Monday, February 2, 2009

Bits and bobs and books. . .

It's been a crazy, busy time lately, so here are just some of the book news, links and recommendations that have been rattling around in my brain over the last little while . . .

Evergreen shortlist announced. . .

The nominees for the 2009 Evergreen Award were announced last week at the OLA Superconference. This award is given to a favourite adult book written by a living Canadian author and voted on by Ontario library patrons (how thrilled am I to see Christopher Plummer included!) The winner will be announced at next year's OLA. Congratulations to the 2008 winner, Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes and to this year's shortlist:

Apples to Oysters: a Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms by Margaret Webb
The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Coventry by Helen Humphreys
Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott
In Spite of Myself: A Memoir by Christopher Plummer
The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper
The Outlander by Gil Adamson
Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood
Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese

And Speaking of Canlit. . .

I came across a great blog called Roughing It in the Books. Kudos to these two readers who are making their way through the entire New Canadian Library collection of Canadian classics and blogging their reviews. So far, they've tackled Frederick Philip Grove's Over Prairie Trails, Morley Callaghan's Such is My Beloved, Stephen Leacock's Literary Lapses, Sinclair Ross's As For Me and My House, and Gabrielle Roy's The Tin Flute. They also post biographical information about the author. Every used bookstore in Canada has several incarnations of NCL's - they've been around for over fifty years. Recently, they've been updated with brand new covers and grown into a larger trade paperback size. You can see an exisiting list at the NCL website located here.

Best Translated Books of 2008 shortlist announced. . .
If your new year's resolution is to read more international fiction, then you could do a lot worse than start with these ten shortlisted books from last year. The blog Three Percent has posted reviews of all 25 longlisted books as well. I've read four of the shortlisted ten - The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig, translated by Joel Rotenberg, and Unforgiving Years by Victor Serge, translated by Richard Greeman were both Dewey picks of mine, so I'm thrilled to see them make the final cut. I also read Roberto Bolano's 2666, translated by Natasha Wimmer over the holidays (really, how can this lose?) and really loved the deliciously exquisite Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, translated by Carolina De Robertis (part of Melville House's terrific Art of the Contemporary Novella series - more about this soon).
Also check out The Lost in Translation Reading Challenge blog where participants vow to read at least six books in translation during the year and to blog about their experiences. There are some great reading suggestions and reviews on this site.

R.I.P John Updike. . .

There has been lots of media coverage of John Updike's death last week and you can easily find obituaries such as this one from the Guardian online if you want a brief overview of his life. He was a prolific writer and if the tributes have inspired you to dip into some of his work, may I suggest starting with the short stories - a genre that he absolutely excelled in. You can find examples in almost any literary anthology, or pick up his collection The Early Stories. At over 800 pages, this collection will certainly whet your appetite for more of his work. For novels, his Rabbit Angstrom books are the most famous, but give his Henry Bech novels a try - they portray the life of a writer, somewhat similar to Updike's own, over several decades. And if you want a writer's appreciation and a very funny read to boot, do pick up Nicholson Baker's hilarious U and I, a memoir about not quite meeting his literary idol. Recommended reading for Alain de Botton and Geoff Dyer fans and a hoot even if you're not a fan of Updike himself (though I bet Baker will convert you.)

1 comment:

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