Colleen McCullough, the important and treasured Australian author, died 29 January at the age of 77. McCullough famously wrote the Thorn Birds series, which was turned into a highly successful television mini-series in the 1970s. However, there has been controversy following her death, due to a wildly inappropriate obituary written about McCullough in The Australian, a national newspaper part of Rupert Murdoch’s vast press empire. The obituary begins: ‘Colleen McCullough, Australia’s best-selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth.’ This gob-smackingly ridiculous and sexist remark prompted plenty of mocking retaliatory responses online, particularly on Twitter, using the #MyOzObituary hashtag.
— The Guardian (@guardian) January 30, 2015
George R. R. Martin will no longer be publishing a new Song of Ice and Fire book this year. The Game of Thrones author will be holding off on releasing the sixth instalment of the series, titled The Winds of Winter, until 2016.
An author who will be publishing a new title this year is Salman Rushdie, who plans on releasing his first book in seven years, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights in September.
For fans of super-hacker Lisbeth Salander (the original book character, not the Rooney Mara/Noomi Rapace versions) the Millenium trilogy is far from over. Publishing house Quercus has announced plans to release a sequel to the popular and record-breaking book series in the UK this August (and will be published in 35 countries). The book is titled That Which Does Not Kill in Swedish, but will apparently have a different name for its English translation. As the trilogy’s author, Steig Larsson, died in 2004, this new book will be written by David Lagercrantz, who wrote the autobiography I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2013.
Helen Macdonald won the £30,000 Costa Book of the Year prize for her non-fiction work H is for Hawk. The Costa Award pits fiction, non-fiction and poetry works against each other, with the authors – this year Ali Smith (How to be Both), Emma Healey (Elizabeth is Missing), Jonathan Edwards and Kate Saunders – all vying for the top prize. Macdonald’s win comes after an incredibly successful year for her book, a meditation on life and mourning alongside the ‘taming’ of a goshawk, which topped bestseller lists at the end of 2014 and won the esteemed Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction in November.
The Arts Council of Ireland this week unveiled the first ever Fiction Laureate. Anne Enright has been granted the honour following a nominations process, which shortlisted 34 candidates before the Council reached its unanimous decision on Enright, who wrote the Man-Booker Prize winner The Gathering (2007). In this new post, Enright will teach creative writing at New York University and University College Dublin.
The UK now has a prize dedicated entirely to horror fiction: the £2,000 James Herbert Award for Horror Writing. Considering the propensity in British literature toward the supernatural and gothic, it’s surprising such a prize has not existed sooner. A shortlist for the award has now been announced, and the candidates are MR Carey (The Girl with all the Gifts), Frances Hardinge (Cuckoo Song), Andrew Michael Hurley (The Loney), Nick Cutter (The Troop), Josh Malerman (Bird Box) and Kim Newman (An English Ghost Story). The winner is announced in March.
Vintage Books posted a collection of the best books about reading, for those who love to read and love to read about the art of reading. The lesson here is keep on reading. Or how about this incredibly satisfying selection of 50 of the greatest literary moments on television, which includes some of your favourite shows – from The Sopranos to Buffy and The Simpsons – and references anything from classic poetry to contemporary authors.