Rose Tremain's widely predicted Orange Prize victory with The Road Home calls attention again to the bizarre choices of last year's Man Booker judges. They deemed such fast-forgotten titles such as Michael Redhill's Consolation to be more worthy of a longlist place than Tremain's conspicuously first-rate fiction. But all readers who complain about Booker blunders can make their mark by voting (until 8 July) in the 40th anniversary "Best of the Booker" race, from a shortlist that includes Pat Barker, Peter Carey, JM Coetzee, JG Farrell, Nadine Gordimer and Salman Rushdie: see www.themanbookerprize.com. Coetzee, meanwhile, makes a rare UK appearance to lecture at UEA in Norwich on Thursday 19 June (booking: 01603 508050) as part of the New Writing Worlds festival, devoted this year to literature and the natural world.
Sophisticates like to mock Mills & Boon, but the company has prospered for a century. The numbers speak for themselves: 130 million books are sold in 26 languages every year; every three seconds, someone in the UK buys an M&B. As a new exhibition in Manchester Central Library (until 31 July) shows, M&B started out as a general publisher. Its role as a specialist in escapist fiction was cemented in the Blitz. The exhibition, And Then He Kissed Her, draws on the vast M&B archive to show the evolution in romantic fiction and the changes in women's lives.
Literary festivals mushroom across Europe every summer, but how about a selective (250 places only) outing for bookish bohemians in... Bohemia? Offering a relaxed, intimate and hype-free vibe, Under the Linden takes place at Kamenice nad Lipou, an unspoilt spot in the Czech Republic, from 20-25 August. Guests will include John Berger, Anne Michaels and film director Sally Potter, with movies, music and debate also scheduled. Details: www.gotogetherpress.com
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