December 7 2023

Benjamin Zephaniah: Writer, poet and Peaky Blinders actor dies aged 65

Writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah has been remembered as a “titan of British literature” after his death aged 65.

He died early on Thursday with his wife by his side after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago, a statement on his Instagram said.

Benjamin Zephaniah: Writer, poet and Peaky Blinders actor dies aged 65, Steven McIntosh, BBC News

One of Britain’s most prolific literary voices, Zephaniah was credited with creating “dub poetry”, with the words recited over the beats of reggae music. An outspoken political activist, his work dealt with themes of racism, poverty, and social injustice.

Born in Birmingham on 15 April 1958, Zephaniah was the son of a postman from Barbados and his mother was a nurse from Jamaica. Diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age, he left an approved school unable to read or write at the age of 13.

Benjamin Zephaniah death: British writer and poet known for his work on race and racism dies, aged 65, Maanya Sachdeva, Independent

Benjamin was a hero to millions of people all over the world. His mix of poetry, novels, wisdom, humour and sheer presence grabbed us and delighted us. I first saw him when he was starting out in the poetry clubs, dancing a poem about his mother, voicing his poetry in a voice I hadn’t heard before: Brummie-Caribbean. It was an honour and treat to work with him many times over the years, on videos, radio programmes, and when he MC’d an award ceremony run by the British Council for the best examples of English teaching. Then and often elsewhere, he loved reflecting on his journey from being a semi-literate teenager, getting into trouble, to someone feted at the highest levels for his literary achievements and force of personality.

‘A hero to millions’: Benjamin Zephaniah remembered by Michael Rosen, Kae Tempest and more, Michael Rosen, The Guardian
November 17 2023

AS Byatt: Author, critic and poet dies aged 87

Novelist, critic and poet Dame AS Byatt has died at the age of 87, her publisher has announced.

The renowned writer, whose full name was Antonia Susan Byatt, won the Booker Prize for her 1990 novel Possession.

In a statement, Penguin Random House said they were “deeply saddened” to announce her death.

They described her as “one of the most significant writers and critics of our time”.

AS Byatt: Author, critic and poet dies aged 87, Steven McIntosh, BBC News
October 17 2023

Reading Agency launches fundraising campaign to help address the adult literacy crisis

The Reading Agency has today launched a new fundraising campaign, Reading Power, focused on improving adult reading confidence across the UK.

It aims to raise funds to deliver vital reading programmes and resources to the 8.5 million adults in the UK with low literacy skills. Funds raised will support The Reading Agency’s schemes such as Quick Reads and Reading Ahead which provide accessible reads, tools and encouragement to help adults improve their reading confidence and ability.

Reading Agency launches fundraising campaign to help address the adult literacy crisis, HELOISE WOOD,

See Also: The Reading Agency announcement post

October 15 2023

Defunded theatre has lost its way, says writer Roger Williams

Wales’ national theatre has not produced enough engaging work and lost a meaningful connection with artists, a writer has said.

National Theatre Wales was told in September its annual £1.6m funding was being cut to nothing by Arts Council of Wales (ACW).

Roger Williams, among other members of the artistic community, said the theatre had “lost its way”.

Defunded theatre has lost its way, says writer, Stephen Fairclough, BBC News
October 11 2023

The Society of Authors demands transparency on publishers’ streaming deals with Spotify

The Society of Authors was deeply concerned last week to learn from press reports that ‘all major book publishers’ have agreed new limited streaming deals with Spotify. Under these agreements, subscribers to the Spotify Premium service in the UK and Australia will gain access to up to 15 hours of audiobook content per month through the Spotify app, from a catalogue of more than 150,000 audiobooks.

As far as we are aware, no authors or agents have been approached for permission for such licences, and authors have not been consulted on licence or payment terms. Publishing contracts differ but in our view most licences given to publishers for licensing of audio do not include streaming. In fact, it is likely that streaming was not a use that had been invented when many such contracts were entered into.

SoA demands transparency and action on publishers’ streaming deals with Spotify, The Society of Authors
October 11 2023

Author and playwright David Benedictus dies aged 85

Author and playwright David Benedictus has died suddenly at the age of 85, his family has said.

The writer was best known for novels including the Eton-set The Fourth Of June, which he adapted into a West End play, and You’re A Big Boy Now, which was turned into a 1966 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

He also wrote the 2009 Winnie The Pooh book Return To The Hundred Acre Wood, a sequel to The House at Pooh Corner and the first Pooh book since 1928.

Author and playwright David Benedictus dies aged 85, Laura Harding, Independent
October 4 2023

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction Shortlist announced

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction has announced its shortlist of six titles in contention for this year’s award. The books on this year’s list highlight the funniest novels of the past twelve months, which best evoke the Wodehouse spirit of witty characters and perfectly-timed comic phrases.

The award is the UK’s longest running prize for comic fiction and previous winners have included bestselling novelists Christopher Brookmyre, Nina Stibbe, Paul Torday and Helen Fielding. Last year’s winner was Percival Everett for his bold, provocative novel The Trees.

Bob Mortimer Book Shortlisted for Award, Bruce Dessau,

The shortlisted comic fiction books are:

  • Darling by India Knight
  • Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham
  • Mother Hens by Sophie McCartney
  • Murder at Crime Manor by Fergus Craig
  • Teen Couple Have Fun Outdoors by Aravind Jayan
  • The Satsuma Complex by Bob Mortimer

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What is the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize?

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize is the United Kingdom’s first literary award for comic literature. Established in 2000 and named in honour of P. G. Wodehouse, past winners include Paul Torday in 2007 with Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Marina Lewycka with A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian 2005 and Jasper Fforde for The Well of Lost Plots in 2004. Gary Shteyngart was the first American winner in 2011.

The Prize is sponsored and organized by Bollinger, a producer of sparkling wines from the Champagne region of France, and Everyman Library, a book imprint that is a division of Random House.

Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, Wikipedia

An interesting fact about the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse

In 2018, no one won the prize because the 62 nominated books just were not funny enough. [source]

September 16 2023

I am in Print launches £1,000 writing prize with Canelo

Entering a writing competition is a fantastic way to put your work in front of a publisher. We are therefore hugely excited to be working with Canelo, one of the largest independent digitally focused publishers in Europe and one of the largest UK fiction publishers by volume, to find the best, as yet unpublished, manuscripts.

Manuscripts entered into the I Am In Print Novel Award must be complete, written in English and be between 70,000 and 100,000 words. The award is open to writers globally and novels written for an adult audience in the following genres are welcome: Action thriller, Cosy mystery, Crime, Historical adventure, Horror, Psychological thriller, Romance, and Saga.

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