Costa Book Awards: Book of the Year

Amazon cover link Andrew Miller has been awarded the Costa Book Awards 2011, Book of the Year for his novel Pure. Selected from the finalists in five categories – First Novel award, Novel award, Biography award, Poetry award and Children’s Book award – Andrew Miller received the prize of £30,000. This is his sixth novel, and is set in Paris in 1785 just before the French Revolution, with the narrative built around a young engineer, ordered to demolish Paris’s oldest cemetery (Saints Innocents Cemetery) and all that this entails, such as exhumation of the bodies buried there. (For background on the story, read this Guardian article, and this Wikipedia article about Paris’s Catacombs for some extra historical detail.)

Tiny sunbirds, far away by Christie Watson was awarded the Costa First Novel Award.

Science Fiction and Fantasy writer Anne McCaffrey dies

Syndetics book coverAnne McCaffrey has died aged 85. Born in America in 1926, she emigrated to Ireland in 1970. Creator of the hugely popular Pern series of books about a symbiotic relationship between dragons and humans, she was the first woman writer to receive both the Hugo Award for Best Novella in 1968 and the Nebula Award for Best Novella in 1969. Both these awards were for stories that began the Dragonriders of Pern series. She had published 52 novels since 1967 and co-authored 28 works, with authors such as Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Jody Lynn Nye and her son Todd McCaffrey. Her novel, The White Dragon published in 1979, was the first science fiction book to be placed on the New York Times bestseller list.

Costa book awards shortlists announced

The Costa book awards are divided into 5 categories, fiction, first novel, biography, poetry and children’s book. There are four shortlisted writers in each category. The winner of each will be announced on 4th January 2010, and the overall winner (who will receive £30,000) will be announced on 24th January 2012.

In the fiction category, the selected shortlist comprises of:

The shortlisted writers for the other categories can be found at Costa Book Awards.


Winner of the 2011 Mann Booker Prize announced

Syndetics book coverThe sense of an ending by Julian Barnes has been awarded the 2011 Mann Booker Prize, from a short list of six authors. He received a cheque for £50,000 for this his first novel in six years. He was shortlisted three other times, in 1984 for Flaubert’s Parrot, 1998 for England, England, and in 2005 for Arthur and George. His first novel Metroland was published in 1980. He lives in London.

Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award

Edna O’Brien was recently announced winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for 2011 with her new collection of short stories, titled Saints and Sinners. Chosen from six shortlisted collections that included works by Colm Toibin and previous winner Yiyun Li, Irish author Edna O’Brien receives €35, 000. Her first novel The Country Girls was published in 1960 and she has since published 20 other works of fiction, drama and biography. Previous winners include Jhumpa Lahiri, Miranda July and Haruki Murakami.

Guardian First Book Award 2011

The long list has been announced for the Guardian first book award. From 136 nominations, 10 books were selected; of these 6 were fiction, 2 of non-fiction and 1 of poetry. A prize of £10,000 is awarded to the winner who will be chosen from a short list, decided by a judging panel and assisted by a series of British regional reading groups. The long listed titles are all great reads from debut novelists, demonstrating exception skill and craftsmanship.

Synopsis, reviews, excerpts and author information is avaliable at the Guardian

At last – Mills and Boon romances are here!

Syndetics book coverWinter is coming, so what can you do to cheer yourself up on a dreary, dark evening, or on a weekend with a roaring southerly outside? Why not take yourself out of your everyday life and banish those winter blues and treat yourself to a delicious, steamy romance to read!
Inside the pages of a Mills and Boon romance, you can meet princes, sheiks, Italian counts and Greek millionaires – not to mention architects, surgeons and doctors (and some of them are the heroines!). You can visit exotic locations in Europe, the Middle East and Australia and you can travel back in time to Regency England and encounter aristocratic rakes and feisty heroines.

Come on down to a Mills and Boon library nearest to you – Mills and Boon romances are waiting for you to borrow them from the Central, Tawa, Karori, Newtown, Miramar libraries. If you don’t normally visit these particular libraries, you can reserve your Mills and Boon romances and arrange to pick them up at your own library.

But if you’ve gone digital, you don’t even have to go to the library – romance has gone digital too! Download a guilty pleasure or five on to your PC, Mac, smartphone or e-reader by visiting and click on the OverDrive link to get started.

The Finkler Question wins 2010 Mann Booker Prize

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson has won this year’s Mann Booker Prize. It is a novel that links comedy and tragedy, the story male friendship and what it means to be Jewish. It is Howard Jacobson’s eleventh published novel, his first was in 1983 titled Coming from Behind. In 1999 his novel The Mighty Walzer won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing and in 2006 his novel Kalooki Nights was long listed for the Mann Booker Prize of that year. Nearly all his fiction is humorous. Born in Manchester, England in 1942, Howard Jacobson has also published four works of non-fiction. He writes a weekly column for The Independent newspaper and also works as a broadcaster.

Sources: Wikipedia;

Book clubs, reading groups …

Book Clubs, Reading Groups, Literary Societies, and Book Discussion Groups are some of the titles given to groups of people who meet regularly to discuss a chosen form of literature. These groups have appeared in many societies for centuries, in one form or another and are to-day as popular as ever. They still remain a great way to make new friends and share interests. The internet has enhanced and expanded book groups giving members limitless possibilities in what they read, discuss, and review. Now interaction can take place between members and authors anywhere in the world at any time.

Many fiction titles at Wellington City Libraries contain discussion material for book groups.

For those interested in joining a reading group, did you know that Wellington City Libraries has several book clubs?  Alternatively the New Zealand Book Council can assist with linking new members and provide book club information. In Wellington we now have a new club called Pensive-Faust with a really great website, check it out.

British author Dame Beryl Bainbridge dies

The British novelist, dramatist and theatre critic, Dame Beryl Bainbridge has died aged 75.

Born in Liverpool in 1934, she worked as an actress and began writing after a disastrous marriage and relationship left her a single mother with three young children. Her first novel Harriet said was rejected many times and not published until 1972, four years after her third novel, Another part of the wood was published. In 1974 she won the Guardian Fiction Prize for The Bottle factory outing and in 1977 the Whitbread Prize for Injury time. Three of her 18 novels were short listed for the Booker Prize. Her slim novels are all urban black comedies, which highlight isolated eccentrics sometimes with violence, but often absurdity. Her last four novels have been based on historical events, Every man for himself, published in 1996 concerns the Titanic disaster, and Master Georgie is set during the Crimean War. Three of her novels were adapted to film. Beryl Bainbridge spent her life in Liverpool; she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000.

It is again very sad to know this is the end of such a prolific, wonderful entertaining body of work. If you have never read one of Beryl Bainbridge’ s novels, please start now, you will definitely not be disappointed, and I can guarantee you will want to read more.

Sources: Wikipedia

2010 International IMPAC Dublin Award announced

The Twin by Dutch writer Gerbrand Bakker has won the largest prize for a novel, over 155 other entered titles nominated by 163 public libraries from 43 countries. The prize of €25,000 will be shared between the author and the novel’s translator, David Colmer.

It is the story of Helmer who lives on a remote farm in the flat expanses of the Dutch Platteland with his elderly father, caring for a small flock of sheep and his two beloved donkeys. It is a life he did not wish for, having been forced to return home following the death of his twin brother many years before. He decides he needs a change, but is not really prepared for the changes forced upon him.

Gerbrand Bakker worked as a subtitle writer for nature films before becoming a gardener. The Twin is his debut novel and will shortly be made into a film.

The complete list of nominated titles, synopses, and author information can be found on the IMPAC Dublin Award website

Sources: IMPAC Dublin Award website.

Barbara Kingsolver wins the 2010 Orange Prize for fiction.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver has been awarded the 15th Orange Prize for Fiction by a woman writing in English, regardless of nationality, age or subject matter. The Lucana is Barbara Kingsolver’s 9th novel, and is set in Mexico in the 1950’s McCarthy era,  America. This is a story of loyalty, identity and how the power of false accusation can destroy innocent people.

Born in America in 1955, Kingsolver earned a Master’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology, and began her career as a science writer. Her first novel Animal dreams was published in 1990, and since her second novel Pigs in heaven was published in 1993, all her work has been on the New York Times Bestseller lists. Social justice, feminism and environmentalism are the main themes of her of fiction; she has published collections of essays and several works of non-fiction. In 2000 she was awarded the National Humanities medal by American President Bill Clinton.

Sources: BBC News, Wikipedia