17 April 2008

Meet the Author: Nick Hornby

Last week I attended the inaugural Meet the Author event at the iTunes store in Regent Street. Each month iTunes are inviting an author to the store to talk about their work. The interview is recorded in front of a live audience and then put up on iTunes as a podcast.

The first author to participate was one of my favourites: Nick Hornby. It was a great interview and Nick was utterly charming. It was fascinating to hear the challenges he faced in portraying the character of Sam, the teenage protagonist of his latest novel, Slam. You can listen to the interview here

Since then I’ve been listening to Slam. It is brilliantly read by Nicholas Hoult, who first came to fame by playing Marcus in the movie adaptation of About a Boy but who is more recently known for his role in Skins. It is a great reading and he really brings the character to life… almost too much as you can practically visualise him as he talks! A champion of ‘lad-lit’, this is Nick’s first novel which is aimed at teenagers. The book has been well received and I found it made engaging listening… certainly one that grown-ups can enjoy too! To download the book go here.

10 April 2008

McEwan scoops two British book awards

Ian McEwan, who was earlier overlooked by both the Costa and the Man Booker Prizes, was last night crowned the Author of the Year at the British Book Awards. His novel On Chesil Beach was also named the Book of the Year. The ceremony will be broadcast on Channel 4 this Sunday (13th April), at 4.40pm. The key winners were:

Other winners were Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook which won the biography category, Catherine O'Flynn who won Newcomer of the Year award for her novel What Was Lost and the popular fiction award went to Kim Edwards for The Memory Keeper's Daughter (Penguin).

JK Rowling was awarded an Outstanding Achievement award by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He said: "She has joined a distinguished line of British authors whose work has got the whole country reading, and whose books will be read for many years to come by successive generations."

For a full list if British Book Award nominees available to download from Audible go here.

9 April 2008

Junot Diaz wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Congratulations to Junot Diaz who has won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His ambitious novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, took him 11 years to complete.

The New York Times described the novel as “Mario Vargas Llosa meets Star Trek meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West.”

About the book:

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku: the curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim…

Go here to download the unabridged audiobook from Audible.

7 April 2008

Download The Wasp Factory for free with The Independent

Audible have teamed up with The Independent this week to give away Iain Banks’ controversial debut novel The Wasp Factory. Starting today you can get the first instalment of the unabridged audiobook for free with print edition of the newspaper. Then, each day until Friday 11 April, you will be able download the next instalment of this great cult classic.
We recently met up with Iain for the Audible.co.uk Podcast. It was a very entertaining interview not least because Banks is such an down-to-earth and affable chap. The interview focussed mainly on his latest book, Matter, but also touched upon The Wasp Factory. Destpite admitting to some concerns about 'wee great grannies' getting a shock when they listen to it, he maintains that his first novel is ‘quite a nice book’ because, he says, it has a happy ending and the truth comes out in the end. Find out for yourself with The Independent this week or, if you can't wait, download the complete novel from Audible.co.uk.

3 April 2008

A step into the future

Penguin Books, in collaboration with online media company Six to Start have undertaken an exciting new project to re-write 6 classics novels. The We Tell Stories project is an attempt to find new ways to tell stories in the age of Web 2.0.

The first title in the series is John Buchan’s pre-World War I espionage thriller The 39 Steps. The novel is given a revamp by Charles Cummings who called his homage to Buchan’s classic The 21 Steps. The interactive story is told wholly through Google Maps. Readers can click on Google’s pointer icons to progress through the story and watch the path traced by Richard Hannay as he travels from London's St. Pancras train station to Heathrow Airport and then to Edinburgh.

The story is makes for entertaining reading and it’s great to see publishers embrace digital technology in such a revolutionary way. I have to admit I’ve never actually read The 39 Steps, but now having finished The 21 Steps I’m going to go back to the original… well almost. We’ve got a unabriged audio recording of the book from the BBC, read by Robert Powell, so my next step will be to download that today!

2 April 2008

More acclaim for Mister Pip

Congratulations go to Lloyd Jones who has just won the The Kiriyama Prize for Literature.

The prize was established in 1996 to recognize outstanding books about the Pacific Rim and South Asia that encourage greater mutual understanding of and among its peoples and nations. Jones’ novel is set on the South Pacific island of Bougainville, during the island's bloody secessionist clash with Papua New Guinea in the 1990's.

As well as being chosen for Richard and Judy’s Best Read Award, Mister Pip also won the 2007 Commonwealth writers' prize and was a hotly-tipped shortlist contender for last year's Man Booker prize… but it was pipped at the post by Anne Enright’s The Gathering.