books & reading

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Winner 2011 Colum McCann

Colum McCann, award winner

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann is the winner of the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The novel was chosen from a shortlist of 10, and a longlist of 162 books by 166 libraries  - representing 126 cities in 43 countries.

'New York, August 1974: a man is walking in the sky. Between the newly built Twin Towers, the man twirls through the air. Far below, the lives of complete strangers spin towards each other: Corrigan, a radical Irish monk working in the Bronx; Claire, a delicate Upper East Side housewife reeling from the death of her son; Lara, a drug-addled young artist; Gloria, solid and proud despite decades of hardship; Tillie, a hooker who used to dream of a better life; and Jazzlyn, her beautiful daughter raised on promises that reach beyond the skyline of New York. In the shadow of one reckless and beautiful act, these disparate lives will collide, and be transformed for ever.'

Colum McCann, born in Dublin, Ireland, is the author of five novels and two collections of stories. He has won numerous international literary awards. Zoli, Dancer and This Side of Brightness (published in the UK by Bloomsbury in July 2010) were international bestsellers and his fiction has been published in over thirty languages. He lives in New York

Carlo Gebler Transcript

Swedish Crime is on the Climb! (Part Two)

In my first post on Swedish crime fiction I focused on Henning Mankell and Steig Larsson, the two best known and most widely read Swedish authors. But of course they are but two from a lengthy list of talented crime authors emanating from that country; given its relatively small population (9m), Sweden must surely rank as the bastion of fiction crime writing. In this second post I want to draw your attention to four more authors I think worthy of your attention, so I hope you won't be disappointed!

Håkan Nesser

Inspector and Silance

After Larssen and Mankell, the next Swedish crime writer to come to mind is Håkan Nesser, a multiple award winner whose books have also been turned to film (you might get the DVDs on Amazon). Nesser's books are well written with good plots, and have for me proved absorbing reads. The principal character, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, might differ from most crime detectives you encounter; he likes good food, fine wines, owns an antique bookshop, and seems generally cheerful and untroubled. Top of my list is Borkmann's Point 5 star, where Van Veeteren assists in an investigation while on holiday. I can also highly recommend The Return 3.5 star (where he investigates a murder from his hospital bed); The Inspector and Silence 3.5 star (a girl goes missing from a religious sect and the inevitable body or two shows up); Woman with Birthmark 3 star (a woman seeks revenge following the death of her mother); and The Mind's Eye 2.5 star (dead woman with husband accused - guilty or not?). This last is the one I liked the least, but you may well disagree, I have read some reviews that rate it very highly.

Terry Pratchett

cover of Mort the Graphic NovelIn a moment of blink and you might miss it moment, Terry (or Professor Terry or Sir Terry or Sir Terence) Pratchett met the Queen when she met some of the Staff of Trinity College. (He is an adjunct professor in the Department of English) Irish resident Fantasy Author Diane Duane put the video up on her site.

I have read most of Terry Pratchett's books and enjoyed them mightily.  Though when I first met with them I didn't enjoy them as much and many people I know have said that they didn't like the first few either.  Many fans would suggest you try Mort.  There is quite a good suggested reading order.

May is Busy Month for Childrens Book People

October is the month for Children's Book Festival, and Christmas is the time most children's books are bought, but May is shaping up to be the busiest month in the calendar for people interested in books for children and young people - at least in Ireland - it's been a whirl of award ceremonies, book launches and 'talking heads' events and I've been lucky enough to attend many of them. I'm even getting used to seeing lollipops served alongside the wine - though I haven't tried that mixture yet!

It started with the announcement of the Bisto Children's Book of the Year Awards in the National Library on 16th - which I've already blogged about - congratulations again to Chris Haughton for winning the overall award with 'A Bit Lost' and to Sheena Wilkinson for receiving the Children's Choice award for her novel 'Taking Flight'. Sheena also gets the prettiest coat award for her lovely floral affair - sorry I don't have a picture!

Swedish Crime is on the Climb! (Part One)

Map of SwedenSwedish crime writing has always had a good reputation, and its popularity is greater now than ever, largely because of the movie and TV spin-offs which have served to highlight two writers in particular, namely Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson. There are several others, but I will write a second post soon where I will focus on those other fabulous writers. There is just too much material for one post! So in this post I am going to concentrate on the two biggies, introducing you (as if I need to) to the books that give us those now famous characters, Liz Salander and Kurt Wallander.

Feel the Chill with Icelandic Crime Novels!

Tainted Blood, aka Jar CityIn light of the showing of the Icelandic film 'Jar City' on BBC Four this coming Sunday night (8th May), I thought the occasion definitely warranted mention here of the wonderful crime novels emanating from Iceland. The two principal writers responsible for ensuring Iceland a prominent place on the literary crime scene are of course Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.

Indriðason is the author of 'Jar City' 4 star (probably better known under the title 'Tainted Blood'), one in the excellent series starring Inspector Erlendur and set in and around Reykjavik. Though I would say Reykjavik is portrayed in the book as a somewhat dark and austere place, a friend assures me it is in reality far from that, and well worth a visit. I wouldn't doubt him for a moment! Erlendur has his own personal and family difficulties of course (which crime detective has not?), which only adds to the well-crafted storylines. And they are so well-written (and translated) too of course.

Rhinestone Cowboys

One of the more idiosyncratic aspects of public library layout is the corralling of 'Wild West' novels into their own distinct section...or should that be 'reservation'. Whether this is a form of literary apartheid against genre fiction or a mere reflection of borrower demand is moot (I strongly suspect the latter rather than the former). If you have been unable to take the Western seriously since the infamous 'campfire' scene in Blazing Saddles, here are four literary masterpieces that will restore your faith in the genre.

Give them a shot!

Quirky Reads from Bloomsbury

Publishers The Bloomsbury Group have a series of handy-sized books that are well worth taking a look at if you like a quirky read. The series consists of books mainly from the early 20 century, many of which had fallen out of print. Readers can suggest books they think should be revived. The series is attractively packaged, and contains some real gems.

Mrs Harris goes to ParisMrs Harris goes to Paris’ by Paul Gallico is the story of a London charlady who sets her heart on owning a Christian Dior dress, and scrimps and saves until she has enough money to fulfil her unlikely dream. Her trip to the House of Dior introduces her to new friends, adventures, and perspectives on life.

POTTER MANIA!!!!!

Harry Potter DVDsWith the release of the final Harry Potter movie this summer (on July 15 for those who are counting the days like me!!), and the release of the latest Harry Potter movie on DVD, it’s never too late to become a Harry Potter fan, (or like me read all the stories again in preparation for the film!)All seven Harry Potter novels and DVDs are available to borrow in Dublin City Public Libraries or you can reserve them online using your borrower number and pin number. Your borrower number is on your library card and if you do not have a pin number you can get it at your local Dublin City Public Library.

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