Between the Covers 16/06/2013
Your weekly guide to what's really going on in the world of books
Sunday 16 June 2013
Those who are still reeling from the news that Baileys is to take over sponsorship of the Women's Prize for Fiction should be grateful that they are not writers living in Italy. Its literary titans must suffer the indignity of being submitted for the Strega Prize – a prestigious award doled out annually since 1947 and sponsored by the sweet, slightly viscous, yellow, herbal liqueur Strega. Previous winners such as Primo Levi, Umberto Eco, Natalia Ginzburg, and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa don't seem to have minded the association, and nor has the 400-strong prize jury, drawn from Italy's cultural elite. Incidentally, Strega is Italian for "witch", which seems to be the view taken by many of Britain's cultural elite of the organisers of the Women's Prize. What a shame that it was already bagsied as a sponsor.
More literary witches appear in a green-fingered context at the Royal Horticultural Society's Hampton Court Flower Show from 9 to 14 July. "The Witches of Macbeth" garden, designed by Jenna Stuart, includes a dilapidated house, an overgrown garden, a spontaneously bubbling spilt cauldron, and lots of medicinal and poisonous plants. The show also has a garden inspired by Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. At the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, from 25 to 28 July, there are gardens inspired by Beatrix Potter and fairytales. A word to the wise: you might get away with nibbling on a few carrots but if you see a cottage made out of gingerbread, steer clear.
The IoS's books department has received a number of messages from publishers recently, pleading that we should take a look at novels that they have just published "in spite of" their misleadingly "commercial" covers. As this week's interviewee Polly Courtney knows, it is unhelpful to readers to squeeze an interesting, literary novel into covers that make it look like generic, lazy chick-lit. Between the Covers would also like to point out that The IoS books department is unlikely to pay close attention to a novel that looks like generic, lazy chick-lit. So here's an idea: let's stop making all the books look rubbish, let designers do their jobs and literary editors and readers make up their own minds.
The Battersea Arts Centre in south London is attempting to achieve the almost impossible: getting Londoners to talk to each other. Organisers of a festival running at the BAC from 16 to 28 September are appealing to the public to come and read their own true stories live at the festival, to an "intimate" audience of two people at a time. "Living in London, we spend day after day close to millions of people – eating, sleeping, thinking and feeling," they point out. "We're surrounded by strangers – brushing up against them on the street or on the underground or bus. But we rarely say 'hello' to our fellow citizens and, even more rarely, find out about the extraordinary lives that lie behind the faces in the crowd." Readers of any age and background are sought to read a true story of their own, of no more than eight minutes' duration, for a small fee. Apply via the centre's website (bac.org.uk/truestories) by Tuesday 2 July.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
- 3 Welcome to Cameroon, where drinking Baileys can lead to imprisonment
- 4 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 5 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke