Cover stories: His Dark Materials trilogy, Jewish Book Week, the Orange prize

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

With Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings still doing brisk business at cinemas (even if Master P has only three Oscar nominations, as against 13 for the Lord), the Whitbread-winning Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is to make its screen début after a deal between New Line and Scholastic Entertainment in the US. The first film is expected in 2004, but it is not yet certain whether two or three movies will be made. A scriptwriter is being sought, but technology will enable the makers to "capture and present Philip's world". Pullman will not be involved ("to have the writer hanging around meddling is counter-productive") but he admits to having "a yen" to see Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter.

Anyone who saw Kenneth Branagh's chilling portrayal of the genocidal Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich on TV should be especially delighted by the main theme of this year's Jewish Book Week, from 2 to 10 March at the Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury. A symposium on "the European Jewish Voice" will host many of the writers associated with the current renaissance of Jewish literature in continental Europe: the Czechs Ivan Klima and Arnost Lustig, Agnès Desarthe and Hélène Cixous from France, Rachel Salamander and Maxim Biller from Germany. Other events feature Maureen Lipman, George Steiner, Michael Rosen and our own David Aaronovitch, who's on a panel about "anti-Semitism and the press". More details:; box office: 020-8201 8206.

Givn the steamy revelations in her memoirs, one might expect Sue MacGregor to be judging the Romantic Novel of the Year. She is, in fact, chairing the judges for the Orange prize, with the novelist A L Kennedy, the actress Fiona Shaw and Professor Gillian Beer. Meanwhile, preliminary judging of the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year award reveals that chick lit is falling from grace as period yarns revive. The shortlist includes Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris and The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Vanessa Feltz, who's seen a bit of Stürm und Drang in her time, is chairing that panel.

The celebrity memoir continues its march. Headline has announced, in breathless tones, acquisition of the autobiography of Amanda Barrie, who starred as Alma in Coronation Street. Naturally, she will be reflecting on her "much-troubled personal life". As will Goldie, actor, DJ and "prominent figure in jungle", who has worked with Björk, Bowie and Marley and had a relationship with the much-troubled supermodel Naomi Campbell. Like everyone else, he will be sharing his recollections of a "traumatic childhood", in a volume for which Hodder has paid a not-insignificant sum.