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Book News: A.M. Homes Takes Women's Prize For Fiction

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • A.M. Homes won the prestigious Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize, soon to be the Baileys prize) for her novel May We Be Forgiven. It follows Nixon historian Harold Silver as he begins an ultimately fatal affair with his sister-in-law. NPR's Michael Schaub wrote, "It's not just one of the best novels of the past few years, it's also the most deeply, painfully American." Homes beat out front-runner Hilary Mantel, as well as other prominent writers such as Zadie Smith, Barbara Kingsolver and Maria Semple.
  • Adam Johnson, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel about North Korea, The Orphanmaster's Son, spoke to NPR's Renee Montagne about meeting the late dictator Kim Jong Il's sushi chef while on assignment for GQ magazine: "Kenji Fujimoto's story is the most rare of tales. There's really two North Koreas. There's a countryside, with extreme privation, where people are really fighting for their lives; and those are the people who tend to defect. So we have a great portrait of what it's like to live in poverty and repression, in North Korea. The elites, in Pyongyang, rarely defect. So their stories are much more elusive."
  • Novel laureate and Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk writes about the recent protests in Istanbul for The New Yorker: "[I]t fills me with hope and confidence to see that the people of Istanbul will not relinquish their right to hold political demonstrations in Taksim Square — or relinquish their memories — without a fight."
  • The English satirist Tom Sharpe has died at his home in Catalonia, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais. He was 85. Sharpe's first two novels, Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure, are scathing critiques of apartheid in South Africa. He is perhaps best known for Porterhouse Blue, a satire of Cambridge life.
  • For The New York Review of Books, April Bernard considers Sylvia Plath: "Indispensable, often imitated, endlessly instructive about what poetry can do — Plath slips the noose of biography and stays alive in her poems, where the uncanny is at once personal and political." (While you're at it, read Craig Morgan Teicher's sophisticated take on The Colossus, her first collection of poems.)
  • Slate features beautiful pictures of Emily Dickinson's herbarium (her book of pressed flowers) on its history blog, The Vault.
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