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  • Kieron Smith wins for Kelman

    Wed, 24 Jun 2009 00:01

    The BBC tells me:

    A book charting the life of a young boy in post-war Glasgow has won the Scottish Book of the Year award.

    Kieron Smith, boy, by Glasgow author James Kelman, a former Booker Prize winner, netted him the £30,000 award.

    The winner was announced at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, hosted by writer and comedian Rory Bremner.

    Mr Kelman said it was "an honour" to win the award for the novel, which was described as a "masterpiece" by the judging panel.

  • According to the Bookseller:

    The Ipswich Institute has announced the shortlist for the inaugural New Angle Prize for literature, worth £2,500. Titles included on the eight-strong list include three published by independent presses, plus three Penguin titles, and two from Random House. The biennial competition is open to "recently published books of literary merit, associated with or influenced by East Anglia". The judges are Ronald Blythe, Anne Parry and D J Taylor."

    The shortlisted authors will be showcased at an event on 8th July, with an awards dinner on 22nd September:

     

  • Pompeii wins a Wolfson

    Wed, 10 Jun 2009 02:49

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    Mary Beard's superb Pompeii has won one of the Wolfson History Prizes (must admit, I'm something of a fan of Professor Beard: go Mary!):

    Pompeii explodes a number of myths -- from the very date of the eruption, probably a few months later than usually thought; the hygiene of the baths which must have been hotbeds of germs; and the legendary number of brothels, most likely only one, to the massive death count which was probably less than ten per cent of the population. Street Life, Earning a Living: Baker, Banker and Garum Maker (who ran the city), The Pleasure of the Body: Food, Wine, Sex and Baths, these chapter headings give a surprising insight into the workings of a Roman town. At the Suburban Baths we go from communal bathing to hygiene to erotica. A fast-food joint on the Via dell' Abbondanza introduces food and drink and diets and street life. These are just a few of the strands that make up an extraordinary and involving portrait of an ancient town, its life and its continuing re-discovery, by Britain's leading classicist.

    Margaret M. McGowan's Dance in the Renaissance: European Fashion, French Obsession won another of the prizes on offer:

    Dance was at the core of Renaissance social activity in France and had important connections with most major issues of the period. This finely illustrated book provides the first full account of the pivotal place and high status of dance in sixteenth-century French culture and society. Margaret M. McGowan examines the diverse forms of dance in the Renaissance, contemporary attitudes toward dance, and the light this throws on moral, political, and aesthetic concerns of the time. Among the subjects she covers are: expectations of dance; style, costume, music, and social coding; court dance versus social dancing; dance and the Valois dynasty; professional dancers, virtuosos, and choreographers; burlesque; opposition to dance; and dance and the people. Remarkably, McGowan's sophisticated analysis of formal dance treatises enables her to recreate a sense of the actual practice of Renaissance dance and the mechanics of making a ballet. Nearly one hundred illustrations, many of them rare, accompany the engrossing text.

  • Home wins the Orange

    Thu, 04 Jun 2009 04:14

    And the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009?

    Marilynne Robinson's Home:

    Hundreds of thousands of readers were enthralled and delighted by the luminous, tender voice of John Ames in Gilead, Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Now comes Home, a deeply affecting novel that takes place in the same period and same Iowa town of Gilead. This is Jack's story. Jack -- prodigal son of the Boughton family, godson and namesake of John Ames, gone twenty years -- has come home looking for refuge and to try to make peace with a past littered with trouble and pain. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold down a job, Jack is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. His sister Glory has also returned to Gilead, fleeing her own mistakes, to care for their dying father. Brilliant, loveable, wayward, Jack forges an intense new bond with Glory and engages painfully with his father and his father's old friend John Ames.

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    Congratulations to Canadian writer Alice Munro has won the third Man Booker International Prize.

    The Man Booker International Prize, worth £60,000 to the winner, is awarded once every two years to a living author for a body of work that has contributed to an achievement in fiction on the world stage. It was first awarded to Ismail Kadare in 2005 and then to Chinua Achebe in 2007.

    Best known for her short stories, Munro is one of Canada's most celebrated writers. On receiving the news of her win, she said, "I am totally amazed and delighted."

    The judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize 2009 is: Jane Smiley, writer; Amit Chaudhuri, writer, academic and musician; and writer, film script writer and essayist, Andrey Kurkov. The panel made the following comment on the winner:

    "Alice Munro is mostly known as a short story writer and yet she brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels. To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before."

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