Returning from a month-long sojourn in the â€˜real worldâ€™ (a place I intend to visit as infrequently as possible), Iâ€™m off on a whirlwind virtual tour of four continents, sipping Chicken Soup for the soul in Pune, eyeing up â‚¬100,000 in Ireland and taking my time to notice the retirement of a literary colossus somewhere between France and the USâ€¦
Granta have turned to Brazil for the latest instalment in the â€˜Best of Young Novelistsâ€™ series. A century after the birth of Jorge Amado, Granta editor John Freeman introduced twenty of â€˜his [Amadoâ€™s, rather than Freemanâ€™s] vibrant offspringâ€™. Anyone unwilling to part with the Â£12.99 necessary to buy the magazine (and times are hard) should head for Grantaâ€™s New Writing blog. Yesterday, Adam Thirlwell introduced an excerpt from Michel Laubâ€™s â€˜Animalsâ€™, a short story written under the influence of BolaÃ±oâ€¦
News from the eleventh Pune Book Fair suggests that, however far you travel, itâ€™s impossible to escape the clutches of Dan Brown and his Da Vinci Code. The Indian Express lists Brown, Jeffrey Archer and â€˜various self-help books like the Chicken soup seriesâ€™ among the main attractions of the Pune Fair, which offers around 70,000 titles. Very soon, expect NASAâ€™s Curiosity rover to beam back the first images of remaindered Angels & Demons first editions littering the surface of Mars.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
The longlist for â€˜the worldâ€™s richest literary prizeâ€™, the International Impac Dublin Literary Award, contains a record-breaking number of Irish authors. If home advantage counted for anything in international literary awards (which it doesnâ€™t â€“ facing Colm TÃ³ibÃn in front of a Dublin jury is hardly comparable to facing Man United at Old Trafford), Sebastian Barry, Dermot Healy and six other home hopefuls would be on course for the â‚¬100,000 (roughly US$5, should the Euro Crisis drag on much longer) jackpot.
Philip Roth, for so many years the focus of â€˜why canâ€™t he win instead of these bloody foreigners?â€™ post-Nobel Prize whinging, has managed to announce his retirement without anybody noticing. Early in October, he told French magazine Les Inrocks that he was â€˜doneâ€™ and hadnâ€™t written anything for the last three years (miraculous, given that he published Nemesis at the end of 2010). Salon, the first English-language magazine on the case, finally succeeded in translating the interview late last week.