Phillip Pullman confirms His Dark Materials 'equal'

Phillip Pullman

To the delight of His Dark Materials fans, Phillip Pullman has confirmed that a "companion" trilogy to his HDM series is on the way - and that the first title in The Book of Dust is set for publication on October 19th! Needless to say we here at W&M are pretty chuffed about that, and we're sure we're not alone. 

The new trilogy is being referred to as a 'companion' series by the author. But Pullman is also referring to them as an 'equal'. In speaking to American National Public Radio (NPR) Editor, Glen Weldon, Pullman explained his reasoning:

The story begins before His Dark Materials and continues after it...You don't have to read it before... this is another story that comes after it, so it's not a sequel, and it's not a prequel, it's an equal.

A little bit of semantic linguistics required, but the new trilogy will be set before and after the events of Northern Lights, The amber Spyglass and The Subtle Knife. We also know some additional details. Like, as The Book of Dust title suggests, that the bookswill explore the dust particle featured in His Dark Materials

That's what I really wanted to explore in this new work. More about the nature of Dust, and consciousness, and what it means to be a human being.

Of course Pullman's series is in part so well-regarded because of the parallels we see between his narrative and the real world; because of the raw connection he conjures between readers and characters. We feel confident that will continue (indeed Lyra Belacqua and "an ordinary boy" will feature in the new series), but ultimately we're really looking forward to getting stuck into another Pullman trilogy!

Some additional thoughts to finish with:

  • Hear from Pullman himself via this clip from BBC Radio 4 Today, and read a little more at NPR here.
  • Not much reference to Pullman's 'other' His Dark Materials titles - Once Upon a Time in the North and Lyra's Oxford - doing the rounds. However, both are excellent extensions pf the HDM series and well worth your time!

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Editions Launched

Yep, these are some smart books.

Yep, these are some smart books.

Exciting news for Harry Potter fans and book collectors everywhere. Bloomsbury has announced 20th anniversary editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone will be published in June. And, as the rather smart image suggests, there'll be four versions.

Yes, four versions - one for each Hogwarts houses - so if you fancy yourself Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or Hufflepuff you can treat yourself. It's excellent marketing (well done Bloomsbury), but also a really nice idea. Honestly we'll be shocked if the Gryffindor books doesn't outsell the others. Yet we do live in strange times. Perhaps there'll be an upset though...with err, Slytherin? 

Let's just take a moment to look at those books and say "ohhh". Smart jackets/covers (it's hard to tell at this point) and sprayed edges is a strong look. And a little extra detail: paperback versions will reverse the colour theme and feature single-sprayed edges. Again, the start of June is when the 20th anniversary books will be available, so perfect gifts for Harry Potter fans celebrating around that time - be careful with version choice though.

Following on from the news, it's probably reasonable to expect follow-up 20th anniversary editions for the other six Harry Potter novels. So perhaps each novel will get a similar treatment in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2023, 2025, and 2027. 

Blimey, enough talk of the future - our heads are spinning more than (nope, couldn't bring ourselves to do a Potter pun).

'The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales' wins Polari First Book prize

Kirsty Logan's The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales has won the Polari First Book prize. The annual award selects the 'very best debut books that explore the LGBT experience', and selects an overall winner from a shortlist of five titles. Logan's The Rental Heart... is described by publisher Salt Publishing thus:

Read More

New Man Booker International Prize - more great translations?

The Man Booker International Prize is to merge with the Foreign Fiction Prize, in what seems to be a second democratic prize-based story of the day. The merger sees the Man Booker International keep it's name, but be awarded annually rather than every other year from 2016.

Not only will this mean greater continuity for the award, but it also ensures a regular tribute to brilliant translated work, and a constant reminder of how much...just isn't translated.

The £50,000 award for the winning title is to take on the marvellous sensibilities of the Foreign Fiction Prize, being shared equally between both the author and translator. Shortlisted authors and translators will also receive £1,000 each, and to us that seems like a sensible bit of parity and a fine merging of ideals.

Fiammetta Rocco, administrator of the Man Booker International Prize, has a goal in mind than simply shared monies though, telling The Bookseller, "What we are hoping is that this prize is going to encourage publishers to get more work translated and get more work published in Britain".

A mere 3% of the titles published in the UK and America on a yearly basis are translated. About that, and the merger itself, Jonathan Taylor, chair of the Man Booker Foundation, has said:

One of the persistent observations of Man Booker International Prize judges has been that a substantial body of important literary fiction has not been translated into English. We very much hope that this reconfiguration of the prize will encourage a greater interest and investment in translation.

We hope so too. Greater amounts of great fiction being read by a wider audience can only be positive. What's more, after the revelation today that Caine Prize winner Namwali Serpell wants to share her prize money, the story has left us feeling even more positive about the book industry. There seems a clear movement towards knowledge, entertainment, credit, and more books for all.

Something we certainly support.

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The 2015 Man Booker International Prize was won by László Krasznahorkai.

Foyles's selection of his works is here.

Or shop locally with Hive here.

Namwali Serpell wins Caine Prize - shares sum

Congratulations to Zambian writer Namwali Serpell, who has won the Caine Prize - awarded annually to an outstanding African short story author writing in English. Serpell's story, The Sack, was selected from a shortlist of six stories as "a truly luminous winner", yet Serpell wasn't content to simply accept the award and the attached prize of £10,000 for herself.

At the Bodleian Library, Oxford, event last night, Serpell vowed to share the sum with her fellow shortlisted writers, each of whom formally receive £500.

Chair of judges Zoë Wicomb says The Sack, in which two men who live together love the same woman, "yields fresh meaning with every reading. Adding that it is, "stunning, haunting and enigmatic."

But while the praise is well-deserved, Serpell clearly feels the award should be better spread.

Speaking to the BBC, the author told that her decision to share the prize awarded was "an act of mutiny", clearly intended to highlight the community support of authors over elevation of individuals.

Something which, as Ms Serpell clearly feels in a position to do, we can only praise her for.

I wanted to change the structure of the prize. It is very awkward to be placed into this position of competition with other writers that you respect immensely and you feel yourself put into a sort of American idol or race-horse situation when actually, you all want to support each other."

Frankly, we say bravo, and have nothing but respect for that!

The Caine Prize powers-that-be have marvellously made The Sack available to read just here (it's a powerful 13 pages). And below you'll find details of the shortlisted runners up.

Enjoy!

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  • Segun Afolabi (Nigeria) for “The Folded Leaf” in Wasafiri (Wasafiri, London, 2014) Caine Prize winner 2005 for “Monday Morning” Read "The Folded Leaf"
  • Elnathan John (Nigeria) for “Flying” in Per Contra (Per Contra, International, 2014) Shortlisted in 2013 for “Bayan Layi”Read "Flying"
  • F. T. Kola (South Africa) for “A Party for the Colonel” in One Story (One Story, inc. Brooklyn, New York City, 2014) Read "A Party for the Colonel"
  • Masande Ntshanga (South Africa) for “Space” in Twenty in 20 (Times Media, South Africa, 2014) Read "Space".

Foyles offers Go Set A Watchman 'First Chance'

Foyles doesn't mess about when it comes to book events. And the company is staying true to form with a midnight event celebrating the arrival of Go Set A Watchman.

Harper Lee's new novel, the follow up to the classic To Kill A Mockingbird, is released on July 14th. And Deep South music, drink and joy will be on hand at Foyles' Central London Charing Cross store.

From 11pm on the 13th until 1am on the 14th, Foyles is opening up the ground floor of the store to Mockingbird fans, live music from Fumi Okiji's Old Time Jazz Band, and early purchasing of Lee's much-anticipated title!

Oh, and attendees will be entered into a draw for a £100 Foyles giftcard and a free copy of Lee's new book. Even better, the event's completely free! You'll need to reserve a place, but you can do that here.

Do you know, we're half-tempted ourselves..

Harry Potter Book Night to return in 2016

If you're a fan of Harry Potter, or perhaps your friends, children, niblings or other relatives are then this is one for you. Bloomsbury Book's 'Harry Potter Book Night' is set to return next year on February 4th, bringing wordy wizardry many are fond of.

This year saw 10,500 parties and events held in the night's honour, with schools, libraries, town and community halls and bookshops all playing their part.

What is Harry Potter Book Night? A celebration of JK Rowling's Harry Potter world. A chance to meet, read, discuss and enjoy.

But more than that, it's a chance to introduce the books to new readers and - we'd hope - inspire them to read widely and willingly. After all, as great as the Harry Potter books may be, there are plenty of great authors out there for all.

Still, if JK Rowling's series is the start of a staggering book-thirst that's not exactly a bad thing.

Anyway, if you want to hear more about events going on near you - or you may want to hold one of your own - head here. Happy...potter-ing.

Grey breaks first-week record

Previously we reported that not everyone was particularly happy with E.L James' latest addition to the Fifty Shades... series. Professional critics and readers alike had some not all too flattering things to say. But that appears to have done very little to prevent the title doing more than smashing Amazon's kindle pre-order record.

Earlier this week Cornerstone, an imprint of Random House, revealed that Grey was proving phenomenally popular and the figures prove it. Now industry sales aficionado, Nielsen, has confirmed it.

In its first three days, Grey sold 647,401 copies in all formats. That beats the previous *five-day* record, held by Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol by some 96,400 units - handing Grey the largest ever UK first-week sales for an adult book. In the US, the title has sold approximately 1.1 million copies.

Of course there have been suggestions there was little in the new title to even warrant its publication. But with new content pined for by fans (and what with it being about a second view of events) that may be somewhat missing the point. The proof, as they say, is in the industry-standard book sales statistics.

Well done E.L James.

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has now sold 125 million copies worldwide, and Grey looks as though it might continue that trend.

Grey smashes record, faces criticism

Perhaps we have it within us to write bestsellers. And perhaps not... But even if we do, it's clear that such status doesn't guarantee undiluted affection of all works.

E.L James can certainly bear witness, having this week added to her phenomenally successful Fifty Shades... series with the release of Grey,Fifty Shades book narrated by Christian Grey.

Of course Fifty Shades was the best-selling book since records began, and its film adaptation became a hit at the box-office. The new title was expected to do well, and it seemed on course in becoming the top Kindle pre-order of 2015. However, reviews haven't exactly been gushing with praise for the title:

Jenny Colgan in The Guardian observed the crucial Anastasia-Christian love affair now seemed "...the twisted work of an utter psychopath", adding,

The first trilogy was a fantasy. This book is far more realistic – and creepy beyond belief.

Rebecca Reid, in the Telegraph, wrote that Grey suffers for uncovering that Christian Grey is:

...about a million different shades of sexist.

There is at least one positive professional view. Francesca Cookney of the Mirrorassures would-be readers that the title does progress James' characterisation and provide keener relationship insights:

We learn that his desire for her submission is less about his own control as it is wanting to be loved and trusted, and accepted. Does that make him less attractive? Hell no. In fact I think we’re all about to fall just a little bit more in love…”

Early consumers of the title aren't all convinced. Positive reviews outnumber the less enthusiastic three to one on Grey's Kindle page, but criticism includes it being a "money spinner" and a "waste of money". One reviewer, 'Jen', seems to capture a substantial portion of the mood, noting:

This is essentially FSOG but with lazy asides from Christian.

Oof. Others are more enthused, but the level of disappointment appears pertinent. So, yet-to-read Fifty Shades fans, be warned. For everyone else - for everyone really, we're inclusive - BuzzFeed's 'Can You Tell The Real “Grey” Quotes From The Fake Ones?' quiz[warning, includes some silly erotica] is a fine, fun, aside.