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Browsing: Books

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of do’s and don’t’s: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but once upon a time lasts forever.” Philip Pullman is known as one of the world’s most influential storytellers. He was born on the 19th October, 1946 in Norfolk. He was educated in England, Zimbabwe and Australia before his family settled down in North Wales. After securing his Bachelors in Arts at Exeter College, Oxford, he began teaching. He taught middle school children and at the same time, he began to pursue his writing,…

“Mom says where did anxiety come from? Anxiety is the cousin visiting from out of town depression felt obliged to bring to the party. Mom, I am the party. Only, I am a party I don’t want to be at.” Exploring themes of mental health, love and family; Sabrina Benaim’s debut book certainly packs a punch. I knew of Sabrina Benaim long before this book came to light. She is a very well known performance poet and one of the most-viewed of all time, so no pressure for her to release a brilliant book, right? There is an extreme sense…

JK Rowling, she who needs no introduction, has long been ‘done’ with the series which made her the most beloved of children’s writers of our generation. Harry Potter spawned 7 books, 8 films, a dozen video games, and millions of fans. Once the novels were tied up in 2007 with the final title Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rowling opened the website Pottermore in 2011, which has thousands of words more of backstory about the world of the Boy-Who-Lived. Fans can sign up and receive their wand, take the Sorting Hat quiz to discover their House, and read all…

The longlist for the Man Booker International Prize 2016 has been announced; here are the nominees for this year’s prize: A Cup of Rage, Raduan Nassar. A General Theory of Oblivion, José Eduardo Agualusa. A Strangeness in my Mind, Orhan Pamuk. A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler. Death by Water, Kenzaburō Ōe. Ladivine, Marie NDiaye. Man Tiger, Eka Kurniawan. Mend the Living, Maylis de Kerangal. The Four Books, Yan Lianke. The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante. The Vegetarian, Han Kang. Tram 83, Fiston Mwanza Mujila. White Hunger, Aki Ollikainen.

So it’s 2015, and despite the scaremongering, the prophesied American takeover of the Man Booker prize has yet to materialise. Instead, since potential nominations were broadened last year to any book published in the UK and in the English language, we’ve had two Commonwealth authors: Australian Richard Flanagan with his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and Jamaican Marlon James with A Brief History of Seven Killings. True, James is an American citizen, but so are some of the nominees of years past. In fact, American authors aren’t even dominating the shortlist, sitting at around a third in…

In New Zealand, the ban on selling and distributing Ted Dawe’s award winning novel Into The River has been lifted. The coming-of-age novel had an interim restriction order applied to it in September, meaning it could not be available in shops or libraries, while the Film and Literature Board of Review deliberated over the novel’s classification. This is the first time in New Zealand history that the Classification Office has reconsidered a past decision about the rating of a novel. The novel, which centres around a Maori boy who moves from a quiet East-coast village to a boarding school in Auckland,…

Thursday. Cheltenham. A city designed to feed the ivy and red-brick industries. The literary festival had been running for a fortnight, and the dots of pop-up bookstores and poetic conversation has settled into its groove. Everyone was used to the small assortment of plastic and glass hamlets that sprouted in this park and that. It was calm. Quiet, even, if you’ve seen the organised chaos of the festival at Hay-on-Wye. A packed-out Times Forum buzzed. Julian Barnes on art: it was the first event of the final few days. As with most speakers, it was the subject of his latest…

At the start of July, writer Imy Santiago wrote a blog entry on her website which caused a small media frenzy. The post, entitled Amazon… A virtual marketplace, or Big Brother?, talked about how she had written a review for a fellow writer on Amazon’s platform and was surprised and a little peeved to find she was unable to post the review. She then received an explanatory e-mail from the company. You can read the full post on her site here. For those who don’t know, Amazon has a set of rules about posting reviews on their marketplace. As their page…

Last week, Damien Walter wrote an article for the Guardian in which he discusses serial novels in genre fiction, particularly Fantasy. He pointed to Sci-Fi author Eric Flint and a recent essay where he coined the term ‘mega-novel’ to better describe Fantasy series such as A Song Of Ice And Fire, otherwise known as Game of Thrones to the mainstream public, where multiple books of huge size are serialised and must be read together to make sense. Walter was arguing that the mega-novel is over-saturating the Fantasy market. Author John Gwynne has received a six-figure deal for the next three books…

Bangor International Poetry Season: Give Poetry a Chance! By Jack H. Upton This October, Bangor hosted possibly one of the biggest literary appreciation events in the UK of 2014; an entire month dedicated to Poetry. I’m sure most of you approach this subject with a pinch of salt – I personally have never been excited by poetry – and for the poetry lovers out there, I’m sure most of you did not know what to expect from Poetry Month. However, the sheer breadth of Bangor Poetry Season perhaps gave me hope for the Poetic Arts, after all. The turnout was…

The Maze Runner by James Dashner is fantastic for fans of The Hunger Games. Don’t be put off by its “Young Adult” status it is a great read for adults as well as teenagers. It is set in a dystopia called “The Glade.” Its residents, the Gladers, are all teenaged boys, all of whom have had their memory wiped and all they can remember about themselves is their first name. This is true for protagonist Thomas. The Glade, which resides in the middle of a gigantic maze, appears to be their only means of escape and is guarded by half-robot-half-creature…

As it’s sunny in New York at this time of year, members of the four year old Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society have been stripping off everywhere they can; the group want to celebrate good books and sunny days and enjoy both as long as the law lets them. It’s not clear what connects reading and being topless but these women are evidently having a lot of fun proving there is one. Founder A. Andrews said that, ‘four summers ago, my best friend and I were talking about the law in New York that says women are free…

As Malawian writer and human rights activist Jack Mapanje shuffled to the front of Main arts Lecture theatre to read from his body of work on March 10th, I was struck by his age and frailty.  Such thoughts were swept away when he began to speak, his strong and imposing voice barely needing the microphone attached to his front. It is not just Mapanje’s voice that is imposing. During Bangor lecturer Kachi Ozumba’s introduction, I was awed by Mapanje’s achievements and life experiences. Not only is an accomplished poet and writer – having published 5 poetry collections and a memoir…

I first read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ when I was sixteen and it has since been one of my favourite books, with Margaret Attwood as one of my favourite authors. I would even go as far as to say that this book set my foundations in feminism and made me truly interested in the world of women in both fiction and reality. The novel is set in a dystopian future in a place called Republic of Gilead, otherwise known as the USA and is centred around the handmaid, Offred. In this world there are alarmingly low reproduction rates due to a…

Award-winning novelist Joanna Trollope has created a storm in the literary world by stating that children are getting little moral guidance from fantasy novels and should instead read only classic novels. Trollope stated in The Sunday Times that she wanted to see nineteenth century authors like Jane Austen and George Eliot being taught in the classroom; that we should get books that would give children a stronger sense of guidance back on bestseller lists. Reading Science Fiction and Fantasy novels like The Hunger Games and Twilight means that children are “missing out on an enormous amount,” according to Trollope. “Although…

In conjunction with our theme of “Rewrites and Adaptations”, my Book of the Month for October is C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces. The novel is an adaptation of the tale of Cupid and Psyche from Metamorphosis. In the original, Psyche is the youngest and most beautiful daughter of a mortal King. Her beauty and kindness enamours the people who quickly begin to worship her; much to the anger of the Goddess of Love, Venus. As punishment Venus bids her son Cupid to shoot Psyche with one of his arrows making her fall in love with a monster. Instead, when he first…