Sunday, December 16, 2007

Poems from Guantánamo

Poems from GuantanamoThe collection of poems written by prisoners held in the Guantánamo Bay detention centre, Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak has been released in the UK.

Among the 21 poems (by 17 writers) are what one prisoner etched onto foam cups with a before pen and paper was allowed. Shaikh Abdurraheem Muslim Dost was a Pakistani poet and prolific author before his detention. (The poems were scratched into the cups provided with lunch and were removed with empty plates by the guards after each meal. But Dost reconstructed them from memory after his release in 2005. Many were writers before they were detained and many are first timers. Most remain behind bars.

It was collected by Law Professor Marc Falkoff who has represented several of the prisoners. He noticed pieces of poetry or even completed works in the prisoners’ correspondence with him and decided to collect them.

Here’s one by Moazzem Begg (as quoted in The Guardian).

"Dreams are shattered, hopes are battered,
Yet with new status one is flattered!
The irony of it-detention, and all:
Be so small, and stand so tall."

The Guardian

Sir Salman Rushdie doesn't recommend the fatwa

SalmanRushdieSir Salman Rushdie was in Budapest recently and 1000 people showed up for his autograph in a three-hour public book-signing event. Five of his novels, Midnight's Children, Shame, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor's Last Sigh, and Shalimar the Clown have just been published in Hungarian simultaneously. His new novel, The Enchantress of Florence -- a novel set in 16th century India and high Renaissance Florence -- is due to be published by Random House in 2008.

When asked about the 'fatwa' his reply was, "It was not good. Is that enough? I wouldn't recommend it. If it's at all possible to avoid being sentenced to death by the insane dictator of a country far away, you should try it."

Good advice.

Hungarian Literature Online
and other sources

Literary prizes, Twit Lit and the iPod

Literary prize judges

First there was singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega on the judges panel for the Orange Prize. After that was model Sophie Dahl. Then in 1999 the choice of Jerry Hall on the panel for the Whitbread Book of the Year created a bit of an uproar when she backed Harry Potter for the prize. (Seamus Heaney's version of Beowulf eventually won the prize.) This year singer-songwriter Lily Allen is an Orange Prize judge.

The Royal Society of Literature's chair, Maggie Gee, has questioned the "shortage of serious writers" on a panel. Authors Philippa Gregory and Bel Mooney, journalists Kirsty Lang and Guardian Review editor Lisa Allardice are the other judges.

The honorary director, Kate Mosse, points out that "everybody is a reader; though some are writers, others are not."

True. Just as in football. England has 50 million football fans who think they know more about football then the managers. Should we have player selection by SMS's then?

The Guardian

Twit Lit?

I haven’t stopped being appalled at the term 'chick lit' and now comes along another one 'twit lit'. This report in the Guardian suggest that '(this) season's bestsellers reveal the British male is undergoing a surreally extended midlife crisis'.

The top seller is Jeremy Clarkson's car-journalism anthology Don't Stop Me Now, a hardback, featuring 61 Sunday Times pieces about the Ford Sportka, Audi S4 Cabriolet and Caterham Seven Roadsport SV. Next is On The Edge, about a 'near-obsessive attraction to speed and the smell of petrol'.

So, that is 'twit lit'.

And for the more intellectual there is this number one on the Amazon list: Do Ants Have Arseholes?

The Guardian

Reading books on the iPod

Reports say that Apple is developing a new-generation iPod MP3 player with a book reading mode. The new-generation of iPods will allow people to download and read books and view blockbuster movies. Apple is working on a widescreen version of the new video iPod to ease reading of print material.

Apple has reportedly asked a number of the world's major publishing houses to commit their full libraries of books to their electronic archives from which customers will be able to download text versions of bestsellers into their video iPods.

Current list of books available runs to more than 400 titles, including classics such as Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby and Jane Eyre. Prices range from as little as 50pence (RM3.50) up to GBP4.50

The Hindustan Times

This and that

Libby ReesSecond book by Britain's youngest author

Libby Rees was only nine when she wrote her first book, Help, Hope And Happiness, a 60-page self-help on how to cope when parents separated. Now she is 12 and has published her second self-help book, At Sixes and Sevens, about moving from primary to secondary school. Like her first book she hopes it will be translated into Dutch, Japanese, Italian, Taiwanese, Mandarin and other languages. Her new book will be published early next year.

The Daily Mail

Amazon ordered to stop free delivery in France

The high court in Versailles has ruled that may not offer free delivery on books in France. In suit brought in January 2004, the French Booksellers' Union (Syndicat de la librairie Francaise) accused Amazon of offering illegal discounts on books and for selling some books below cost.

The court gave Amazon 10 days to start charging for the delivery of books. Retail prices of books are tightly regulated in France. Using ‘loss-leaders’ and selling products below cost to attract customers is illegal, and book retailers must not offer discounts of more than 5 percent on the publisher's recommended price. Free delivery offered by Amazon exceeded the legal limit, the union said.

The New York Times

Arthur C ClarkeSir Arthur C Clarke turns 90

Happy Birthday, Sir Arthur C. Clarke. He will be 90 today Dec. 16, author of the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was made into that 1968 cult classic movie by Stanley Kubrick's, the one that started it all. He is the last surviving member of the "Big Three" of science fiction authors (the other two members being Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein).

Other trivia (from Wikipedia): the command centre of the Apollo 13 craft was named "2001" after the movie. Arthur C Clarke has an asteroid and a species of dinosaur Serendipaceratops arthurcclarkei named after him.