Cover Stories: Commonwealth Writers' Prize; Marie Fatayi-Williams; crime-fest; Essex Book Festival

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The Independent Culture

The Commonwealth Writers' Prize, announced in Melbourne as the Commonwealth Games began, found an Australian victor for Best Book in Kate Grenville. Former Orange winner, and author of the acclaimed The Secret River, she beat other regional winners, including Zadie Smith. In the First Book category, Guyanan Mark McWatt ran in first with his collection Suspended Sentences: a well-deserved fillip for Leeds-based indie Peepal Tree Press, his publisher.

* The dignity of Marie Fatayi-Williams, whose son Anthony died in the London bombings, was moving indeed. A Catholic married to a Muslim, she will tell Anthony's story in an account which shines a light on the government's bungling after the attacks. Hodder will publish for the 7 July anniversary, and his mother will be giving proceeds to the Anthony Fatayi-Williams Foundation for Peace.

* Readers who appreciate the riches bestowed by crime fiction from overseas recently will relish the forthcoming crime-fest, "Bloody Foreigners". It is the brainchild of doughty indie firms: Arcadia, Bitter Lemon and Serpent's Tail. The authors are Leonardo Padura, Didier Daeninckx, Louis Sanders, Gianrico Carofiglio, Matti-Yriana Joensuu and Dominique Manotti. In various combinations, they will be talking and reading in a tour that kicks off on 27 March at Canning House in London, moving to Oxford, Bristol, Chelmsford, Liverpool, Norwich and Newcastle.

* On Monday, the Essex Book Festival has an intriguing event to launch Memory Maps: a web-based project, led by Marina Warner in partnership with the V&A, that aims to connect the riches of Essex-inspired culture. It's at Lakeside Theatre, Essex University, Wivenhoe: 01206 873261.

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