Between the Covers 10/06/2012

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books

Sally Magnusson will be bringing her father's famous leather chair when she hosts a special edition of Mastermind at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival on Saturday. The literary version of the quiz will star the contestants Rory Bremner, John Sessions, Kathy Lette and Kirsty Wark. It takes place at Harmony House Gardens in Melrose from 14 to 17 June. For details and tickets, see bordersbookfestival.org.

***

Thanks to Kate Wilson, the managing director of Nosy Crow children's books, for a top tip about how paper books and digital literature can coexist happily together. Speaking at the Hay Literary Festival last Sunday in a debate entitled "The Future of Books", she revealed: "I find paperbacks very useful on planes, to hide my Kindle in." Between the Covers has recently been informed quite crossly by ebook lovers that it is not big or clever to be a Luddite, so we are not going to offer any opinions about this strategy.

***

As a novelist who has taken great pains to write historically accurate as well as novelistically dazzling fiction, most recently in Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel has little patience with writers who bend history to fit the demands of modern entertainment. Asked at Hay whether she ever felt tempted to take liberties with history, she replied quite indignantly: "As soon as you do that you get into all sorts of trouble. Just look at The Tudors on TV [BBC2, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII]. They decided that it was too complicated for the viewer if Henry had two sisters, so they got rid of one. They had to invent a King of Portugal because they'd killed off the King of Spain too soon. They got rid of the Duke of Norfolk! As soon as you start to tidy things up to fit the plot, the rot sets in."

***

Elsewhere in the battle of the ereaders, it sounds as though manufacturers of all other devices but the Kindle are growing paranoid. A blogger in North Carolina has told how he bought a version of War and Peace for Barnes & Noble's Nook device, left, to discover that every instance of the word "kindle" in Tolstoy's classic had been changed to the word "nook". Philip Howard of the Ocracoke Island Journal blog overlooked the first change – "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern ..." – only to find many further swaps. (A lot of kindling went on in 19th-century literature.) Experts in the technology press believe that the blunder was made, not by a bona fide Nook employee, but by a lazy middleperson who converted the out-of-copyright text from a Kindle version to a 99 cents Nook copy.

***

The 59th Authors Club Best First Novel Award was won on Wednesday evening by Kevin Barry's City of Bohane – a novel described by the panel of club members who choose the shortlist as a "serio-comic-futuro-retro-Western", and "a blast". At a ceremony at the National Liberal Club, Barry was presented with the award, along with a cheque for £2,500, by this year's guest adjudicator, the novelist, biographer, critic and IoS columnist D J Taylor. And Barry was pleased, finally, to clear one thing up. "By the way, it's pronounced Bohann, not Bohayne," he told the audience, "if I have to go round and beat it into you all, one by one."

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