Between the Covers 08/04/2012
Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
Sunday 08 April 2012
A film sequel is being made to this year's hugely successful adaptation of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black, the highest grossing British horror film in 20 years.
Hammer will again produce the movie, which is based on another story by Hill, and the author is said to be working closely with them on it. This year's hit film stars Daniel Radcliffe as the solicitor who is summoned to a job at Eel Marsh House, and the inexplicably not-more-famous Liz White in the title role. So far, it has made £75m. Hammer Films president Simon Oakes told the BBC: "We are proud and honoured to be working with Susan again on The Woman in Black: Angels Of Death, a wonderful new tale every bit as atmospheric and terrifying as its predecessor." Hammer is also shooting two more new horror films in the UK: The Quiet Ones and Gaslight both go into production this year.
Some years ago, when Philip Hensher started to write a novel about an Indian miniaturist painter, his plans were ruined when his proposal was sent to an Indian academic who complained that Hensher should not be allowed to write about India because he is not Indian. "Even stupid comments can kill novels," he recently said. "It's quite vulnerable a thing at that point, and although I did try to write it, it just wouldn't come." He must find it gratifying, then, that he is soon to appear at an event at the Royal Society of Literature called "The Bangladeshi novel". Hensher's new novel Scenes From Early Life is based on the experiences of his husband, Zaved Mahmood, and is largely set in Dhaka. The event on 21 May (www.rslit.org/content/events/1460) stars Hensher and the Bangladeshi writer Tahmima Anam, and is chaired by the travel writer Sara Wheeler.
Thanks to the book Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? (Oneworld, £12.99) for the news that no, most of us mere mortals are probably not. The book gives examples of those fiendish interview questions that everybody's such an expert on when you discuss them afterwards in the pub, but nobody human seems to be able to answer when it matters. There's advice on "how to spot an algorithm question" (but that's mostly for engineers) and a detailed breakdown of the best way to weigh your own head. Most reassuring, however, is the story about Sir Isaac Newton pondering similar questions more than 300 years ago. Newton and Christiaan Huygens disagreed about whether it would be faster to swim through water than syrup (Newton thought yes; Huygens no). Even Newton, it turns out, was wrong.
Say what you like about Irvine Welsh, he certainly knows how to throw a good party. The London launch of his new novel, the Trainspotting prequel Skagboys (Jonathan Cape, £12.99), will be at La Scala on 18 April. Tickets are £10 in advance, and Welsh is promising that this will be "literary nightclubbing like we used to do before we had children. It's a standing event, so don't bother bringing your sitting pants ... bring your dancing shoes instead." Welsh's old friends, including Dean Cavanagh, Stuart Patterson and the comedy magicians Barry and Stuart, will be joining him. The last Irvine Welsh launch attended by Between the Covers was for his Miami-based novel, Crime, in 2008. It started on a boat on the Thames, and ended, we seem to recall, at a dodgy boozer near Waterloo, rather the worse for wear. Welsh's novels may not have aged, but we don't know if we're still capable of celebrating their launch any more.
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