Thursday, May 28, 2015

Jenny Erpenbeck wins Independent foreign fiction prize

German author and translator Susan Bernofsky share £10,000 award for The End of Days - a novel ‘to enjoy, to cherish and to revisit many times’

Jenny Erpenbeck
‘A century of upheaval’ ... Jenny Erpenbeck. Photograph: Katharina Behling
Described by Michel Faber as ‘one of the finest, most exciting authors alive’, but not yet well known to English readers, German novelist Jenny Erpenbeck has won this year’s Independent foreign fiction prize for The End of Days. Although the award has previously been given posthumously to both WG Sebald and Gert Hofmann, Erpenbeck is the first living German author to receive the honour. She shares the £10,000 purse with her translator Susan Bernofsky.

Erpenbeck saw off shortlist competition from Japanese bestseller Haruki Murakami, Belgium’s Erwin Mortier, fellow German Daniel Kehlmann, Colombian Tomás González and Juan Tomás Ávila, from Equatorial Guinea.

From North to South, festival fever lingers

Booksellers NZ - The Read

Anne O’Brien (right), Auckland Writers Festival Director, says this month’s five-day event was “extraordinary”, with unprecedented levels of audience engagement.
It’s true – the Aotea Centre was humming with throngs of festival ticket holders moving through swarms to get to their next event, using cellphones to find friends between sessions.The 2015 year was up an estimated 15 percent on 2014. “But the real breakthrough was in 2014, where the growth was 55 percent up on the previous event”, she says.

Anne believes it is the Festival ambience that is the big drawcard...

Read on for more from Anne O'Brien, WORD Literary Director Rachael King, Alexandra Bligh from DRWF, and booksellers for each of the festivals.

A fresh look at Katherine Mansfield’s Urewera Notebook

The Urewera Notebook  
By Katherine Mansfield

Edited by Anna Plumridge

Release Date: June 2015
Hardback, 20 B&W photos
ISBN 978-1-927322-03-1, 
Otago University Press,

Katherine Mansfield’s camping tour of the central North Island in 1907 had an enduring impact on her life and writing, introducing her to aspects of the country she had never experienced before, and coming at a uniquely formative period in her life.

The newly transcribed edition The Urewera Notebook by Katherine Mansfield, edited by Anna Plumridge, illuminates the context of the camping tour and Mansfield’s idiosyncratic response to all she encountered.

After three years in London, attending Queen’s College and travelling in continental Europe, KM came back to New Zealand in 1906. It was a brief last encounter with the country of her birth: she left again in 1908, never to return.

‘The Urewera Notebook,’ says editor Anna Plumridge, ‘is the only sustained piece of writing by Mansfield where she explores and writes about New Zealand while living in New Zealand.

‘Uniquely, the notebook reveals Mansfield’s attitudes to New Zealand, not in adulthood when memory is tempered by time or in fiction where memory is reworked through the act of writing, but as a 19-year-old living in the colony.’

This edition includes photographs previously unpublished, and new historical material from descendants of people who met Mansfield en route and descendants of her travelling companions. A collation of the alternative readings and textual criticism of earlier editors adds further to the richness of this accessible yet scholarly edition.

The journey itself is recreated for the reader with a detailed timeline and itinerary. The introductory essay illuminates the historical context and teases out the ambiguity of Mansfield’s response both to the Māori people she met and to the environment: on the one hand romanticised and yet also seen with a clarity and directness.

‘Mansfield carried much of her “reportage” of the landscape forward into “The Woman at the Store” (1912), and even descriptions of the landscape in “At the Bay” (1922) owes something to the “Urewera Notebook”,’ says Anna.

The Urewera Notebook by Katherine Mansfield edited by Anna Plumridge enables us to participate in Mansfield’s journey as never before.
This is a most attractive and important piece of New Zealand publishing, my congratulations to the author and publisher.

Anna Plumridge is a postgraduate student at Victoria University of Wellington. She has a particular interest in Modernist literature, the literature of Empire and paleography. Anna tutors in New Zealand literature and editing manuscripts as part of a project on The Material
Cultures of Early Modern Women’s Writing

Call for nominations for NZ Poet Laureate

The National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa is seeking nominations for the New Zealand Poet Laureate Award.

Poetry is a quintessential part of New Zealand art and culture, and through the New Zealand Poet Laureate Award the government acknowledges the value that New Zealanders place on poetry as a part of our national identity.

The Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library will appoint the New Zealand Poet Laureate after reviewing nominations and seeking advice from the New Zealand Poet Laureate Advisory Group.

Nominees must have made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand poetry, and be an accomplished and highly regarded poet. They must also be a strong advocate for poetry, and be able to fulfil the public role required of a Poet Laureate, which includes engaging with a wide range of people and inspiring New Zealanders to read and write poetry.
Nominations close on Monday, 6 July.
Candidates must currently reside in New Zealand.
The term of appointment for the next Poet Laureate will run until 30 June 2017.

Please send your nomination to

Email is preferred, but you can also mail your nomination to:
Alexander Turnbull Library
Attention New Zealand Poet Laureate Award
PO Box 12349

Enquiries about the New Zealand Poet Laureate Award can be sent to

Poetry by Iain Lonie

New Zealand Poet Laureate Website

During the recent Dunedin Writers Festival Otago University Press launched the large and handsome A Place To Go On From: The Collected Poems of Iain Lonie, edited by David Howard.  Lonie, who worked in the Classics Department at Otago University, was an internationally respected medical historian, and died in Dunedin in 1988. My cover note for the volume touched briefly on my respect for his work:

I can’t imagine how we could over estimate just how much we owe to David Howard for this superb edition of Iain Lonie’s poems. Just as I, for one, can’t sidestep a certain shame at not realising until now how fine and important a writer Lonie was. He brought to his poetry the precision and clarity and intellectual force of a gifted classical scholar. He was patiently indifferent to passing fashions, with his own more enduring touchstones. And in a remarkable fidelity to the tides of his productive but troubled life, he wrote a body of poems on love and grief and the searing currents of remembrance that, in New Zealand writing, stands alone.
There’s so much more to be said about Lonie, and that is sure to be said now that this edition places him back among us. There’s a particular aptness too in my now being able to put a few of his poems on the National Library website. I began this laureate blog a couple of years ago with a poem of Allen Curnow’s, a tribute to the New Zealand poet who matters most to me. So how fitting that I end with the poet whose A Place To Go On From seems to me as significant as any single volume since Curnow’s own selected poems. As good a page as any to sign off on.

– Vincent O'Sullivan


Antiquarian Book News

From the Scarce to the Scary: Works from Wright, Warhol, Goudy and Gorey featured in
Swann Galleries' June 10 Auction of Art, Press & Illustrated Books

On Wednesday, June 10, Swann Galleries will offer an eclectic selection of printed and manuscript art books from the 16th through the 20th century, including limited editions, art journals, modern and private press pieces, signed and inscribed works by Andy Warhol and a run of works by Edward Gorey in an auction of Art, Press & Illustrated Books.

The limited editions include a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, featuring six etchings by Henri Matisse, one of only 250 copies signed by both the author and the artist, New York, 1935 (estimate: $8,000 to $12,000). There is also a copy of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, printed by the Pennyroyal Press and featuring wood-engraved illustrations by Barry Moser, West Hatfield, 1982. The present copy is number 19 of only 50 deluxe copies signed by Moser and includes an extra signed suite and original signed drawing ($3,000 to $4,000).

The fine selection of modern & private press texts includes Frederic Goudy’s Extracts from Night Thoughts [by] Edward Young, a hand-calligraphed text with illustrated borders and initial letters on vellum, circa 1890 ($2,000 to $3,000). An early work, possibly created in Chicago, the lettering in these Goudy manuscript pages is in a fairly traditional Gothic style, perhaps an experimental exercise, and showcases the early creativity of a prolific key figure in the world of type design.

The auction will offer a rare copy of Regards sur Paris, a folio with 33 color lithographs by a artists including Picasso, Braque, von Dongen, Chagall and others. Printed in Paris in 1962, this set includes an additional suite of prints for 66 total plates and is number 18 of only 20 copies signed by all involved artists and authors ($15,000 to $25,000).

SwannThere is a large selection of work by Andy Warhol, including a scare signed and inscribed folio, Wild Raspberries, New York, 1959 ($30,000 to $40,000). Believed to be one of roughly 100 copies, this example of the limited edition satirical cookbook contains hand-colored duplicates of two of the plates.

Work of note from the important art journals selection includes a group of 73 issues of Derrière Le Miroir, Paris, 1946-82 ($6,000 to $9,000), from the collection of Monroe Wheeler, the groundbreaking former Director of Exhibitions and Publications at the Museum of Modern Art (1935-67). There is also a group of 15 issues of the innovative art and design journal Wendingen, Amsterdam & Sandport, 1921-31 ($2,500 to $3,500), including the coveted Diego Rivera and Lyonel Feininger issues.

The auction also features the largest group of architecture and landscape architecture books to come to auction at Swann for a number of years. Highlights include two volumes of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Selected Drawings Portfolio, New York, 1977-79 ($1,000-$1,500), as well as a first English edition copy of Leon Batista Alberti’s The Architecture… in Ten Books, London, 1726 ($6,000 to $9,000). 

Rounding out the auction is a selection of works from ominous and amusing artist and writer Edward Gorey, including a group of 20 first trade edition children’s books, 1960s-80s ($1,500 to $2,500), nearly all of which are signed.

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10. The items will be on public exhibition beginning Saturday June 5 from 12-5, June 8 and 9 from 10-6 and June 10 from 10-12.

 An illustrated catalogue, with information on bidding, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Christine von der Linn at (212) 254-4710, extension 20, or via e-mail at

From Cambridge University Library

Three beautifully illustrated Persian manuscripts have been placed in the University Library on long-term deposit by the Royal Asiatic Society.

Originally acquired by the Society in the 1800s and among their greatest treasures, they had, until recently, been kept in the British Library. Foremost among them is the Shahnamah commissioned for the Timurid prince Muhammad Juki in Herat in 1445 who died before it was completed. It contains over 30 richly illuminated miniatures and is one of the finest examples of the Persian Book of Kings to exist.

The other two works are from the 16th century: the Kitab-i Mathnawiyyat-i Zafar Khan an unfinished autograph copy of Ahsanallah b. Abu ’l-Hasan’s poetry dated 1663, and the Gulistan (‘Rose Garden’) of the Persian poet Sa’di, which is known for its colophon portrait depicting the eminent scribe Muhammad Husayn al-Kashmiri, known as Zarrin Qalam (Golden Pen) and the artist Manohar as a youth. The text pages are filled with paintings of colourful birds and animals.

The University believes these items to represent the highest levels of artistic achievement and, therefore, these three treasures will remain on long-term loan in Cambridge University Library and scholars requiring access to them should apply through the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Rare Sylvia Plath proof goes up for auction

A rare proof of Sylvia Plath's novel The Bell Jar is to be auctioned at Bonhams. The uncorrected proof of the book was printed before publication.

The 1962 proof edition of The Bell Jar shows that about seventy textual changes were made between the proof and the publication of the book. Bonhams quotes scholar Peter K. Steinberg as writing, “These textual differences are the result of edits made either by Plath herself when she reviewed the proof or by the editors as they prepared the final typesetting. This shows that Plath read her proofs of The Bell Jar very carefully and extends our understanding of her involvement in the creative process beyond the composition of the work itself.”

As a student the seller has bought the work in 1985 and had recently idly searched ebay to see if it was worth anything and on finding no copies for sale had ‘googled’ it. According to her research there were less than twelve copies known to exist.

Anti-Semitic literature

A former Luftwaffe pilot until recently had kept about 10,000 volumes of anti-Semitic literature in his library. John Norby an online bookseller came upon them during an estate sale and arranged to donate about thirty-five of the books to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. According to the museum’s website the museum works to “inspire citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.” The financial value of the donation is unknown.

“The Jews and Their Lies,” by Martin Luther, “The Who’s Who in the World Zionist Conspiracy” by James Combs and “The Six Million Swindle: Blackmailing the German People for Hard Marks with Fabricated Corpses” by Austin J. App.

Not the kind of titles one runs across in a family book store, and for good reason, said John Norby, a Langley resident and online book seller. They’re chilling anti-Semitic literature and until recently were kept with up to 10,000 other volumes of similar genre in the massive personal library of a former Luftwaffe pilot and Everett man.

Norby stumbled across them at an estate sale, and with the help of friends Kyra Reafs and Kenneth Parker recently donated about 35 of the books to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. A living memorial, the museum works to “inspire citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity,” according to the museum’s website.

One of the books, The Truth About Jewish Ritual Murder by von Frederik To Gaste, is believed to be at only two other libraries in the U.S. It’s a blood libel that alleges Jews murdered Christians and used their blood for ritual purposes. Other rare books include The English-Jewish Alliance Toward Capitalist World Domination by von Wolf Meyer-Christian, which highlighted an alleged conspiracy among British Jews for world domination; Jew and Worker: a Tragedy of the German People by F.O.H. Schulz, propaganda published by two Nazi organizations, the Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question and the Anti-Komintern, an anti-Soviet propaganda agency; and several more such as anti-Freemason publications

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Children's Books in the media with PW

From the New York Times:
The bookstore built by Jeff Kinney, creator of the Wimpy Kid. Click here
From NPR:
Fantasy and SF writer Tanith Lee has died at age 67. Click here
From the Guardian:
The 52-Storey Treehouse wins Book of the Year in Australia. Click here
From the New York Times:
After 17 years, Judy Blume, confidante for legions of young readers, is about to publish a new novel for adults. Click here
From the Huffington Post:
YA Author Sabaa Tahir on Success, BookCon, and the Magic of Fantasy. Click here
From Variety:
Jason Reitman to Direct, Write Beekle for DreamWorks Animation. Click here
From the Washington Post:
Why I Love: Beverly Cleary's Sister of the Bride. Click here
From 100 Scope Notes:
The Authoritative Guide to Children's Books Turned Into TV Shows. Click here
From Fuse #8:
What Makes a Picture Book Mega-Hit? A look at some picture-book blockbusters. Click here
From the Huffington Post:
How Wordless Books Can Help Your Kid Learn to Read. Click here
From Book Riot:
The Ultimate Guide to Books for Reluctant Readers Ages 12-13. Click here
From Twitter:
J.K. Rowling: "I'm just going to sit here and beam at this for a little while." Click here
From the Washington Post:
Dork Diaries: The book empire built one awkward moment at a time. Click here
From the Telegraph:
Author Robert Muchamore: "Don't gender-section books."
From the Toledo Blade:
A Literary Landmark will be dedicated to Nancy Drew and her creator. Click here
From BuzzFeed:
J.K. Rowling Responds to Critics Who Say She's Giving Publicity to the Westboro Baptist Church. Click here
From Book Riot:
Millicent Min, Girl Genius: Finding My Literary Doppelganger. Click here
From GOOD Magazine:
All Books Come From Trees, But This Book Turns Into One. Click here
From TechTime:
Gwenda Bond on Her New Novel, Lois Lane: Fallout. Click here
From Brain Pickings:
Shaun Tan's sculptures for a German edition of Grimm tales. Click here
From Bustle:
#BooksArentDangerous Campaign Turns Selfies into Book Donations for Kids in Need. Click here
From Mental Floss:
11 Fascinating Facts About Goodnight Moon. Click here
From Bustle:
7 Things Adults Who Read Young Adult Fiction Are Tired Of Hearing. Click here
From the Guardian:
"Oh, what happiness!": 10 best Moomins quotes ever. Click here