Alexander McCall Smith, the man behind Precious Ramotzwe and the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, talks to Danuta Kean about Africa, inspiration and the importance of intuition
Archive for July, 2006
Monica Ali did not intend to produce her new novel Alentejo Blue. The acclaimed author of Brick Lane had quite another book in mind when she sat down to write the follow-up to her stunning debut.
Because though the quality of writing is good, like so much of women’s writing they are infected with the kind of jaundiced view of men and relationships that makes me reach for the gin when forced to read self-help books like The Rules.
Feel guilty about sacking people? Need a mind workout? Danuta Kean uncovers the secrets of self-help for suits
PUBLISHING IS LITTERED WITH the carcasses of pretenders to the Harry Potter throne, but this week the US publishing giant Random House put its money where its mouth is and announced that it was backing its choice for heir apparent, 21-year-old Christopher Paolini,
Climbing the stairs of London’s National Gallery to open the city’s third annual design festival in September, Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, turned to festival director Ben Evans and said: “We need more showcases like this.”
Something has gone topsy-turvy in the world of books. Famous publishers are paying vast sums for so-called “big books” that wind up very quickly in the remainder shops. Meanwhile, the best-seller lists are topped by perfectly-formed, unprepossessing volumes from small independent firms that can hardly believe their good fortune. It is a reversal of the natural laws of publishing.
“About 95 per cent of authors are worse off now than they were five years ago,” asserts Mark Le Fanu, general secretary of the Society of Authors. “
When I announce the Romantic Novel of the Year today, bets will be on to see how long it takes for the winner to declare, “I am not a romantic novelist”, while keeping a tight hold on the £10,000 cheque.
Toby Mundy is an optimist at heart. By his own admission the youthful managing director of Atlantic Books, the UK offshoot of US independent Grove Atlantic, is a “glass half full” man. In the past year this optimism has been rewarded by a string of successes