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.’
Announced today, the shortlists for the oldest and most prestigious children's book awards in the UK reveal that Sally Gardner and illustrator David Roberts may see 'Tinder', their haunting reworking of the Tinderbox fairytale, scoop both the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's literature, and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration in children's books. The double was first achieved by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay in 2012 for 'A Monster Calls', with Ness also returning to the Carnegie shortlist this year.
However, while Gardner faces the possibility of her second Carnegie win (after 2013's 'Maggot Moon') two of the shortlisted authors are up for unprecedented third wins – Ness in the Carnegie for 'More Than This', and Chris Riddell in the Kate Greenaway for 'Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse'. Ness previously won in 2011 and 2012, while Riddell's victories came in 2001 and 2004.
Challenging themes including war, sickness and adversity, run through both shortlists. Gothic fantasy 'Tinder' begins with its central character, young soldier Otto, narrowly giving Death the slip, while 'More Than This' starts with the drowning of its hero, a boy named Seth. Elsewhere in the Carnegie shortlist, Dylan, the Tourette's sufferer of 'When Mr Dog Bites', believes he faces death in the not-too distant future, and the titular 'Buffalo Soldier' of Tanya Landman's novel, an ex-slave now serving in the post-Civil War US army, feels Death is "so close you can smell his breath." The devastation of World War One looms large in Frances Hardinge's 'Cuckoo Song', whilst Geraldine McCaughrean's 'The Middle of Nowhere' begins with a child losing her mother to a snake bite in the Australian Outback. Finally, Elizabeth Laird's 'The Fastest Boy in the World' sees the eleven-year-old Solomon facing a marathon run to seek help for his beloved grandfather.
The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are the oldest and most prestigious children's book awards in the UK, with the first winners announced in 1936 and 1956 respectively. The titles on the shortlists are contenders for the highest accolades in children's literature, with previous winners including legendary talents such as Arthur Ransome, C.S Lewis and Mary Norton for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and illustrators Quentin Blake, Shirley Hughes and Raymond Briggs for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.
In the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist, books for older children outnumber traditional picture books. As well as the previously mentioned 'Tinder' and 'Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse', there are the jagged lines and deep black inks of John Higgins and Marc Olivent's work in the graphic novel thriller, 'Dark Satanic Mills', and William Grill's non-fiction study, 'Shackleton's Journey'. The muted tones early on in Laura Carlin's 'The Promise' make the eventual burst of colour all the more effective, and Shaun Tan's colourful paintings are the perfect match for the subversive text of 'Rules of Summer'. Alexis Deacon brings the dream world of a sick child to life in 'Jim's Lion', while it is left to Catherine Rayner's 'Smelly Louie' to offer some traditional picture book naughtiness as an unnecessarily clean dog seeks his lost scent.
Agnès Guyon, Chair of this year's CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, believes such dark themes make moments of hope and optimism shine even brighter: "There's no doubt our writers and illustrators do not shy away from difficult, often painful imagery and themes. There is darkness here, illuminated by the bright light of optimism. These incredibly strong shortlists are not just a showcase of talent, but of the skilful ways our greatest writers and illustrators introduce young readers to big ideas, always instilling hope as they set their characters against the harshest challenges."
Dawn Finch, CILIP Vice President, YA author and school library consultant, said: "It is essential that authors and illustrators feel that they face no barriers when they enter into the creative process. It is clear that the shortlist have thrown off any such restrictions. Adversity is never far from the characters in our Carnegie novels, while the Kate Greenaway shortlist showcases a wild and stunning variety of styles, from William Grill's coloured pencils to Catherine Rayner's riot of ink. The titles chosen for both lists are assured, memorable, dazzling and brave. The books demonstrate a huge range of extraordinary talent, and through their pages and via the imaginations of their creators, we are taken on a voyage that has been both thrilling and unforgettable."
The winners for both the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal will be announced on Monday 22nd June at a lunchtime ceremony at the British Library in London. The winners will receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library and the coveted golden Medals. Since 2000, the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal has also been awarded the £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.
The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2015 shortlist in full:
The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2015 shortlist:
Source: The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards Press Release
If you’re someone who loves reading books but hates profanity, or you have a child who requires more challenging books to read but you are worried about the amount of ‘bad words’ they might come across, then it seems that you need not worry anymore.
‘Clean Reader’, an app created by Idaho couple, Jared and Kirsten Maughan, is a free, quite easy to download and use ‘app’ that provides readers with the choice of how clean they want the text to appear in their e-readers.
For those thinking of copyright issues, fret not. According to ‘Clean Reader’ website, the creators have talked to lawyers, and it seems there’s no problem because what this app does is that it merely changes the way the text appears on screen, and not the text content itself.
As one would expect, the question that would automatically crop up is whether we should accept that profanity is part of the author’s art and creation and that to enjoy that art we need to accept the full package. In answer to that, one of the app’s creators wrote on the website’s blog section:
‘I’m not a fan of blue cheese. Some friends of mine love it. I’ve tried to learn to like it, tasted it several times in several different settings and dishes. To me it tastes like furniture lacquer. When I get a salad at a restaurant and the chef thinks the salad is best served with blue cheese on it, I will spend a significant amount of time trying to find and remove every piece of blue cheese. Then I’m able to enjoy the salad. In the restaurant world the chef is the artist. He has spent his entire professional life trying to create masterful pieces of art to be served on a dish or in a bowl. Is the chef offended when I don’t eat the blue cheese? Perhaps. Do I care? Nope. I paid good money for the food and if I want to consume only part of it then I have that right. Everyone else at the table can consume their food however they want. Me removing the blue cheese from my salad doesn’t impact anyone else at the table’.
The App offers several options: from clean to cleaner to squeaky-clean depending on how much profanity you are wanting to put up with. And it’s not just swear words like the F-Word or even the S-word, but it can also filter out words that have different names for deity, racial slurs and “anatomical terms that can be a little racy.” All told, more than 100 different words and phrases with more added each and every day.
For more on Clean Reader, click HERE.
Extra Reading: New Clean Reader App Removes Obscenities From Books On Demand
by Rana Asfour
‘Tale Spin’ is a compilation of a hundred columns, from a trove of over a 1000, penned by writer and journalist Nickunj Malik during her 20-year career. Originally from India, Nickunj Malik, is presently a weekly columnist for the Jordan Times Newspaper in Amman where she now lives.
‘Tale Spin’ resonated with me on so many levels that I was unsure of which part I was going to write about. As a writer, I have found the book to contain lovely pieces of work. As a Jordanian who lives abroad, it was great to read the impressions about my home country as experienced, recorded and seen through the eyes of a non-Jordanian, and then to read the humorous pieces regarding the eccentricities of my people; The ‘Darling Ladies’ and ‘Telephone Manners’ had me in fits of laughter and ‘Moustache Tales’ is spot on and it seems, God help us all, that every family of every culture suffers the dreaded halitosis-hugging relative.
What clearly comes through in these columns is that Malik likes Jordanians and through her years of prose, one word at a time, she has built a solid bridge with which to communicate with a culture hugely different from the one she is used to. The result, judging by Malik’s popular column in Jordan, is that her efforts have paid off and Jordanians have returned the calling. They love her.
‘Tale Spin’ is an entertaining read from start to finish. The columns are witty, charming, and are a reflection of the kind of writer who is passionate about engaging with her surroundings and curious enough to want to get to know unfamiliar ones too. A woman who seems to attract stories like metal shavings to a magnet, it is of the greatest advantage that she should be gifted with the art of ‘tale spin’, for her stories render the normal into something quite special, and mundane activities such as grocery shopping acquire pizzazz and glamour.
'On first reading these pages you may think, gentle reader, that our writer has distinct and firm views and I agree that at times the paragraphs reads very much like it; but as you progress through the pages you encounter a mind coming to terms with phenomena and wondering about them. This is a gift and an endearing one' - Farrukh Dhondy in the Foreword of 'Tale Spin'
With an opinion on nearly everything from ‘Battle of the Bulge’ to marital disputes (‘There is nothing static about a marital status,’ she argues ‘other than the wedding band’), and from how to get your ‘Brows Right’ to lamenting the disappearance of photographers replaced by cell-phone cameras, she has a string of words on the go for just about every thing or every one who finds themselves engulfed in her world. Some of her writings, one can even argue, give the impression of a very confident, no-nonsense barred woman who if and when she does take a bull by its horns, sympathy will gravitate towards the poor animal.
And yet, with a name meaning ‘Abode of love’, Nickunj Malik’s writings are a true nod to her namesake whereby an abundant stream of love runs through; Love for her craft, for family, and for humankind; in short a celebrator of life. And that is precisely where her columns have succeeded in gaining the writer a huge following. Poignant pieces on family members such as her father, husband and daughter are touching, sentimental, and highly personal. Early in the book, Malik introduces her late mother with such sentiment, and pure raw emotion that unmask, if briefly, the real woman behind the satirical words and humorous puns. Indeed, a very likeable, warm woman!
Nickunj Malik’s book is a personal account of her life, and her observations on what she sees, what she does, and who she meets in her everyday life. It is also full of reminiscences and memories. Through it all, she remains ever the journalist with a sharp eye for detail and a professional attitude for reporting a good story and therefore nothing escapes her. The book is interspersed with beautiful polished cartoon sketches drawn by Jordanian cartoonist Osama Hajjaj. The text along with these cartoons are windows into the lives of ordinary people from India, to Abu Dhabi, to Amman, with unique, memorable instances of encounter with world figures as Nelson Mandela and the Pope. As clichéd as this may seem, but there really is ‘something for everyone’ in this little book.
Reading Nickunj Malik’s book brought to my mind Erma Bombeck, an American humorist who achieved great popularity for her newspaper column that described suburban home life from the mid-1960s until the late 1990s who once said: ‘When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it is a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway’. Nickunj Malik: I rest my case ;)
The Wellcome Book Prize Shortlist Announces the six best new books that engage with some aspect of medicine, health or illness
The Wellcome Book Prize have announced their shortlist. The prize, in which both fiction and nonfiction are eligible, celebrates the finest recently published books in health, medicine and medical science. This year the shortlist includes two novels and four non-fiction books. The winning author is awarded £30,000.
According to the prize's website, to be eligible for entry a book 'should have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. This can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci fi and history'.
The winner will be announced April 29.
'Ajwan' by Noura Al Noman: (أجوان)
This science fiction novel by Emirati writer Noura Al Noman, is about Ajwan, an alien whose planet has just been destroyed, and her people wiped out. Alone, with no family or friends, she is now a refugee moving from planet to planet trying to survive.
By nature a peace loving species, Ajwan now finds herself having to break many of her kinds' ways in order to survive and protect her most precious possession, especially when she falls in with a dangerous, armed organisation intent solely on destruction.
'Paradise on Earth' (جنة على الارض) by Fadi Zaghmout
This sci fi novel, about four friends, is set in a time where technological advancements have reached an all time high: eternal youth is no longer the stuff of dreams, lives can be re-lived, and loved ones can be cloned.
This novel by Jordanian Fadi Zaghmout touches upon what happens to humanity and humans when they can live forever.
by Rana Asfour
I sit huddled in my corner home office typing away with a blanket round my shoulders, beside me a mug of a yucky tasting hot concoction brewed from a sachet with a label promising to clear up a bunged up nose, and I am possibly in the grip of a mild, yet climbing temperature. In short, I am feeling very sorry for myself.
Today is International Women’s Day. On a good and healthy day I would be listing all the times that Arab women of my generation broke down barriers, leapt over hurdles and smashed their way through obstacles claiming their rightful place beside men. However, today, as I mentioned, I am grumpy and I am feverish and I am not in a celebratory mood.
On a happy note though, I have just returned from spending three fantastic days at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai. I attended more that 15 sessions and listened to more than 25 speakers, (17 of whom were women) celebrating the written word. However, as literature and the celebration of civilisations were taking place in Dubai’s Festival City, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) henchmen were razing down the remnants of two of the world’s civilisations. Whereby the theme of Dubai’s festival was ‘Wonderland’, ISIL was reshaping Mosul in Iraq, into a no-man’s land. It's hard to think of any hope following the heartbreaking images. A sad day for the world.
However, today, regardless of my somber apprehensive mood, is a day for celebrating women and over the past days it has been a pleasure, and privilege, being in the presence of charming, intelligent, creative, and inspiring women who genuinely love what they do and are proud of what they have achieved; Badriah Al-Bishr, Mai al Nakib, Fadwa Al Qasem, Inaam Kachachi, Shaikha Al Muhairi, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Adele Parks, Sophie Hannah, Joanna Trollope, Anita Anand, Liz Fenwick, Noura Al Noman, Kathy Shalhoub, Deborah Rodriguez, Lauren Oliver, Julie Lewis, Adila Nasser and many more.
As I moped about the house yesterday, all floppy, phlegmy and delirious, I noticed that my Mr. Fabulous was looking rather pleased with himself. He had completely taken over (been allowed I tell myself) the run of things since my illness. I am in no position to argue regarding my sorry state. Besides, he was off in a few hours to yet more exciting adventures. Until that time, I was happy for him to do it all. I’ve actually enjoyed this ‘being taken care of business’ and am thinking of making a habit out of it. He does make a wicked Thai soup. Ah, even feminists need a hero!
Comedian Aziz Ansari, who stars as Tom Haverford on the NBC show 'Parks and Recreation' will be releasing his book 'Modern Romance' on June 16 which is an academic study of the state of relationships in the age of technology. The comedian revealed his book cover exclusively to TIME and chatted about his research. See interview and book cover HERE
HarperCollins Publishers have announced, in a press release yesterday, the acquisition of a two-book deal by international bestselling author Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series. Joanna Volpe sold World English rights on behalf of Newleaf Literary to Katherine Tegen, Vice President and Publisher of her eponymous imprint at HarperCollins Children's Books.
In the untitled first novel of a highly anticipated duology in the vein of Star Wars, Veronica Roth explores—with poise and poignancy—the story of a boy who forms an unlikely alliance with an enemy. Both desperate to escape their oppressive lives, they help each other attain what they most desire: for one, redemption, and the other, revenge. Roth commented, "I'm really enjoying working on this new series. I can't wait to share it with readers!"
"I am tremendously excited for Veronica Roth's next project with HarperCollins," said Susan Katz, President of HarperCollins Children's Books. "We are incredibly proud to publish the work of such a bright, young writer and are eager to embark on this next adventure in her extraordinary career."
The first of Veronica Roth's upcoming young adult novels will publish in 2017, with the next novel to follow in 2018.
ABOUT VERONICA ROTH:
Veronica Roth is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the DIVERGENT series, with over 32 million copies sold. Now a full-time writer, Ms. Roth and her husband call the Chicago area home. You can visit her online at veronicarothbooks.com and on Twitter @VeronicaRoth.
HarperCollins Publishers is the second largest consumer book publisher in the world, with operations in 18 countries. With nearly two hundred years of history and more than 65 unique imprints around the world, HarperCollins publishes approximately 10,000 new books every year, in over 30 languages, and has a print and digital catalog of more than 200,000 titles. Writing across dozens of genres, HarperCollins authors include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Newbery and Caldecott Medals and the Man Booker Prize. HarperCollins, headquartered in New York, is a subsidiary of News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) and can be visited online at corporate.HC.com.
The Bookseller/Diagram Prize for 'Oddest Title of the Year', commonly known as the Diagram Prize for short is calling on the public to cast their vote for the absurdest book title by March 20. The shortlist includes 7 books and the winner will be announced on March 27. There is no prize for the winning title, but the person who nominated the book to the Diagram committee will receive the traditional "passable bottle of claret".
Among the more controversial titles is one entitled 'The Ugly Wife is a Treasure at Home' by Melissa Margaret Schneider which sheds light on 'the state of love and relationships in Communist China through the personal memories of those who endured the Cultural Revolution and the generations that followed'. Another is a research into the evolution of genitals in which the author, Menno Schilthuizen, 'joyfully demonstrates that by learning about the private parts of animals the more humans can learn about their unique place in the diversity of life'. The prize was open to self-published authors for the first time in its 37-year history.
The Diagram Prize shortlist:
No Doubts About This Dress: An Afternoon In the Presence of the Great David Walliams @ Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2015
Yesterday afternoon the 900-member audience at the Cultural and Scientific Association in Al Mamzar, Dubai, had not an iota of doubt regarding the dress being referred to by key speaker at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature's first session for 2015, the amazing David Walliams.
A celebrated British comedian, David Walliams is also an actor, an author, and a television presenter. He swam the English Channel for UK’s Sport Relief in 2006, and the Strait of Gibraltar in 2008. By the end of 2014 Walliams having sold over 4 million books, is described as "the fastest growing children's author in the UK". His books have been translated into 40+ languages and sold over 4 million copies in the UK alone. Both 'Ratburger' and 'Demon Dentist' won the UK's National Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year. Although incomparable in many ways, he is often compared to Roald Dahl when it comes to his books.
Back to dresses. Far away from the one dress that continues to be all the rage in the media at the moment, this dress being discussed on this windy, yet cloud-free, sun-kissed, Dubai afternoon was one belonging to the main character in David Walliams’ first book ‘The Boy in the Dress’ about 12-year-old cross-dresser, Dennis, who lives at home with his father and older brother John. The author addressed the mainly young audience about the ‘magical world that difference creates and the need to celebrate all our differences whether it be our feelings, our religions, or our household situations’ referring in particular to Dubai as a leading example in how diversity celebrated creates this wonderful opportunity for residents, both old and young, to experience and share different cultures and ideas ensuring a brighter, more positive future.
Lightening the mood, David Walliams regaled his captivated audience with tales drawn from his own life experiences. He told how his sister dressed him up in a bridesmaid’s dress and fur hat and paraded him up and down their neighbourhood street when they were young; not so far-fetched to believe considering David’s appearances as one of the ‘laydees’ in the comedy show ‘Little Britain’. At one point of his ‘confessional’ (his word not mine), he announces that as a kid he wanted to be ‘Wonder Woman’ when he grew up. As you’d expect, the news was received not only with raucous laughter but pockets of applause as well. The crowd clearly adored him.
David’s latest release, is a book titled ‘Awful Auntie’. It is about mean Auntie Alberta and her Great Bavarian Mountain owl ‘Wagner’ who will stop at nothing to get rid of Stella Saxby, Alberta’s niece and the sole heir to Saxby Hall. But as it turns out, Stella gets very unexpected and very spooky help that might just be what she needs to get herself out of her unfortunate predicament. To the delight of the young crowd, David chose to read an excerpt of the book that included ‘fart’, ‘knickers’, ‘stink bombs’ and ‘owl pee’. Asked by session moderator and interviewer Fiona Lindsay whether he deliberately chose to shock readers with such words, he happily and cheekily answered with a simple ‘Yes’. More laughter ensued after which he went on to read an excerpt from his endearing book 'Gangsta Granny', the beautiful story about a young boy and his thieving granny who sets out to steal the Crown Jewels from the Queen of England. See the 2013 BBC One trailer HERE.
However, if yesterday afternoon was all about David Walliams and his books, it was also about the audience in equal measure. It was heart warming to see in whichever way I turned, the faces of a crowd come together by the love of reading. There was not one hand free of one of Walliams’ titles and the children were well informed about most, if not all, of the various characters conjured up from Walliams’ imagination. The young audience had many intelligent, funny and well- articulated and informed questions to pose to the author that were delivered with admirable confidence; of the type that indicate prolific readers were in the house.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature takes place in Dubai from 3-7 March at the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City. Tickets are still available.