7:34am

Wed January 29, 2014
The Two-Way

Book News: Nurse's Debut Novel Wins Prestigious Costa Award

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Nurse Nathan Filer's debut novel, Where the Moon Isn't (called The Shock of the Fall in the U.K.), has won the prestigious Costa Book of the Year award. Filer beat out Kate Atkinson, who was widely regarded as the favorite. Filer's novel draws on his experience as a mental health nurse to depict Matthew, a 19-year-old with schizophrenia who saw his brother die a decade before the novel takes place. Rose Tremai, the head of the judges said, "For a first novel it is astonishingly sure-footed. ... I think there is genuine excitement about this winner." She added, "It is not just about schizophrenia — it is about grief." As The Guardian points out, "The Costa prize is unusual in that it pits five category winners — novel, first novel, biography, children's and poetry — against each other for the top £30,000 prize; like comparing chicken curry with custard, as one former judge said."
  • Swedish crime novelist Henning Mankell says he has cancer. Writing in a column for the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper, he said he plans to write about it: "At a very early stage I decided to try to write about this, because it is ultimately about the pain and suffering that afflicts so many people."
  • My Life in Middlemarch author Rebecca Mead is interviewed by The Millions: "The post-Victorian generation put George Eliot into the box of earnestness and worthiness and dullness, so she's forbidding. And people look at Middlemarch and think: "Oh my God, it's so dense, I'll never get through it." But if you try hard enough to get into it, it's spectacularly hilarious and ironic and cutting." (Read an excerpt of one of the best parts of Mead's book here — it discusses Eliot's correspondence with an obsessive "superfan.")
  • Martin Scorsese is working on a documentary about The New York Review of Books. If it's anything like Scorcese's recent work, it will feature Robert Silver snorting cocaine, hands stained with the blood of book reviewers who overuse the word "lyrical."
  • House of Leaves author Mark Z. Danielewski has a new poem in Tin House. It begins:

"Not all poems are poems.

Here is one way to tell them apart:

a poem that is not a poem will forget you;

a poem that is a poem will sit beside you

at your hospital bed

  • Convicted arsonist and environmental activist Rebecca Rubin was sentenced to five years in prison and to read Malcolm Gladwell's book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, as well as Nature's Trust by the environmental law professor Mary C. Wood. Gladwell tweeted, "Last week I meet the 'Hoff. Now a judge sentences a woman to read David and Goliath. My cup runneth over." The judge said Rubin needed to learn about non-violent ways of effecting change.
  • The delightful Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson is now online and searchable. It includes the "original introductions, collations, and commentary, but it complements, develops, and vastly extends the Print Edition with a large and flexible array of textual and contextual materials. The textual components consist of hundreds of digital images and dozens of searchable old-spelling transcriptions of the early printed versions of Jonson's texts and some of the major manuscripts."
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