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Literature News Roundup: Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman Causes Controversy

go-set-a-watchman-harper-leeIn the biggest bookish news of the week, an extract published early for Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman has caused scandal among readers, as it has revealed the now aged hero of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch, has become a racist bigot. This comes as a true shock to fans of the original novel, in which Atticus is a lawyer fighting hard to save the life of a wrongly accused black man on trial in a small town in Alabama. The new book was actually written prior to Mockingbird’s publication in 1960, so the characterization is at odds with what has become so beloved in her most famous work and, to many, reflects outdated values.

The UK has a brand new record-breaking book. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has become the longest-running book at the top of the hardback sales chart, after its time at the number one spot reached twenty consecutive weeks. The record itself was set previously by Dan Brown’s mega best-seller The Lost Symbol six years ago. However, this new record fails to beat the paperback target, which is still held by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, having topped the UK chart for 65 weeks upon publication.

It was San Diego Comic Con 2015 this past weekend, which means Eisner Awards were handed out. Lumberjanes, the critically acclaimed series about monster-fighting teen girls at a summer camp, which seems to be taking the comic world by storm, won Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens. Best Continuing Series was awarded to the consistently award-winning Saga.lumberjanes

The Man Booker International Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize are merging to create a new, annual award for literary fiction in translation to English. The Man Booker is currently awarded every two years, but organisers felt that this delay stilted the prize’s prestige. The new version will have the £50,000 award split between author and translator and its inaugural prize-giving will be next May.

Finally, next year will celebrate Roald Dahl’s centenary, and now Cardiff has been chosen as the host city for the celebrations, which will include live events and art exhibitions.

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