Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Erica Jong Looks Back and Ahead
In 1973, Erica Jong created a firestorm with her first book, Fear of Flying, the story of a woman who leaves her marriage to explore her sexuality and find herself. Jong was lauded for her feminist perspective and hated for bringing real female sexuality out of the closet. Now, at 62 with her 13th book about to be released, she talks about sexuality in literature, her interest in tantric sex, and the imminent danger of women's rights in America.
Banned Poetry Flourishes in Vietnam
Open Your Mouth is the name of a group of Vietnamese poets whose work eschews the beauty and formality of traditional poetry. Their work is filled with the slang, curses and sexual innuendo of the street, and "in print, their poems appear as if they were written by five-year-olds or illiterate drunkards." Their packed readings have been banned by the government, but their books, printed on copiers continue to be a huge success, "and have become a must-read among Vietnam's intelligentsia."

Monday, August 30, 2004

Random House in Deal to Publish Korean Literature
In a joint venture with Korea's Daesan Foundation, which will translate the works, Random House will begin to publish and market works of Korean literature to the English-speaking world. Twenty-eight works have already been translated and include plays, novels and poetry.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Man Booker Prize Long List Announced
Contenders for the Man Book Prize, the Britain's most prestigious literarly prize, were announced today. Twenty-two nominees from all over the world were chosen from 132 entries, which will be whittled down to four finalists to be announced September 21. The winner will be announced on October 19 at an awards ceremony in London. The honorees are:

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigeria
Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam, Pakistan
Clear: A Transparent Novel byNicola Barker, England
The Island Walkers by John Bemrose, Canada
Havoc, in its Third Year by Ronan Bennett , Ireland
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, England www.jonathanstrange.com
Always the Sun by Neil Cross, Great Britain
Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor, South Africa
Becoming Strangers by Louise Dean , England
A Blade of Grassby Lewis Desoto , South Africa
The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall ,Scotland
Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton Paterson , England
The Honeymoon by Justin Haythe (screenwriter, The Clearing)
The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard, Australia
Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst , England
Sixty Lights by Gail Jones , Australia
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell , England
The Unnumbered by Sam North , Canada
Snowleg by Nicholas Shakespeare, England
Cherry Matt Thorne England
The Master by Colm Tóibín , Ireland
I'll Go to Bed at Noon by Gerard Woodward England

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Writers and Lost Manuscripts: A History
Louis de Bernière's laptop was stolen from his home in Norfolk, England last week while he was at the Edinburgh Book Festival. On the hard drive were the first 50 pages of his next novel, which was in it's fourth re-write. de Bernière, the author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, is offering a reward of 500 pounds for the return of the computer. The incident prompted British author James Owen to examine the experiences of authors like Hemingway, Keillor, Thomas Carlyle and others under similar circumstances. Owen discovered that technology only expanded the possibilities of disaster.
Authors Who Write from the Grave and the Readers Who Love Them
Death doesn't always mean the end of a writing career. There are quite a few dead authors who get books published every day. The books are written (most of the time really badly) by a live author (usually unknown), who is contracted to imitate the style of the dead author, whose name appears prominently on the cover of the book. Robert Ludlum is one author whose death hasn't slowed down his output. In a first, Ludlum's Bourne books (Supremacy, etc.) will continue to be written by a bestselling writer in his own right, Erick von Lustbader. This article suggests the ghosted books should be written by better writers. I say publishers should ignore the dancing dollar signs and have a little respect -- put dead writers to rest already.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Attack Won't Deter Kenyan Writer
The African writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o left his native Kenya in 1982 after spending a year imprisoned without a trial for writing a political play, I Will Marry You When I Want. He then lived London and moved to the U.S. where he became a literature professor at Yale and New York University. He returned to Kenya with his wife this month to take part in literary festival and on August 11, armed thugs broke into his home, raped his wife, stole his belongings, and beat and tortured him. In the wake of the attack his fellow Kenyans have showered him and his wife with support and apologies. He refuses to leave, saying that his attackers do not represent the new Kenya. He believes the assault was politically motivated but will not elaborate. wa Thiong'o best known works include Petals of Blood and Devil on the Cross

Monday, August 23, 2004

Exile Spark Lights Up the Literati
Dame Muriel Spark, author of the classic The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, returned to her native Scotland for a rare appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Sparks' fiction is known for stiletto wit on which she impales societal hypocrisy. Her other notable titles include A Far Cry From Kensington, Ghost Stories, The Girls of Slender Means and the deliciously comic Loitering With Intent

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Bringing Home the Bacon and Then Some
Talk about a self-made woman: 25 year-old Crystal Lacey Winslow has sold 70,000 copies of her self-published book Life, Love and Loneliness, an urban drama which has been on the Essence bestseller list twice. She has just published her second novel, The Criss-Cross, through her own publishing company, Melodrama Publishing and turned down a two-book deal from Simon and Schuster. Why? Because she worked two full-time jobs for more than a year to be able to afford to publish her own book, market it, and open her bookstore, Melodrama Books & Things,which she hopes to turn into a franchise. But still she says "I am not where I want to be yet." This mogul in the making admits she has no social life but is determined to make something of herself on her own, and keep writing.
Men's Book Club in UK Wins "Best Read" Prize
The Racketeers are a group of friends in Manchester England who meet once a month in a pub to talk about books and hoist a few. They beat 700 other book clubs in the UK to be named the Best Read Book Club in Britain by Penguin UK. Chris Chilton, 57, formed the group after being denied membership in his wife's book club, which is women only. Since its inception, the eight-member Racketeers have read everyone from Donna Tart to Nagib Mahfouz to Dostoyevsky. Their unconventional meeting place caught the attention of the panel at Penguin UK, which also admired the list of books they had read. Chilton says the group's discussions are good-naturedly adversarial, which is part of the appeal for the members. Each member wins 200 pounds and a weekend trip to the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Africa's top 12 of the 20th Century

A panel of scholars and critics met at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair to name the top books of the 20th century form 1,500 nominations. The list is intended to publicize African writers and publishers and "heralds a new millennium for literacy throughout the entire African Continent," said Dr. Adotey Bing, one of the judges. Read story. Here's the list:
Things Fall Apartby Chinua Achebe (1958)
Sosu's Call
by Meshack Asare (1999)
So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (1979)
Terra Sonambula by Mia Couto (1992)
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (1988)
The African Origins of Civilization: Myth or Reality by Cheikh Anta Diop (1955)
Fantasiaby Assia Djebar (1985)
The Cairo Trilogyby Naguib Mahfouz(1945)
Chaka by Thomas Mofolo (1925)
Ake: The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka (1981)
A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiongo (1967)
Oeuvre Poetiqueby Leopold Sedar Senghor (1961)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Surprise Confession at Edinburgh Book Festival

Scottish book lovers received a shock when they showed up to hear the acclaimed (and famously reclusive) author Candia McWilliam speak. Instead of talking about her prize-winning novels or her writing process, she spoke of her secret life-long battle with alcoholism. She described "chucking up blood," and drinking from disinfectant bottles, in a downward spiral that eventually led her to be committed to a psychiatric hospital. Now sober, McWilliam, the winner of the 1994 Guardian Fiction Prize, read a poem she wrote called A False Quantityabout her drinking and hiding it, to the audience. Described as a "connoisseur of unease," McWilliam's fiction combines razor sharp poetic descriptions and classic suspense with plots about lives unravelling. The Scotsman reports.

Nathaniel Hawthorne Bicentennial Exhibition

Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables
and short stories such as Young Goodman Brown, is honored by several bicentennial celebrations this year. To mark the 200th anniversary of his birth, The Peabody Essex Museum in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts launched an exhibition showcasing Hawthorne's work which exhibits papers, rare books artwork and other objects. The museum's online exhibition features an interactive display of issues of The Spectator, a weekly he published with his sister, among other exhibits and narration. Founded in 1799, the Peabody Essex is America's oldest continously operating museum.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

U.S. Presidents Unplugged

As America lies suffocating in this age of obfuscation and deception, the concept of a constitutional democracy is evaporating more quickly than weapons of mass destruction. It behooves Americans to look back at our history with a critical and humorous eye. Enter Akashic Books – the publisher has just launched its U.S. Presidents Series, which focuses on brief, little-known writings of U.S. Presidents from George Washington to eventually, George W. Bush. The first three slim, pocket-sized paperbacks will be released in September, and three will follow every season after that. “I think it’s a good time [to publish this series] because of the Presidential elections, given how divided the country is right now,” said Akashic publisher Johnny Temple.

“Some publishers have done Presidential books, and have been reverential and respectful, very conservative,” said Temple. “We wanted to be less conservative and more playful.” The series provides an opportunity to learn from the founding fathers while examining the writings through a historical perspective while asking hard questions, an art that seems to have disappeared. “It’s o.k. to be critical, [of our leaders], you can be critical in a nuanced way,” said Temple. Irreverant and powerful introductions to each slim volume are provided by heavy-hitters like Adam Haslett, Percival Everett and Neal Pollack.

The first volume, George Washington’s The Rules of Civility is a Miss Manners-like list of proper behavior written by French Jesuits in 1540, which President Washington copied in adolescence as a penmanship exercise. In his introduction, Adam Haslett finds the rules applicable to present day society in more ways than one, as his acerbic notes throughout attest: “79. Be not apt to relate news if you know not the truth thereof. In discoursing of things you have heard name not your author always. A secret discover not. Note: When trying to bully the international community into war by scaring them with evidence of a nuclear weapons program, you might want to avoid knowingly using forged documents.”

In John Adams’ A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, Adams espouses the notion that government has a moral obligation for the well-being of its citizens; he thought education could make many things possible. Neal Pollack finds present-day America a hollow echo of Adams’ ideal: “Americans are currently living through the beginning of the age of De-Enlightenment. …If the De-Enlightenment was merely about the political corruption in the Bush Administration, it could and will be easily corrected. But the Administration is merely a powerful offshoot of larger forces. Bush will be gone eventually. It won’t be so easy to stop the deterioration of the American mind.”

Thomas Jefferson, known as the author of the Constitution and as the founding father who had a life-long liaison (and several children) with one of his slaves, conveniently wrote his own version of the Bible, which is, given his personal life, very brief. Everett’s introduction to The Jefferson Bible includes a hilarious transcript of a mock-conversation between the two during which Everett asks Jefferson to explain his theory of the inferiority of African-Americans: TJ: Blacks…are dumb, slothful, and bestial. Your kind respond to sensation rather than out of reflection. PE: then how do you account for my remaining seated instead of attacking you? TJ: The slothful part.

During a time when criticism of public officials is called unpatriotic and individual rights are disappearing like so many puffs of smoke, these slim volumes offer a refreshing dose of what should be. “I hope people are entertained and that they learn something, [from these books]” said Temple. One can only hope.

Bookblog's Top Ten: Political Books

New York City -- Here we are in the land of Democratic Inaction -- unable to tell the truth from the lies, with the niggling fear of terror playing in the background and the knowledge that this isn't how it's supposed to be. This is what happens when citizens don't exercise their authority. Voting is just half the battle. Knowing what is going on is key. Bookblog has put together a list of must-reads for every American in no particular order.

The U.S. Constitution
Quick, before it disappears.

Congress for Dummies
Who is your representative? Your Senator? What do they do all day? How can you tell them they're doing it wrong?

All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
Two reporters at the Washington Post reported crimes at the highest levels of government, which led to an investigation that resulted in the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. A swift-moving page-turner that is an example of the type of reporting that journalists in America should be doing today. Woodward and Bernstein were interviewed by Larry King on August 9, the 30th anniversary of President Nixon's resignation. Read the transcript.

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
When Monsieur de Tocqueville came to America in the 19th Century it would have been inconceivable that his analysis and observations of our democracy in action would be so on-target more than 150 years later. This text (or portions of it)should be taught in schools.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to American Government Apparently, there's a need out there for this one. Besides explaining the branches of government, also tells you how to get your voice heard.

Bushwacked: Life in George Bush's America by Molly Ivins, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has spent her life covering Texas, on how Bush's policies and lax Federal regulations are affecting your every day life.

Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward
Why did the U.S. invade Iraq when the 9/11 attacks were carried out by Al Qaeda factions in Afghanistan with connections to Saudi Arabia? This fascinating behind-the-scenes look at contentious road to the invasion benefits from interviews with all the major players within the Bush Administration.

Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror by Richard Clark
How could 9/11 have happened? Get the story from the man in charge -- Clark was head of anti-terrorism in the U.S. and has worked for seven U.S. Presidents before resigning in 2003. He puts the Al Qaeda threats in historical context and lays blame on the Bush administration for not acting on those threats, as he famously testified before the 9/11 commission earlier this year.

Irreparable Harm: The U.s. Supreme Court And The Decision That Made George W. Bush President by Renata Adler
This recent title analyzes the Supreme Court decision that ruled George W. Bush won the election even though Al Gore had more votes.

Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson
Not to be missed. When President Bush the elder needed an African-American to appoint to the Supreme Court, his administration scoured the nation and came up with Clarence Thomas. As his nomination moved forward, a former colleague named Anita Hill went public with allegations that Thomas had sexually harrassed her. The media circus and Congressional inquiry that followed forever changed politics and the Supreme Court. This is one of the most meticulously researched and readable books I've ever read, and it reads like a political thriller.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Problem with Anna

It was quite exciting to start reading a classic Anna Karenina that is perenially on my list of things to read. I had seen two Garbo film versions (silent and with sound) of the book and thought I new what to expect. Passion, conflict, tragedy. What I got instead was furious.

When I finished Anna, instead of satisfaction I felt deeply offended and completely hoodwinked. Anna Karenina is one long bait and switch. If I could have lifted it, I would have thrown this half-baked, misogynist, egomaniacal religious tract across the room, plaster be damned.

Tolstoy seduces the reader along with the romantic story of Anna and her impossible love, alternating chapters with the story of Levin, a country dweller who falls in love and marries. The reader goes along, entranced by Anna and Vronsky, amused (and confused) by Levin and his endless (and yes, pointless) ruminations on farming, believing there is a point. There must be a connection. It is not until the last pages that the truth becomes clear: The author has as much contempt for Anna as the characters in his book, and offers not one iota of insight or compassion of her plight, but a vicious indictment of her. The point is good vs. evil and Anna is supposed to be the evil. The happy family/unhappy family juxtaposition is obvious but beside the point.

Tolstoy is one of the greatest writers in depicting the subtleties of human emotion, particularly when that emotion involves affairs of the heart. His knowledge of the subtleties of the human heart is deadly accurate, and his depictions of emotional relationships are as brilliant and subtle as I’ve ever seen. His knowledge of the female heart is without parallel, as is his contempt for women.

It is likely that the character of Anna Karenina was created simply so Tolstoy could write about himself (in the form of Levin) and his moralistic message. Richard Pevear’s introduction to this edition bears this out as he states that the character of Anna Karenina is invented, but that Levin and everything in his depiction is taken to the last detail from Tolstoy’s own life (p.xiv).

Pevear states that Tolstoy intended the book as a polemic against the nihilist movement, which was taking hold in Russia at the time, and advocated free love and female emancipation, which of course, Tolstoy was against. His views don’t make him a bad writer, his methods do. He spoon feeds us a love story so we’ll read about political corruption, infidelity (which runs rampant) and farming.

With audacious arrogance, Tolstoy has set himself up as the example of goodness against Anna’s “evil.” Tolstoy’s portrayal of Anna is luminous and enchanting, her emotional life is tenderly and compassionately drawn, her anguish palpable, her despair unbearable. Her death is not even commented upon by the other numerous characters in the book, many of whom are related to her. Except for Vronsky, her lover, who is beyond grief, it’s as if she never existed. Not only is this unrealistic, it’s cruel, a common side effect of fanaticism. Vronsky’s mother, described in the beginning of the book as having had numerous lovers and having deprived Vronsky of a family life, comments of Anna: “Yes, she ended as such a woman should have ended. Even the death she chose was mean and low.” That’s the end of Anna, and then we’re back to the farm and Levin and his crisis of faith. Who cares?!!!

Anna Karenina fails as a classic because more than half of it (the Levin portion) is irrelevant today, because it is out of the context of its time, the Levin portion of the book, is meaningless today. This cannot be said of the books of Wharton or even Dickens, among others. However spectacular the writing is (and it is) if you have to rip out half the book (and I would) because it no longer makes sense, then there’s something seriously wrong. Even as a polemic this is heavy-handed and unsophisticated. Levin never resolves anything, but drives one to drink with his talk of farming. No one has made numerous films about Levin, it is Anna who captivated the public imagination, Anna who grabs your heart and never lets go. The character was his greatest achievement and he used her as a shill.

Visit Leo Tolstoy's Official Site

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bearing Witness as Healing

The Noise of Infinite Longing: A Memoir of A Family and an Island by Luisita López Torregrosa (Rayo, $24.95 286 pp.)

In Texas, six siblings meet for the first time in ten years, after the death of their mother. One of them is the author, Ms. Torregrosa, the oldest of the six.

As the siblings get reacquainted, old conflicts and resentments begin to reappear, old patterns emerge. Torregrosa, the oldest, casts her memory back to Puerto Rico where they were all born, where their parents met and married, where conflicts and the pain they caused originated. As the oldest, she wants to set down the family history and the story of their parents’ turbulent marriage for her younger siblings, who have accused her of distancing herself from them. There are other reasons for this which become clear later.

At first glance, they seemed like the perfect family. Their mother was an attorney who had been a cheerleader, an equestrienne and stage actress, their father a chemical engineer and later a doctor. Both were charming, beautiful and ambitious, it seemed any children they had would be very lucky indeed.

Unfortunately, the marriage was a combination of academic and professional success on the outside, and alcohol, infidelity and abuse on the inside. Her mother, a privileged and intelligent young woman, always told her daughters that their father supported her in her career, but the truth was quite different. His resentment at her achievement played itself out in countless infidelities and alcohol-fueled cruelties, which were glossed over and almost obliterated by their mother’s spin control.

The story is told with intimacy, anger and love. As the first and most constant witness of her parents’ story, she gives her siblings a difficult but precious gift: the unadulterated truth. She is also trying to come to terms with her feelings for her brilliant but flawed parents. A mother whose talent and accomplishments made her a woman ahead of her time, but whose emotional enslavement to the wrong man made her a stereotypical deceived wife; a father whose intellectual brilliance coexisted with a careless cruelty he unleashed on those closest to him.

This is also a story of a particular time and place, upper middle class post-war Puerto Rico, with its club memberships, high teas and balls, private schools and dinner parties, maids and drivers, hats and white gloves. It is a loving glimpse inside a bygone era.

Torregrosa leaves Puerto Rico to attend boarding school in the Pennsylvania, and determined never to go back, begins to forge her own way and deal with the passionate, tumultuous and painful years that formed her. She pursued a career in journalism and today is an editor at The New York Times

This is a very rare thing – a painful story wrought with limitless love.

A Walk in the Woods

Don't Look Back
by Karin Fossum, Translated by Felicity David (Harcourt Books, $23 295p.)

In a tiny village in Norway the hunt for a missing child uncovers the murder of a teenage girl. Annie was a star athlete, an excellent student, a popular and sought after babysitter in the village. Everyone liked her, none of her neighbors can fathom why she was killed or who could have done it.

Enter Inspector Konrad Sejer of the Oslo police. With quiet and ruthless determination, Sejer peels away the layers of respectability and conformity in the seemingly bucolic village like the layers of an onion. Disturbing facts are uncovered, lies are exposed, dark corners illuminated.

Meanwhile, the dead girl’s boyfriend is hiding something, but he himself doesn’t know what it is.

The investigation progresses and Inspector Sejer’s gruff sensitivity comes through as we learn that he is a widower, father and grandfather whose life is just starting to open up again after along period of grief.

An intense sense of place and the contrast of city and village life illuminate this compelling procedural which exposes the hypocrisy behind a seemingly perfect place.

This is the sixth Inspector Sejer mystery and the first translated into English.

Dispatch from the Road to Oblivion

Farewell, My Queen by Chantal Thomas (Touchstone, $14.00 233 pp. Trade Paperback)

Versailles July 13-15 1789. On the eve of the fall of the Bastille, young Agathe-Sidonie, whose job it is to read aloud to Queen Marie Antoinette, is inside the royal palace as the French Revolution sparks and takes hold.

In impressionistic prose flashes akin to bursts of fireworks, this fictional account of the events in the palace at the start of the revolution is both illuminating and frustrating. The young protagonist is buffeted along by the events which she doesn’t understand, and she is not privy to things we would like to see because of her marginal position at court. Her position limits whats we see and what we are told, and her inability to make sense of events make the story somewhat insubstantial. What she does see is disturbing as her recollections are personal, not political.

Intimate behind-the-scenes period detail sets the tone for a sparkling, and doomed court who receives the news of the fall of the Bastille prison with a skepticism that crystallizes into fear and dread. It’s hard not to yell “Run!!” while reading of now fearful, now doubtful aristocrats immobilized by the threat of their world crumbling around them. Their ritualistic “Perfect Day” schedule crumbles as fear of the unknown turns into an all-night vigil, during which rumors and vague (they thought) threats are considered and tossed aside, and the privileged try to decide whether or not to run into the night and leave their King and Queen to the mob.

Particularly poignant is Agathe-Sidonie, whose youth and recent arrival at court makes it impossible for her to know what to make of the rumors and threats. Her service to the Queen makes her one of the only ones in the palace privy to Marie-Antoinette’s aborted flight from Versaille, which we know has doomed her.

The depiction of the King’s continued denial of the gravity (or existence) of the crisis is chilling. The formal lunch scene during which the servant places a dead rat on in front of the King feels as emblematic and authentic as the “Let them eat cake,” allegation.

Agathe-Sidonie looks back over the events of those three chaotic days in Versaille with sadness and longing for her beloved Queen.

Trouble in Trenton

Ten Big Ones
by Janet Evanovich
(St. Martin’s Press, $25.95 312 pp. Hardcover)
For the uninitiated, Stephanie Plum is a Jersey girl from Trenton, who was divorced, unemployed and running out of appliances to sell when she took a job working for her sleazebag Uncle Vinny as a bounty hunter. That was in One for the Money, and here we are nine capers later, and better than ever. I say we, because in every scene you’re right there with Stephanie riding shotgun (which is really not safe).

As you may expect, Stephanie knows more about hairspray and mascara than she does about apprehending felons, and things tend to get away from her. Like felons. Since she keeps her gun in a cookie jar in her kitchen, and she hasn’t got great aim with the pepper spray, so things get interesting.

This time around Stephanie is minding her own business standing outside a deli with her “associate” Lula when she witnesses a robbery in progress and her car explodes. Again. It was the Molotov cocktail, but still. This is like the umpteenth car that has exploded on Stephanie, and she’s beside herself.

Stephanie has bigger worries than her car when she tells police she can ID the hold-up guy and he turns out to be connected to a dangerous gang. The fact that she drove into his turf and accidentally runs over a few of his “associates” doesn’t improve things. In fact, the gang puts a hit on her.

Dodging a specially imported killer (from L.A.), and commitment noises from her on-again, off-again boyfriend Joe Morelli, her sister’s wedding plans and the air in Trenton, Stephanie runs for cover and lands splat in Ranger’s lair. Lair, not hair. Ranger is also a bounty hunter, among other mysterious things, and has come between Stephanie and her Levi’s before. Before she lived with Morelli.

Never mind the gangsters, will Stephanie survive another encounter with the lethally sexy Ranger?

Janet Evanovich's website is at www.evanovich.com

Discredited Author Norma Khouri Disappears

Khouri lost for words to explain book - Books - www.smh.com.au
An investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald uncovered evidence that Norma Khouri's book Forbidden Love (published in the U.S. as Honor Lost) was ficticious. Khouri wrote the book as a true story about her friend who was killed in Jordan for falling in love with a Christian. The book was a runaway bestseller in Australia, but as several inconsistencies arose (like her American accent), an investigation revealed that Khouri was raised in Chicago from the age of three, is married to a man wanted by the F.B.I. for fraud, and never donated monies from the book to the charitable organization in Jordan which she claimed she would. Khouri's Australian publisher, Random House, has removed the book from store shelves there, while waiting for Khouri to provide proof that she did live in Jordan and that the story in the book is true. After nine days and several deadlines, Random House says they don't know where she is.

Thriller Draws on Forgotten Oppression

HoustonChronicle.com - Thriller draws on oppression of Italians in U.S.
Lisa Scottoline, the well known and best-selling author of legal thrillers, based her latest book, Killer Smile on a long-buried family secret. During WWII her grandparents were forced to register as "enemy aliens" (as were thousand of other Italian immigrants) had their home searched and some property removed. Although the internment of the Japanese during WWII is well-known, the mistreatment of Germans and Italians during the same period is less known.
"Imagine if tomorrow the federal government decided to order every Iraqi-born person living in America to register, and then we took them out of their houses, confiscated their property and detained them in camps, all without trials because they haven't actually been charged with a crime," she said. "Can you lock up a whole group of people because they scare you?"

The Letters of A Writer's Life

The Letters of A Writer's Life (washingtonpost.com)
James Baldwin's best and life-long friend was Sol Stein, a high school pal who worked with him on the high school newspaper, and later as his editor, convinced him that collecting his essays in a book was a good idea. The resulting book, Notes of a Native Son, made Baldwin a household word. Sol Stein recently discovered his correspondence with Baldwin and has published the letters as a book.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Coming to Movie Screens

allAfrica.com: Botswana: Sleuth Heroine Creator Comes Visiting
During a talk in Gaborone, Africa, Alexander McCall Smith, the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agencymysteries set in Botswana, announced that a film version of the book is in pre-production. Smith, who was born in Zimbabwe, created the comic mystery series, featuring Precious Ramotswe as a woman with a knack for finding things out. The film will be a joint production between New African Media and Miramax with Anthony Minghella producing and Sydney Pollack directing.

Crime Novelist J.A. Jance at Home

East Valley Tribune Online
Author of twenty-nine books, J.A. Jance, an Arizona native, talks about her home, her destructive first marriage, and the inspration for her first book, which was based on the time husband hitched a ride home with a serial killer and she became his next planned victim. "He was a serial killer," says Jance, "who struck at 2:20 p.m. on the 22nd of every month." A detective advised them to leave the area. But finances required her husband to leave in search of work while Jance continued her job and stayed in the house alone." Jance's latest book is Day of the Dead.