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.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 2 'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
- 3 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 4 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
- 5 YouTube social experiment shows just how easy it is to kidnap a child
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 4 - review: Sansa is in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils