Between the Covers 21/04/2013

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

Many great young British novelists – and great slightly older novelists – were furious to be kept standing outside Monday's launch of Granta's "20 Best of Young British Novelists" list after too many people turned up to the party.

One multi-award winning author has told Between the Covers about being insulted by the door policy, and we hear of another major writer who was so fed up that she gave up and went home. It could have been worse, though: writers could have been excluded from the list itself. So strict was the embargo on the announcement that those privileged few who were allowed advance knowledge of it were told not to write it down, asked to speak about it in code, and had to sign a non disclosure agreement with a very unusual clause: "So much of the publicity arranged for this list depends on the names of the selected writers remaining confidential … we reserve the right to exclude an author's work from the publication if this condition is broken." So, authors were to be punished if journalists spilled their names in advance. Fortunately for Kamila Shamsie, Ben Markovits, Zadie Smith, and Evie Wyld, whose names were leaked by a Sunday newspaper, this turned out to be an empty threat and they do appear in the list.


How clever of Dan Brown's publisher to plant a clue to the plot of his new book in its very publication date. The book will be published on 14 May, which as every reader knows is Pi written backwards. Any American reader, that is: to make the date read as Pi backwards, it has to be written 5-14-13. A Doubleday spokeswoman declined to explain the importance of Pi to the new novel, Inferno, saying that readers must work it out for themselves. She didn't say whether they'll have to be American for that, too.


Bottoms up to the new trend in literary beers – ales inspired by, and named after, novels and writers, including Ginger in the Rye, Shakespeare Stout, and Oscar Wilde Mild, a Camra award-winning beer with "great depth of character" and "subtle hints of fruit and roast malt".


Between the Covers is delighted to discover that the new M&C Saatchi campaign for bookshops, which was unveiled on Tuesday at the London Book Fair, involves giving away canvas book bags on which is printed the slogan "Books are my bag". Between the Covers will do almost anything for a free canvas book bag – the collection already includes one from

the Royal Society, which reads "Science is my bag".

It's all right: most things can be Between the Covers's bag – so long as they come in a free canvas book bag.


Between the Covers's canvas book bag obsession is not weird. At least, not compared with the customers quoted in the new book, More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, by Jen Campbell (Constable, £8.99). Customer: "Are these real books?" Bookseller: "… Yes." Customer: "So they're not e-books? They're real? I can look at them?" Bookseller: "Yes".

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