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Posts Tagged ‘A. S. Byatt’

A.S. Byatt Shows ‘Immediacy and Heart’ in ‘The Children’s Book’

Reviewed by Clea Simon
Read more about GalleyCat Reviews

byatt.jpgWe writers are cannibals. We sink our teeth into the humanity surrounding us, ripping off chunks for what we need. Even as we change names and alter situations, we are feeding on life around us. It’s inevitable; it’s who we are.

How terrible, then, the crimes of a mother who writes and writes, and uses all about her as fodder. A self-made author who has managed to escape poverty largely through the success of her fiction and who gifts her children with their own personal fables, which expand from year to year. How inevitable and awful, then, as she draws upon these stories, her children’s books, to feed both her family and her creative impulses, turning a blind eye to the cost as the world around her becomes both more open and more fierce.

Such is the core tragedy at the heart of A.S. Byatt‘s The Children’s Book, a remarkable novel that manages to examine the nature of creativity, family, society, and a dozen other topics at the dawning of the modern age. At 688 pages, the book isn’t a light read and has more (and less obvious) layers than her 1990 Booker Award winner, Possession. But it is a hypnotically compelling work, mixing ideas and history with characters of immediacy and heart.

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Man Booker Dozen Announced

manbooker2009.jpgThe Booker Prize Foundation has announced the 13-author “Man Booker Dozen” longlist for the 2009 edition of the £50,000 literary prize. Last year Aravind Adiga won the annual prize for “The White Tiger.”

Here’s a statement from James Naughtie, judicial chair: “The five Man Booker judges have settled on thirteen novels as the longlist for this year’s prize. We believe it to be one of the strongest lists in recent memory, with two former winners, four past-shortlisted writers, three first-time novelists and a span of styles and themes that make this an outstandingly rich fictional mix.”

Here are a few of the nominees, full list follows after the jump…
A.S. Byatt “The Children’s Book”
J.M. Coetzee “Summertime”
Adam Foulds “The Quickening Maze”
Sarah Hall “How to paint a dead man”

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Publishing Leaders Ponder Epic Fall Lists

9781594202247L.jpgWith big novels from Audrey Niffenegger, Thomas Pynchon, Richard Russo, A. S. Byatt, and many, many more big-name writers, the fall 2009 release schedule reads like a contemporary literature syllabus from 2019.

In a short essay, the NY Observer ponders the pros and cons of building this magical list in the middle of a deep, dark recession. If you want to find out more about upcoming titles, GalleyCat interviewed a number of writers about their favorite upcoming books, including a chat with Salman Rushdie.

Here’s a choice quote from Sterling Lord Literistic agent Ira Silverberg, from the article: “All these books are coming out in three months, and there’s overlap in their core audiences. Also, these are hardcover books– at 25 to 30 dollars! That’s tough.”

O. Henry Prize Stories Partners with PEN American Center

9780307280350.gifIn a new partnership with the Pen American Center, the Anchor Books imprint announced that the annual “O. Henry Prize Stories” anthology as the “PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories.”

The collection has been published since 1919. This year’s contest will be judged by A. S. Byatt, Anthony Doerr, and Tim O’Brien, culling winners from thousands of short stories.

Here’s more from the release: “The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009 is studded with great writers such as Junot Diaz, Nadine Gordimer, Ha Jin, and Paul Theroux, as well as new voices. The winning stories feature locales as diverse as post-war Vietnam, a retirement community in Cape Town, South Africa, an Egyptian desert village, and a permanently darkened New York City.” (Via NYT)