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The big news this past weekend has been the many celebratory events taking place in honour of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death on 23 April. The bard, the most famous playwright and poet in Western literature, whose works have been adapted numerous times across all media, can always incite a frenzy of exciting performances and tributes – check out this event, Shakespeare Live, staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company (the credit list is a who’s who of talent! . . . including Prince Charles?).

It’s available to watch on BBC iPlayer. Additionally, the James Tait Black Prize – the oldest book award in the UK – announced its shortlist, with American scholar James Shapiro’s 1606 in the running. The book explores the incredibly important year in Shakespeare’s life, ten years before his death, in which he wrote King Lear.

In other book news:

The shortlist for this year’s Orwell Prize (a £3,000 prize for political writing) was announced on Thursday, revealing a selection of nominated works with one significantly predominant theme: the Middle East. The award originally began with the intention to promote books that ‘make political writing into art’, as per George Orwell’s objective. More information on the shortlist is available at the Prize’s website.

the-girl-with-in-spiders-webAnother Lisbeth Salander-starring novel is in the works. David Lagercrantz, author of The Girl in the Spider’s Web (the sequel to Steig Larsson’s original, highly successful Swedish trilogy), will write a new story – apparently, according to the publisher, in the vein of Raymond Chandler-esque detective noir. Lagercrantz’s addition to the canon satisfied many fans, despite causing some furore on first announcement, so there are likely high hopes for the next novel. A sixth book is also scheduled for release, in 2019.

Another prize, the Best Translated Book Award, for fiction and poetry, has also now got a shortlist, which includes, among others, Elena Ferrante, Liu Xia, Clarice Lispector and José Eduardo Agualusa. The list of poetry nominees also includes Silvina Ocampo and others, such as Load Guns Like Poems, a collection of Afghan women poets translated from Persian.

The Natural Way of Things, by Charlotte Wood, has won the Stella Prize for Fiction, which celebrates Australian women writers’ contributions to literature. Wood’s novel tackles the issues of misogyny, captivity and abuse, following ten women who wake to discover themselves kidnapped and imprisoned in Australia’s outback.

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