Feb 23, 2021
Galia Oz claims late author – hailed as Israel’s greatest – beat and humiliated her in childhood, but siblings say they remember him differently
The daughter of the late Israeli author Amos Oz has alleged that her father subjected her to “a routine of sadistic abuse” in a new memoir, claims that have been challenged by his family.
Galia Oz, a children’s author, published her autobiography, Something Disguised as Love, in Hebrew on Sunday. “In my childhood, my father beat me, swore and humiliated me,” she writes, in a translation published by the newspaper Haaretz. “The violence was creative: He dragged me from inside the house and threw me outside. He called me trash. Not a passing loss of control and not a slap in the face here or there, but a routine of sadistic abuse. My crime was me myself, so the punishment had no end. He had a need to make sure I would break.” Continue reading...
Feb 23, 2021
From the Swiss Alps to the Utah desert via Crystal Palace, a sticky end can find you anywhere in this month’s mysteries
Femi Kayode Continue reading...
Raven Books, £14.99, pp432
Feb 22, 2021
Her duplicitous love triangle story is a hit – but some viewers are calling its mind-boggling twist ‘preposterous’. The horror and sci-fi veteran turned thriller-writer hits back
When Sarah Pinborough’s thriller Behind Her Eyes was published in 2017, even she described it as a “Marmite book”. Her publisher slapped on equally dire warnings, hyping it with the hashtag #WTFthatending.
Now the novel is a hit Netflix miniseries and Pinborough is still boggled by her own twist. “I finished watching it and then I had a shower and went to bed and I was still thinking, ‘That ending, man!’ – and I made it up!” she says, speaking from her home near Milton Keynes. “But it’s different seeing it.” Continue reading...
Feb 19, 2021
Two hundred years after his early death, plays, readings and new poetry will honour the legacy of the much beloved author
Almost 200 years ago, on 23 February 1821, the English poet John Keats died of tuberculosis in Rome at the age of 25. “I shall soon be laid in the quiet grave – thank God for the quiet grave,” he told his friend Joseph Severn, in whose arms he died. “I can feel the cold earth upon me – the daisies growing over me – O for this quiet – it will be my first.”
Keats gave instructions for his headstone to be engraved with the words “here lies one whose name was writ in water”, and visitors to Rome’s Protestant cemetery can still make a pilgrimage to see it today. But far from being “writ in water”, Keats’s words continue to echo, with a host of writing and events lined up to mark the 200th anniversary of his death. Continue reading...
Feb 19, 2021
A spell at home is surely a good opportunity to write, so why are so many authors struggling? William Sutcliffe, Linda Grant and more share how the pandemic has stifled their imaginations
In early February, after a month of lockdown, William Sutcliffe wrote on Twitter: “I have been a professional writer for more than twenty years. I have made my living from the resource of my imagination. Last night I had a dream about unloading the dishwasher.”
If the first lockdown was about finding space to write (along with a blitz spirit and a Tesco delivery slot), then the second has been far bleaker and harder for creativity. Whether it is dealing with home schooling, the same four walls, or anxiety caused by the news, for many authors, the stories just aren’t coming. Continue reading...
Feb 18, 2021
Archivists have painstakingly reconstructed the wartime missives recovered from the SS Gairsoppa, sunk by a U-boat off the Irish coast
The fragments of a 1941 love letter to a woman named Iris, found nearly three miles under the ocean in a shipwreck, have been painstakingly pieced together by experts, 80 years after it was posted.
“Look after yourself my darling, not only for your own sake …….. for mine also,” wrote the unknown serviceman stationed in the Waziristan region, now part of Pakistan. “Imagine that I have my lips tight against yours with my arms around you tight … let us hope that this bloody war will soon be over.” Continue reading...
Feb 17, 2021
Previous winners Elizabeth Acevedo, Patrick Ness and Ruta Sepetys up for prestigious children’s book award, with loss a common theme
An “outstanding” longlist for the UK’s most prestigious children’s books prize, the Carnegie medal, pits three former winners against each other – Elizabeth Acevedo, Patrick Ness and Ruta Sepetys.
This year’s 20-book longlist teems with novels exploring loss, grief and mental wellbeing. Acevedo’s novel in verse, Clap When You Land, follows two girls devastated by the death of their father. Manjeet Mann’s Run, Rebel, another verse novel, follows a girl trying to escape her claustrophobic home life. In, The Girl Who Became a Tree, by performance poet Joseph Coelho and illustrator Kate Milner, a girl tries to make sense of the loss of her father. In Jenny Downham’s Furious Thing, a 15-year-old girl deals with emotional abuse from her mother’s fiance. And in Danielle Jawando’s And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, a teenage boy’s world falls apart when his brother takes his own life. Continue reading...
Feb 12, 2021
Rare pamphlet includes roistering criminal’s surprisingly enlightened attitude to the advances made to him by an innkeeper’s son
An “incredibly rare” deathbed confession from an 18th-century highwayman, written just before he was “hung in chains” for robbing the Yarmouth Mail and detailing his enlightened response to a failed gay seduction, has been acquired by Horsham Museum.
The Life of Thomas Munn, alias, the Gentleman Brick-Maker, alias, Tom the Smuggler runs to 24 pages and was printed in 1750. It is part of the once-popular genre of deathbed confessions, a precursor of true crime, and purports to be an autobiography handed by Munn to the Yarmouth gaoler on the morning of his execution on 6 April 1750. Continue reading...
Feb 11, 2021
Brian Jacques’ tale of valiant mice and no-good rats introduced me to fantasy fiction. My daughters love it too, and here are some reasons why everyone should
If, like me, you are a fan of Brian Jacques, then the news that Netflix is working on an adaptation of Redwall will have you setting the abbey bells a-ringing in joy. Jacques’ bestselling stories of talking mice, squirrels and otters (the goodies) and rats, foxes and wildcats (the baddies) gave me so much happiness as a child. The first novel, 1986’s Redwall, was my introduction to fantasy: Matthias, a young orphan mouse, seeks a lost sword to see off an evil rat army led by Cluny the Scourge. (“Cluny was a God of War! Cluny was coming nearer!”) Heroism and sacrifice, comedy and evil – all of life is contained in Jacques’ anthropomorphic world.
After Redwall, Jacques told the story of how Redwall Abbey came to be, in the sequel Mossflower, as Martin the Warrior (another mouse, of course) arrives to save the creatures of the forest from the grip of the wildcats (Tsarmina Greeneyes is a particularly wonderful villain). Mattimeo continued the saga, following Matthias’s son as he is kidnapped by the slaver fox Slagar the Cruel (another excellent baddie; Jacques does villainous animals very well). Continue reading...
Feb 11, 2021
Notes on Grief will recount the life of ‘a remarkable man of kindness and charm’ and the author’s struggle to absorb his loss during lockdown last year
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written a memoir about the sudden death of her father in lockdown last year. Notes on Grief, by the Orange prize-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah, will be published on 11 May. Her UK publisher 4th Estate described it as “a timely and deeply personal … work of meditation, remembrance and hope”.
Adichie’s father, James Nwoye Adichie, died unexpectedly from complications of kidney failure last summer. He was in Nigeria, while his daughter was in the US. The author detailed his death, and her response to it, in an essay for the New Yorker in September, writing of how her four-year-old daughter re-enacts how she responded to the news: “She gets down on her knees to demonstrate, her small clenched fist rising and falling, and her mimicry makes me see myself as I was, utterly unravelling, screaming and pounding the floor.” Continue reading...
Feb 10, 2021
The Costa winner is up for award honouring the best work of literature regardless of genre, alongside many other titles from small presses
Fresh from winning the Costa book of the year award and topping bestseller charts for the first time with a book for which she was forced to crowdfund her own publicity, Monique Roffey has been shortlisted for another major award: the £30,000 Rathbones Folio prize.
Roffey’s Costa-winning tale The Mermaid of Black Conch, about a centuries-old mermaid who falls in love with a fisher, is one of eight titles up for the Folio, which aims to reward the year’s best work of literature regardless of form. The Trinidadian-born British writer’s novel, draws on a legend from the Taino, an indigenous people of the Caribbean. This week, it was No 1 in the paperback fiction charts. Continue reading...
Feb 09, 2021
Panel showing character visiting ‘Jewery’ shop was an ‘honest but terrible mistake’, says artist Joe Bennett but the publisher has withdrawn the illustration
Marvel has removed antisemitic imagery from print and digital editions of the new issue of its Immortal Hulk comic after widespread condemnation.
The comic, published last week, was criticised after readers noticed that one panel featured the character Joe Fixit, in control of Bruce Banner’s body, stepping into a jewellery store. The name of the shop – “Cronemberg Jewery” – is seen in reverse on the window above a Star of David. The site ComicsXF said: “[The] only conceivable interpretation, to put it frankly, is that this is a visual play on the old and antisemitic trope of Jews running the diamond business.” It described the panel as “an incredibly overt antisemitic dogwhistle”. Continue reading...
Feb 05, 2021
More than 10,000 people have signed petition against proposal, which is currently at consultation stage at the museum bequeathed to the nation
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling on the management of London’s historic Wallace Collection to reject proposals to close its library and archive to the public.
The active petition was launched by archivists and trade unionists working with staff at the Wallace Collection, in response to senior management’s decision to put the closure to an internal consultation, which ends on 11 February. The petition claims that management wants to focus on “income generation”, and they do not “view the library and archive as part of this”. If the library is closed to the public, two staff members would be made redundant. Continue reading...
Feb 04, 2021
Book chain says it is ‘sympathetic’ to petition signed by more than 100 staff in support of employees facing acute uncertainty on scheme
Waterstones has told staff that furloughed workers will not receive any increase to their wages until shops can reopen, after a petition was launched calling on the book chain to help workers who are being paid below minimum wage on the scheme.
A petition signed by more than 1,500 people so far, including more than 100 Waterstones workers and backed by names including author Philip Pullman, has been published on Organise. Addressed to Waterstones managing director James Daunt and chief operating officer Kate Skipper, it says that the majority of Waterstones staff are employed either on or very close to the minimum wage, and that upon being furloughed, they find themselves “plunged beneath this line and into financial uncertainty”. Continue reading...
Feb 04, 2021
Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective has been endlessly rewritten. But nearly a century after the author’s death, how new writers portray him remains contested
The first ever mention of Sherlock Holmes came in A Study in Scarlet, published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887. Dr Watson is looking for lodgings, and meets an old acquaintance who knows of someone he could share with, but does not recommend.
Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wine-glass. ‘You don’t know Sherlock Holmes yet,’ he said; ‘perhaps you would not care for him as a constant companion.’ Continue reading...
Feb 04, 2021
Welsh government had said it could not extend funding, but following pressure from campaigners has announced sum ‘to safeguard jobs and deliver strategic priorities’
The Welsh government has announced a £2.25m rescue package for the National Library of Wales after Philip Pullman joined a campaign warning that it was under threat.
A government-commissioned review last September had found that the library’s income reduced by 40% between 2007 and 2019, with staff numbers down 23%, to 224. The review recommended that “urgent attention” be given to the library’s financial needs. Continue reading...
Feb 03, 2021
New issue, dedicated to work by current and former prisoners, provokes uproar after it emerges one poet has served time for child pornography offences
The US’s prestigious Poetry magazine has doubled down on its decision to publish a poem by a convicted sex offender as part of a special edition dedicated to incarcerated poets, telling critics that “it is not our role to further judge or punish [people] as a result of their criminal convictions”.
The magazine, which has been running since 1912 and is published by the Poetry Foundation, has just released its new issue focusing on work by “currently and formerly incarcerated people”, their families and prison workers. It includes a poem by Kirk Nesset, a former professor of English literature who was released from prison last year after serving time for possessing, receiving and distributing child sexual abuse images in 2014. The investigation found Nesset in possession of more than half a million images and films of child sexual abuse. Continue reading...
Feb 01, 2021
Seven centuries after the poet was found guilty in Florence, Sperello di Serego Alighieri has begun a campaign to clear his ancestor’s name
The reputation of Dante Alighieri needs little burnishing: his Divine Comedy, tracing the poet’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, is widely regarded as one of the greatest works ever written. But more than 700 years after Dante was accused of corruption and condemned to be burned to death, his descendant is looking to clear his name.
Sperello di Serego Alighieri, an astrophysicist, and the law professor Alessandro Traversi are working to see if Dante’s 1302 sentencing for corruption in political office can be reversed. Continue reading...
Jan 29, 2021
Influential editor and co-founder of the literary magazine to be succeeded by senior staff
Mary-Kay Wilmers is stepping down from her role as editor of the London Review of Books, a position she has held for almost 30 years.
Wilmers was one of the founders of the literary magazine in 1979, along with Karl Miller and Susannah Clapp, became co-editor in 1988, and has been its sole editor since 1992. In 2019, when the LRB celebrated its 40th anniversary, she was dubbed “Britain’s most influential editor” by the New York Times. Continue reading...
Jan 29, 2021
The Great Gatsby is out of US copyright and fans of Fitzgerald’s novel have rushed to pay tribute with new books and fanfiction. What does it mean for the novel’s legacy?
On 2 January this year, the day after The Great Gatsby entered the US public domain, The Great Gatsby Undead was self-published on Amazon. Like F Scott Fitzgerald’s hallowed novel, it is narrated by Nick Carraway, but in this version, according to the promotional blurb, “Gatsby doesn’t seem to eat anything, and has an aversion to silver, garlic, and the sun”. Gatsby, you see, is a vampire.
More than 25m copies of The Great Gatsby have been sold since it was first published in 1925, and the expiration of copyright, 95 years after it was released, opens the door to anything and everything fans might want to do with it. The start of the year also brought the release of The Gay Gatsby (“Everyone’s got something to hide, but the secrets come out at Gaylord Gatsby’s parties – the gayest affairs West Egg ever had…”), and Jay the Great, a “modern retelling” of the story. On the fan fiction site Archive of Our Own (AO3), someone has uploaded a version of the novel that search-and-replaces Gatsby with Gritty, the name of the furry mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey team. As one Twitter wit put it: “The Great Gatsby’s out of copyright? Sounds like we’ve been given the green light.” Continue reading...
Jan 27, 2021
The bestselling novelist says she is ‘sincerely appalled’ by some readers’ anger at news that the #MeToo activist will star in a Netflix adaptation of Brazen Virtue
Bestselling novelist Nora Roberts has said she is “simply and sincerely appalled” after hundreds of her fans posted threats and abuse online in response to the casting of actor Alyssa Milano in an adaptation of one of her novels.
Milano is to play mystery writer Grace in a forthcoming Netflix adaptation of Brazen Virtue, the 1988 thriller by Roberts, who has written more than 200 books that have sold more than 500m copies around the world. Continue reading...
Jan 26, 2021
The Mermaid of Black Conch takes £30,000 award for 2020’s most enjoyable book, acclaimed by judges as a classic in the making
Monique Roffey has won the £30,000 Costa book of the year award for her sixth novel, The Mermaid of Black Conch, which opens as a fisherman on a Caribbean island sees a “barnacled, seaweed-clotted” mermaid raise her head from the sea.
Suzannah Lipscomb, the historian and broadcaster who chaired the judges, said the novel was “utterly original – unlike anything we’ve ever read – and feels like a classic in the making from a writer at the height of her powers”. Based on a legend from the Taino, an indigenous people of the Caribbean, the novel is a dark love story about fisherman David and Aycayia, a beautiful woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, who has swum the Caribbean for centuries. Continue reading...
Jan 25, 2021
Despite shops being closed for much of 2020, figures show Britons bought books in volume – although many authors continued to struggle
More than 200m print books were sold in the UK last year, the first time since 2012 that number has been exceeded, according to an estimate from official book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic causing a series of lockdowns around the country – bookshops in England were closed from 23 March until 15 June, and then again from 5 November until 2 December, with differing lockdowns in place around the rest of the UK – Nielsen has estimated that the volume of print books sold grew by 5.2% compared with 2019. This equates to 202m books being sold in the UK last year and was worth £1.76bn, up 5.5% on 2019, said Nielsen. Continue reading...