News roundup published on February 21, 2013.
Just when we thought she was invincible, Hilary Mantel has incurred the darker side of fame. In the wake of a British Museum lecture, in which she referred to the Duchess of Cambridge’s “perfect plastic smile”, says The Guardian, Mantel has met the wrath of the British tabloid and its common philosophy that is, ‘she who goes up, must be brought firmly down’.
The fact that Mantel’s words have been taken out of context is neither here nor there. Even the Prime Minister felt it necessary to proffer his 50 pence worth in defence of royalty, says The Independent, branding Mantel’s remarks “misguided”. The report suggests it’s unclear whether Cameron has read the entire lecture. Fortunately many have, including How To Be a Woman author Caitlin Moran, who tweeted a link to Mantel’s Royal Bodies on the London Review of Books site, calling it “sane, and beautiful”.
In the second literary row of the week, Horrible Histories author Terry Deary has ruffled feathers aplenty by dismissing libraries as irrelevant. He told The Guardian that we shouldn’t expect to read books for free, “at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers”. He went on to say, “Books aren’t public property, and writers aren’t Enid Blyton, middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby”.
So far, other authors are sticking up for the besieged library and, quite possibly, secretly ‘unfriending’ Deary on Facebook. The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson, for example, says in The Guardian that libraries are where readers discover their favourite authors and should be free. Meanwhile, others who’ve commented on the topic are far less forgiving towards Deary, says The Telegraph.
His opinion of Enid Blyton, however, might hit a nerve in the late author’s hometown of Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. According to The Telegraph, organisers are planning a week-long festival in honour of the Famous Five author. But, it says, in light of reports that many of her books have been modified since her death due to content considered racist and sexist, some locals are reluctant to celebrate.
But the week wasn’t all quarrels and controversy. We heard the good news that William Boyd’s 007 novel featuring a “troubled, nuanced and interesting” Bond, as hinted at in The Independent last year, should hit bookstores in September, says the BBC. Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, the elusive Donna Tartt, author of The Secret History, is set to release her first novel in 11 years, The Goldfinch, in October.
And finally, what could be more exciting than news that Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace is to be adapted for TV? The BBC tells us it’ll be a six-part BBC One series. The only question is can there ever be enough telly hours in which to indulge us with this tale of truly epic proportions?
Nadeem Aslam reads from The Blind Man’s Garden