Between the Covers: 31/03/2013
Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
Saturday 30 March 2013
Congratulations to James Naughtie, who has spent years interviewing writers on Radio 4 and has now written a novel of his own.
The Today programme and Bookclub host has previously written non-fiction books about The Making of Music, The New Elizabethans and The Rivals (Blair and Brown), but now he has sold his first novel to a new publishing imprint, Head of Zeus, and by all accounts it's pretty good. The Madness of July, which will be published next April, is a "sophisticated political spy thriller" set at the end of the Cold War, which interweaves the stories of three brothers – two of them spies. Says his publisher: "Working with a writer as observant and intellectually stimulating as Jim, a household name and hero to so many people, is not only a huge privilege, but also immense fun." Naughtie tells The Independent on Sunday: "This has been a long time coming. Like Radio 4 long wave, it comes and goes. The trouble is, I know that good political novels are difficult, but I can't resist having a go. Spies, ministers, the political world of the Seventies – to me, I'm a sad old thing, it's irresistible."
Congratulations also to Kate Tempest, winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for her hour-long spoken story "Brand New Ancients". Tempest is one of those people whom everybody claims to have "discovered", but in fact Between the Covers discovered her first when she kept selling out shows at the Battersea Arts Centre. Though Roots Manuva would probably say that he heard of her first, and Chuck D, the founder of Public Enemy, has counted himself as a fan ever since Kate Tempest turned up at one of his shows and rapped him a two minute-long question.
The Oxford University Press is to publish a dictionary of Roald Dahl's words, after signing a deal with his estate. The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary will be aimed at children aged over eight, with colour illustrations of his fantastical vocabulary. Dahl scribbled long lists of words and combinations of syllables in his yellow jotter before finally settling on a neologism such as frobscottle – defined in The BFG as a delicious fizzy liquid whose bubbles travel downwards. Lovers of language should seek out a 2011 blog by the Oxford English Dictionary's Robert Hughes, on the genius and fun of Dahl's gobblefunk.
Three cheers for the American author Judi Blume (if you remember her books from childhood, you'll love her; if you don't, it would take us too long to explain), who at 75 is an arch Twitterer. Her tagline: "Are You There, Twitter? It's Me, Judy."
Here's a salutary thought for George Osborne as he breathes a sigh of relief after narrowly getting away with another Budget: Cambridge University has a higher credit rating than the UK government, according to Durham University's Professor Christopher Higgins, who was a keynote speaker at a recent bookselling conference, talking about the role of books in university life. It pays to be clever.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
- 2 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 3 Andy Murray takes to Twitter to show off his Christmas jumper
- 4 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 5 Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Madonna Rebel Heart: Pharrell Williams collaboration and 13 more songs leaked
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'