Literary News Roundup Our Highlights this Week - 14 May 2020

14.05.20 10:01 PM By GAOLF

Auckland’s Winter Series continues to announce its exciting line-up, you can read the first state-approved North Korean novel in English, listen to a playlist from the New York Public Library, and GAOLF welcomes even more Festivals to the family!


  • The Auckland Writers’ Festival continues to programme its Winter Series in partnership with Auckland Live, running a live event once a week for free on Facebook and YouTube for 13 weeks. Up next on Sunday 17 May – Chanel Miller (United States), Becky Manawatu (Aotearoa New Zealand) and Robert MacFarlane (UK). More details here.
  • The Stratford Literary Festival continues to add pre-recorded content here every morning. This weekend you can look forward to Simon Reid-Henry on his latest Empire of Democracy and Sunday Times Chief Foreign Correspondent Christina Lamb on Our Bodies Their Battlefield, not to mention plenty of content already available.
  • If you’re interested in the limitations of online literary events and the impact on the author-reader relationship, then this BookBrunch interview with Wai Mun Yoon, Lockdown LitFest co-founder is what you’re looking for. 
  • The Global Association of Literary Festivals – that’s us! – was featured in Publishing Perspectives today. We’re happy to announce even more members have since joined the GAOLF family – our latest count is 39, but there will likely be more by the time you’re reading this!
  • An interesting publishing perspective is Porter Anderson’s summary of the Bologna Book Fair which had 60,000 online visitors this year – twice as many as usually attend the physical event.
  • Have you ever lied about where you’re from to fit into a writing culture? This author has.
  • Speaking of lies, bestselling French author and serial killer expert Stephane Bourgoin has become another example of why you should never fabricate expertise on your CV, admitting to making up significant portions of his life story and experience. CNN report here
  • Friend by Paek Namnyong is the first state-approved North Korean novel in English and it’s about love, marriage and divorce. Momentous when you consider that “almost all fiction available today from North Korea was written by defectors or dissidents” as mentioned in this LitHub interview with Friend translator Immanuel Kim.
  • The latest in James Patterson’s list of co-authors is none other than Guns N’Roses frontman Axl Rose who is collaborating with him on a children’s book titled -you guessed it – Sweet Child O’Mine. Incidentally you’ll also find out which popular pandemic book is one of Rose’s favourites – it’s not a Patterson novel awkwardly enough. 
  • A David vs. Goliath story about a new online bookshop with the straightforward name of 'Bookshop', offers publishers various incentives to use them instead of Amazon. 
  • Foyle’s bookshop has tweeted an image of this week’s top ten bestsellers reimagined as vintage books. We think the revamped cover for Where the Crawdads Sing would have clarified one of its more popular reader questions.
  • James McAvoy, Andy Serkis and more to star in 'Sandman' Audible Drama    
  • Need a dose of optimism? Dutch historian Rutger Bregman is the author of Utopia for Realists and widely anticipated Humankind – A Hopeful History. An excerpt from the latter has been released in The Guardian ahead of publication titled ‘The Real Lord of the Flies’ and has already been shared far and wide.  
  • Do you miss reading in public? The New York Public Library is here to the rescue with a compilation album of noises we miss—including the sound of the library itself. You can find it on Spotify here.
  • It’s no secret that many publishers and booksellers are in crisis right now, but is lockdown a potential opportunity and ‘exciting new chapter’ for the book industry? Addressed here with comments from Bookseller editor Philip Jones, agent Jonny Geller, and indie bookshop owners.  
  • One of the more interesting reading lists we’ve come across this week – 8 novels about the masks we wear
  • 7 Flash-fiction stories for a small dose of fiction if you’re short on time or focus today.
  • Two insightful pieces on the comics and graphic novel industry: ‘This is beyond the Great Depression’ an article which asks if comic books will survive coronavirus, and an inspiring reminder of the importance of art in dark times via this memoir excerpt from Megan Margulies who remembers her grandfather’s co-creation of Captain America amid a time of Nazi rallies and hardship.
  • Emma Donoghue shares the lockdown lessons she learned from writing Room, here
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