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Posts Tagged ‘Lionel Shriver’

Beth Lamb Named Associate Publisher at Vintage Anchor

A number of publishing organizations have announced new hires this past week.

Beth Lamb will move from Rodale to Random House’s Vintage Anchor imprint as vice president and associate publisher. She will report to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group executive vice president Anne Messitte.

Seale Ballenger will jump from Zola Books to Disney Publishing Worldwide. Ballenger will begin in his new role as publicity director on July 8, 2013.

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Welcome To The 2010 National Book Awards


Good evening from the 61st National Book Awards. While we await who will be the winner, we got the scoop on some of the favorites.

While no one knows yet who might win, book bloggers, journalists and publishing folks had their eyes on a couple titles. Here is a list of the top three fiction books being buzzed about:

Lionel Shriver’s So Much For That, a Harper book

Nicole Krauss’s Great House, a W.W. Norton & Company book

Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel, a Coffee House Press book

Ron Charles Reviews 5 Fiction Books in 5 Minutes

In his video series, “Totally Hip Book Review,” Washington Post fiction editor Ron Charles reviewed the five fiction finalists in the National Book Awards’ fiction category in less than five minutes. Warning: spoilers follow!

Charles devoted 44 seconds to Jaimy Gordon‘s Lord of Misrule,  a book set for November 15th release. He exclaimed: “Secret unpublished books? Those bookworm conspiracy theorists will be spinning in their cocoons!” Charles featured books with the same title, like  Rachel Caine‘s fifth Morganville Vampire novel, Kannan Feng‘s fantasy novel, and actor Christopher Lee‘s biography.

The other finalists received about 30 seconds apiece. Charles picked Lionel Shriver‘s So Much for That as the winner. Charles also noted that popular titles such as Gary Shteyngart‘s Super Sad Love Story and Jennifer Egan‘s A Visit from the Goon Squad were snubbed.

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Lionel Shriver Exposes “Something Unwholesome” About Creative Writing MFA Programs

Novelist and MFA-graduate Lionel Shriver gave her candid opinion about higher level writing courses in an interview with Big Think last week. Watch the video embedded above to find out what she thought.

The author of So Much for That expressed some reservations about writing programs, despite the fact she has studied and taught writing. What do you think?

Here’s an excerpt from the interview: “it does have a kind of indulgence, middle-class gestalt. The grim truth is that most people who get MFAs will not go on to be professional writers … My husband is a jazz drummer and he has the same sense of queasiness about teaching jazz drumming. There’s more of a career in teaching jazz than there is in playing it right now and so at the very best, most of the students are going to go on to become jazz instructors. So there’s something a little corrupt in that, something unwholesome. And I share his discomfort in participating in it.”

Shriver Takes UK TV Diet to Task

The Scotsman reports that Lionel Shriver has condemned British TV for patronizing its audience and broadcasting an endless diet of property and weight-loss programs and cruel game shows. In a speech to the Edinburgh International Television Festival, the bestselling author of WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD said BBC 1 and BBC 2, ITV, Channel 4 and Five were all guilty of underestimating viewers.

Shriver warned that the focus on celebrities provided an “Orwellian distraction” from more important issues. Her attack followed criticism of television standards by Jeremy Paxman earlier in the festival. “The biggest mistake contemporary television makes is to patronise viewers. Your viewers are smarter, more sophisticated and hungrier for real information than you might think,” she said. “It used to be that the contrast between engaging British television and the trash on American TV was shocking. Now the similarity is shocking.”

They Think They Need to Talk About Shriver

In this week’s Telegraph, Mark Sanderson opens his literary life column with a rather snarky bit about Lionel Shriver and her latest novel, THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD. “HarperCollins must be regretting their decision to fork out 500,000 pounds to Shriver,” Sanderson writes, pointing out that the novel has sold a mere 2,500 copies in the UK – “That works out to 100 pounds for each book.” Except that Sanderson misstates his facts just a bit. That hefty advance? It was for World English rights, which also includes the US sale to HarperCollins – where THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD was a New York Times bestseller for several weeks. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily translate into mondo sales, but with the paperback due out next year in both territories, it’s safe to say that HarperCollins US and UK aren’t quaking in their boots over the conclusion of this 2-book deal as well as the next one Shriver inked in early April.

Michiko Likes Fiction Again!

A few months ago I did an impromptu search through the New York Times archives to find empirical evidence that lead book critic Michiko Kakutani has, indeed, developed a distaste for fiction. And for all of 2006, the only two novels she liked were Dana Spiotta‘s EAT THE DOCUMENT and Dave Eggers‘ WHAT IS THE WHAT. But 2007 must be a better year already because Michiko’s in a much better reviewing mood of late: this month alone, she’s alloted rave reviews (you know it’s a rave when “stunning” and “dazzling” are overused) to Richard Flanagan’s THE UNKNOWN TERRORIST and Michael Chabon‘s THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION. Earlier, she had good things to say about Lionel Shriver‘s THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD (about “an idiosyncratic yet recognizable heroine about whom it’s impossible not to care”) Lauren Fox‘s STILL LIFE WITH HUSBAND (“a delightful new voice in American fiction”) and Martin Amis‘s THE HOUSE OF MEETINGS (“arguably his most powerful book yet”). Of course, the crank-meter was still way high for reviews of books by Yasmina Reza, Howard Norman and Jane Smiley, but even in those pieces the vitriol seemed somewhat muted.

What’s going on? Could Michiko be changing her tune about fiction? Is her editor giving her better books to read? Because this happy critic mood is a little unnerving, frankly…

Shriver’s Fine Line Between Writing and Reviewing

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Anyone who reviews books, wants to review books or works with books are well advised to read Lionel Shriver‘s essay in Saturday’s Telegraph. There she lays bare the conundrum of being a fiction writer reviewing other people’s fiction – and the trouble she will probably fall into as a result. “Were I to believe in karma – or in the equivalent Western aphorism that what goes around comes around – in preparation for my own UK book release this month I’d have been filing only fawning review copy for the past year,” Shriver declares. “Instead, I recently slashed two novels [Norman Mailer's THE CASTLE IN THE FOREST and Graham Swift's TOMORROW] to ribbons.”

Shriver’s dramatic exhortations give way for a most focused assessment on the difficulties of reviewing: keeping personal opinion separate from the professional, karmic payback in the form of prize-judging and the like. And from a gossipy standpoint there’s this choice item:

Moreover, if a writer has once alienated the affections of a heavy-hitting critic, subsequent publications don’t have a prayer. (The professional critic Jonathan Yardley – a humourless man, I discovered too late – despised my sixth novel. After a brief email exchange that went off the rails, he dispensed with the artificial distinction between author and book and now unabashedly despises me. If Yardley ever gets his mitts on one of my novels again, I am toast in the Washington Post.) The current system used by most review sections in this country – of rolling the dice anew with every release – does give writers, statistically, a fighting chance.

Alas, even prize-winning, highly acclaimed writers let emotions get the better of them in engaging critics by email. So if you’re thinking of doing that, well, ever? Please, don’t.

Lionel Shriver’s Hard Choices

Sarah Lyall at the New York Times sits down with Lionel Shriver in her South London home as reviews pour in for the Orange Prize winner’s latest novel, THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD. And even if the literary world doesn’t quite know what to make of Shriver – who grabbed headlines with her declaration that she did want to win the prize – Shriver makes no excuses or apologies. “I’m as capable as anyone of manipulative self-deprecation,” she said. “It’s obviously a ploy, but I don’t think it’s an obligation. I do think I have the reputation increasingly as someone who is insufferably arrogant. I don’t want to be.”

Nor did she want to remain obscure, as her first six novels were published but didn’t sell well (things might be a different story as Serpent’s Tail, her UK publisher, prepares to republish some of her backlist titles.) The new book – which is, to my mind, brilliant – explores the parallel tracks of a woman choosing between two different men, a scenario Shriver drew from her own life. “There was more than one moment that I could have gone either way,” she said about leaving a longtime partner to marry jazz drummer Jeff Williams. “I know what it’s like to be on the knife edge and to have this inkling that whichever way you go it’s going to have huge implications.”

The same goes for her writing career, no matter how hard it got. “I find it more narratively appealing than instant success. I paid my dues. I did not write a novel at 21 and it sells a million copies and everybody thinks I’m brilliant and I’m on TV. That did not happen to me. I’m glad. Looking back I didn’t feel glad all those years. But if I was going to pick my own story, I might have picked this one.”