Book Cover For Harper Lee’s Upcoming Novel Uncovered
HarperCollins have released the image that is to grace the book cover of author Harper Lee’s much-anticipated novel ‘Go Set a Watchman’; the author’s first release in 40 years after her acclaimed novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
The cover, designed by Jarrod Taylor from HarperCollins, has stayed true to the style of Lee’s first novel and is a classic image of a dark tree with yellow leaves and a photo of an approaching steam train on yellow tracks.
The choice of image, according to the publishing house was that ‘there are so many wonderful parts of ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ that it was hard to pick just one iconic image to represent the book,” and so, Michael Morrison, the president and publisher of HarperCollins, said in a statement said that the choice was made because ‘Go Set a Watchman’ begins with Scout’s train ride home, but more profoundly, it is about the journey Harper Lee’s beloved characters have taken in the subsequent 20 years of their lives.”
The book is expected to be out in July.
Spielberg To Bring Ernest Cline’s ‘Ready Player One’ To The Big Screen
Deadline revealed yesterday that the sci-fi novel ‘Ready Player One’ written by Ernest Cline in 2011 is to come to the big screen directed by Steven Spielberg. The author's latest novel 'Armada' will be released in July and is now ready for pre-order.
The book itself relies on major 80s pop culture and references and this might, due to rights issues, delay the actual production. Amazingly, the director appears in the 2011 book as well as references to some of his works like Indiana Jones and E.T.
The book, published by Random House, received an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association and won the 2012 Prometheus Award.
‘Ready Player One’ is set in the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS - and his massive fortune - will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions - and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.
Akhil Sharma is the winner of The Folio Prize 2015 for 'Family Life' published by Faber. The Folio Prize worth £40,000, aims to recognise and celebrate the best English-language fiction from around the world, published in the UK during a given year, regardless of form, genre or the author’s country of origin. It is the first major English-language book prize open to writers from all over the world.
'Family Life', which was selected by the New York Times as one of their Top Ten Books of the Year for 2014 is Akhil Sharma’s second novel. It took 13 years to complete and publish and blurs the boundaries between memoir and fiction. Family Life is a heart-wrenching and darkly comic story of a boy torn between duty and survival.
Source: The Folio Prize Press Release
Ten writers are on the judges’ list of finalists under serious consideration for the sixth Man Booker International Prize, the £60,000 award which recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction.
The authors come from ten countries with six new nationalities included on the list for the first time. They are from Libya, Mozambique, Guadeloupe, Hungary, South Africa and Congo. None of the writers has appeared on a previous Man Booker International Prize list of finalists. The proportion of writers translated into English is greater than ever before at 80%
The finalists’ list was announced by the chair of judges, Professor Marina Warner, at a press conference hosted at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, today.
The ten authors on the list are:
The Man Booker International Prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.
The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel; there are no submissions from publishers. Lydia Davis won the prize in 2013, Philip Roth in 2011, Alice Munro in 2009, Chinua Achebe in 2007 and Ismail Kadaré won the inaugural prize in 2005. In addition, there is a separate award for translation and, if applicable, the winner may choose a translator of his or her work into English to receive a prize of £15,000.
The 2015 Man Booker International Prize winner will be announced at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on 19 May.
Man Group sponsors both the Man Booker International Prize and the annual Man Booker Prize. The Man Booker International Prize is significantly different from the annual Man Booker in that it highlights one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In seeking out literary excellence the judges consider a writer's body of work rather than a single novel. Both prizes strive to recognise and reward the finest modern literature.
Source: Press Release
by Rana Asfour
Ask any boy and girl who grew up in the 80s in the Middle East to name the cartoon programs that define their childhood and my bet is that most, if not all, will list ‘Captain Majed’; A cartoon character in a Japanese program dubbed into Arabic about the life of a young boy ‘Majed’, who not only loved football but excelled at it and was captain of his team. Every Arab child wanted to emulate Captain Majed’s football skills and both boys and girls would sit transfixed in front of the TV mesmerized by the voice that would carve a place in each heart forever.
I am one of those children, and as an adult I find myself sometimes winking at my husband and nodding towards our son after a football win he’s come back from giggling that we just might have our very own ‘Captain Majed’. And so, imagine my surprise to walk into a film screening only to discover that the documentary is about the voice behind this most treasured character and my utter delight that the most celebrated male in the Arab World is in fact voiced by a woman: Syrian actress, author and all-round artist Amal Hawijeh.
‘Amal’ is a full-length docu-film by Emirati film director Nujoom Al Ghanem, who I had met briefly for the first time last year at the screening of her 2010-film “Hamama’ at the New York University of Abu Dhabi. Al Ghanem is a formidable filmmaker not only for the subjects that she chooses but also for the artistic, even poetic, representation of people and places in her films that convey to the viewers the depth of humanity and human relationships and the complexities of our existence. She is unafraid to push boundaries to make films that rarely discuss certain societal issues in the UAE such as the situation of émigrés in the affluent Gulf country and the problems that they face. Yet, throughout her films she is conscious of doing so with a dignity and grace that take into consideration her film subjects as well as the sensitivities of the audiences that attend her screenings.
In the film, Amal Hawijeh, narrates how in 2003 she came to be in Abu Dhabi after departing her beloved Syria for a job offer as star for an Emirati Children’s TV show and how after that job was completed, she stayed on to work at pan-Arab children’s magazine ‘Majid’ (unrelated to the Japanese cartoon character). It is not a decision she had taken lightly but feeling stifled and under appreciated in her home country she had agreed to temporarily relocate to Abu Dhabi to save up for a house back in Syria. Several years later, and it’s 2010 in the film and Amal finds herself at another crossroads in her life: Does she stay in the country she has grown to love and yet in which she feels as ‘a transient passer-by in other's lives, bored and lonely’ or is it time to answer the calling of a country, Syria, that is tugging at her heart to return to it and possibly to reignite her once-thriving and popular theatre acting career.
Amal, which translates as ‘Hope’ in English, narrates her story in an uplifting tone most of the time. Yet behind the smiles and the positive attitude, lies deep pain as well. Pain that, as an émigré, she feels insignificant and obscured tired of having to explain to new people she meets who she is and what she has achieved. She misses her family, particularly her mother and we are allowed a brief snapshot of the depth of the relationship and possibly unresolved issues between the two when Amal is unable or un-wanting even to discuss a telephone call she has had with her mother on camera. Whether or not the issues are resolved we do not know but we do know that Amal’s mother passes away as Amal is in Abu Dhabi and this affects the actress and it is one of the few instances in which the brave façade she has set up shows signs of cracking. However, the passing of her mother prompts Amal to re-evaluate her life. There are many reflective meditative scenes and conversations to camera as Amal sits by the sea. In these moments another layer of Amal’s personality emerges, that of the spiritual, meditative, tree-hugging person that is in tune with the Earth and the universe. It is a beautiful carefree side of Amal.
Amal also misses her Palestinian-Syrian husband who happens to live in Greece and who she sees on and off as time permits him to travel to her. Why he is there and not with her is left obscure although it is implied that his involvement in politics may be responsible for the situation. However, their relationship is beautiful to watch and there is a depth and understanding and respect that translate beautifully on screen. The actress is a hopeless romantic as well.
Amal is as multilayered in her personality as much as the film about her is multilayered in its themes. There is the idea of home and what it means and what it has come to mean to émigrés like Amal who can no longer return to their birth country because of the political situation and fear for safety and one’s life. It is the story of being far away from loved ones in a land not your own and trying to build a new life which is challenging by all accounts. Yet the film is also about friendships, new beginnings and making the most of what you’ve got.
And though Amal is in a new job in Abu Dhabi concerned with theatres in schools, the political situation in her birth country Syria has allowed for a new layer of her personality to arise: the angry Amal.
‘I am angry because certain groups in the name of religion and politics want not only to rob us of our hope but they want to destroy our spirit completely. They have thrown us under the mercy of others and have created this unknown future that we can no longer plan for or even hope to plan for.’
The film won the Muhr Emirati main award at the Dubai Film Festival.
I spent most of this weekend cooking. Lots of people meant lots of food and thanks to some of my favourite and trusted cookbooks, there was no need to panic and the day was a success. Here is a selection of my most favourite go to books for easy, quick and sure-win recipes:
'ONLY EVER YOURS' WINS FIRST PRIZE IN UK AND IRELAND TO SPECIFICALLY FOCUS ON FICTION FOR YOUNG ADULTS
'Only Ever Yours' by Louise O'Neill has managed to beat 9 other YA books on a list of books competing for the first ever prize set up in UK and Ireland that focuses on fiction for young adults. The prize has been set up by book trade magazine the 'Bookseller'.
According to the back cover the story is about Freida and Isabel who have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the school, they expect to be selected as companions - wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative - life as a concubine - is too horrible to contemplate. But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty - her only asset - in peril. And then, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future - even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known...
The nine other shortlisted books were:
Goose by Dawn O’Porter (Hot Key Books)
Salvage by Keren David (Atom/Little, Brown)
Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion)
Trouble by Non Pratt (Walker)
Lobsters by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen (Chicken House)
Finding a Voice by Kim Hood (O’Brien Press)
Say Her Name by James Dawson (Hot Key Books)
A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond (Hodder Children’s Books)
Half Bad by Sally Green (Penguin)
'Paper Towns' by John Green In Cinemas in July
From the bestselling author of 'The Fault in our Stars', this 2013 book by John Green, is set to hit screens in July in the UK. The story is about Quentin Jacobsen who has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow.
But the next day Margo doesn't come to school and a week later she is still missing. Quentin soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance and that they are for him. But as he gets deeper into the mystery - culminating in another awesome road trip across America - he becomes less sure of who and what he is looking for.
The film will delight fans of model Cara Delvigne who features as Margo in the film. This will be her first lead role.
'Action Is A Way Of Being Palestinian' says Leila Sansour at Screening of 'Open Bethlehem' in Abu Dhabi
by Rana Asfour
In the Old Testament Bethlehem was the scene of the book of Ruth and the home of David. The tomb of Rachel is nearby. The city is important as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
So, in light of this, the likelihood that filmmaker Leila Sansour would have an epiphany in the heart of Bethlehem of all places should come as no surprise to anyone least of all to herself. The real surprise, for her though, was the subject of her epiphany: To make a ‘big film about a small town’ she couldn’t leave quick enough at 18; Bethlehem: a place she had only planned to be in for a year (after a 20 year absence) filming and documenting the construction of the 8m high wall being built full speed ahead by the Israelis, stifling the members of the oldest Christian community on Earth; The epiphany that would set Sansour on her way to a decade-long journey that she would one day describe as the most life-affirming experience of her entire life despite its many hardships.
Last night, seated in a room packed with an audience of over 120 people at the New York University of Abu Dhabi and organised by Red Chair, we witnessed firsthand the outcome of what one person, struck by an epiphany, can achieve once the decision is made to turn dreams into realities.
‘Open Bethlehem’ is an ‘epic film about a legendary town in crisis’ soon to be isolated and cut off from the rest of the world by a wall. The film draws from 700 hours of original footage and some are ‘rare archive material’. The 90-minute film is a tribute to the filmmaker’s late father, a well-known and highly respected member of the community and founder of the Bethlehem University, as well as a record of her personal journey of return. It is also an emotional account of her own experience as her relatives take the painful decision to leave Nazareth as conditions worsen, reflecting a way of life that the Palestinians seem as if incessantly destined to lead.
‘Open Bethlehem’ brings to the forefront the detrimental effects occupation has on the lives and livelihoods of those who are forced to live it and have no alternative but to remain and plough ahead, day after miserable soul-breaking day as they watch the landmarks of their city destroyed, the memories erased, their identity and dignity trampled upon, rendering their futures dismal and bleak. It is a documentation of Israeli injustice that has plagued and continues to plague the lives of millions of Palestinians with no respite or concrete visible solutions in sight, with the rising numbers of settlements, as an army, constantly in advance on newer territory to seize.
However, in the face of adversity heroes rise. And there are many in Sansour’s film. From the mayor of Bethlehem, to the shopkeeper who struggles to keep his shop afloat after he finds himself on the wrong side of the completed ‘West Bank Wall’ (that has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice) and he soon dies of a broken heart. The young men who face tanks with stones, or peacefully line up from 3am at the gates of the heavily guarded wall to gain access to the other side; the only place where jobs can be had. From the mothers who comfort each other when the Israeli Army reduces houses to rubble and to the children who for a few hours find release in donkey rides, these are the unsung heroes of the Palestinian tragedy.
And then, there is cousin Carol Sansour who convinces Leila not only to stay but to launch the Open Bethlehem Campaign that gives birth to the Bethlehem Passport; a symbolic document issued by the Open Bethlehem campaign in partnership with the Governorate of Bethlehem and a viable solution aimed at alleviating the economic problems of the residents of Bethlehem who rely on a tourism that is staggering under the weight of restrictions imposed by the occupying Israeli forces. The initiative has seen the two cousins travel around the globe seeking recognition for their cause and bringing the story of Bethlehem’s plight to the world.
The Open Bethlehem Campaign is first and foremost a tourism initiative intent on opening Bethlehem to all who wish to go there without the need for Israeli permission and clearance, where tourists come to stay as opposed to spending a quick hour photographing Jesus’s birthplace before being loaded back onto Israeli-run mini buses without ever knowing that they ‘had stepped onto Palestinian territory’. The campaign aims ‘to support the distribution of communication tools about Bethlehem to boost international interest and awareness and by promoting visits to Bethlehem through established and specialised tour operators.’
With heroism, comes responsibility and action if change is to be secured. And action is what Leila Sansour is all about as she actively and wholeheartedly pursues a cause she believes in and she does it from Bethlehem; a place that she feels responsible for and from where she plans to launch an online museum of the city to showcase the thousands of items and photographs she has collected in her research over a decade. This is further testament to a woman with endless reserves of energy.
‘In my film I wanted to refuse the branding that comes with being Palestinian,’ she said to the audience last night. ‘That Palestinians are merely victims, problematic and weak. I wanted a new meaning for my identity because I believe identity is imposed on us and ultimately it should be what we as individuals bring to the table. It is about time we created Palestinian identities of our own making. And I choose the active Palestinian because action is a way, I believe, of being Palestinian.’
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