- The Long and Short of the Longlist: The Man Booker Prize longlist has been announced, and the Guardian calls it "one of the most low-key in many years." Which is saying a lot, since the Man Booker longlist doesn't exactly shake the earth for those outside the book industry.
In contrast with previous years (the longlist has been announced publicly since 2001), 2007's list is restricted to a 'Man Booker dozen' — a mere 13 titles, compared with the usual 18-24. This new brevity coincides with a year in which few of the biggest literary names have chosen to publish; as a result, the longlist contains only two authors — Ian McEwan and AN Wilson — who can genuinely be described as household names. High-profile casualties at this early stage include Graham Swift, Doris Lessing and JM Coetzee — all previous winners — and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose novels Half of a Yellow Sun won the Orange prize this year, and was widely seen as a sure-fire choice.
- Gunning for Peace: Author Michael Bishop, whose son Jamie was killed in last spring's Virginia Tech massacre, has a modest proposal in the Washington Post:
Along with our son's widow, a professor at Virginia Tech, and many others, my wife Jeri and I urge the administration to convert a part of Norris Hall into a center for the study of international peace and crime prevention — as one component in a campaign to promote peace and campus safety everywhere.
[...] Many will disparage this vision as naive, but if Mahatma Gandhi, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela had not put forward their naive but powerful visions, the world would today be less just and even more violent. Establishing such a center would pose a host of challenges, but the benefits of overcoming them would offset all the cost and struggle.
Next time you've got your checkbook out and you're thinking of a worthy cause to which you might donate, this sounds like a good one.
- Big Box of Random Weirdness: It really was the damndest thing. Only yesterday I wondered about Louise Tucker's comment in the Guardian referring to "the Tesco-fication of books," musing:
I take it "Tesco" is sort of the U.K. equivalent of WalMart, or maybe Barnes & Noble. The big-box discount machine, in other words.
This morning I was wakened by the clock radio, as usual, with an NPR report on — of all things — Tesco coming to America! Turns out Tesco is a huge retail chain in the U.K. that is creeping its way onto our shores... so I wasn't far off on the big-box assessment.
I love it when serendipitous things happen that way. Now, I keep hearing about this thing called "a million dollars." What on earth could that be? I'd love to find out firsthand.
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Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.
The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.
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