Muriel Spark Centenary Celebrations

By January 31, 2018Authors, Literary Events, News
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The great Scottish author Dame Muriel Spark would have been 100 years old on the 1st February this year. She was born in Edinburgh in 1918, married young and lived in Zimbabwe, moving back to London after the war. In 1963 she moved to New York and in 1967 to Rome, she died at the age of 88 at her home in Florence. Her books which are full of wit and wisdom, appeal equally to both men and women, and have never dated because her style is so fresh and modern.

If you’re not familiar with Spark’s work you may be wondering where to start. William Boyd (a self confessed super fan) advised listeners of BBC Radio 4’s Book Club to start with what are in his mind her best works, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (USUK), “The Girls of Slender Means,” (USUK) “Loitering with Intent,” (USUK) and “A Far Cry From Kensington.” (USUK) He stated that these books all set in London and Edinburgh are “autobiographical” and the best introduction to her work.

In the same programme, Editor and writer of a recent memoir of Muriel Spark ‘Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark’ (USUK) Alan Taylor, recommended starting “with The Comforters, start where she started and then take them slowly, like a good brandy, don’t glut”

Whichever way you decide to read them, or if you’re already a Spark fan, it’s great news that to celebrate this centenary Polygon are reprinting all 22 of her novels. These stylish collectable editions will have a series preface by editor Alan Taylor and an introduction by writers or critics such as William Boyd, Alexander McCall Smith and Ali Smith. The first five have already been published and the next four, including “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” will be published on the anniversary with the remainder coming during the course of the year.

If you want to read more about Muriel Spark or about the events being organised to celebrate her Centenary head over to murielspark100.com.

New UK Editions, Coming Feb 8th

The Girls of Slender Means UK

New UK Editions, Coming Feb 8th

The Prime of Mrs Jean Brodie UK

8 books by left-handed authors to celebrate ‘International Left Handers Day’

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Left handers have been mocked and demonised throughout the years, especially from religious people who believe the left hand to be ‘unclean’, or accusing left handers to be ‘consorting with the devil’.

As absurd as those claims may seem now, some of the negativity towards left-handed folk remains to this day. Left handers were still battling in the 20th century against people like American psychoanalyst Abram Blau, who accused all left-handers of being perverts. Even seemingly well-meaning teachers still insist on their student switching hands when they start to learn to write.

If only left handers were just left to be lefties! Some of our favourite writers were left-handed, and it is said that lefties tend to be more creative and arty than right handers.

Here’s a list of 8 of our favourite lefty writers.

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Nobel Prize Winning Author VS Naipaul Dies

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Novelist VS Naipaul has died peacefully at home in London just a few days before his 86th birthday. The Nobel Prize winning author of more than thirty books including A Bend in the River and A House for Mr Biswas was born in rural Trinidad in 1932 and went on to become a key figure in British literary heritage.

Sir VS Naipaul had been in ill health for a while and published his final work, the nonfiction The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief in 2010. Today the literary world is in shock. Here are some of the tributes on Twitter today.

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Roots Author Alex Haley Talks of the Horrors of Slavery

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Alex Haley (August 11th, 1921 – February 10th, 1992) was an American author, best known for his 1976 Pulitzer Prize winning book Roots: The Saga of an American Family, adapted to a series a year later in 1977.

While a fantastic story, Roots was not without controversy and its release was marred by accusations of plagiarism (proven to be partly true), and doubts cast on the authenticity of the family ties. Today the book is accepted to be a work of fiction, and controversy aside is still a worthy read with an important message.

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Chinese Crime Writer Who Used His Own Murders as Inspiration for His Stories Sentenced to Death

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Last year, we reported the news that the Chinese crime author Liu Yongbiao had been arrested for the decades old murder of four people he and a friend killed after a robbery went wrong. Following his trial a few days ago, the 53-year-old has been sentenced to death for the murders which occurred 23 years ago.

In 1995, Liu Yongbiao and an accomplice named Wang Mouming robbed a hostel. After being discovered, the two killed a family of three as well as another guest by beating them to death him hammers and clubs in order to cover their tracks. Since the crime, Liu became a famed writer and was even a member of the China Writers’ Association.

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A Story Ernest Hemingway Wrote in 1956 Is to Be Published for the First Time

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Ernest Hemingway is arguably one of the finest authors to have ever put pen to paper, and his given us many modern classics such as A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. Fans of Hemingway will be very pleased to learn that, more than 60 years after it was first written, a Hemingway story called A Room at the Garden Side is set to be published for the first time.

For decades, the novel has remained hidden away from scholars and academics, but has finally resurfaced. The story takes place in the Ritz Hotel, Paris, a setting which has appeared in previous Hemingway novels and holds personal significance for the author. The novel is narrated by a character called Robert, who happens to share Hemingway’s own nickname, Papa. Robert and his band of soldiers, who are all due to leave the city the next day, spend their time drinking and debating “the dirty trade of war.”
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4 Brilliant Leon Uris Books

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Leon Uris (3rd August, 1924 – June 21, 2003) was an American author of historical fiction who wrote many bestselling books. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Uris was the son of Jewish American parents Wolf William and Anna Uris. His father was a Polish born immigrant, his mother a first generation Russian American.

Uris was six years old when he was first recognised for his literary skills when he wrote an operetta inspired by the death of his dog. He would go on to write many bestselling works, based around major political and historic events. Today we’re going to recommend four books you may like to try. Read More



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