Cover Stories: Andrea Levy; inaugural Kim Scott Walwyn Prize; The Joy of No Sex

The Literator

Another triumph for Andrea Levy, who this week added the Whitbread Novel Award to the Orange Prize for her London saga Small Island and now looks to be in poll position for the overall Book of the Year award on 25 January. The Whitbread category winners saw smart outsiders thwart the favourites, as Levy pipped Hollinghurst and de Bernières while Susan Fletcher (and her debut Eve Green) spellbound the judges to beat Susanna Clarke among First Novels. In biography, John Guy's life of Mary, Queen of Scots, My Heart is My Own, headed off John Sutherland's Stephen Spender and Jeremy Treglown's V S Pritchett.

* The book business, like any other, contains a handful of figures who make news beyond the trade. Yet others contribute quietly and, often, for no great reward. Just before Christmas, such a benefactor was honoured with the inaugural Kim Scott Walwyn Prize for women in publishing, set up in memory of the late publishing director of Oxford University Press. The accolade went to Lynette Owen, copyright director of Pearson Education, who has long spent her leave travelling the world to teach young publishers the practical and intellectual basis of their careers. Owen, also the author of books on contract and copyright, never fails to combine seriousness of purpose with joie de vivre.

* The Joy of Sex by Dr Alex Comfort has had a long and healthy life. Now comes a parody, surely the sincerest form of flattery. Michael Joseph has bought The Joy of No Sex by Will Smith and Roger Drew (due this autumn). Maybe MJ's bid won because rep Andy Taylor bared nearly all to pose astride a chair at the presentation, Christine Keeler style.

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