this is how you lose herThis is the first of a new biweekly column focusing on interesting tidbits, important trivia and exciting updates in the literary world. Many of you know of the opinions and facts circulating in this industry – e-books continue to sell, independent retailers are becoming fewer and fewer, film adaptations of YA novels are a relentless commercial phenomenon – the sky is falling, basically. Let us not forget the positive however as we celebrate wonderful works that continue to flourish. (Brief disclaimer: I’m not disillusioned with contemporary literature, at all – not all YA books are poorly written, niche genres such as urban fantasy are entertaining reading and Kindles are pretty useful, especially for discovering book recommendations etc. –  so there will not be any bias in this column, promise) Let’s begin.

– World Book Night took place last Tuesday 23rd April, for the third year in a row. Volunteers in the UK participated in handing out copies of 20 specially selected titles, ranging from Malorie Blackman to Ian Fleming.

– Wikipedia ­has now begun a mission of consigning female novelists in the US to a subcategory, to be accessed via the ‘American Novelists’ main page. This has caused outrage among many who see this as another example of belittling with regard to female writers.

– In the US, finalists for the 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction have been announced. The three finalists are:

Junot Diaz’s This is how you lose her follows Yunior, a Dominican immigrant in the US, in an illuminating peek into his failed relationships with others – girlfriends, relatives and strangers. Like Diaz’s previous fictions, there is an emphasis also on the discordancy of language, particularly the struggle of communication exacerbated by a bilingual upbringing.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich has already won the 2012 National Book Award, and for good reason. This novel traces the efforts of a young boy in his investigation of the assault on his mother at a reservation in North Dakota. A stunningly well-written book about injustice and endurance; Erdrich’s intense prose delivers a thoughtful portrayal of Native American culture.

Finally, Richard Ford’s Canada is an engaging tale of longing and abandonment, exploring how unfortunate decisions can linger to haunt those affected by them. A story in the tradition of the Great American Novel, Ford’s impassioned prose is laconic and aphoristic, hard-edged and forceful.

– In the UK, the Women’s Prize for Fiction announced on 16th April its six shortlisted candidates for 2013: Hilary Mantel, A.M.Homes, Barbara Kingsolver, Maria Semple, Zadie Smith and Kate Atkinson. See the video below for more information.

– The new 007 novel written by William Boyd is due out in September this year, and the story will be set in Africa, in 1969.

– Tor UK has acquired in auction the rights to a widely sought trilogy of fantasy novels from Australian author Ben Peek. The winning bid was a six figure sum, so there’s high hopes for this epic series. Immolation will be the first book, to be released in summer 2014, and will centre on people across the globe waking with strange powers 15,000 years after a War of the Gods.

– Iain Banks released a new statement Wednesday 24th April thanking his fans for their support following his recent cancer diagnosis.

– HarperCollins UK have been advised to withdraw the British edition of the book on Amanda Knox’s trial, due to publisher concerns with UK libel laws.

– Alison Flood over at The Guardian wrote a great piece on the anxieties concerning the ubiquity of ebooks in our increasingly intangible literary world, and what this means for today’s readers.

(As an aside here, a recent survey courtesy of Amazon announced its list of most “well-read cities” in the US, with Alexandria, VA topping the list based on online book orders per capita  – it seems that US literacy, surprisingly, can now be determined by analysing Amazon purchases…)

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