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maya-angelouIn commemoration of Nelson Mandela, who passed away on 5th December at the age of 95, Maya Angelou has written a poem titled ‘His Day is Done’. Angelou has granted permission to the US government to distribute the poem on behalf of Americans to South Africa, as a tribute to the life and work of Mandela.

Poetry can be a lament and a celebration, a mournful eulogising and a joyful tribute. In these instances, words are used to pay respect to, and to memorialise, a person or event. In this vein, a poem has been created by primary school children and poets in London to celebrate the arrival of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree from Norway – a festive tradition from our European allies, which has been going since 1947 as a symbol of thanks for support during World War Two. The poem is titled ‘Decorating the Tree’ and was commissioned by the Poetry Society.

And here’s another Christmassy event to be aware of: the popular BBC radio production of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel Neverwhere, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and James McAvoy among others, will be played again on BBC Radio 4 over the Christmas period. Beginning with a 60 minute show at 11pm on Christmas Day, the five subsequent instalments will be featured at 11.30pm from Boxing Day to 30th January.

A fully illustrated edition of the Harry Potter series is due for publication in the next few years (beginning with The Philosopher’s Stone in 2015 and subsequent novels in annual instalments), with illustrator Jim Kay tasked with the job of visualising the novels. This is not an entirely unenviable task, considering the films have already brought the books to life on screen, but it must be a daunting prospect ensuring that readers are content with the illustrations, which will be sharing the page with such beloved text. Kay previously won awards for his work on Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls (2012).

A top prize-winning French novel is due to make a spectacular entrance into the UK and US literary scene in 2014. Joël Dicker won the Prix Goncourt des lycéens and Grand Prix du Roman de l’academie Francaise in 2012 for his second novel The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. The novel follows Marcus Goldman, an author suffering writer’s block who journeys to New Hampshire in the States to visit his former University professor Harry Quebert. Once there, the esteemed professor is suddenly accused of committing murder in a 33 year old unsolved case. Cue thrilling mystery! The book caused a surge of interest at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2012, but is only now being set up for an English language release following finalised brokering by Penguin Books (at a whopping £300,000 advance).

The Folio Prize will begin running a two day literary festival in March in celebration of the Prize itself (£40,000 to be awarded on 10th March to the best fiction published in the UK). The shortlist for the Prize is due to be announced in February.

The reading public now have the opportunity to participate in voting for the Costa Short Story Award. The six stories are free to download (either to read or to listen) from the Award website, and readers have until January 17th 2014 to choose their winner. The £3,500 prize will be given to the victor on January 28th. The stories are anonymous at the moment, and the judges even decided upon this shortlist without knowing the authors.

Fascinated by fictional sprawling mansions and hobbit holes? Well, a UK based interior design company has created an infographic for your favourite stories’ home designs: Infographic via GalleyCat

W.B. Gooderham, whose book Dedicated to… we reviewed earlier in the week, has written an article for The Guardian detailing the best instances in novels of characters giving a book as a gift. What example can you think of? The Guardian

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