Thursday, 6 April 2017

Book Marks: Tomes, Terror, Etc.

A former university student was detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) for possession of books related to terrorism. The news was shocking because part of it might stem from fear of the authorities ("treating her like a terrorist for OWNING BOOKS OMG"), and the fact that the same student was previously acquitted and discharged for the same offence. But things got a little murky when details of her alleged ties to terrorism emerged.

Calls have been made to not play up the issue and leave the matter to the police (gladly!), and some grassroots groups and activists have expressed their support of the detainee and concerns over what they called the "repression of arts and culture" in Malaysia.

There was also a minor Facebook drama over an article in a local Malay-language magazine about Malaysian writers of Indian origin.


  • With over 100,000 copies sold and counting, The Hate U Give (the title is based on the song "T.H.U.G." by Tupac) is a phenomenon in the publishing world and an essential read for everyone. And you better get reading, as the book's already been optioned for a film with Amandla Stenberg as Starr." Teen Vogue's Q&A with Angie Thomas, author of her debut novel, The Hate U Give (emphases theirs). And here's the podcast of Thomas's interview on BFM Radio's Bookmark programme.
  • "A Montana library said a stolen book was returned 35 years later with an apology note, a $200 donation, and the author's signature." Said book, Richard Matheson's novel Bid Time Return, was also restored professionally, courtesy of the "thief".
  • "I love editing. Discussing commas and semicolons is my idea of fun, and I enjoy helping other authors find shape and structure in their work. Editing uses the more mathematical side of my brain, creating order from chaos. But on the weekend, when I try to write myself, I have to face the fact that the act of writing is chaos." Hannah Tinti, author of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, talks to her editor Noah Eaker about how she wrote it.
  • "What appears to be instant achievement, is really a culmination of preparation and practice. For [Veronica] Roth, that meant 10 years of work before a fully fleshed idea worth publication, took form. Even then, obstacles appeared. Her first manuscript was initially rejected and even after receiving a book deal, rewriting was required."
  • "I encourage people to judge books by their covers! While a poorly designed book isn't necessarily a poorly written book, it's not a promising first impression. If a book is ugly, it doesn't speak well of a publisher's judgement, skill or vision." Black Ocean Publisher Janaka Stucky wants us to, among other things, judge books by their covers.
  • "When I first started submitting my work to literary magazines, I had some pretty uninformed—and, in retrospect, fatalistic—ideas about what the slush pile process might look like. In my nightmare scenario, a team of editors would sit in a brick-lined room, around a wooden table of imposing size strewn with manuscripts and glasses of single malt. One of them would pluck my short story from the stack, glance over their glasses at the cover letter, and then toss it into a burning barrel, unread. They would all laugh and clink glasses as they warmed their manicured hands over the flames." Since then, PRISM's Prose Editor Christopher Evans has discovered that not all of that is true.
  • "Every year, companies go into a frenzy of 'cost containment' – just a fancier term for the drastic and now defunct 'cost cutting.' We all know which budget gets reviewed after the catering and team building budgets ... all together now ... marketing. Therefore, as a marketer, you know that for every rand you request, you will get half of it if you are that lucky, and still a rabbit is expected out of that hat." This piece was written with a focus on South African publishing, but it might have lessons for all of us as well.
  • "In a national culture newly aware of micro-aggressions and offensive speech, what you say can easily strike the wrong tone. One increasingly common solution among US book publishers: Hire someone to be offended for you." Authors and publishers of children's books are hiring sensitivity readers.
  • "It's not that I don't sympathise with your frustration at being unable to fulfil your dream and be published. ... We have all looked at our work – our 'masterpieces', in your words – and wondered the same as you: 'How can I fail?' But you aren't a failed novelist. You’ve had precisely two books on submission to publishers. ... Dear Anonymous, you're not a failure. You're a quitter."


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