Literary News Roundup - Our Highlights this Week - 21 May 2020

22.05.20 01:31 AM By GAOLF

Emilia Clarke prescribes poetry, Shashi Tharoor will weigh in on the impact of the events of 2020, it looks like digital and print readers like different books, and there’s a Groundhog Day atmosphere over at the Orwell Prize for Fiction shortlist...  

  • This Saturday 23 May, Avni Doshi, author of Burnt Sugar will be speaking to City of Girls and Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert as part of Jaipur LitFest’s offshoot digital festival ‘#JLFBraveNewWorld’. Sessions streaming regularly live on Facebook and other channels on Saturday & Sunday 7:30pm IST. Stay tuned to their social media for the latest updates. Catch up with sessions featuring Gloria Steinem, Rupi Kaur and more here
  • 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 their Facebook page and YouTube channel for 13 weeks. Up next on Sunday 24 May – if you’re a fan of brilliant short stories, memoir, Toy Story and The Princess Bride, you should definitely find out more here. 
  • Hay Festival Digital’s main programme kicks off tomorrow! We’ve written up some more information on how to register for events and our own highlights here.
  • On Sat 30 May the Emirates Literature Foundation kicks off ‘Literary Conversations Across Borders’– a session series separate to their LitFest content with a focus on current affairs, in collaboration with the UAE’s Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy. Shashi Tharoor, Jane Goodall and Zaki Nusseibeh, and more speaker details here.
  • Cymera Festival is back with a digital edition of its Science-Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Writing Festival from 5 to 7 June. Sessions all listed clearly in date and time order with format (LIVE/Prerecorded) here.  
  • The Stratford Literary Festival has added the last of its pre-recorded content here – if you’re keen for some armchair travel, you can settle in to hear Guardian food writer Felicity Cloake paint you a picture of her food odyssey around France One More Croissant for the Road.
  • 10 Arabic ‘Nostalgia Plays’ come to Netflix before Eid al-Fitr. More info here.
  • With so many festivals and events turning to Zoom at the moment, it’s important to be aware of cyber security. Publishing director Candida Lacey’s opinion piece in Bookbrunch about a traumatic zoom-bombing during a book launch this week, is a chilling reminder of the dangers of the digital platform.
  • An 87-year-old actor has set up a website called ‘A Love in Verse’ to share the poems he wrote his wife every day for 25 years, and the ones he continues to write since she died. Read the moving account here
  • Is that you, Booker Prize 2019? Oh wait, no, it’s the Orwell Prize for fiction! Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, John Lanchester’s The Wall, and Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport are up against each other again. See here for the other political fiction and non-fiction contenders.
  • Don’t fancy reading alone? You’re in good company. A New York Times piece discusses how the reading community is adapting to the virtual world, with silent reading parties like this one.
  • Publishing Perspectives has a thorough breakdown of the shortlisted writers, poets and illustrators up for one of many of the Society of Authors’ Awards. Winners to be announced during an online presentation on 18 June.
  • Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke plans to run a series of Instagram readings in collaboration with some as yet unspecified “friends and performers”, of poems from The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul by William Sieghart.
  • An ongoing list of Covid-19 cancellations, closings, policy changes, and more is available from Publishers Weekly here.
  • The show must go on says Sanjoy Roy, JLF producer – read more in Hindustan Times piece ‘Jaipur Literature Festival will continue, irrespective of its format’.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on US public libraries is detailed in this news article from the Library Journal ‘Pandemic-Caused Austerity Drives Widespread Furloughs, Layoffs of Library Workers’
  • 27-year-old American writer Bryan Washington wins the Dylan Thomas Prize for debut short story collection LOT: Stories anchored in marginalized communities in the city of Houston. He’s also on the shortlist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award.
  • A marketing campaign executive says ‘think audio’, ‘be emotionally intelligent’ and ‘create an experience’ when marketing to children in difficult times. Full article in The Bookseller here.
  • Sarah Haywood’s The Cactus has caught the eye of Reese Witherspoon who will produce a Rom Com based on the bestselling novel for Netflix.
  • We can also look forward to Elena Ferrante’s latest novel The Lying Life of Adults making its way to Netflix as a TV series. Details here.
  • New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) is assembling a star-studded cast to read a Roald Dahl favourite: James and the Giant Peach over a series of 10 episodes aired on YouTube on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 
  • Interview with author Onjali Q. Rauf on how children’s books do ‘so much more than entertain’. 
  • The shortlist for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced – books and info here
  • EBook lending figures have been included in UK libraries’ annual lending figures for the first time – it turns out that print and digital readers like different books. Spoiler alert: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the most borrowed eBook.   
  • Anyone familiar with their ‘pandemic lit’ will know of Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel which deals with a pandemic flu – a wonderful interview with the writer is featured here
  • A moving and worthwhile read on how one of Oscar Wilde’s last stops in England before exile was a bookstore.
  • ‘I don’t know the title but it’s got a blue cover…’ – have you ever struggled to find a book and not known the title? Here’s a little video with some useful resources next time you have that problem. 


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