By Jacob Silkstone
A more or less topical journey around the literary world in 80-word segments, featuring cats, transatlantic grammatical confusion and a little light bondage…
The shortlist for this yearâ€™s Nobel Prize has been finalised, and the results areâ€¦ not available to the public for another 50 years. Based entirely on guesswork, Haruki Murakami (or Murakami Haruki, for those who possess strong views about transliterating from Japanese) is the current favourite, with Ladbrokes offering odds of 7/1. In many ways, Murakami is to highbrow literature what the creator of Lolcats is to the internet: a visionary populist with a disarming penchant for all things feline.
During his keynote speech at the Edinburgh World Writersâ€™ Conference, China MiÃ©ville grabbed a few headlines with his vision for the future of the novel. MiÃ©ville, who has been recommended to me as â€˜the best writer youâ€™ve never heard ofâ€™ with paradoxical regularity, scored a few cheap points against the â€˜Booker Middlebrowmageddonâ€™ before advocating literary mash-ups and â€˜guerrilla editorsâ€™ (gorilla editors would be fun, too): in the future, â€˜weâ€™ll be writing as part of a collective. As we always were.â€™
Florida-based author Padgett Powell was the winner of this yearâ€™s James Tait Black Prize for fiction, described as â€˜second to the Nobelâ€™â€¦ by Powellâ€™s â€˜literary motherâ€™. Confusingly, the winning novel is known as You & I in Britain and You & Me in the US, where â€˜Iâ€™ is presumably considered a little too verbose. The winner of the biography prize, meanwhile, is known as The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination in Britain and completely unknown everywhere else.
MEANWHILE, IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSEâ€¦
A former TV executive reads a series of books about sparkly vampires and is inspired to write something even worse. Knowing the secret of what women really want, she reworks a standard Mills & Boon plot (virgin naÃ¯ve enough to be shocked by Tess of the dâ€™Urbervilles meets enigmatic billionaire) and adds a bit of light spanking and a few toys. This becomes the fastest-selling book ever. And then we woke up and it was all just a hideous dreamâ€¦
The author is Poetry Editor and Book Critic for The Missing Slate.