Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s Posthumous Novel, Spotify’s New Audiobooks Service and Taylor Swift’s Genealogical Literary Link

Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s Posthumous Novel, Spotify’s New Audiobooks Service and Taylor Swift’s Genealogical Literary Link



Sydney Writers Festival has launched its 2024 programme, which features Ann Patchett, Abdulrazac Gurner, Paul Lynch, Michael Connolly, Abraham Vergese, and Leila Slemani, as well as a number of Australian writers such as Anna Funder, Richard Flanagan, Trent Dalton, Kate Grenville, Melissa Lucashenko, and Julia Baird. The festival will be held from 22 to 26 May.


Early Bird tickets for selected events are now on sale for Hay Festival 2024. The programme will be launched on 12 March.


As several of Australia’s largest literary festivals begin to launch their programs, there has been ongoing commentary in the media about whether or not they should be taking a stand regarding the war in Gaza, including the programming of writers who are making public statements. The Conversation published an opinion piece about the delicate balancing act festivals are having to manage.


NBO Litfest Partnership with Hay Festival Global. NBO has announced their collaboration with Hay Festival Global for NBO Litfest. This year’s edition of NBO Litfest is set to take place from June 27th to June 30th at Nairobi’s Kaloleni Library, Eastlands Library, and McMillan Memorial Library. NBO Litfest, conceived in 2021, has quickly become a biennial highlight on the international literary stage, celebrating free expression and cultural exchange. Through this partnership, they aim to elevate NBO Litfest’s international presence, expand its audience reach, and transform it into an annual spectacle.



Food security and securing a new generation of festival goers are at the heart of the 27th Oxford Literary Festival, which starts on Saturday March 16. The packed programme of 400 speakers from over 35 countrieslooks to the authoritative voices at home and from around the world to debate and tackle head on the issues of the day. Fiction events include Authors Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves on the evocation of place in their writing; Joanne Harris on the 25th anniversary of her book Chocolat; Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, talking to Peter Stott about her new book, The Book of Fire and Maureen Freely talking about her latest book, My Blue Peninsula. There is also prize-winning Swedish historian and writer, Bengt Jangfeldt, speaking about Swedish geniuses in Tsarist Russia, and Guido Alfani on the history of the rich in the West as part of the programme of Italian literature and culture. Lord Professor Paul Bew and novelist Paul Lynch head the festival’s programme of Irish Literature and culture. This year’s recipient of the Bodleian Libraries highest accolade, the Bodley Medal is the author and playwright Ali Smith.




In the US, results from Lee & Low’s 2023 ‘Diversity Baseline’ survey of the publishing workforce have been released, finding the industry ‘has made incremental gains in broadening its workforce since the survey was introduced in 2015’, according to Publishers Weekly. Lee & Low said the survey went out to a much larger participant pool than previous surveys in 2015 and 2019, resulting in more varied responses, which may have impacted comparability of results with past surveys. The survey found that 72.5% of staff were white (down from 76% in 2019 and 79% in 2015); about 71% were cis women (down from 74% in 2019), while cis men made up about 21% (down from 23% in 2019); and people who are Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander/South Asian/Southeast Indian made up almost 8% of staff (up from 7% in 2019), Hispanic/Latino/Mexican staff 4.6% (down from 6% in 2019), and Black/African American/Afro Caribbean staff slightly over 5% (steady with 2019). The report also noted: ‘There continues to be an alarming lack of representation within the publishing workforce’ of American Indian/Alaskan Native/First Nations/Native American (0.1%) or Middle Eastern (0.5%) people.



The New York Times reports that a new book publisher with an unusual business model, a small footprint and an outsize pedigree that includes some of the biggest names in publishing has launched in the US. Contrary to the usual practice, Authors Equity won’t offer authors money upfront or guarantee them a payment — but it will give them “the lion’s share” of any profit that is made.



Music streaming platform Spotify has announced a new subscription category ‘for literary enthusiasts who are looking for more audiobook-specific content’. The new audiobooks access tier, available only in the US for now, costs US$9.99 per month and gives subscribers 15 hours of audiobook access, but does not include ad-free music access. For US$10.99 per month, subscribers receive ad-free music as well as 15 hours of audiobook listening. In announcing the new subscription option, Spotify said that since it launched its new category the business had ‘seen a 45% increase in free users searching for and interacting with audiobook content each day’.



In the UK, the longlist for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced. Among the longlisted titles are: Hangman by Maya Binyam; In Defence of the Act by Effie Black; The Wren, the Wren by Anne Enright, Restless Dolly Maunder by Kate Grenville, Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad, and Ordinary Human Failings by Megan Nolan. The 2024 longlist was chosen by judges Monica Ali (chair), Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ, Laura Dockrill, Indira Varma and Anna Whitehouse.



The shortlists for the 2024 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards have been announced and include: Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction (NZ$65,000) – Audition by Pip Adam; A Better Place by Stephen Daisley; Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton; Lioness by Emily Perkins. General Nonfiction Award (NZ$12,000) – An Indigenous Ocean: Pacific essays by Damon Salesa; Laughing at the Dark: A memoir by Barbara Else; Ngātokimatawhaorua: The biography of a waka by Jeff Evans; There’s a Cure for This: A memoir by Emma Espiner. The winners, including the four Mātātuhi Foundation Best First Book Awards recipients, will be announced on 15 May during the 2024 Auckland Writers Festival.



American author Kathryn Scanlan has won this year’s Gordon Burn prize for her “desperately consumable” novel about horse training. Kick the Latch is based on a series of interviews with Sonia, a horse trainer from the midwest. The novel is “a thundering achievement, liberated from hard lines of genre and form by a laser-focus on not just excavation, but building of voice,” said judging chair and journalist Terri White. Scanlan said it is “a thrill and an honour to receive this prize, which is unique in its recognition of work that plays with form, style and genre”. The prize recognises fiction and nonfiction books that “push boundaries, cross genres and challenge readers’ expectations” and that show an “affinity with the spirit and sensibility” of Burn’s “literary methods”. Burn, who died in 2009, wrote 10 books including the novels Alma Cogan and Fullalove. More here



Taylor Swift is related to Emily Dickinson, genealogy company

Ancestry.com reveals. It says the singer and poet are sixth cousins, three times removed, both descended from a 17th-century English immigrant. More here



En agosto nos vemos, the posthumous novel by Gabriel García Márquez, was presented yesterday. The writer’s children and the director of Penguin Random House launched the book that the Colombian Nobel Prize winner left unpublished before his death a decade ago at the Cervantes Institute in Madrid. It arrives tomorrow in bookstores throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and in English next week (Until August). Some critics are seeing its publication as an ‘act of betrayal’ by the author’s children as it was his wish that it should be destroyed. Read about that here



Writers reflect on rereading as discovery of new worlds in familiar pages (in Spanish).


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You can explore more content via the association’s website here and discuss topics in the forum with other member festivals here.