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.
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 Now diplomacy has failed, boycotting Israel might be the only way we can protect the people of Gaza
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 Kelsey Grammer forgives the man who raped and murdered his sister in 1975
Game of Thrones actress Aimee Richardson begs for 'other princess work' after Myrcella Baratheon part is recast
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming in August 2014
Cultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
The Walking Dead season 5 will see deaths of 'favourite characters', suggests Andrew Lincoln
Edinburgh Festival 2014: Israeli show The City pulled after pro-Palestinian protests
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
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