian Barnes with 5/4 odds.

The winner will receive £50,000 with a guaranteed increase in sales and recognition worldwide. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, will receive £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their own book. The winner will be announced on October 10 in a televised ceremony.

Related links:
Click here for the official Man Booker website
Click here for commentary by Louise Jury of The Independent
Click here for commentary by John Ezard of The Guardian

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Domestic drama

Comments made in the introduction to a literary anthology just released in England have caused an uproar amongst the country’s literary community. In their introduction to The New Writing 13, editors Toby Litt and Ali Smith claimed that most of the submissions they received from women authors were “disappointingly domestic, the opposite of risk-taking — as if too many women writers have been injected with a special drug that keeps them dulled, good, saying the right thing, aping the right shape, and melancholy at doing it, depressed as hell.” This contention has been vociferously opposed by a number of authors and publishing people, including Alexandra Pringle, editor-in-chief at Bloomsbury, who wondered what women authors the two editors have been reading: “This year some of the novels we are publishing at Bloomsbury from women authors include Helen Oyeyemi’s debut novel about a girl who is half Nigerian, half English, who has a dead twin and a gothic imaginary friend; Helen Cross’s second novel narrated by a young man about the nature of celebrity; Kamila Shamsie’s fourth novel about politics and power, families and loss in Pakistan; Leila Aboulela’s second novel about a woman’s journey towards Islam and Joanna Briscoe’s third novel about a couple whose relationship is torn apart by the presence of a quietly sinister young woman in their lives…. I wonder whether perhaps Toby Litt and Ali Smith couldn’t manage to get out of their own kitchens for long enough to find such exciting and unusual writers as I have listed above, from just one of many publishing houses in Britain?” The Guardian has published a number of similar responses on its website, as well as an excerpt from the contentious introduction.

Related links:
Read the Guardian article on The New Writing 13 anthology
Read some of the responses to the Guardian article
Read an excerpt from Toby Litt and Ali Smith’s anthology introduction

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Lesley Strutt, Dean Steadman, Amanda Earl, Alastair Larwill and Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt and Alastair Larwill

Amanda Earl

Jewel of the Thames launch

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