As if all the holiday book gift guides and new releases weren’t enough to keep us busy, it seems to be award season in the literary world … and so close to Thanksgiving. Perhaps it’s a sign that there are a lot of turkeys about. Heavyweights Tom Wolfe, Philip Roth, Alice Munro and even Dave Eggers have recent volumes out and are getting some buzz just in time to possibly be stuffed in someone’s stocking, but sometimes the more interesting news is a little on the less obvious side.
— Tom Hanks is rumored to be the top pick to star in the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s wildly popular The Da Vinci Code. No word yet on how they’ll work in Meg Ryan or the oversized piano keyboard stunt. The Da Vinci Code continues to be a sensation across the world — not only is there a movie in the works, but the dramatic novel has inspired a revival in the sport of graverobbing as well. Tom Hanks, graverobbers, Mary Magdalene — I don’t know about you, but I smell an Oscar.
— Okay, so maybe no one will pull a knife at the National Book Awards ceremony this Wednesday in New York, but that’s not stopping many literary critics and editors from voicing their beef with this year’s nominations. Accusations that the fiction nominations lack diversity, that the poetry collections are hardly inspiring and the debate on whether The 9/11 Commission Report should even be considered ‘literature’, seem to be the tip of the scandal iceberg here. We can only hope that Garrison Keillor, the master of ceremonies for the event, is ready for anything.
— In other award news, several authors and illustrators recently snagged honors for children’s literature in Canada and over 140 books are on the long list (very long list) of nominees for Ireland’s 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Said to be one of the richest prizes in literature (worth $184,000), the IMPAC award honors a single work of fiction published in English. With nominations representing over 45 countries, the current long list will be shortened in March, with the winner being announced in June.
— Jay Parini, who’s written biographies of such literary notables as Robert Frost, John Steinbeck and Theodore Rothke, has tackled William Faulkner as his latest subject. One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner, the latest biography of Faulkner is reported to be somewhat of a glossing over compared to previous biographies, but may be a good starting point for readers interested in learning more about the man behind two of America’s most powerful novels, The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying.
— The Paris Review has collaborated with charityfolks.com to auction off such literary treasures as signed manuscripts and art related to the publication. Ever wanted to ‘drink and discuss politics with polemicist extraordinaire and Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham’? Come now, who of us hasn’t had that fantasy? Well, you finally have your chance — for a price, of course. The auction runs through Thursday, November 18 and proceeds go to the Paris Review Foundation.
— I caught the end of the movie ‘Sylvia’ this weekend … while (granted) there wasn’t a surprise ending, the film seemed to have a bigger impact in light of the latest Plath publication. Frieda Hughes, the daughter of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, defends her father while promoting her mother’s legacy with a new edition of Ariel, available November 25. The restored version of Ariel contains the entire list of poems in the original order that Plath left them at the time of her suicide. Though Plath’s death and the subsequent publication of her final poems by Ted Hughes were rife with controversy, the strength and craft of the poems transcend any debate. You can read an edited version of Frieda Hughes’ foreword to this new facsimile edition of the original manuscript here.
These are just a few of the stories moving and shaking around the publishing world this week. Seen or heard anything interesting about your favorite publisher, author or literary genre? Making some news of your own? We want to hear about it.