Between the Covers 12/05/2013

Your weekly guide to what's really going on in the world of books

Sunday 12 May 2013 19:22

There is good news and bad news to report following last week's Blagger's Guide to the Desmond Elliott Prize for new fiction. The bad news comes in the form of a mea culpa. We got it wrong: this is the sixth annual prize, not the seventh. The good news is that Grace McLeen, who we reported had announced her retirement from writing after winning the 2012 prize for The Land of Decoration, is back! McLeen has written a second novel, which will be published by Sceptre in July. The Professor of Poetry features a "respected academic" and writer who is "paralysed by the fear of writing something worthless". Sceptre describes the novel as "profound and hypnotic". Hilary Mantel has called it "an astonishing and luminous novel" and McCleen "an author who, with only her second novel, is setting her own clever agenda. She is a finished artist, but performs on the page with all the aerial grace of someone who senses no limits to what she can do."


Attentive readers will have noticed that each week, in the books pages, we publish the five best-selling titles in a particular category. This week, as the feature is about the Dan Brown Effect on sales of Dante's Inferno, we asked Waterstones to send us a list of the top poetry books. And what has been the No 1 best-selling poetry book in Waterstones in the past week? You guessed it: Dante's Inferno - selling 30 times more copies than in the same month last year. It's started!


Meanwhile, new Dante-inspired titles are being rushed out at a rate of about one per week. On 6 June, Profile will publish Inferno Decoded: A Guide to the Myths and Mysteries of Dan Brown's Inferno by Michael Haag, which promises "crucial background on the characters, codes, symbols, secrets and setting of the novel". They'll have to be quick – Bantam Press only biked out advance copies of Brown's Inferno to selected reviewers yesterday.


Hang on, A Game of Thrones fans! HarperVoyager has heard your anguished cries for more George RR Martin books, and has promised a new compilation called The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister for Christmas. The book will be a collection of "clever and naughty quips" from the character with "all the best lines". Don't worry, Martin has not been bothered during the researching of the book because he is "hard at work on the sixth and penultimate volume of the series, The Winds of Winter", the publisher promises.


Nearly 164 years after it was erected in St Mary's churchyard, Scarborough, Anne Brontë's headstone has been altered to give her correct age: 29. Brontë travelled to the resort from Haworth hoping that the air might improve her health, but she died of tuberculosis three days after arriving. Her headstone contained five mistakes, four of which were corrected by her sister Charlotte, who visited three years later. But, until now, her age still read "28". "It is a pleasure to honour her in this modest way ... in the coastal town she loved so much," said the Brontë Society's Sally McDonald.

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