Some great authors have published their worst works from beyond the grave. A few though, keep getting better when they’re dead, such as the Chilean novelist and short story writer, Roberto Bolaño. His seminal five-part novel, 2666, came out posthumously, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and convinced the world he was not just a master of the short form but could put out his life’s best work at nearly 900 pages, even after death.
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Sunday 14 October 2012
Just as home video confounded doom-mongers by eventually boosting the cinema box office, so e-reading appears to be having a positive effect on print authors, and many forgotten novels are returning to paperback after being rediscovered online. One recent happy surprise was finding that Ethel Lina White was one of several missing writers now being reprinted by Arcturus Publishing.
Saturday 13 October 2012
A great veteran of a bitter conflict looks back in sadness, and reflects on the role of words in war
Saturday 06 October 2012
Music and literature have blended in harmony ever since (in Kipling's words) "'Omer smote 'is blooming lyre" in Bronze Age Greece, where both lyric and epic verse was sung. Yet we take this fruitful kinship, or twinship, too much for granted. Specialists study the relationships between word, sound and meaning in song-cycles, opera or pop lyrics (sometimes, as in Christopher Ricks's readings of Bob Dylan, with dazzling virtuosity). But opportunities to hear every chord in the music-literature dialogue remain scarce. Hence the value of the Notes & Letters festival, which runs for a second year this weekend. Its participants range from one novelist who is also a ground-breaking musician (Amit Chaudhuri plays a gig with his eclectic east-west band) to another with a sideline as a performer (Andrey Kurkov takes the floor with a Russian-Ukrainian cabaret), and other authors - such as Ali Smith and Janice Galloway – inspired by music and musicians.
Wednesday 03 October 2012
Bulgarian author Miroslav Penkov has won the £15,000 BBC International Short Story Award for his story East of the West.
Saturday 29 September 2012
The Rosa Parks of the language movement in Wales was a polite but steel-willed housewife who, with her husband, refused to pay rates on their house in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire, while Llanelli Rural District Council issued demands in English only.
Friday 03 August 2012
"But Abel, though a treble, was a rascal and a rebel, fond of getting into trouble when he didn't have to sing. Pushing quickly through the people, Abel clambered up the steeple with nefarious intentions and a pebble in his sling…"
Tuesday 31 July 2012
Bestselling author Maeve Binchy was today dubbed a “trailblazer” for a generation of female writers, as tributes poured in following her death last night.
Saturday 28 July 2012
It is not the reading that matters," declares a character in Jorge Luis Borges's "A Weary Man's Utopia", "but the rereading". I've applied this advice to its author's work consistently over the years. So it would seem natural for me to pick this writer for my book of a lifetime, the only problem being which book? Or rather, which collection, since Borges's work was all short pieces: stories, essays, poetry.
Friday 27 July 2012
At first glance, the news is enough to bring on a bout of depression. Bruce Springsteen, so rugged and manly, so reassuringly uncomplicated, has joined the ever-swelling ranks of celebrity depressives. Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax, Monty Don, Ben Stiller – and now The Boss: a BBC4 documentary exploring his secret, vulnerable side can only be a matter of time.
Friday 13 July 2012
'I've met children all over the world and they all laugh at the same things'
Sunday 08 July 2012
The Women on the 6th Floor (106 mins, 12A)
Saturday 07 July 2012
In 1975 Ian McEwan was famous at our school because his short story collection, First Love, Last Rites, was sensationally banned by our doddering headmistress, Miss Gems. After examining a stray copy, Miss Gems set about a full-scale censorship to protect us from what she declared was a shocking, dirty book. Copies were confiscated, detentions issued to those of us who admitted to having read it. We found it hilarious. As a result of the ban everyone saved up to buy a copy.
Saturday 07 July 2012
History, wrote Edward Gibbon as he wearily surveyed the decline and fall of the Roman empire, "is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind".
Saturday 07 July 2012
A portrait of the first Children's Laureate from his difficult childhood to a prolific career
Sunday 17 June 2012
By the start of the 21st century it seemed that readability had become a liability; surely award-winners lacked complexity if their books were too accessible? Happily this attitude is now passing, and lucid writing is once more being recognised as a desirable literary trait, which may partly explain why Pamela Hansford Johnson's work is coming back into print (the other reason is that ebooks provide an affordable route to republication).
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
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