The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- The shortlist for the Man Booker Prize, Britain's most prestigious literary award, was announced Tuesday morning. Although the prize is limited to writers from the British Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland, the list skews international, and includes authors from Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Canada. The complete shortlist is:
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Harvest by Jim Crace
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
The Man Booker Prize is a perennial source of controversy, with past selections criticized as either too popular or not readable enough. This year's list seems to strike a balance, avoiding big bestsellers while still choosing accessible novels. Two of the books, The Luminaries and The Lowland, haven't yet come out in the U.S. (though American audiences can read the beginning of The Luminaries courtesy of Granta, and a long excerpt of The Lowland is available over at The New Yorker). The £50,000 prize (roughly equal to $78,000) will be announced Oct. 15.
- For Al-Jazeera, Leigh Cuen reports that the civil war in Syria has sparked a kind of poetic renaissance. She quotes the expatriate writer Ghias al-Jundi: "A lot of poetry and beautiful lyrics are rising up from the ashes in Syria." Cuen adds that writers are in more danger than ever: "Poets and writers are disappearing across the country. Syrian writers are caught between a double danger: the regime and the Islamists. It is a risk to write or utter a word."
- Former President Jimmy Carter is writing a book about "all aspects of women's lives," according to The New York Times. He writes in the book proposal, quoted by the Times, "I am convinced that discrimination against women and girls is one of the world's most serious, all-pervasive and largely ignored violations of basic human rights."
- Following the release of a documentary and biography about J.D. Salinger, Phoebe Hoban argues that Salinger fans should skip the biography and read the man himself: "Almost everything you ever wanted to know about Salinger can be found on the written page — in Salinger's own unmistakable voice — in his slim oeuvre of four famous volumes; the plethora of letters he sent to friends, editors, and lovers; the 22 uncollected short stories published from 1940–48 in Story and other magazines; and the handful of unpublished stories stashed in libraries."