Cover Stories: Patten returns; Caine Prize for African Writing; lesbian sexuality

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The Independent Culture

It seems a lifetime ago that East and West, Chris Patten's memoirs about his time in Hong Kong, caused Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins a little local difficulty which resulted in the exit of Stuart Proffitt, Margaret Thatcher's editor and the company's most senior publisher.

It seems a lifetime ago that East and West, Chris Patten's memoirs about his time in Hong Kong, caused Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins a little local difficulty which resulted in the exit of Stuart Proffitt, Margaret Thatcher's editor and the company's most senior publisher. Now Patten and Proffitt will work together again, this time at Allen Lane/Penguin Press. The former Tory chairman, turned Hong Kong Governor and European Commissioner, has signed up, via his agent Michael Sissons, for two books. Western Front will examine "the complicated relationship" of Britain, Europe and America, while the second will attempt to explain how our globalised world really operates.

* African authors often struggle for a place in the sun, which makes the Caine Prize for African Writing (created in memory of Sir Michael Caine, Booker boss and Booker Prize champion) a welcome fillip. This week, the Prize went to Zimbabwe-born Brian Chikwava for the story "Seventh Street Alchemy", published in Harare last year. Now, Chikwava lives in London and is working on a novel. He has released an album, Jacaranda Skits, which combines his own words with township music, jazz and blues.

* In early September, Julie Burchill will launch yet another career, this time as a young adult novelist. Sugar Rush, from Young Picador, deals with lesbian sexuality, and columnists have already been foaming at the mouth. Burchill has said how much she enjoyed writing it - in "ten afternoons after a good lunch" - and believes her self-confessed "immaturity" will allow her to connect with teenagers.

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