Tag Archives: Society of Authors

World Book Night 2015

It’s nearly here. Thursday 23rd April is World Book Night 2015. It’s the time to celebrate and promote books and reading.

169 World Book Night logoThousands of books from the list (see below) are given away on the night to encourage the 35% of people who do not read regularly. The list therefore includes lots of different kinds of books, so there is something that will appeal everyone. World Book Night seems to be fading in other countries, but in the UK we have the Reading Agency to keep it strong.

Members and staff of the Society of Authors is taking part in an event at Shelter from the Storm, a free London homeless shelter.

Here is the list of books for World Book Night 2015:

  1. After the Fall by Charity Norman (Allen and Unwin)
  2. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton (Constable, Little, Brown)
  3. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb (HarperCollins)
  4. Chickenfeed by Minette Walters (Pan Macmillan)
  5. Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts by Mary Gibson (Head of Zeus)
  6. Dead Man Talking by Roddy Doyle (Quick Read) (Vintage)
  7. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (Pan Macmillan)
  8. Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy, ed Neil Astley (Bloodaxe)
  9. Honour by Elif Shafak (Penguin)
  10. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher (Orion / Hachette Children’s)
  11. Prime Suspect by Lynda La Plante (Simon & Schuster)
  12. Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle (Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House)
  13. Skellig by David Almond (Hachette Children’s)
  14. Spring Tide by Cilla and Rolf Börjlind (Hesperus)
  15. Street Cat Bob by James Bowen(Quick Read) (Hodder)
  16. The Martian by Andy Weir (Penguin)
  17. The Moaning of Life by Karl Pilkington (Canongate)
  18. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Penguin)
  19. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (John Murray)
  20. When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman (Headline)
Three children reading a book together in a village in Nepal, April 2011. Photo by Nirmal Dulal via wikicommons

Three children reading a book together in a village in Nepal, April 2011. Photo by Nirmal Dulal via wikicommons

What can you do for World Book Night?

Visit the World Book Night 2015 web page.

Read a book from the list.

Aim to read the whole list before World Book Night 2016.

Give a friend a book from the list.

Give two friends two books from the list.

Buy all the listed books that you don’t already own.

Girl Reading by Homer Winslow

Girl Reading by Homer Winslow

Suggest reading a book from the list in your reading group.

Make a donation to support World Book Night.

Leave a book from the list on a train, in a café or in some other public place to be found by a stranger.

Read a book from the list that you wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t included.

Send the link to this post by Twitter to all your followers.

Read all the books on the list by women (the proportion has increased from previous years, according to #readwomen2014).

La Lecon by Renoir

La Lecon by Renoir

I first blogged about World Book Night 2015 last December. You can read that blogpost here.

Tell us what you will do for World Book Night. Tell what you have done for WBN.

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Filed under Books, Reading

Preparing to meet our editor

It’s time to meet the editor and hear her proposals for our manuscript. Why is this so difficult? Is it because we are preparing to face the judgement of a sharp critic? Are we so identified with our manuscript that we see its lack of perfection as our imperfections? We remind each other that the editor’s task is to help enhance the manuscript and to be its (our) saviour.

71 table

We have a publisher for our non-fiction book (working title On Retiring). We have a contract, a promise of an advance and a publication date for the summer 2014. The contract is not yet signed as we took advice from the very excellent Society of Authors who provided us with some queries. Watch this space!

We have been working on this book for three years. We have written it collaboratively (and written about writing collaboratively, see for example the most recent blogpost on that subject) and received useful feedback from participants in our retiring workshops. We have revised it in the light of comments from an insightful and experienced reader. When she indicated they would take it on the publisher asked for two further thorough revisions, first to make it more edgy, and second to better engage the reader. Both revisions improved the book. Now we have the contract and the publisher wants some final revisions from a professional editor. She says it will be quicker and more straightforward for this to be done by a professional than by us. So now we meet our editor.

71 Tabernacle

This feels personal. The book is still part of us. [Eileen wants to call it a tabernacle because she was brought up a Catholic! I don’t have a clue what she means. Hey ho. We learn as we go. Caroline.] This book holds the essence of our learning about retiring and our struggles to communicate our complex ideas. It is the outcome of considerable reflection on the processes of writing together. These subjects have been central to our lives in the last three years. Now we have to see someone else crafting the manuscript. We expect that when it comes back from the editor the book will be changed and enhanced. It will be a significant stage in letting the book go.

71 hand edit

In preparing to meet the editor we are looking at issues raised by the publisher. We use different formats to signify different purposes in the text (eg summaries of information, tables, case studies in boxes). The publisher observed that our presentation is too ‘academic’. How will the editor change this to distinguish the different purposes without boxes and tables etc? Will we like these changes? Will the revised tone reflect our voice? Will we be requested to compromise in a way that is unacceptable – for example, turning it into a ‘how to retire book’ which it isn’t!

71 Manuscript-Editing4

We hope she will solve the problem of the title. We have been through hundreds of suggestions. The main problem is that ‘retirement’ or ‘retiring’ doesn’t really cover it, to quote one comment. Yet we need either ‘retirement’ or ‘retiring’ in the title. It’s problematic because the title needs to reflect the edginess of the book, but neither word is edgy. Then there is the question of the index. Would this improve the book for our readers? And what else will she come up with?

71 MS edit

As we write this blogpost we recognise a process in publishing. First, it involves a huge amount of personal investment to write the thing. But at some point writers have to pass their creation on and trust that the editing process will make their efforts into a better book. We are experienced writers so we recognise that this has happened with each of our published books. We can see this, but it doesn’t get any easier.

Caroline Lodge and Eileen Carnell


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Filed under Publishing our book, Writing

Lost in fiction in translation

I have heard that publishers calculate a ceiling of about 3000 readers for any translated fiction. Only 3000! Are you one of the 3000? Perhaps you have contributed to the Scandinavian crime wave? Or have a copy of Kafka’s stories on your shelf.

Do you think that 3000 is a small number? I do, and I find it both very surprising and very depressing. It’s surprising because there is so much good fiction in translation. And it’s depressing because that kind of figure makes it harder for publishers to think of fiction in translation as a viable economic prospect. And because readers are missing out on innovative and enjoyable fiction.

Is it a small number because there is just so much good fiction in English that we don’t need to bother? Well that’s a very insular attitude. But the following figures suggest there might be some truth in it.

4.5% of literature published in the UK is translation. Compare with

3% in USA

12% in Germany

15% in France

24% in Spain

46% in Poland (figures from Publishing Perspectives)

It is possible that the figure is low because readers don’t get to hear enough about fiction in translation. So let’s celebrate those who promote it.

First: those imaginative, independent publishers: such as And Other Stories, Peirene Press and Quercus.

Second: The prizes: there are four to keep an eye on.

  1. The Man Booker International Prize, which in 2013 contained only 3 English language contenders (Lydia Davis won).
  2. IMPAC is the Dublin-based International Literary prize, in which public libraries feature strongly in making nominations. This year on the shortlist of ten novels, five were in translation.
  3. Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
  4. The Society of Authors also administers prizes for translation in a whole range of different languages.

Third: A number of other literary organisations support literature in translation in their programmes. One is the Booktrust which has a downloadable pamphlet of recommendations by 20 writers, called Discover a World of Reading. And there’s English PEN, Free Word and the London Review of Books.

Fourth: We should recognise the work of the translators. And I’m thrilled that one of the translators mentioned below taught me languages at school. Nice connection.

36 Translation

Here’s my list of twelve books in translation not to be missed. No particular order.

  • WG Sebald anything by him. Translated by Michael Hulse and others (German)
  • Birgit Vanderbeke The Mussel Feast. Translated by Jamie Bullock (German)
  • Tove Jansson The Summer Book. Translated by Thomas Teal. (Swedish/Finland)
  • Per Petterson Out Stealing Horses. Translated by Anne Born. Winner of 2007 IMPAC Award (Norwegian)
  • Gerbrand Bakker The Twin. Translated by David Colman. Winner of 2010 IMPAC Award, and The Detour Winner of 2013 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (Dutch)
  • Italo Calvino If on a winter’s Night a Traveller. Translated by William Weaver. (Italian)
  • Andrey Kurkov Death and the Penguin Translated by George Bird (Russian/Ukraine)
  • Diego Marani The New Finnish Grammar. Translated by Judith Landry (Italian)
  • Orphan Pamuk Various. Winner of 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature. Translation by Maureen Freely and others. (Turkish)
  • Irene Nemirovsky Suite Francaise. Translated by Sandra Smith (French)
  • Heinrich Boll The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum. Translated by Leila Vennewitz (German)
  • Evelio Rosero Armies. Translated by Anne Mclean. Winner of 2009 Independent Foreign Fiction prize. (Spanish/Columbia)

And then of course there are the classics, a list of which might start with these …

  • Cervantes Don Quixote no 1 on The Guardian’s 100 best novels list (Spanish)
  • Tolstoy War and Peace (Russian)
  • Erich Maria Remarques All Quiet on the Western Front (German)
  • Di Lampedusa The Leopard (Italian)
  • Flaubert Madame Bovary (French)
  • Alain-Fournier Le Grand Meaulnes (French) and ….

With so much excellent fiction being identified by publishers and prizes, and all that close and creative work being undertaken by translators, that figure of 3000 readers really should be higher.

Ok, that’s 17 books I’ve mentioned – at least. What have I left out? What would you recommend? Has you reading group found a gem not listed here?

36 Ignorance script

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Filed under Books, Reading