Between the Covers 26/05/2013

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The Independent Culture

Lydia Davis was visibly stunned when Sir Christopher Ricks announced that she had won the biannual Man Booker International Prize on Wednesday, worth £60,000. The New York-based writer and professor of creative writing beat a short-list of 10 with her collection of stories, below, some of which are only a line long. In his congratulatory speech, Sir Christopher said she had created a form that defied definition, but suggested the "faintly pretentious word 'devoir'". Guests at the black tie dinner at the Victoria and Albert museum included Sigrid Rausing, Ed Victor, James Naughtie, and Aminatta Forna, who was a judge. Speaking to Between The Covers immediately afterwards, Davis admitted she hadn't prepared a speech as she hadn't expected to win. "I cobbled a few thoughts together on the District Line coming here," she said. She told the audience, almost in tears: "To be shortlisted was enough."


William Boyd and Frederick Forsyth were in nostalgic mood at an auction of signed modern first editions at Sotheby's. The sale, "First Editions, Second Thoughts", raised £439,000 for the writers' charity PEN, and included 50 novels which the authors had been invited to annotate with their second thoughts. Boyd, below, submitted a copy of An Ice-Cream War, his 1982 comic novel influenced by Evelyn Waugh's Scoop. "The most surprising thing to me, as I looked back on it, is that I drew the map of East Africa used as a frontispiece," Boyd tells Between The Covers. "I can't imagine the publishers allowing that now." Forsyth remarked upon how much more sophisticated the world of intelligence is now to when he penned The Day of the Jackal, noting that his anti-hero "would get caught on day one now". The highest bid, predictably, was for J K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which fetched £150,000. It made Andrea Levy's Small Island seem like a bargain at £850, which was snapped up by Jeanette Winterson.


Sebastian Faulks and William Fiennes are padding up for a special cricket match to celebrate 150 years of Wisden, the cricketing almanac. They are in the Authors XI, a revival of the early 20th century team that included Arthur Conan Doyle and P G Wodehouse. They take on The Wisden XI on Wednesday in Pimlico, central London. Jeffrey Archer is umpiring, to make sure no rules are broken.


Ever travelled to a foreign city and felt you haven't quite got under its skin? Between The Covers has discovered a new app that gives you short stories about wherever you find yourself. It's called Gimbal, and claims to "merge literature with travel". A gimbal is what sailors use to keep their compasses steady as the ship pitches and yaws. The app is similarly clever: you can choose stories by location, or mode of transport, or even the length of your journey. You then either read the story, or listen to it while following an interactive map – where a pin moves as the story progresses and highlights points of interest along the way. Created by Manchester publishing house Comma, the app took two years to build.