Literary News

International Booker Prize shortlist announced and UK publishing celebrates a record year

International Booker Prize shortlist announced and UK publishing celebrates a record year

Festival News:

The Cambridge Literary Festival began on April 19th and features an exciting line-up of events in the coming days, including appearances authors Jacqueline Wilson, Cressida Cowell, Michael Morpurgo, and Eleanor Catton. On Saturday, April 22nd, visitors can attend events featuring Peter Wohlleben and Linton Kwesi Johnson’s poetry reading. The festival also offers a debate on the future of the British monarchy and an opportunity to have Afternoon Tea with authors Diana Evans and Rachel Joyce. On Sunday, April 23rd, there are several events, including talks by Tim Marshall and Rafael Behr. Andrew Marr will deliver a State of the Nation Lecture, and Sujit Sivasundaram will present his work on rethinking the concept of empire.


The Chipping Norton Literary Festival, featuring a lineup of amazing authors, is set to take place from April 27- 30. Among the events are “The World: A Family History” by Simon Sebag Montefiore, “Hags” by Sharon Blackie and Victoria Smith, “The Last Party” by Clare Mackintosh, and “Wished” by Lissa Evans. In addition to author talks and readings, the festival will also feature workshops, including “Negotiating the Publishing Process – A Masterclass” with Emma Flint and Jo Unwin and “Wild Writing” with Nicola Chester. Attendees can take part in a variety of events at different venues, including the Town Hall, the Library, and St. Mary’s Parish Rooms.


The  Singapore Book Council will be holding the 14th Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) from May 25–28, back as a fully in-person event after three years. It will run at the National Library and celebrate the theme “Play!”, featuring more than 100 local and international writers and speakers who will take part in over70 conference programmes across four days. Vietnam is the Country of Focus this year. GAoLF members can take advantage of a special partner discount, giving a 20% discount off all festival passes and events by using the promo code: AFCC23PRT at check-out.


The NGC Bocas Lit Fest is returning to Port of Spain with a lineup of renowned writers and performers. This year’s festival will feature literary workshops, performances, and seminars covering topics such as preservation, equality, and emerging writing talent. Notable authors and poets in attendance include Cherie Jones, Andre Bagoo, Shivanee Ramlochan, and Angelique V. Nixon, among others. The festival also includes a film lineup exploring Trinidad and Tobago’s literary and musical heritage, and an extempo debate by Dion Diaz and Black Sage.


The Stratford Literary Festival, which runs from 2-7 May, is a must-attend event for book lovers. The festival features over 72 events and famous guests like Dame Judi Dench, Brian Cox, Alexander Armstrong, Penelope Wilton, Ian Rankin, Marina Hyde, and many more. The festival offers something for everyone, from workshops to discussions on various topics, including history, politics, and literature. Some of the exciting events include the Writer’s Bootcamp Workshops, and talks by Edward Stourton, Alice Sherwood, Pam Ayres, and Ray Mears.


Booker Prize winner Shehan Karunatilaka, Women’s Prize winner Kamila Shamsie and Linton Kwesi Johnson are among the line-up for the 2023 Bradford Literature Festival (BLF), held between 23rd June and 2nd July. The festival is the largest literature festival in the north of England, featuring 500 events. Sebastian Faulks, Anita Rani, Sir Lenny Henry, Sir Michael Palin, Adam Kay, Lemn Sissay, Amanda Owen, Shaykh al-Yaqoubi, and Val McDermid will also be among the guests. The festival will feature a diverse range of topics and international guests, including calligrapher Haji Noor Deen from China and scholar Reza Aslan from Los Angeles. The festival’s founder and director, Syima Aslam, said inclusivity is at the heart of everything they do, providing a platform for marginalised voices that might otherwise go unheard. More.


A story about literary festivals around the world, including some GAoLF festivals, are mentioned in this lovely article.


Book News:

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been criticized by 12 MEPs from European countries, including France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal, over the arrest of French foreign rights manager Ernest Moret. The French publisher was interrogated by UK counter-terrorism officers while on route to the London Book Fair, allegedly over his attendance in the retirement age protests and writing about recent events in France. The MEPs called the police’s actions an “abuse of anti-terrorism” and “outrageous and unjustifiable infringements of basic principles of freedom of expression,” and have urged the French government to address its role in the affair. More

The International Publishers Association (IPA) has announced the shortlist for its 2023 Prix Voltaire, which recognises publishers who have made significant contributions to freedom to publish. The shortlisted publishers are from Egypt, Iraq, Ireland, Pakistan, and Turkey. The IPA Prix Voltaire recognises publishers who have published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment from governments, other authorities, or private interests. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record of upholding the values of freedom to publish and freedom of expression. The winner will be announced at the World Expression Forum in Lillehammer on May 22.

The UK publishing industry has reported a record-breaking year in 2022, with 669m physical books sold in the UK last year, according to new figures from the Publishers Association.

English PEN’s award for sample translations, PEN Presents, has shortlisted 13 titles from 10 languages and 13 territories for its second round. The shortlisted projects, which include novels, short stories, and a graphic novel, will receive grants to create 5,000-word samples as part of PEN Present’s goal to fund sample translation work. The PEN Presents Selection Panel, which consists of seven experts from the literary sector, elected to award an additional project due to the exceptional quality of the proposals. Six samples will be chosen from the shortlist to be showcased on the PEN Presents platform, with editorial support from English PEN and promotion to UK publishers.

Scheduled for June 8th, Empathy Day 2023 will feature renowned authors and illustrators such as Cressida Cowell, Chris Riddell, and Jacqueline Wilson, who will participate in “Mission Empathy activities” aimed at promoting empathy.

The International Booker Prize shortlist includes translated novels for the first time from Bulgarian and Catalan, as well as the oldest-ever shortlisted author, Maryse Condé. The list of six novels also includes the debut of former undocumented student GauZ’ and Guadalupe Nettel’s Still Born. Nielsen BookScan UK research also found translated fiction to be growing in popularity, with 1.9 million books sold in the UK in 2022. Younger readers under 35 years old accounted for almost half of all translated fiction purchases, and buyers of translated fiction were 48% male. The largest group of translated fiction buyers in 2022 was those aged 25 to 34. more

Sandra Lim, an American poet with three published collections, has won the $85,000 Jackson Poetry Prize for exceptional talent. The award was announced by Poets & Writers, a nonprofit organization that supports writers. More

Elliot Mintz, a close friend and insider of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, will publish a memoir next year chronicling his experiences with the famous couple. The book, which is currently untitled, will be released by US publisher Dutton and UK publisher Transworld. Mintz, a spokesperson and radio and television host, has worked on various Lennon-Ono projects and has also represented other high-profile celebrities such as Bob Dylan and Paris Hilton. More

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai is writing a new memoir, which is yet to be titled and does not have a release date. The book is being published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Yousafzai’s previous book, I Am Malala, sold millions of copies worldwide, and the new memoir is described as a “breath-taking story of recovery and search for identity.” The book will explore Yousafzai’s life in the public spotlight and her personal growth since surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban when she was a teenager.

Anne Perry, the best-selling crime novelist known for her Thomas Pitt and William Monk detective series, has died at age 84. She published more than 100 books, often set in Victorian England, with notable works including the novels Death of a Stranger, Buckingham Palace Gardens and one scheduled for September, The Traitor Among Us. However, her life was also marked by a notorious murder committed when she was a teenager. More here

Warner Bros. Discovery announced that it will produce a “Harry Potter” series and a “Game of Thrones” prequel for its rebranded Max streaming service. The Harry Potter series will focus on each of the seven books, while the “Game of Thrones” prequel, called “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight,” will follow the adventures of a knight and Aegon V Targaryen 100 years prior to the events of “Game of Thrones.” Other announcements included a series based on the Penguin character in “The Batman” and a comedy set in the “Big Bang Theory” universe.

A conservative advocacy group, Moms for Liberty, challenged and succeeded in removing the graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary from a high school library in Vero Beach, Florida, claiming that it minimized the Holocaust. The school principal agreed with the objection, and the book was removed, although other books about Anne Frank and copies of her published diary remain in the school system’s libraries. Moms for Liberty also objected to three books in the “Assassination Classroom” series, which were also removed. The American Library Association reported last month that there were more than 1,200 demands to censor library books last year in the U.S.

At a memorial service held in Southwark cathedral, Hilary Mantel’s literary agent revealed that the acclaimed author was working on a “mashup” of Jane Austen novels before her sudden death last September. The unfinished novel, Provocation, was read at the service, along with tributes from friends and colleagues, including Mark Rylance and Ben Miles. Mantel’s family asked attendees to make donations to Scene and Heard, a charity that uses theatre to benefit children, in lieu of flowers. More

The Society of Authors has launched a new campaign, called Tree to Me, to help writers hold publishers accountable for sustainability in the publishing industry. The campaign aims to give authors more say in reducing the environmental impact of physical books, including the manufacture of paper, transportation, and the use of chemicals. Tree to Me sets out 10 questions authors should ask their publishers around sustainability, covering topics including which materials are used in book production and packaging, and finding out which sources of energy are consumed. The Society of Authors is also a founding partner in the Sustainability Industry Forum.

A survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip) has revealed that a third of UK librarians have been asked by members of the public to censor or remove books, with an increase in requests in recent years. Books covering topics such as empire, race, and LGBTQ+ themes are the most targeted. 82% of librarians are concerned about the increase in such requests. Cilip is updating the national guidance for librarians in managing stock, spaces, events, and activities in response to the findings. Books have increasingly become a part of the culture wars, with librarians facing threats and conflicts over book stock.


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