Archive for July, 2012

Man Booker 2012 Long-list Announced

The Man Booker Prize Long List was announced this week with some old favorites (HIlary Mantel) and rising stars (Jeet Thayil). The winner will be announced in October.

Who do you think should win?

Nicola Barker, The Yips (Fourth Estate)

Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident (Sceptre)

André Brink, Philida (Harvill Secker)

Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books)

Michael Frayn, Skios (Faber & Faber)

Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Doubleday)

Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (And Other Stories)

Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies (Fourth Estate)

Alison Moore, The Lighthouse (Salt)

Will Self, Umbrella (Bloomsbury)

Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis (Faber & Faber)

Sam Thompson, Communion Town (Fourth Estate)

via The Man Booker Prize


Americans in China

Is being a foreigner in China no longer a big deal? Does this mean that the days of getting your photo taken at the Forbidden City as if you were a celebrity are numbered?

This American Life reports on Americans in China:

It used to be that the American expats in China were the big shots. They had the money, the status, the know-how. But that’s changed. What’s it like to be an American living in China now? And what do they understand about China that we don’t?

Evan Osnos (The New Yorker) profiles Beijing’s own Kaiser Kuo while  Michael Meyer (The Last Days of Old Beijing) reports on the small rural village he now lives in (featured in his upcoming book In Manchuria).

Full audio here.

Bi Fei Yu on ‘Massage’

BLF author Bi Fei Yu discusses the inspiration for his novel Massage (the English edition will be published by Penguin China next year) in an article for the New York Times.

Summer 2003. I suffer a serious shoulder injury. A friend suggests I go to a massage clinic that employs blind masseurs. The clinic is not far from my home, perhaps less than a hundred meters away, but I had never noticed it. Yes, I later realized that I had never paid attention to the lives of blind people — until I needed their help…I quickly realized that the blind masseurs were a happy crowd. They were happier than I was. Their happiness affected me, day by day.

Inspired by these masseurs and their way of life that seemed immune to the ills of modern society, Bi Fei set out to write his latest novel:

Writing the book was like a game of tug of war. I tried to pull the dark world out to the sun. I wanted to tell my readers that in our society, there is still a group of people who have not given up their principles. In fact, these blind people live a more normal life than we normal people do.

Read the full article here.


Sleipnir the Eight-legged horse & Reykjavík City of Literature

In celebration of its status as a UNESCO City of Literature, the city of Reykjavík is organizing a month of events – Reykjavík Reading Festival in october 2012-   to promote the joy of reading. And they have chosen an ideal mascot to launch the program – Sleipnir, who is the eight-legged horse of Odinn in Norse mythology.

(Sleipnir) can travel freely from one world to another, and is thus symbolic for the mind-travel that we experience through reading. It is safe to say that Sleipnir is no ordinary horse, as he stands for the power of imagination and poetry…In the name of Sleipnir, the Reykjavík City of Literature will take part in projects that encourage children and young people to read.

To find out more about the festival and other literary events the city has lined up (or just to learn more about Sleipnir), visit their website.

Most Anticipated Books of 2012

The Millions listed their top picks for the most anticipated upcoming releases for the latter half of 2012. Zadie Smith (NW), Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue), Barbara Kingsolver (Flight Behavior), Martin Amis (Lionel Asbo) and Ian McEwan (Sweet Tooth) all have new novels coming out. We are especially excited for BLF 2011 author Emma Donaghue’s latest Astray – “a story collection “which brings together fourteen fact-based fictions about travels to, within and from North America, from the 1630s to the 1960s”; and more meta-science-fiction fun from Charles Yu’s follow up to How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, a collection of stories Sorry Please Thank You.

Which books are you looking forward to the most?

Full list and article here.

Some of Our Favorite American Writers

Just in time for the Fourth of July, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite American writers, of past and present. This list is by no mean exhaustive, but just a starting off point. Who are your favorites?

The Classics

Sure, these may be the books students have to read in school but they are also the ones we love to re-read as adults! Rafting with Huck Finn down the Mississippi, crying when Beth dies in Little Women and getting goosebumps when Edgar Allan Poe’s Raven comes knocking.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Little Women by Louise May Alcott

Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

The 20th Century

The beginning of the 20th Century saw the US sending troops to WWI, dance away in the roaring Twenties and then struggle through the Great Depression. For some reason, everyone was also always moving to Paris. Luckily, they all also wrote some of our most beloved books.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Falkner’s brilliant take on modernism and stream-of-consciousness takes us through the lives of four intersecting characters in the Deep South.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Taking its title from the Robert Burn’s poem To A Mouse (“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley.”) is the heartbreaking tale of George and Lennie, of desperate migrant workers in the Great Depression, and a tortured friendship. Why did you do it George!?

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Heminway

A dashing, injured lieutenant falls in love with his British nurse in this, Papa Hemingway’s bleakest novel. For this novel, Hemingway drew on his own experiences in war (as well as his notorious relationships with the ladies) and solidified his reputation to many as THE American writer of his generation.

The New Heavy Weights

Some of our favorite contemporary authors explore the depths of the human condition with lyrical beauty and grace. With impressive back catalogues, each book is better than the last and we can’t wait to see what they do next!

Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates

The latest novel from the prolific Joyce Carol Oates explores the high price of success in the life of one woman – the first female president of a lauded ivy league institution—and her hold upon her self-identity in the face of personal and professional demons.

The New Republic by Lionel Shriver

Having already written about violence in teenagers (We Need to Talk about Kevin) and the failures of the health care system (So Much for That), Lionel Shriver’s latest novel, The New Republic, tackles terrorism.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Joan Didion’s extremely personal memoir of love and loss, The Year of Magical Thinking is heartbreaking and illuminating both at once.

Children’s Books

Some of the books we read as kids…and still read to wee worms today!

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

The book that made a generation of kids (including director Wes Anderson) want to run away and live at the Museum of Natural History.

Nancy Drew Series

Forget CSI, Law & Order and all the other modern gumshoes. Nancy Drew is the detective we would call.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

If your child suddenly stops eating bacon, it’s probably because of this amazing tale of Charlotte the spider and her crafty plan to save Wilbur the pig from slaughter.

Who We’re Reading this Summer

Our summer reading lists have quite a few Americans we’re looking forard

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

After a ‘Rapture-like’ event, an American down comes to terms with how to deal with life after the end of the world.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

“Marriage can be a real killer.” Told in chapters alternating between the perspective of a husband and wife, Gillian Flynn’s latest is a thrilling and terrifying story of a marriage gone very, very wrong.

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

“A story of love and marriage, secrets and betrayals, that takes us from the backyards of America to the back alleys and villages of Bangladesh.” Nell Freudenberger’s latest novel is a bitingly funny and powerful take on arranged marriage and the hiccups that ensue when East meets West.



Ochre and Ink – “Art Can Break All the Rules”

This Wednesday, July 4th, Artlink Australia presents a panel in which artists, curators and writers discuss aspects of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art. Panelists include curator, activist and writer Djon Mundine OAM, member of the Bandjalung people of New South Wales and the concept curator for the 1988 Aboriginal Memorial installation permanently exhibited at the National Gallery of Australia;  writer and painter Zhou Xiaoping who has collaborated with many Indigenous artists and whose work is displayed at the National Gallery of China; and Megan Cope, a member of the Brisbane-based Indigenous Art Collective ProppaNOW.

After the discussion, there will be a screening of the documentary, Ochre and Ink, the extraordinary story of Chinese-Australian artist Zhou Xiaoping and his inspiring but sometimes controversial 23 year collaboration with Indigenous artists in remote Arnhem Land. To learn more about this inspiring and fascinating story – as well as see clips and interviews with the cast and crew –  visit the film’s website.

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