Books Weekly News Digest – February 13th 2015

Books Weekly News Digest – February 13th 2015

Folio Prize 2015 Shortlist Announced

Books from across the globe have made it onto The Folio Prize 2015 shortlist, announced earlier this week. Judges read a total of 80 books published in 2014 before narrowing the list down to their top eight. Novels, short stories and poetry all feature on the final list.

On the shortlist is Scottish writer Ali Smith for How to be Both, a book which won the 2014 Costa Novel Award and Goldsmiths Prize for original fiction. Smith is joined by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín – Nora Webster; Indian writer Akhil Sharma – Family Life; Kenyan writer Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor – Dust; and Canadian-born Rachel Cusk – Outline. Completing the list are American novelists Jenny Offill – Dept. of Speculation and Ben Lerner 10:04 along with Canadian writer Miriam Toews – All My Puny Sorrows.

Now in its second year, the prize is open to English-language writers from any country, with works accepted in all genres and forms. The inaugural prize last year was won by American author George Saunders for his short story collection, Tenth of December.

William Fiennes, chair of the judging panel, said the shortlist is the “result of months of reading and hours of passionate conversation.” Commenting on the books, he said they “explore vast themes – time, loss, belonging, war, solitude, marriage and family, the making and the mystery of art – with amazing vitality and grace.”

The £40,000 prize will be awarded at a ceremony held on the 23rd of March.

BBC Changes Ending To Rowling’s The Causal Vacancy

The BBC, which has adapted JK Rowling’s bestselling novel The Casual Vacancy into a television mini-series, revealed that it has changed the ending because it is too “grim”. Sarah Phelps, screenwriter for the drama, said the adaptation needed to include “some kind of redemptive moment at the end of it all.” Talking to the Radio Times, she said that “what works in a novel doesn’t always work on screen.”

The plot is set in the fictitious West Country town of Pagford, where a community is in conflict over a vacant position on the parish council. The novel explores themes such as poverty, child neglect and domestic abuse. The series features Sir Michael Gambon and Keeley Hawes and begins this Sunday at 9pm on BBC1.

Do you think the BBC should have changed the ending to The Casual Vacancy?

NLT Raises £75,000 At Auction

The National Literacy Trust (NLT) held a charity auction earlier this week and raised a staggering £75,000 for its work in boosting literacy rates among children. The event was hosted by Private Eye editor Ian Hislop and items up for sell included a writing workshop with Anthony Horowitz, a signed pair of football boots from Frank Lampard and original artwork from The Gruffalo.

The auction was attended by the Duchess of Cambridge, who is Patron of the NLT, as well as children’s laureate Malorie Blackman. Authors Cressida Cowell, Charlie Higson and Lauren Child were also at the event. Jonathon Douglas, director of the NLT, said the money raised will “go towards supporting our work in making a difference in the UK’s poorest communities, raising levels and literacy and opening up new opportunities.”

Melissa Rivers Writes Memoir About Her Mother

Melissa Rivers has written a memoir about her mum, the late comedian Joan Rivers, entitled The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation. According to Rivers’ publisher, Crown Archetype, the book “will share funny, poignant, and irreverent observations, thoughts, and tales about the woman who raised her.”

Joan Rivers was an actress, writer, producer and television host, most famed for her often controversial comedic personality. She died last September after suffering complications during a throat operation.

The book will be published on the 5th of May.

South African Novelist André Brink Dies Aged 79

South African novelist André Brink has died at the age of 79 after falling ill during a flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town. The author was best known for his 1979 novel A Dry White Season, which was adapted into a film. His other works include Philida, which was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2012, and Looking on Darkness.

Brink was a key member in the 1960s Die Sestigers Afrikaans literary movement. At the time of his death, he was working as a literature professor at the University of Cape Town.

Marvel Unveils All-Female Avengers Team

For the very first time, Marvel has unveiled an all-female Avengers team who will be helping to “fight the good” from May this year after the current Avengers separate during Marvel’s Secret Wars. The comic book series, called A-Force, will feature characters such as She-Hulk, Dazzler, Medusa and all-new hero, Singularity. The books are penned by Marguerite K. Bennett and G. Willow Wilson, and illustrated by Jorge Molina.

According to the publisher’s website, A-Force “re-imagines the Marvel Universe in one of the largest shake-ups to the Avengers mythos.”

Are you a fan of Marvel? What do you think of the all-female line-up?

Which stories were you most interested in this week?