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Daily book biz round-up, April 1

No foolin’ here, just the straight dope:

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Bookmarks: sex scandals, meth rings, and Lemony Snicket

Some book-related links:

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Author sentenced to three years in jail for insulting Thai royalty

Australian author Harry Nicolaides has been sentenced to three years in prison for violating the Lese Majeste (a crime or offense against the dignity majesty) law in Thailand.

Harry Nicolaides was arrested last August over a 2005 book called Verisimilitude, which includes a paragraph about the king and crown prince that the authorities deemed a violation of the Lese Majeste law.

The Thai Criminal Court originally sentenced Nicolaides to six years in jail but cut the punishment in half because of the guilty plea.

To add insult to injury, only 50 copies of Nicolaides’ book were published, and just seven were sold.

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GG poetry dust-up continues

The controversy surrounding this year’s Governor General’s Award for poetry continues apace. Yesterday, the Toronto Star devoted some ink to the story. And today, on his blog, poet (and frequent Q&Q reviewer) Zachariah Wells has posted the official conflict-of-interest guidelines used by the Canada Council in selecting jury members, which makes it seem pretty clear that jurors Di Brandt and Pier Giorgio Di Cicco should never have been invited to participate.

A lawyer friend of Wells’, however, argues that there is some wiggle room in the wording.

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Bookmarks: a blog relaunches, a novel is rediscovered, and a nobel laureate gets skewered

Some book-related links:

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Bookmarks: Adiga’s agent, Small Beer for Obama, and more

  • Booker winner Aravind Adiga clarifies when and why he dumped his agent, and it wasn’t about money. Phew!
  • Small Beer Press, a small press in North Carolina Massachusetts, is donating 20% of this month’s sales to Obama’s presidential campaign
  • A chick lit author/second-tier socialite sues her sister for allegedly stealing a manucript from the author’s computer and adding herself as co-author. Snarky comments (and future chick-lit material) ensue
  • Talk about re-inventing oneself: Chris Ryan, former SAS soldier and author of several military thrillers, is publishing a romance novel under the pseudonym Molly Jackson


Legendary U.K. agent Pat Kavanagh dies

The Bookseller is reporting that Pat Kavanagh, the British agent and wife of novelist Julian Barnes, has died.

Kavanagh represented some heavy hitters in the literary world, including Joanna Trollope, John Irving, and William Trevor (not to mention her husband), but she was perhaps equally well known for the scandals that seemed to follow her throughout the upper echelons of the British writing and publishing community. In 1995, she was dropped by her most famous client, Martin Amis, in favour of Andrew Wylie, nicknamed “The Jackal,” who managed to secure the author a £500,000 advance for his novel The Information. The split with Kavanagh caused a very public falling out between Amis and Barnes, who had previously been close friends and snooker buddies.

Then last year, Kavanagh caused a stir once again by resigning from the British agency Peters, Fraser and Dunlop, and inciting a raft of other agents to follow her. Kavanagh’s departure and its attendent fallout caused the editorial director of one British publishing house to confess to the London Times that the sedate and sophisticated bonhomie of London’s literati is largely a façade: “On the surface we all get on brilliantly, but on a personal level we all f***ing loathe each other.”

The notice in The Bookseller is very brief, and gives no indication of the cause of death. The only direct quote in the piece is from a spokesperson for United Agents, the firm that Kavanagh helped establish after leaving PFD:

“Pat Kavanagh was an exceptional agent and a great friend. We all owe her a tremendous amount. She was an extraordinary presence who was much loved and will be greatly missed by her colleagues and her clients. All our thoughts are with Julian at this difficult time.”


Banned books

It’s the American Library Association‘s Banned Books Week, and their website features lists of frequently challenged books covering various eras on their website. Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale is 37th on the ALA’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 1990s.

In honour of Banned Books Week, the Guardian asks whether or not you’ve been exercising your freedom to read, with a quiz about censored books past and present. Here’s one to ponder:

Who was the ALA’s most frequently “challenged” author of 2007?

  1. Mark Twain
  2. Richard Dawkins
  3. Maya Angelou
  4. Robert Cormier

Here is a look at some books that have been challenged in Canada, and some of the reasons why. The list includes a number of Canadian authors, including Deborah Ellis, Alice Munro, and Mordecai Richler. And, going local, the Fahrenheit 451 blog for the Pelham Public Library in Fonthill, ON, discusses censorship issues and provides lists of books that have been banned at the library challenged in various locations, including schools and libraries, over the past few years.


Montgomery’s “suicide” questioned

Last Saturday, a descendant of Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery revealed, for the first time, that her grandmother committed suicide.

In the wake of this revelation, however, Montgomery’s biographer is publicly questioning whether it is actually true. According to The Globe and Mail:

One of the foremost experts on the life and literature of Lucy Maud Montgomery says she has “a totally different interpretation” of the death of the creator of Anne of Green Gables, one that does not necessarily point to Montgomery having committed suicide in her Toronto home in late April, 1942.

Mary Henley Rubio, professor emeritus of English at Ontario’s University of Guelph, said in an e-mail interview that a note found on Montgomery’s bedside table the afternoon she was found dead doesn’t conclusively demonstrate that Montgomery willfully killed herself at 67 with a drug overdose.

Dr. Rubio, 68, said that there’s “a much wider context for understanding that final ‘note,’” which she believes she provides in her much anticipated biography of Montgomery, more than 30 years in preparation, to be released by Doubleday Canada next month, the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables.

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Sask. librarian hits the slammer

Contemplating a life in crime? Well, in terms of graft, the prim world of library management is wide open – or is it?

On Wednesday, a Saskatoon judge sentenced Bruce David Cameron to two years less a day – the maximum sentence for a provincial jail – after he pleaded guilty to defrauding the Wheatland Regional Library.

Cameron’s scheme wasn’t terribly sophisticated, but he was persistent. The Crown alleges he stole $1-million dollars over 14 years, though Cameron has admitted to making off with less than $500,000 – which he has subsequently payed back.

The court heard Cameron set up a fake company called Desert Rose Books in Carson City, Nev.

A few years ago, other library officials got suspicious and brought in a private investigator, who found the book company address was a law office. The company, which took payments for fake book orders, was registered to an alias for Cameron.

There was no evidence any book was ever shipped.

In other outlaw library news, a Lewiston, Maine, woman faces jail time for refusing to return a children’s sex ed manual she believes to be obscene. (Link thanks to boingboing.)

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

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