Between the Covers 20/05/2012

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

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The Independent Culture

We love flavorwire.com's new collection of "extremely silly photos of extremely serious writers", which shows that even Nobel Prize-winners kick back and let their hair down from time to time.

Among them are Susan Sontag dressed as a teddy bear; Zore Neale Hurston performing a "crow dance"; Truman Capote "asleep" at Studio 54, with a lady's bonnet propped over his face; Ernest Hemingway kicking a beer can; and Maya Angelou on Sesame Street. Between the Covers would love to see this become an obligatory part of every publicity campaign, and of the writers publishing new books within the next couple of months, suggests that Hilary Mantel could take on Hemingway in beer can football, Michael Frayn would do a lovely crow dance, Richard Ford would be great on Sesame Street, Jonathan Franzen might like to wear a bonnet, and we'd do almost anything to see Martin Amis in a bear suit.

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To mark its tenth anniversary this year, Hesperus Press is launching a competition for readers to "uncover a classic" and see their name in print. Readers are invited to nominate an out-of-print or neglected book and write a 500-word introduction explaining why it deserves to be republished and given a new lease of life. The Hesperus Press editorial team will choose one book to publish in September this year, complete with the reader's introduction. Nominations close on 1 June, and further details are at hesperuspress.com, under "competition".

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Congratulations to Richard Dawkins, the first ever Fellow of the Royal Society to have a book shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People's Book Prize. His The Magic of Reality (Bantam Press, £20) joins books by previous prize winners Christiane Dorion and Robert Winston, and newcomers Clive Gifford, Richard Platt and Alex Frith. Between the Covers very much hopes to be invited to the award ceremony on 15 November. Last year, writers and journalists mingled with august fellows, including a real life astrophysicist who had interrupted his studies to wander down and find out what all the fuss and champagne was about.

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Superfans of the Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Azerbaijan on Saturday, may like to extend the glory by buying a copy of David Mort's weird fiction A Song For Europe (£7.99, FeedARead.com). The plot is a typical one: "... just when it seems that Pete has hit rock bottom, an Internet cock-up changes his life forever. The boozy assistant caretaker from Liverpool is handed another chance of success when the fledgling democracy of Slavonicia hatches a sensational plan to save the nation from economic meltdown. The amiable but naive Pete finds himself recruited to boost the impoverished country's chances of boarding the EC gravy train. His task: to ensure that Slavonicia wins the Eurovision Song Contest. Others, however, have a different agenda ... watching the Eurovision will never be the same again!" Douze points for effort.

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We are looking forward to Friday's National Towel Day, a day to celebrate the life and work of Douglas Adams, when The Literary Platform will announce the winner of their Douglas Adams Animation Competition, and Tor UK will reveal plans for new print and digital publications. Now there's a publisher that knows where its towel is.

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