Literary News Roundup - International Dublin Literary Award, Gordon Burn Prize, African publishing and the pandemic, and more

23.10.20 05:15 PM By GAOLF


  • 29 – 31 October 2020: Accra International Book Festival goes virtual and will include world-class writers, artists, musicians, scientists and politicians from across the world to discuss the major issues of the day.
  • 4-8 November: The Stroud Book Festival will be online and free, thanks to a heroic community fundraising effort. The 24 scheduled events include Helen Macdonald on eagerly anticipated follow-up to her multi award-winning memoir H is for Hawk, Jamaican poet Kei Miller, and In association with Stroud Against Racism, the Festival is proud to present BBC broadcaster Adam Rutherford, talking about his book How To Argue with a Racist, plus an exciting range of children’s events for all ages.
  • 19–29 November: The Cambridge Literary Festival has announced its programme for the Winter Festival Online, which includes appearances from celebrated artist Maggi Hambling, Wainwright Prize-winner Dara McAnulty, best-selling writer Matt Haig, comedian David Mitchell, and award-winning poets Raymond Antrobus and Jay Bernard. A free Family Day will take place on 29 November, including events from former Children’s Laureates Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo. 
  • 5- 25 October: The Boston Book Festival wraps up on Sunday with a 'Witches and other Bad Heroines’ panel discussion, plus 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner Ayan Akhtar on what it means to be Muslim in America today with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel.
  • 23 October – Jaipur LitFest’s Brave New World series has two sessions scheduled: poetry and fiction with Rachel DeWoskin in conversation with Ranjit Hoskote, followed by a conversation on ‘masculinity, mobility and the new middle class’.
  • 19 - 25 October: Vancouver Writers Festival features Ian Rankin in conversation with Linwood Barclay, and Kevin Kwan with Doretta Lau.
  • 22 – 28 October: The International Literature Festival Dublin features Ai Weiwei, Claudia Rankine, Maggie O’Farrell, Roddy Doyle and Bob Geldof and more.  
  • 22 - 25 October: Aké Festival features Tayari Jones, Afua Hirsch, Esi Edugyan, Marlon James, and many more.  
  • 2 - 8 November: Seoul International Writers' Festival. Check out their programme here
  • 20-22 November: Dingle Literary Festival. You can check out their list of speakers here.
  • 20-22 November: Word for Word - Australia’s only literary festival dedicated to showcasing non-fiction writing in all its forms. Explore more here.
  • Stockholm Writers Festival have announced dates for an online festival in 2021, from 28 - 30 May, with a preliminary programme which includes novelist Sarah Waters.
  • Ghanaian founder of Sub-Saharan Publishers, Akoss Ofori-Mensah, weighs in on the impact of the pandemic on African publishers via Publishing Perspectives.
  • Anna Burns is the winner of the International Dublin Literary Award for her novel Milkman.
  • The Award is the world’s largest prize for a single novel published in English. Anna Burns is the first writer from Northern Ireland and the fourth woman to claim the prestigious award in its 25-year history. Find out more here.
  • Peter Pomerantsev is the winner of this year’s Gordon Burn prize for This is Not Propaganda - Adventures in the War Against Reality. The prize “recognises the year’s boldest, most ambitious and uncompromising work” and highlights both fiction and non-fiction. The shortlist featured Motherwell by the late Deborah Orr, My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay, and more.
  • Want your children to love books? Listening to podcasts might do the trick. The Times reflects on the research saying that “Children who enjoy listening to programmes on subjects as diverse as science, comedy and cookery are more likely to want to read.” If you’d like to explore the research in more detail it is available here.
  • A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order by historian Judith Flanders was published this week. It’s the first-ever history of alphabetization, from the Library of Alexandria to Wikipedia, and you can read an excerpt here.  
  • You may know that the latest adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches has just been released, but do you know who published it in 1983? Tom Maschler, the publisher credited with reviving Jonathan Cape, is the man behind the publication of many of our favourite books and authors, from Catch-22 to Midnight’s Children, Roald Dahl and beyond. He has sadly passed away, but you can read about his fascinating life and legacy (which includes The Booker Prize) in this obituary.
  • Publishers Weekly picks its books of the week including a book that asks ‘If an alien visitor wanted to collect 10 samples to represent life on Earth, which would it choose?’ and an anthology of acceptance speeches or ‘dispatches’ from the winners of the Neustadt literary prize over the past 50 years.
  •  “We may get to the point that any story that doesn’t touch on climate change might as well be considered either historical fiction or other-worldly fantasy.” says assistant professor of social sciences who has conducted research on the impact of climate change in fiction on readers. More on the study and its implications is available here.
  • ‘Michelle Pfeiffer really loved going weird for French Exit’ according to this article on the recently released adaptation of the eponymous 2018 novel by Patrick DeWitt.
  • Where Do Reading Lists Come From? (And Why Do We Love Them?) asks this fascinating LitHub read which explores the history of a format we’re all so familiar with.
  • LitHub also asked What Happens When Literary Events Move Online? in this article. It explores: ‘literary events of yore’, ‘community and audience’, ‘tradition and adaptation’, ‘accessibility’, ‘who’s buying this?’ and ‘literary events of the future’.
  • Meet the Indian Novels Collective which works to popularize translations and performances of works in Indian languages. “Just as European literature easily accommodates French, German Russian, Czech or British authors, among others, in its corpus, we would like readers of present and future generations to be able to appreciate and engage with, for instance, Tamil, Gujarati and Assamese authors with equal ease.” Their Poetry Live series brought together 71 poets from 14 languages, and you can read about all this and what they’ve learned from their own foray into virtual events here.
  • Writers are…real people? How online literature festivals are demolishing the fantasy that authors are not like other mortals – more here.
  • ‘You Might Not Know Peter Mendelsund, But You Probably Own a Piece of His Art’ – do you own any of these iconic book covers?
  • Comedian Romesh Ranganathan shares the books that shaped him, in honour of release of his own bookAs Good As It Gets: Life Lessons From A Reluctant Adult
  • Fancy a night in with Matthew McConaughey? This is likely the closest we’ll get, as he talks about his memoir Greenlights on 24 October.
  • An art dealer recommends seven great heist novels with some interesting background on the impact of the release of The Thomas Crown Affair.
  • For anyone who has ever mentally noted their ranking of Mr. Darcy portrayals on screen, compare notes with this amusing LitHub ranking
Join the Conversation in the Forum