Sunday, July 31, 2016


I will still be blogging but because I'm in Australia the postings will be later and because I'm on holiday there may be fewer of them.
Wishing you a great week wherever you are.

The Book Chelsea Clinton Touted as Her Childhood Favorite Is Now Outselling Trump’s Art of the Deal


Golden age for arts

Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933–1953
by Peter Simpson

     There was a golden age in New Zealand in the two decades between 1933 and 1953, and Christchurch was at the centre of it. Culture bloomed and flourished. Exceptional people – Denis Glover, Ursula Bethell, Toss Woollaston, Evelyn Page, Allen Curnow, Ngaio Marsh, Douglas Lilburn and many others – were busy painting, writing, reading and making music. It was a fizzing, vibrant time – while it lasted.
     Peter Simpson, who lived in Christchurch and knew several of the people he writes about, has delved into the lives and achievements of these individuals and the environment in which they worked. This handsome book, full of pictures in colour and black and white, and the whole printed on glossy paper, is a celebration of those people. They were young and bold. They flatted together, socialised, argued, supported each other. They challenged the conservative establishment which resisted change and innovation, as it always does. They deplored the prevailing but phony nostalgia for everything English, and worked to create literature, music and art not inherited from older, northern hemisphere traditions.
     The comparison with the Bloomsbury Group that became famous in London between the two world wars is nevertheless apt. There were the same attachments, passions and commitment to culture that was innovative and eclectic, the individuals within the group were exceptionally talented, and they found the support and inspiration they needed from each other. So, the writers and painters, poets and musicians, printers, actors and dramatists in Christchurch gathered together and set their part of the world to buzzing.
     There are towering personalities throughout this book – people whose influence extends down the years to this day. At the centre was the poet Ursula Bethell, older than most but with an elegant knack for mentoring those who gravitated towards her, especially, it seems, young men. Ngaio Marsh, who was both a painter and a passionate director of Shakespeare’s plays and, in the words of one of her student actors, “boomed like the proverbial bittern” strides theatrically across the pages. Her detective novels, quite rightly, don’t get a mention here.
     Landfall was launched in 1947 and Charles Brasch and many of those involved with the periodical are household names now. And the painters: they were scoffed at but they had new ways to show what they saw, and they found support from the discerning few. However, as Simpson reminds us, the Colin McCahon painting International Air Race was accidentally broken up and used for packaging – surely someone is still having nightmares about that? The long-running controversy about Frances Hodgkins’s painting Pleasure Garden most clearly reflected the clash between the old and the new: “No episode better illustrates the cultural forces … that prevailed in Christchurch in these decades, especially in the visual arts.”
     So, why did that golden age end? By 1953 Ursula Bethell had died and many others had moved, mostly north. Christchurch was “left only with the old colonial standbys of choirs and brass bands” – Bloomsbury South had shrunk, dispersed, evaporated.

Flaxflower review by Joan Curry
Title: Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933–1953
Author: Peter Simpson
Publisher: Auckland University Press
ISBN: 978 1 86940 848 0
Available: bookshops

Throw-down Challenge: An Author’s Body Of Work


“Readers and writers do not think of a body of work in the same way. To a reader, a body of work is a static totality by which a writer may be assessed. To a writer, it is something of a taunt.”

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Roundup with PW

PRH Had 'Solid' First Half, Pearson Says
Pearson, which has a 47% stake in Penguin Random House, said benefits from the integration of Penguin and Random House offset "reduced demand" for e-books in the period.
more »

A Bookish Nominee: Hillary Clinton, according to her daughter, is a presidential nominee who reads, and shares, books.

Mahasweta Devi Dies at 90: The eminent Indian playwright, litterateur, and social activist died on Thursday afternoon in Calcutta.

Tweaking 'The Gene': Scribner has made changes to Siddhartha Mukherjee’s 'The Gene' after an excerpt in the 'New Yorker' sparked criticism from scientists.

Liane Moriarty, By the Book: The author of 'The Husband’s Secret' and, now, 'Truly Madly Guilty' hated 'Moby-Dick' as a child.

The New Gay Novel: The latest and most provocative trend in gay fiction has been to explore lingering shame in an age of declaratory pride.

Can Audiences Hooked On Binge-Watching TV Be Wooed To Binge-Reading Books?


“As TV dramas get better and better, book publishers are hoping to convert binge TV watchers into binge readers. Serialized books have a long history in publishing — Charles Dickens famously released many his novels in serial form.”

James Alan McPherson, 72, First Black Writer To Win Pulitzer For Fiction

PEOPLE Posted:

“[His] life took him from segregated Georgia, where he grew up in poverty as the son of an alcoholic father, to Harvard Law School during the social upheaval of the 1960s. Uninspired by the legal professional, he became a writer … He published no book for 20 years after the announcement of his Pulitzer for his 1977 collection, Elbow Room.”

Jack Reacher: Double-Agent, Vagabond, Adonis

Off the Shelf
By Sarah Pekkanen    |   Friday, July 29, 2016
When my three sons were young, my bag was always full. From sunscreen to hand sanitizer to juice boxes, it was packed to the brim. My schedule was always just as jammed with playdates and soccer practice and doctors’ appointments. That overly full time was also when Jack Reacher came into my life, and I freely admit to being slightly obsessed with Lee Child’s wildly popular series. READ MORE

Latest from The Bookseller

Penguin Random House had global revenues of £32m in the first half of 2016 compared with £24m in the first half of 2015, displaying underlying growth of 25% and headline growth of 33%, according to Pearson's half-year results. Constant exchange rate (CER) growth came in at 25%.
Hachette UK
Hachette UK's revenues for the first half of 2016 fell 4.7% like-for-like, due to "negative comparison effects" and falling e-book revenues, parent company Lagardere has reported.
Robert Webb
Following a "hotly-contested" 13-way auction, Canongate and Audible have acquired two "major" books - a memoir and a first novel - from comedian and actor Robert Webb.
Independent publishers say being longlisted for the "game-changing" Man Booker Prize has drastically increased demand for their books, and has come at a particularly good time because of Brexit pressures.
It is a solid two months for Jojo Moyes at the top of The Bookseller's Weekly E-ranking as After You claimed its third consecutive number one, following on from Me Before You's five straight weeks atop the list. 
HarperCollins is to publish a new book from the late Michael Crichton titled Dragon Teeth in May 2017. 
Simon & Schuster saw global revenues fall by 6% to $187m during its second quarter, according to results released by parent company the CBS Corporation.
Hodder Children's Books
Hodder Children’s books, part of the Hachette Children’s Group, has bought two picture books by author and illustrator Jonny Duddle.
Polari First Book Prize
Poet Andrew McMillan has been shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize for his debut poetry collection Physical (Jonathan Cape).
Philip Pullman
Philip Pullman is to be the first patron of Literature Wales.
Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten, owner of Kobo and OverDrive, has acquired a substantial minority stake in getAbstract AG, the world's largest library of business book summaries.
Mantle has acquired The Other Bennet Girl, a second novel by Janice Hadlow, for publication in 2018.

Man Booker Prize Longlist Is A Disappointment For Diversity

 This year's Man Booker prize longlist comes as a major disappointment. Only three writers on the 13-strong list were people of colour: Madeleine Thien, Paul Beatty and Ottessa Moshfegh. The fact that all three of them are based in North America is a further disappointment, confirming the fears of many that allowing entries from the US would sideline BAME writers from the UK.

Recently Discovered Michael Crichton Novel Coming In 2017

Posted at 11:15PM Thursday 28 Jul 2016
HarperCollins has acquired the rights to a completed manuscript from late "Jurassic Park" author Michael Crichton.
A brand new novel titled "Dragon Teeth" has been unearthed from the beloved action writer's archive, and the publisher will release the work in May 2017 in territories around the world. The Wrap

Friday, July 29, 2016

Word Christchurch - Spotlight on Caitlin Doughty



Already proving to be one of the most popular speakers appearing at the festival, Caitlin Doughty talks and writes with wit and wisdom about the one thing that is certain about life: death. Her memoir Smoke Gets in Your Eyes about working in a crematorium is peppered with the history of death in Western culture and other cultures, and is a New York Times bestseller. She will make you look at death in a new light and should not be missed.

READ: a recent interview with Caitlin in Sunday magazine
LISTEN: to a fascinating and moving interview with Kim Hill
WATCH: a selection of videos from Caitlin's weird and wonderful web series Ask a Mortician

For a full list of all of Caitlin's events, visit her bio page on our website.



Tea & Cakes with Josephine Moon

Do you like cake? Josephine Moon is the first Australian novelist to make a commercial career out of writing foodie fiction… with three novels published internationally.
Treat yourself and a friend to an afternoon tea with Cakes by Anna while Josephine talks about her books, and the strong creative women characters making their mark on the world that she portrays.

Thursday 25 August, 2-3.15pm, The Piano                 More here


Applications open for Janet Frame Memorial Award


 29 July 2016


Applications open for $3,000 NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award 2016

Calling all authors of poetry, literary and imaginative fiction

The New Zealand Society of Authors Janet Frame Memorial award has run biennially since 2008, thanks to a gift from the Janet Frame Literary Trust, to support a mid-career or established writer. This prestigious award is open to authors of poetry, literary or imaginative fiction.

In 2014 the award went to poet Elizabeth Smither who commented “It has been a great personal pleasure to have held this award. I don’t think of it being finite or confined to merely one year: I am sure the benefits will last through my whole career as a writer”.

This is the final award in a series of five.

Deadline for applications: 5pm 28 October 2016
For more information

 To apply for the award you need to be a member of the NZ Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc). Membership is open to all developing and established writers. NZSA provides: literary sector news, a mentorship programme, manuscript assessment, manuscript services, contract advice, advocacy and representation for writers, information on the publishing industry, grants and other opportunities, along with affiliation to international PEN.

For more information go to

Writers on Mondays

The Playmakers: Nina Nawalowalo & Victor Rodger
Two of the country’s most exciting and accomplished theatre makers join Ken Duncum to discuss their careers to date and forthcoming work. Nina Nawalowalo is a Wellington theatre director with a reputation for making memorable pieces of theatre that reflect her Fijian whakapapa and European theatre training. Her work Marama premiered in the Auckland Arts Festival this year, where it was described by reviewer Raewyn Whyte as ‘memorably climactic’ and ‘heartstopping’. Victor Rodger produces plays that explore and challenge racial and cultural stereotypes, and are grounded by vivid characterisation and complex relationships. As Metro reviewer Simon Wilson wrote, ‘he knows how to write funny, and he knows how to write on the edge’. Rodger’s Black Faggot has toured nationally and internationally, and won awards in both Auckland and Melbourne.
DATE:   Monday 8 August
TIME:    12.15-1.15pm
VENUE:  Te Papa Marae, Level 4, Te Papa

Writers on Mondays is presented with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, National Poetry Day and Circa Theatre.
These sessions are open to the public and free of charge.

Author Talks - Auckland Libraries

Author talks
Author talk: Jeremy Scott
Saturday 20 August // Waitakere Central Library

Jeremy Scott's book, The long road from a broken heartis the result of his challenging mission to cycle from England to New Zealand.

Latest news from The Bookseller

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
The newly announced Man Booker longlist has had an enthusiastic reception from booksellers, who say the contest for the prize looks wide open this year.
Man Booker Prize 2016
J M Coetzee, A L Kennedy and Deborah Levy are among the 13 writers in this year's "Man Booker Dozen" competing for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize.
Independent publishers say they are "extremely vulnerable" to the uncertainty caused by Brexit, with currency fluctuations putting pressure on tight margins and forcing many to consider raising the prices of their books.
Steve Smith
Steve Smith, the former president and c.e.o. of John Wiley, has died at the age of 61.
Elsevier's business trends "remain positive", with underlying revenue growth of 2% for the first half of 2016, parent company RELX Group has reported.
Stephen Hawking
Transworld is launching an interactive app for Professor Stephen Hawking’s 1988 book A Brief History of Time, including new updates from its author.
Gemma Cairney
Radio One presenter Gemma Cairney is writing a guide to life for young adults, which will be published by Macmillan Children’s Books in March next year.
Derby city council
Derby city council intends to transfer 11 libraries over to volunteers in a bid to save £648,000 - but campaigners say this is the same as “destroying" them.
Simon & Schuster UK
Simon & Schuster UK has acquired The Neuro Plan, a nutrition and lifestyle plan for helping to prevent Alzheimer’s and building a healthier brain, to be published in spring 2018.
Roger McGough
Simon Armitage and Roger McGough are amongst the line-up for this year’s Winchester Poetry Festival.