Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Book Marks: Seven Killings, Publishing Mafias

A Brief History of Seven Killings, a Reggae-inspired book by Jamaican author Marlon James, won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. Jamaican authors are elated.

The chair of the judging panel acknowledged the win, though he wouldn't recommend the book to his mother because it was "violent" and "full of swearing".

Forty-plus years of the Man Booker Prize and only now they realise that violent books full of swearing can be great. And why not introduce the book to your mother, Mr Michael Wood? What's a little violence and swearing to a generation that lived through a world war?


  • MalaysiaKini picked up on the local indie publishing scene. "Publishing mafia"? Really? From the tone of some of the interviewees, maybe. Odd, how is this article free for reading when Malaysiakini is subscription-based.
  • Gabriel García Márquez delivered letters from Pablo Escobar to Fidel and Raul Castro, says the drug lord's hitman. The hitman, however, stressed that he "was not formally linking the world-famous Garcia Marquez to the Medellin network, only that the novelist 'served as a link by delivering letters.' "
  • The most looked-up words on Kindle, if anybody's interested. How many of these do you know offhand?
  • "Historical fiction is not a secondary form." Jane Smiley, on on history vs historical fiction and being condescended to by "Niall Ferguson, a conservative historian about 15 years younger than me, who wanted to be sure that I understood that the historical novel is all made up, but that historical non-fiction, written by historians is truth."
  • "We always think we're right and the other is wrong." A Q&A in The National with Kuwaiti author Saud Alsanousi on his novel The Bamboo Stalk, which features a half-Kuwaiti, half-Filipino protagonist. " We don't know anything about the Filipino," Saud says. "We see him working in Starbucks – that’s it. ... It's because we don’t know his background that we deal with him in this stereotypical and disrespectful way. And because we don't know the other, we don't know our own place in this world."
  • What will happen when the copyright to Mein Kampf expires in 2016? Someone at Haaretz weighs in on this. Meanwhile, hissy-fits are brewing at the impending release of this controversial book, including one edition annotated by academics and historians.
  • Here's how some publishers deal with politically persecuted authors (not a substantial piece, I think). Ties in with the troubles faced by the Lohvinau House of Literature, an "underground publisher" in Belarus, in translating Nobel winner Svetlana Alexievich's novels into her mother tongue.
  • The thriving Arab publishing sector is still far behind others, says the founder of the first publishing house in the United Arab Emirates during the Frankfurt Book Fair. Shaikha Bodour Al Qasimi also said "Arabic books are still among the least translated books in the world. This is due to many reasons, but primarily it is due to the lack of agents in the Arab world to promote Arab publications around the world, compared to Europe, America, and Asia."

Oh yes, the second MPH Warehouse Sale for 2015 is happening from 26 October to 1 November at:

MPH Distributors @ Bangunan TH,
No 5, Jalan Bersatu,
Section 13/4, Petaling Jaya
Call 03-7958 1688 for directions

Hours: 8am to 6pm

The map to the venue is here. More details (and offers) can be found at the MPH Distributors' Facebook page.


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