Saturday, February 28, 2009

What Are You Doing? Media Twitterers Can’t Stop Typing

Illustration by Stephen Kroninger; Photographs by Evan Agostini/Associated Press (David Gregory), NBC (Norah O’Donnell) and CNN (Rick Sanchez

By ALESSANDRA STANLEY writing in The New York Times, February 27, 2009
Left alone in a cage with a mountain of cocaine, a lab rat will gorge itself to death. Caught up in a housing bubble, bankers will keep selling mortgage-backed securities — and amassing bonuses — until credit markets seize, companies collapse, and millions of investors lose their jobs and homes.
And news anchors and television personalities who have their own shows, Web sites, blogs and pages on and will send Twitter messages until the last follower falls into a coma.
The Internet has revolutionized society by giving anyone an instant and unfiltered outlet for self-expression. But it has also turned journalism into a year-round, ever-updated “Dear Friends and Family” Christmas newsletter.
“I watched the Obama speech on treadmill after getting home late from daughter’s softball practice,” Rick Sanchez of CNN informed his Twitter community on Tuesday. “Now I’m going to study it on paper.”
Read the full piece here.

White Fungus Releases Issue 10

New Zealand-based experimental literary/ arts publication White Fungus is about to release its 10th issue with launches at Adam Art Gallery in Wellington, Friday, March 6 and ARTSPACE in Auckland, Wednesday, March 11.Both launches will run from 6-9pm.

The Adam Art Gallery event will feature performances by Aotearoa Hip Hop pioneers Upper Hutt Posse, Our Love Will Destroy the World(Campbell Kneale), Peter Wright (recently returned from the UK) and Tao Wells. At ARTSPACE local band Evil Ocean will perform along with Empirical, Tao Wells and poet Iain Britton.

Number 10 is White Fungus' biggest issue to date with 24 more pages.
The new issue includes a new short story, Sewer Rat Debacle, by Duncan Sarkies and in an in-depth history article by Tim Bollinger, The Bone Collectors: Walter Mantel and the early days of New Zealand zoological discovery. It also includes a colour comic by Auckland artist Barry Linton and a reflection on the life of Diogenes by Richard Meros.

And there is much more. Go to
or contact Ron Hanson at

Message in from Mr.Internet New Zealand, Paul Reynolds

Report from Ministry of Culture and Heritage on Employment in the NZ Cultural Sector extracted from 2006 census– very good to see they include museums, archives and libraries in the same.

Some very interesting facts and figures on the number of authors /critics – but no figures on the number of literary bloggers – perhaps the Census needs a new category just for you!

There is more on Paul's blog -

Read a Book, Get Out of Jail
By LEAH PRICE writing in The New York Times Book Review, February 26, 2009

In a scuffed-up college classroom in Dartmouth, Mass., 14 people page through a short story by T. C. Boyle. They debate the date at which the action is set: when was the Chevy Bel Air released, and what was the drinking age in New York State that year? They question moral responsibility: when the three friends in the Bel Air assault a girl, should peer pressure be blamed for their impulse, or hormones, drink, sin?

To which the man at the head of our table rejoins: “There’s a kind of complexity to human experience that isn’t always recognized. You try to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong, but sometimes both are wrong, right?”

Of the 14 people, a dozen are male. One is an English professor, one is a graduate student, two are judges and two are probation officers. The eight others are convicted criminals who have been granted probation in exchange for attending, and doing the homework for, six twice-monthly seminars on literature. The class is taught through Changing Lives Through Literature, an alternative sentencing program that allows felons and other offenders to choose between going to jail or joining a book club. At each two-hour meeting, students discuss fiction, memoirs and the occasional poem; authors range from Frederick Douglass to John Steinbeck to Toni Morrison, topics from self-­mutilation and family quarrels to the Holocaust and the Montgomery bus boycott.
Read the full piece at nyt.

Wellington novelist/poet/bookseller and occasional guest blogger Maggie Rainey-Smith on a capital tribute to Robin Hyde.

Houses by the Sea

On Thursday evening the National Library invited the public to gather and honour the poetry of Robin Hyde and the contribution of Michele Leggott to New Zealand poetry in a generous and at times quite emotional celebration.

It started with drinks and food in the foyer of the National Library and we were entertained for the first half hour with music from the poet Chris Price and her partner, Robbie Duncan. It’s always startling to find out that someone you recognise as a very talented poet is also a talented musical improviser. And then, it was announced by way of an improvised song, that we should “take our hats and coats” and head downstairs to the auditorium for the poetry.

In truth, I was curious, rather than passionate about Robin Hyde’s poetry. I am utterly captivated by her novels The Godwits Fly, Nor the Years Condemn, and her journalism as published in Disputed Ground but I had only ever very cautiously approached her poetry. I’d dragged hubby along after work, and he isn’t in to poetry of any sort really, but needed a ride home. We were both in for a nice surprise.

Derek Challis (son of Robin Hyde/Iris Wilkinson) has generously donated his collection of his mother’s papers to the Turnbull Library. He explained his reasons for choosing the Turnbull and that although Robin spent much of her time in Auckland, it was to Wellington that she turned time and time again in her poetry and prose, and so he felt it appropriate for her work to be here. And, one could add, although he didn’t, that she was born here and Wellington is pretty much the star of her autobiographical first novel ‘The Godwits Fly.’

Lydia Wevers of the Stout Research Centre who had written what she described as a small book about Robin Hyde’s poetry some years ago was the Chair of the evening. She told us that she had the good fortune many years ago to live in a caravan as a “Lady Scholar” (Derek’s words back then) and enjoyed the hospitality of both Derek and his wife while she researched the work of Robin. Lydia read The White Seat the first lines of which are
Orangi-Kaupapa; there high banks of grasses,
Heavy with seed; in the darkness castanets clicking…

It’s a most beautiful evocation of the landscape and her environment – listen to this!
…the wagoner’s words
Melt into gloom, like the late, unhearted cherries
Whose petals were bridges of the wind, nor came to ripe

I raced home afterwards to find this poem in my copy of Derek Challis & Gloria Rawlinson’s The Book of Iris : A Life of Robin Hyde.

Before the readings began, Michele Leggott introduced us to the Tokotoko made especially for the poet laureate and demonstrated how the Tokotoko could be unscrewed at both ends, that it was created with images of fire, because the carver believes that fire is generated with poetry, and indeed in the centre of the Tokotoko is a smooth, indented piece of wood on which it is possible to strike and create fire. And, beautifully, somewhere inside the Tokotoko (we looked and tried to guess), is a piece of paper containing a Hone Tuwhare poem that the carver had in his home and placed inside the carving. The Tokotoko was then handed around the auditorium for all of us to fondle in awe, as Robin Hyde’s poetry was read to us.

I was moved to tears by the reading of three smallish poems of Robin Hyde by her son Derek. He was caught by emotion in the reading of the poems and it would have been a hard heart that wasn’t engaged by that emotion and all that it represented in regard to both of their lives.

Then Michele Leggott our Poet Laureate who produced Young Knowledge: The poems of Robin Hyde which the Book Council website describes as presenting “for the first time ever a chronological record of the poems of Robin Hyde”, read I think six poems.

What was evident throughout the evening was the passion and dedication to Robin Hyde. All three on stage, had studied her life and work, and written about it. There was a moment of true reverence and piety, when Michele Leggot spoke about researching original drafts of poems and finding indentations on the page which through magnification, they were able to read and find out the process by which some of the poetry had been created. We were all there worshipping at the poetry altar when on the screen the blank white page with just the indents barely visible was shown. And, because the actual transcription had somehow been misplaced, Lydia Wevers attempted to read the indentations out to us. Perfect! It was a re-creation of the wonderful moment Michele described to us when these indents were first discovered.

Hubby is not a convert yet to poetry, but interestingly, he was fascinated with the evening, and I believe this is a tribute to the three Robin Hyde devotees, Derek, Lydia and Michele, who treated us to a passionate tribute to her legacy, making her words accessible, revering her life and her achievements. She was a beautiful and brave woman, ahead of her time.

I am now re-engaging with Robin Hyde and find the complexity of her poetry is no longer a barrier to my engagement and joy in hearing it.

Final Harry Potter film to release in 2011
26 Feb 2009, The Times of India report:

The magic had to come to an end sometime. The eighth and final movie in the "Harry Potter" series is to be released on July 15, 2011, the Hollywood Reporter trade newspaper reported.

The studio is splitting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , the seventh and final book in the series about the boy wizard, into two movies because of its length.

Part I is to debut on November 19, 2010, while the final movie comes out eight months later. If the final film keeps to its release date, it would have to compete with The Avengers , a superhero action movie starring Robert Downey Juniour that is also to debut that weekend.

Five movies based on the books by J.K. Rowling have already been made with stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. The sixth, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is due in theatres on July 17 after its release was postponed from November.

Warner Bros chief Alan Horn said summer starts made for a bigger box office and the screenwriters strike last year caused many productions to be delayed and made new release dates necessary. All three of the final Harry Potter movies are to be directed by David Yates, who also directed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Thousands in scramble for free books after Amazon supplier abandons warehouse
By David Wilkes writing in The Mail online, 27th February 2009

They stand knee-deep in Danielle Steels, Len Deightons and even the odd Jeffery Archer, rummaging around in the reading matter.

Strewn across the floor of the drafty warehouse are thousands and thousands of books, ranging from well-thumbed paperback novels to musty hardback technical manuals, faux-leather bound poetry collections, 1970s cook books and long-outdated sports almanacs.
Many are a little dog-eared or have yellowing pages.
Thousands of people descended on this warehouse in Bristol for free books after Amazon's largest supplier of secondhand books left the site
But this does not deter the army of foragers who have descended on the 56,000 sq ft premises.
For the books are being given away after the warehouse was abandoned by its owners, and the lure of acquiring a free, instant library is proving hard to resist.
People have travelled from as far as Hertfordshire and the West Midlands to the old Bookbarn site in Bristol.
The full report here.
Just one in 30 fathers has time for a bedtime story

Published Date: 27 February 2009
By Jenny Haworth writing in The Scotsman

MOST fathers are too busy to read stories to their children, a survey has found.
Just 3 per cent of those questioned said they easily found the opportunity, with the rest struggling to read to their children because of time pressures and busy lifestyles.Eighty-seven per cent blamed work commitments, and a third said they were too tired.

In contrast, nine out of ten mothers questioned in the survey still managed to read their children stories.Marion Bourbouze, from the Scottish Book Trust, said that it was important for fathers to read to their children, particularly their sons, to provide them with a role model.

The mother of three also thought it helped fathers bond with their children."My husband started reading from the start to our children when they were about a week old. At the very beginning, it can seem as though there is not much dads can do, because the mum is breastfeeding and that sort of thing. So reading is a really nice way they can spend time with the baby.

It becomes a sort of ritual."She added: "It can also add variety for the child. My husband enjoys reading books about space and astronomy, which I wouldn't normally choose."
Read the full piece at The Scotsman online.

Publisher backs down over Waterstone's exclusive deal
Alison Flood in the, Friday 27 February 2009

Independent bookseller outrage at the decision to sell the new novel by Carter Beats the Devil author Glen David Gold exclusively through Waterstone's has forced its publisher to back down.
Hodder & Stoughton initially decided to sell the hardback of Gold's Sunnyside, which opens on a day in 1916 when Charlie Chaplin is seen in 800 places simultaneously, exclusively through Waterstone's from July. The rest of the book trade, from independent booksellers to Amazon, would only be able to sell the book in a paperback edition, and only once it came out in the autumn.
But independent booksellers were furious at the move, with some even threatening to boycott the long-awaited novel altogether (Gold's debut, Carter Beats the Devil, was published to critical acclaim in 2001 but there has been nothing from the author since).

This morning Tim Hely Hutchinson, the chief executive of Hodder's parent company Hachette UK, told the Today programme that the Waterstone's exclusive had been a mistake.
"We got this wrong, and so I'm cancelling the exclusivity with the kind permission of Waterstone's," he said in a panel session also featuring independent bookseller James Daunt, founder of Daunt Books. "In retrospect it was a mistake anyway, and choosing between confusion and conspiracy it was definitely in the confusion camp."
He said that Hodder had underestimated the degree of excitement amongst booksellers for the new Gold novel.
"Although the hardback [of Carter Beats the Devil] did not do very well, the paperback did do very well and has been a solid seller for both Waterstone's and independent booksellers for last couple of years," he said. "With the best intentions - and my entrepreneurial colleagues were really trying to do their best - I think we got it a bit wrong and we're correcting that now."
Daunt, who said he couldn't recall a similar exclusive deal happening in his 20 years in bookselling, professed himself delighted with the decision. "Carter Beats the Devil was a fantastic book and we were excited and looking forward to selling [Sunnyside], and then to be denied it was very upsetting," he said.
Read the full report at the Guardian online.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Twilight Director’s Notebook
By Catherine Hardwicke
Hachette HB, RRP NZ$39.99

The story of how we made the movie - get the inside story!

Worldwide embargo release 17 March 2009-02-27

The folk at Hachette are rather excited about this one!

This intimate full-colour ‘notebook’, designed to replicate the one director Catherine Hardwicke kept on and off the set, takes you through the creative process that went into making Stephenie Meyer’s breathtaking novel come alive on screen – from casting to costumes, stunts to storyboards. With never-before-seen notes, sketches and photographs taken directly from the director’s personal notebook, this book includes everything from her visual inspirations, to step-by-step breakdowns of action sequences, to a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most pivotal moments in the creation of the film, and much more. Get the inside story – this collectable notebook will be a must-have addition to every Twilight fan’s bookshelf.

The Twilight phenomenon shows no sign of abating and the four books in the series – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, along with the movie tie-in edition of Twilight continue to dominate the top five spots on the New Zealand Booksellers List.

With the release of the Twilight movie, Catherine Hardwicke holds the record for the biggest movie opening for a female director – and the Twilight movie is the highest grossing movie of all time for Hoyts in New Zealand.
The Twilight DVD is scheduled to release on April 22 2009.


A tentative swabbing of my pack for explosive residue as an armed policeman stood over me, then four hours as a free man in Los Angeles on a Saturday that found both the Museum of Modern Art and the Walt Disney Concert Hall closed – hardly an auspicious beginning to a week of grace.

When I landed in Managua Airport an immigration official was waiting with my name on a laser-printed sign; I was guided past an exhausted crowd, my passport stamped in less time than it takes to say ‘Ruben Dario’, then ushered past beggars to a shuttle, where antique Beat Ann Waldman embraced me like the long-lost twin of Kerouac.

If I say that Nicaragua is a country of wonders then I have to acknowledge that every country has them. But the wonder here is that such an economically depressed, politically tensioned people can summon a prancing enthusiasm for beauty. Here poetry is a Utopian residence that every man, women and child appears to visit regularly; some even try to live there. The song that moves a New Zealand preschooler continues to move a Nicaraguan labourer, teacher, or businessman. As a minor poet from the bottom of the world I felt humbled and, yes, inspired.

With 130 poets from 54 countries, the programme was an overflowing well of words. I was asked to take part in the Burial of Lies & Deceit burlesque funeral procession, where I read rather too delicately to an indelicate audience; they wanted to speed up while I wanted to slow down. I felt disappointed until fellow poet Gioconda Belli, former Director of State Communications for the Sandinista administration she is now an outspoken critic of, said how much she admired my tender delivery. It was rare and therefore to be prized in a country of shouts, squeals, and gunfire.
The next night, under the antique gun-tower of Fortaleza La Polvora, I read with Yevtushenko (pic left). He stepped out of the cover of my Penguin Modern European Poets edition. If I found his delivery unexpectedly kitsch, I couldn’t ignore the booming applause. When my name was called I gulped, glanced at Ernesto Cardenal’s intent face, then launched into the peculiarly New Zealand lines:

Rusted barbs are more dangerous than bright ones.
The wire fencing the well
wants the signature of a child’s thigh,
the blood of one more explorer.

By the time my Spanish translator had delivered her version I knew this festival was, in part, mine. Esther Dischereit (Germany) gave me an un-Germanic hug, Isabella Panfido (Italy) kissed me and asked for a copy of the poem, Victor Rodriguez Nunez (Cuba) offered to publish my poetry, Arjen Duinker (Holland) nodded emphatically – and Gioconda Belli (pic left with David)smiled again, a benign if fallen angel.

My final reading was in San Marcos. I appeared with the impeccably mannered Obediah Smith (Bahamas), having been blessed first by a Roman Catholic priest. When we returned to Granada it was to hear an ecstatic Arjen tell how he had been required to kiss the fourteen contestants for Miss Nicaragua 2009. Our colleague, Marko Pogacar (Croatia) looked down: “No… F**k…I never get the luck.”

I didn’t kiss any contestants – but I felt I got the luck. The V Festival Internacional de Poesia de Granada 2009 was a blessing beyond words.
From the Te Tai Tamariki Newsletter February 2009

Excerpts from the first of the quarterly updates for the friends and members of Te Tai Tamariki in 2009. We’ll also keep you posted during the year with news flashes, so if anyone has matters they wish to broadcast, drop us a line at

What’s happening?
Off the Page — Original Illustrations from New Zealand Picture Books
the top floor @ COCA
66 Gloucester Street, Christchurch
17 March – 5 april

Gavin Bishop (pic left)
Ruth Paul
Jenny Cooper
Ali Teo
Fraser Williamson

We really can’t believe our luck in being able to hold an exhibition at COCA Gallery. Off the Page – Original Illustrations from New Zealand Picture Books is being held from the 17 March – 5 April. Aimed at children and featuring artwork from Gavin Bishop, Ruth Paul, Jenny Cooper, Ali Teo and Fraser Willamson this exhibition promises to be a treat for education groups and adults alike.
If you’d like to make a booking for the eduction programme contact Nikki Wallace-Bell, COCA gallery’s Education Officer on 03 363 2956 or email COCA is very support of Te Tai Tamariki’s aims and we’re very appreciative of this opportunity and their support in holding this exhibition.

Margaret Mahy Day 28th March
Proudly hosted by Te Tai Tamariki

Natural history writer and photographer Andrew Crowe is the first non-fiction writer to win the country’s top children’s literature prize, the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal.

The award, given annually for a distinguished contribution to New Zealand children’s literature, will be presented in Christchurch on 28 March. “Andrew Crowe’s contribution to young New Zealanders’ knowledge of their country’s natural history has been unique and of long standing,” says Storylines Trust chairman, Dr Libby Limbrick. “His many books, both in design and content, are consistently attractive, informative and accessible to young and old alike.” Emigrating from Britain in 1972, Andrew Crowe published his first field guide to native edible plants in 1981, following an experience of getting lost in the bush and deciding that through books he could show that New Zealand was for him ‘a very special place’.

He has since produced over 40 titles about native fauna and flora, mostly as series popular with schools, trampers, tourists and natural history enthusiasts. These include the “Which…?” series, the Wild Stories series, Patterns in Nature series (also published in Maori), the Mini Guide, Life-size Guide and Nature Flip Guide series.
Regularly appearing on shortlists, he is a multiple winner of both New Zealand Post and LIANZA children’s non-fiction book awards and was a finalist in the 1998 GP Book Design awards, with The Life-Size Guide to Native Trees. Two books have also featured in the Montana shortlists – Which New Zealand Bird? in 2002 and Which New Zealand Insect? in 2003.

Andrew Crowe lives in Thames when he is not away travelling through New Zealand, countries like Tibet or Nepal, or going sailing. Other winners of the Margaret Mahy Medal since 1991 have been novelists, among them Joy Cowley, Maurice Gee and William Taylor, picture book specialists such as Lynley Dodd and Gavin Bishop, and one publisher, Ann Mallinson.

Margaret Mahy Medal Award Lecture and Annual General Meeting
Saturday 28 March 2009, 10.45am – 2.30pm
Heaton Normal Intermediate School,125/133 Heaton Street, Merivale, Christchurch
Registration commences at 10.15am
10.15am Registration
10.45am Welcome and Annual General Meetings
11.30am Presentation of Tom Fitzgibbon Award 2009, Presentation of Gaelyn Gordon Award 2009, Presentation of Joy Cowley Award 2009
Launch: Salt River by Liz Hegarty, Tom Fitzgibbon Award, 2008
12.15pm Lunch
1.15pm Margaret Mahy Award Lecture: Andrew Crowe
Cost: $25 for members; $35 for Non-members; $10 for Child/Student with ID (lecture only)
Registration Forms available from or contact:
The Secretary, Storylines, PO Box 96 094,
Balmoral, Auckland 1342.
Also The Children’s Bookshop,
87 Victoria Street, Chch (03) 366 5274

Ruth Park wins Dromkeen Medal
New Zealand-born author Ruth Park has been named the recipient of the 2008 Dromkeen Medal.
Born in 1917, Park began writing early, contrib•uting stories and poems to newspapers in New Zealand and overseas.
She spent time in the US pursuing journalism, but after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, she moved to Sydney. She began a long association with ABC radio, beginning with children’s plays.
Her writing for children continued, and included The Muddleheaded Wombat, My Sister Sif and Playing Beattie Bow. Park also writes fiction for adults, including the classics The Harp in the South and Poor Man’s Orange.
Park has received many accolades over the years for her contributions to Australian literature.
The Dromkeen Medal, which has been awarded annually since 1982, will be presented to Park at the Dromkeen Society Dinner, Dromkeen Collection Art Gallery, Riddells Creek, Victoria on 28 February.

For more go to

The University of Auckland s first Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English will this month publish a poetry and CD collection hailed for its confidence and musicality.

Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh s Fast Talking PI (University of Auckland Press, 2009) reflects the poet s own focus on issues affecting Pacific communities in New Zealand, and indigenous peoples around the world including the challenges and triumphs of being afakasi (half-caste).

Dr Tusitala Marsh is of Samoan, Tuvalu, English, and French descent; Tusitala means writer of tales in Samoan. The book, Dr Tusitala Marsh s first published collection of poems, lives up to that name with stories of the poet s life, family, community, ancestry, and history. Her poetry is sensuous and strong, using lush imagery, clear rhythms and repetitions to power it forward. Although the list poem is a favourite style, she also writes with a Pacific lyricism entirely her own.

Fast Talking PI is structured in three sections, Tusitala (personal), Talkback (political and historical) and Fast Talking PIs (dialogue). In poems such as Guys Like Gauguin she writes as a calabash breaker , smashing stereotypes and challenging historic injustices; but in other poems she explores the idea of the calabash as the honoured vessel for identity and story. Ultimately, though, Marsh exhorts herself to be nobody s darling ; as a writer she is a self-proclaimed darling in the margins .

The title poem of this collection has become my signature trademark. I ve had fantastic responses to it from within and beyond the Pacific community. Its message, and that of the collection, is that if you can name your identity, you can claim your destiny and become exactly who and how you were meant to be, even in the face of outside limitations and proscriptions. After embracing a calabash breaker genealogy, my work here at the Department of English has become a strategic place to empower and inspire others through creative writing. For those contemplating study at University, there are a lot more calabashes to go around, says Dr Tusitala Marsh.

Acclaimed writer and Professor of English Witi Ihimaera praises Dr Tusitala Marsh as the sassy hip-hop streetwise Samoan siren of South Pacific poetry and poetics. No, correct that: her poetry and poetics are world class. Her aesthetics and indigenous politics are meld-marvellous and her ideas will blow you away .

Dr Tusitala Marsh will be reading from Fast Talking PI at Auckland s annual Pasifika celebrations from 11.30am-12 noon at The University of Auckland stage on Saturday 14 March (Western Springs Park).

Dr Tusitala Marsh lectures on New Zealand and Pasifika literature in the University s Department of English. She is developing a Pasifika Poetry website in conjunction with the NZ electronic poetry centre and working on a critical anthology of Pacific women poets writing in English. Her poetry has been anthologised already, including in the award-winning Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poetry in English.

Video and audio files of Selina Tusitala Marsh reading her poems and the text of some of her poems are available on

Fast Talking PI will be launched at 6pm on Wednesday 11 March at The University of Auckland Fale Pasifika (24 Wynyard St). Michele Leggott, New Zealand's inaugural Poet Laureate, will officiate the event.
Ramsay and Delia in cookery competition
The Bookseller 26.02.09

The first publishing bunfight of 2009 will take place next week with Gordon Ramsay and Delia Smith going head to head. Delia’s Complete How to Cook (BBC Books) and Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food (HarperCollins) will both go on sale on Thursday (5th March).

Sian Jones, Waterstone’s cookery buyer, said: "It’s great to have two major titles from two of the biggest brand authors in cookery so early in the year." The retailer will be promoting Ramsay as its Delicious Book of the Month for March and will give away a free tea-towel with every purchase of the Delia Smith title.
In sales terms, Ramsay lags far behind Delia, with lifetime sales of his books valued at £24.8m, compared to Smith’s £56.1m.
Steph Bateson, books buying manager at Asda, said: "I think Delia will probably sell more copies of her book because of her heritage. Although Gordon’s book is a much more accessible title."

Guest information and links:

8:15 Susie Orbach

Psychotherapist and author Susie Orbach co-founded the Woman's Therapy
Centre in London, wrote a column for the Guardian, and was visiting
professor for ten years at the London School of Economics. She first
came to wide public notice with her book Fat is a Feminist Issue. Her
new book, Bodies (Profile Books, ISBN: 978-1-84668-019-9), considers the
societal pressures behind the growth in body enhancement.

8:40 Jasvinder Sanghera
Jasvinder Sanghera ran away from her home in the British town of Derby
at the age of 15 after being shown a photograph of a man she had never
met and told he was to be her husband. She is co-founder and director of
Karma Nirvana, a community-based project that supports South Asian
women, men and children affected by domestic violence and honour-based
crimes. Her memoir, Shame (Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN: 978-0-340-92462-4),
was published in 2007, and she tells the stories of other survivors in
her new book, Daughters of Shame (Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN:

9:10 Patrick Holford
British nutritionist Patrick Holford has written and spoken extensively
on new approaches to health, nutrition, and mental health issues. In
1984 he founded the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, a charitable and
independent educational trust for the furtherance of research in
nutrition, and he was instrumental in forming the charitable Food for
the Brain Foundation. He is the author of a number of books, including
The Alzheimer's Prevention Plan (with Shane Heaton and Deborah Colson,
2005, Piatkus Books, ISBN: 0-7499-2514-0), and Food is Better Medicine
than Drugs
(with Jerome Burne, 2006, Piatkus Books, ISBN:
978-0749927103). His most recent books are How to Quit Without Feeling
, a study of addiction written with David Miller PhD and Dr James
Braly (Piatkus Books, ISBN: 978-0-7499-0994-9), and Food Glorious Food:
Incredibly Delicious Low-GL Recipes
, written with Fiona McDonald Joyce
(Piatkus Books, ISBN: 978-0-7499-0995-6).

10:05 Playing Favourites with David Haywood
Christchurch writer David Haywood began a university degree in 19th
century literature, and ended up graduating with a Ph.D. in engineering.
In between, he found employment as a forklift driver,
guitarist/songwriter, road-works lollipop man, computer programmer,
librarian, university lecturer, and research scientist. His scientific
work resulted in patents for cryocooler systems and ocean wave energy
technology. David writes the Southerly blog on, and
recently published My First Stabbing (Public Address Books, ISBN:
978-0473140649), a collection of his columns that encompasses such
apparently unrelated subjects as the urination habits of Germans, the
fatness of policemen in Boston, humble woodcutter's sons who marry women
with big hair, and babies with projectile defecation.

11:05 Gudrun Gut
Gudrun Gut curates and produces live electronic media events in Europe,
featuring both her own work (as a DJ and music selector) and that of
other artists. She was a member of groundbreaking bands Einsturzende
Neubauten and Malaria!, started the Monika Enterprise label in 1997, and
released her debut solo album, I Put a Record On, in 2007. Gudrun is
visiting New Zealand as a guest of the Goethe Institut and the Audio
Foundation, for performances at Marsupial in Christchurch (25 February),
at Mighty Mighty in Wellington for Berlin Bonanza at Mighty Mighty (27
February), and at the Alt Music Festival in Auckland (4 March).

11:30 Denis Dutton
Denis Dutton is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy
at the University of Canterbury. He founded influential website Arts &
Letters Daily, which he continues to edit, and is co-founder and
co-editor of He is also the founder and
co-editor of Philosophy and Literature, the journal published by the
Johns Hopkins University Press. His new book is The Art Instinct:
Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution
(Oxford University Press, ISDN:


This question is posed on BookNet Canada's blog. Link here.
Atwood confirms Dubai festival appearance
Alison Flood in the, Thursday 26 February 2009

Margaret Atwood has confirmed that she will be taking part in the Dubai literature festival, despite pulling out of the event last week over censorship fears.

Atwood, who withdrew from this week's Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature over concerns that a novel had been blacklisted from the event for containing a gay sheikh, will participate in the festival via video link from Toronto. She will take part in two sessions: an interview on the morning of 28 February as originally billed in the festival programme, in which she will discuss her life and writing career, and a panel discussion set up by International PEN on censorship, also on Saturday morning.

The festival, the first of its kind to take place in the Middle East, became mired in controversy last week over the apparent blacklisting of Geraldine Bedell's novel The Gulf Between Us for potentially offending "cultural sensitivities". It later emerged that the book was never included in the festival's programme, and that although it was submitted for consideration, it was rejected last September.

Atwood is a vice president of International PEN and, after reading about the furore over Bedell's novel, wrote to the festival's director Isobel Abulhoul announcing her withdrawal. In a subsequent piece for the Guardian last Saturday, she questioned whether she had been too hasty, and described the events as a "dog's breakfast".
All authors attending the festival, who include Jung Chang and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, are being invited to take part in the debate on censorship, with a full line-up to be announced by tomorrow.
"An excellent British best-seller makes its American debut"

Zoe Heller features on Very Short List
And she is profiled in the New York Times.
And is reviewed on BookBrowse.
And of course The Believers was reviewed here on this blog on 1 December last.
Post-9/11 Novel ‘Netherland’ Wins PEN/Faulkner Award
By Dave Itzkoff writing in The New York Times

Author pic right by Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

Joseph O’Neill,’s novel “Netherland” was named the winner of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation said on Wednesday.
The honor for “Netherland,” about a Dutch-born equities analyst, his British wife and their son, who live in New York during the Sept. 11 attack and its aftermath, is something of a comeback for Mr. O’Neill.

The novel, though widely praised, was shut out in the National Book Awards and the National Book Critics Circle awards. The PEN/Faulkner Award, which comes with a prize of $15,000, will be given to Mr. O’Neill at a ceremony on May 9. Four finalists, who will receive $5,000 each, were also named. They are Sarah Shun-lien Bynum for “Ms. Hempel Chronicles,” Susan Choi for “A Person of Interest,” Richard Price for “Lush Life” and Ron Rash for “Serena.”
Reviewed by Gordon McLauchlan last November. Link here.
Published by Fourth Estate in UK/NZ-Aust.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Not Much Sympathy for Zoë Heller’s Characters, but a Little Understanding
By PATRICIA COHEN writing in the New York Times, February 25, 2009

“It’s not always a good idea to see how your books are consumed,” Zoë Heller said after a recent online chat with readers about her new novel “The Believers,” which is due out Tuesday in the United States. “It’s kind of like seeing how sausage is made.”

Philip Greenberg for The New York Times
Zoë Heller, whose latest novel is due out next month, on a recent visit to New York.

Ms. Heller was a bit dismayed to learn that some readers found “there were no sympathetic characters,” that “they didn’t want to spend time with them,” or that they “were not inspiring in any way.”
That isn’t necessarily surprising. She is, after all, famously adept at depicting unpleasant characters like the obsessive English schoolteacher, Barbara Covett, in “What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal,” her 2003 novel that was later turned into a movie with Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. Ms. Heller, 43, prefers insight to amiability.
“I don’t write books for people to be friends with the characters,” Ms. Heller said as she tucked into a spartan brunch of a boiled egg and seven-grain toast. “If you want to find friends, go to a cocktail party.”
The full story here.

A year ago Gillian Whitehead set some of my poems to music – for spoken voice and bassoon & piano – and we’re performing these next week at this free concert in Wellington.

Also: Ben Hoadley (Auckland-based composer and musician) has set my poem ‘Winter I Was’ for alto flute and spoken voice. I’ve very happily been roped into providing the voice-part on this occasion for those pieces (we performed the Whitehead compositions as part of the Dunedin Festival last October), and I’ll provide a few appropriate poetic interludes elsewhere in the programme.
The musicians involved are fantastic.

Event Info
St Andrews on the Terrace
Music/Arts - Concert

Time and Place
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
12:15pm - 1:00pm
St Andrews on the Terrace
Wellington, New Zealand

Free admission
Recent works by:
Eve de Castro-Robinson
Pieta Hextall
Ben Hoadley
Gillian Whitehead
and the NZ premier of:Edwin Carr - 'Petit Concert' for wind trio with poetry readings by:Greg O'Brien

Performed by:Luca Manghi - Flute
Madeline Sakofsky - Oboe
Anna McGregor - Bass Clarinet
Ben Hoadley - Bassoon

Words on Wheels to roll through the Southern heartland

Five writers, six days, one very windy road. The New Zealand Book Council’s annual Words on Wheels tour will visit the Selwyn, Mackenzie Country and Central Otago regions this March.

Considered the highlight of the Book Council’s calendar, five leading New Zealand writers are selected each year to tour for six days, presenting a series of free public events as they travel. The writers appear at a variety of venues including libraries, schools, the occasional town hall, and this year will also follow the Selwyn mobile library.

Book Council Chief Executive Noel Murphy says that a key role of the Book Council is to promote a love of reading and writing by connecting writers with readers across New Zealand, and to inspire other writers in their home towns.

Last year the Words on Wheels tour visited Hawke’s Bay and East Coast. Mr. Murphy says, ‘Every year, Words on Wheels tours a different region and we’re delighted to be visiting the South Island in 2009. The tour always generates a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the communities we visit.’

Selwyn District Council Libraries Manager Glen Walker says, ‘We’re absolutely thrilled to have the Words on Wheels tour coming to Selwyn. It’s a fantastic opportunity for this well read but very widely spread district to meet and listen to some of New Zealand’s favourite writers. The Selwyn Library network issues hundreds of thousands of books each year and people across Selwyn, from the outskirts of Christchurch to the heights of Arthur’s Pass are ardent readers. The area has produced several well known authors too, so people here know the value of literature and storytelling, information and entertainment.

The Words on Wheels 2009 writers are novelist Vanda Symon (pic right); script writer David Geary; teen fiction writer Anna Mackenzie; poet Janet Charman; and non-fiction writer and columnist Steve Braunias (pic left).

The tour will begin on Monday 2 March in Christchurch and will finish in Wanaka on Saturday 7 March, with the writers giving up to three free talks each day. The tour is supported by Creative New Zealand and other generous sponsors.

The Words on Wheels 2009 tour itinerary:
Monday 2 March
2.00pm (free public event)
Christchurch Central Library, Gloucester Street, Christchurch

7.00pm (free public event)
Darfield Public Library, McMillan Street, Darfield

Tuesday 3 March
Travelling with the Selwyn Mobile Library to Tai Tapu Village

2.00pm Travelling with the Selwyn Mobile Library to West Melton Primary School

7.00pm (fundraising event for the Methven Heritage Project)
Mount Hutt Memorial Hall, Methven

Wednesday 4 March
2.00pm (free public event)
Geraldine District Library

5.30pm (free public event)
Mackenzie Community Library, Fairlie

Thursday 5 March
9.00am (school only event)
Twizel Area School, Twizel

Friday 6 March
9.30am (school only event)
Mt Aspiring College, Plantation Road, Wanaka

2.00pm (school only event)
Cromwell College, Barry Avenue, Cromwell

7.00pm (free public event)
Golden Gate Hotel, Cromwell

Saturday 7 March

1.00pm (free public event)Paper Plus Queenstown

7.00pm (invitation dinner)
Private venue, Wanaka

For more information visit
For any information on the Words on Wheels 2009 Tour or writers, please contact:
Sarah Hughes, Education Manager, New Zealand Book Council
04 499 1569

Kathryn Carmody, Freelance Book Publicist
04 385 7070 or 027 287 7963

Biographical information on the touring writers can also be found on the New Zealand Book Council website:


I am writing to let you know that I will be leaving Leading Edge Books in mid-April to take up a position with Allen & Unwin as Trade Sales Director. I have greatly enjoyed the last two years at Leading Edge, particularly launching Leading Edge Books in New Zealand, but I feel it is time for a change both for me and for LEB.

I am very pleased to announce that Jayne Wasmuth has been appointed to the role of General Manager, Leading Edge Books. Currently National Accounts Promotions Manager for HarperCollins Australia, Jayne has extensive experience as a bookseller, sales rep and marketing manager, having also spent five years as Marketing and Communications Manager for Booksellers New Zealand where she was integral to the development of the Montana and NZ Post book awards. I feel very confident in Jayne's abilities to take the group forward given her very broad knowledge of the trade as well as her enthusiasm and passion for books.

I will be at Leading Edge long enough to oversee the production of the first NZ catalogue and will be able to spend a few weeks 'handover time' with Jayne. I am sure many of you will get the chance to meet Jayne (if you don't know her laready!) at the Booksellers NZ conference.

I would like to thank you for your support of the group in New Zealand and look forward to staying in touch in my new role.

Best wishes,
Chris Burgess
Opening up the National Library of New Zealand

This from the excellent Auckland City Libraries website:

There was an article today in the New Zealand Herald about the new National Library building in Wellington.

The opening up of the National Library's collections is a good idea. Our national treasure house for documentary heritage includes the Alexander Turnbull Library's unique collections of New Zealand's heritage material, which is largely inaccessible in a building designed in the 1970s and not completed until 1987 - it was already out-of-date when it was opened and certainly cannot accommodate the customer needs of today's generations of enthusiastic users, researchers, learners and library staff. New Zealanders and tourists alike love to see and experience their and our heritage - it is difficult to see how this can be expanded in the current building which has awkward public spaces and which has already run out of storage.

The reality is that now libraries have to deal with digital access, storage and preservation as well as the physical. These challenges cannot be met under existing circumstances. Our documentary heritage deserves to be showcased much more than it is, and this includes the unique collections also of national significance, particularly the Hocken collections at Otago University and Sir George Grey collections at Auckland City Libraries.
Two New Philip Roth Novels Coming
By Dave Itzkoff weriting in the New York Times February 25.

Author pic left by Nancy Crampton

Two new novels by Philip Roth, called “The Humbling” and “Nemesis,” will be published in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Fifty years after Neil Klugman first held Brenda Patimkin’s glasses in Philip Roth’s first book, “Goodbye, Columbus,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has announced that it will release Mr. Roth’s 30th and 31st books, the publisher said in an e-mail message.
The Humbling,” which is scheduled for the fall, is a novel about an aging stage actor whose empty life is altered by “a counterplot of unusual erotic desire,” the publisher said.

The company (which awarded its Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship to “Goodbye, Columbus” in 1959) will also release “Nemesis,” a work of fiction set in the summer of 1944 that tells of a polio epidemic and its effects on a closely knit Newark community and its children. That book is scheduled for publication in 2010.

BONUS: The New York Times’s 1959 review of “Goodbye, Columbus” can be found here.
The Kindle Swindle?
By ROY BLOUNT Jr. writing in The New York Times. February 24, 2009

BEING president of too many well-meaning organizations put my father into an early grave. The lesson in this was not lost on me. But now I am president of the Authors Guild, whose mission is to sustain book-writing as a viable occupation. This borders on quixotic, given all the new ways of not getting paid that new technology affords authors. A case in point: Amazon’s Kindle 2, which was released yesterday.

The Kindle 2 is a portable, wireless, paperback-size device onto which people can download a virtual library of digitalized titles. Amazon sells these downloads, and where the books are under copyright, it pays royalties to the authors and publishers.
Serves readers, pays writers: so far, so good. But there’s another thing about Kindle 2 — its heavily marketed text-to-speech function. Kindle 2 can read books aloud. And Kindle 2 is not paying anyone for audio rights.

True, you can already get software that will read aloud whatever is on your computer. But Kindle 2 is being sold specifically as a new, improved, multimedia version of books — every title is an e-book and an audio book rolled into one. And whereas e-books have yet to win mainstream enthusiasm, audio books are a billion-dollar market, and growing. Audio rights are not generally packaged with e-book rights. They are more valuable than e-book rights. Income from audio books helps not inconsiderably to keep authors, and publishers, afloat.

Read Roy Blount's full piece here.
State of the Art
The Kindle: Good Before, Better Now

Mario Tama/Getty Images’s Kindle electronic reader, version 2.

By DAVID POGUE writing in The New York Times, February 24, 2009

In the high-tech industry, you live for the day when your product name becomes a verb. “I Googled him.” “She’s been Photo shopped.”
Amazon, is hoping that its product name, a verb, becomes a noun. “Have you bought the new Kindle?”

The Kindle is the most successful electronic book-reading tablet so far, but that’s not saying much; Silicon Valley is littered with the corpses of e-book reader projects.

A couple of factors made the Kindle a modest hit when it made its debut in November 2007. First, it incorporated a screen made by E Ink that looks amazingly close to ink on paper.
Unlike a laptop or an iPhone, the screen is not illuminated, so there’s no glare, no eyestrain — and no battery consumption. You use power only when you actually turn the page, causing millions of black particles to realign. The rest of the time, the ink pattern remains on the screen without power. You can set it on your bedside table without worrying about turning it off.

The big Kindle breakthrough was its wireless connection. Thanks to Sprint’s cellular Internet service, the Kindle is always online: indoors, outdoors, miles from the nearest Wi-Fi hot spot.
This sort of service costs $60 a month for laptops, but Amazon pays the Kindle’s wireless bill, in hopes that you’ll buy e-books spontaneously. “Have you read ‘The Audacity of Hope’?” someone might ask you. “Why, no, but I’ll download it now!” And 45 seconds later, you’ve got the whole book.
The full piece at the NYT online.

A Brother’s Keeper: The Other Wordsworth
By DWIGHT GARNER writing in The New York Times, February 24, 2009

A Life
By Frances Wilson
Illustrated. 316 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $30.

For many readers she will always be, as Frances Wilson writes in her elegant new book, “one of the casualties of 19th-century femininity”: the spinster’s spinster, a “quintessential Victorian virgin” who sacrificed every ambition, including marriage, to be her brother William Wordsworth’s muse, caretaker, walking companion, secretary and most trusted reader.

At the same time, Dorothy Wordsworth (1771-1855) has come down to us, as the scholar Ernest de Selincourt put it, as probably “the most distinguished of English prose writers who never wrote a line for the general public.” Her journals, not intended for publication, are small, filigreed masterpieces. In The Norton Book of Nature Writing, she is the first woman to be chronologically represented, the Annie Dillard of the Romantic movement.

So much, yet so little, is known about Dorothy Wordsworth that she is impossibly attractive to biographers and scholars, who glide down her empty expanses like skiers, some of them leaping from helicopters to explore the stranger, more forbidding peaks. (Did she have an incestuous relationship with her famous brother? Probably not, and let’s not go there. But they were so determinedly intimate that speculation will never cease.)
The complete review at NYT.
Lonely Planet tells staff to pack their bags
Chris Zappone writing in The Age, February 25, 2009

Travel guide book publisher Lonely Planet has cut up to 50 positions as the demand for guidebooks shrivels in the face of global financial crisis.

The cuts will affect staff in Australia, the US and Britain where most of the company's sales and offices are. Before the cuts the company said it had 500 people on its payroll.
The retrenchments are "directly related to the economic downturn because we're a global company", spokesman Adam Bennett said.
"It represents the decline of the guidebook market in tough times."

Mr Bennett said the US and Britain, both of which are struggling with recession, represented a combined total of 60% of guidebook sales.
Lonely Planet, which is 75%-owned by the BBC's commercial enterprise BBC Worldwide, said it was consulting with employees, some of whom were not having their contracts renewed, while others were having their positions eliminated.

Acting chief executive Stephen Palmer said in a statement that the global market for travel was not expected to pick up soon.
"Even the most optimistic forecasts do not predict any sustained recovery until 2010 at the earliest, and even then it is likely to be slow and patchy,'' Mr Palmer said.
"The US, UK and Europe are all in recession, and these territories account for over 80% of our business."
Mr Palmer cited a UN World Travel Organisation forecast for total outbound travel to dip 2% this year. But he predicted Lonely Planet's core markets would erode further with a 10% fall in the US, 5% in Britain and 2% in Australia.
"It has become clear that this economic situation is unprecedented. It will not just be a blip and we need to adjust our costs so we can manage through these tough times.''

Meet novelist Olivier Bleys

Author of more than a dozen historical novels on subjects as diverse as the construction of the Eiffel Tower, a merchant of tulips in the Netherlands and the introduction of the piano to Brazil, prizewinning writer Olivier Bleys will discuss his work in English and read extracts from published and unpublished work (in French with English translation by Jean Anderson).

Olivier is French writer-in-residence at Thorndon’s Randell Cottage, and his books have been translated into eight languages. He is currently working on a contemporary novel set in New Zealand about an astronomer, a meteorite and an art exhibition.

5:50-7:00pm on Thursday 12 March at Alliance Française,

level 3, 78 Victoria Street Wellington, NZ

All welcome, refreshments provided.

RSVP to 04 472 1272 by 10 March appreciated.
Poet Laureate: does poetry need one?
As Andrew Motion reaches the end of his ten-year tenure, Rupert Christiansen debates who should represent the nation next and what they should stand for - if anyone cares.

By Rupert Christiansen writing in The Telegraph, 25 Feb 2009

"Flag-waver" for poetry: Andrew Motion will soon reach the end of his ten-year tenure Photo: DAVID ROSE

Like the awfulness of our National Anthem, the futility of the post of Poet Laureate is one of those running sores in our national culture which seem beyond healing. Every time the matter is aired, there's a consensus that something ought to be done about it, and every time – because we ultimately prefer the comfortable slippers of tradition to the red cap of revolution – nothing ends up being done at all.

And now the debate resurfaces, as Andrew Motion reaches the end of his ten-year tenure, and a successor will be announced soon, through royal decree prompted by some mysterious cabal of Whitehall mandarins. Should the honour pass to a woman or someone of, er, diverse background? What's the point, and does anyone care?

Andrew Motion has tried tremendously hard to liven the thing up and make it matter. He will surely get a gong and be remembered as one of the busier and better members of the line. He has, in his own words, been "a kind of flag-waver, bunting hanger-up, drum-beater, you name it, for poetry", sitting on committees, making public appearances, talking in schools, inaugurating an online poetry archive, and promoting the classics and the Bible in the educational curriculum.

But despite his invigorating zeal, the function of Poet Laureate remains primarily that of a royal courtier, judged by the public on the grounds of the bowing and scraping he produces for state events – in particular, his response to birthdays, marriages and funerals.
Read the full piece online.
And from The Guardian - Duffy is hottest tip for poet laureate.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Outstanding 'complexity' wins Naomi Klein £50,000 inaugural Warwick prize
Alison Flood and Lindesay Irvine in the, Wednesday 25 February 2009

Naomi Klein. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

The complexity of Naomi Klein's portrayal of the rise of disaster capitalism, The Shock Doctrine, has won its author the inaugural £50,000 Warwick prize for writing.
The biennial prize, run by Warwick University, is promising to be one of the most unusual prizes on the books calendar, not least because it will tackle a different theme every two years, with "complexity" chosen as its initial focus.
Chair of judges and author of "weird fiction" China Miéville, praised The Shock Doctrine as a "brilliant, provocative, outstandingly written investigation into some of the great outrages of our time" which has "started many debates, and will start many more".

The book charts Klein's four-year investigation into moments of collective crisis, such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, dubbing the ways in which they are exploited by global corporations "disaster capitalism".

"At a time when the news out of the publishing industry is usually so bleak it's thrilling to be part of a bold new prize supporting writing, especially alongside such an exciting array of other books," Klein said on learning of her win.
She beat a hugely varied shortlist which ranged from scientific theory to Spanish fiction to take the award, seeing off strong competition from Mad, Bad and Sad, Lisa Appignanesi's intricate study of the relationship between women and mental illness, and Alex Ross's Guardian first book award-winning history of 20th-century music, The Rest is Noise. Francisco Goldman's investigation into the murder of Guatemalan bishop Juan Gerardi, The Art of Political Murder, Stuart A Kauffman's Reinventing the Sacred and the solitary novel on the shortlist, Enrique Vila-Matas's study of an obsessive writer, Montano's Malady, completed the line-up.

The prize has self-consciously set out to break fresh ground as a prize, seeking not only to explore different themes, but also to explore "how writing evolves" and pick out its "moving edge". Miéville commented: "Of course, that could mean anything and nothing, but because it's a prize that's deliberately interdisciplinary and 'inter-formal', you do end up picking up a sort of gestalt of the set of concerns that are flying around in the zeitgeist, and the different but overlapping ways it gets expressed.

The full report at The Guardian online.

The title is published by Allen Lane (Penguin).
For a selection of reviews link here.

John Grogan author talk

Central City Library is thrilled to announce that international best-selling author John Grogan (author of Marley & Me) will be coming in to talk to us about his new book The Longest Trip Home.

Wednesday 25 March 2009 6.00pm - 7.00pm
Central City Library
Free event
A welcome glass of wine will be available from 5.30pm, compliments of Glengarry Wines.


Why it's pointless telling anyone that writing isn't worth it
In the first post of a new blog series, the novelist explains why no amount of bad food and discomfort will put people off an author's life
AL Kennedy WRITING IN THE, Tuesday 24 February 2009

This is the life ... the Philadelphia Hobo Conference, 1923. Photograph: © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

On the road again ...
Somebody once described me as The Littlest Hobo Of Literature. Although I save far fewer orphans (in fact, none) and lack the buoyant charm of the raggle-eared original, I can see what they meant. I do have a home, of course. I know that it contains furniture, tinned foodstuffs and items of clothing (probably black) that I may never have worn. I also know I don't really live there. So – less time worrying about the neighbours and more time worrying about why so many B&B's are run by former law-enforcement personnel.

On the one hand, their emergency-related skills are probably cracking and on the other, they clearly harbour a pressing need to lock people up overnight in tiny rooms with inadequate plumbing and facilities. When I started writing no one told me it would come to this.

But I do try to tell other people what it will come to – hence my occasional visits to Warwick University and its creative writing students. They want to write, they have application and vigour, they've all come on since I read them last and yet ... it would be unfair not to remind them of how horrible their futures may become. If they're unsuccessful, they'll be clattering through a global Depression with a skill no one requires, a writing demon gnawing at their spine to be expressed and a delicately-nurtured sensitivity that will only make their predicaments seem worse – and yet somehow of no interest to anyone else.
If they're successful, they still may not make a living, will travel more than a drug mule, may be so emotionally preoccupied that they fail to notice entire relationships, will have to deal with media demands no sane person would want to understand and may well wear far too much black. (Yes, it is slimming, but unisex Richard III isn't always what the occasion demands. Trust me: experience is a painful teacher.)

Read Kennedy's full piece here.


Dunedin-based poet, editor David Howard, (pic left), just back from attending an International Poetry Festival in Nicaragua, (read his earlier report here), has kindly sent me some photographs he took while there, a small selection of which are reproduced here for your interest.

David says when he has recovered from his journey he will write more for the blog about his experiences in Latin America.