The literary week in eighty-word chunks, including the story of Kafka and the cat lady, Homer rewritten as prize-winning ‘homoerotic slash fiction’, and the tantalising possibility of the Mayor of London being decapitated by a Frisbee.
Rahul Bhattacharya became the first Indian winner of the £10,000 Ondaatje Prize [not Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, but his elder brother, Christopher]. His second novel, The Sly Company of People Who Care, follows an Indian journalist who moves to Guyana to ‘escape the deadness of life.’ Bhattacharya has a maths degree and a background in cricket journalism — his non-fiction debut, Pundits from Pakistan, was chosen as the fourth best cricket book of all-time by The Wisden Cricketer.
A ‘small, squat apartment building… owned by a self-professed cat lady’ on Spinoza Street in Tel Aviv is currently drawing the attention of anyone with an interest in Kafka’s unpublished papers. Since the death of Max Brod, they’ve been held by the family of Brod’s secretary, which is where ‘cat lady’ [not to be confused with Catwoman] Eva Hoffe enters the story. She’s refusing to give the papers up, so any unpublished masterpieces will remain unpublished for the time being.
The US continued its domination of the UK’s biggest literary award for female writers as Madeline Miller became the fourth American writer to win the Orange Prize [soon to be the <insert name of someone with lots of spare cash here> Prize] in four years. Miller’s debut novel, The Song of Achilles, is a retelling of the Iliad and, according to The Telegraph’s reviewer, represents ‘a triumph of glitzy story-telling over literary depth’ and ‘often reads like homoerotic slash fiction.’
This year’s Hay Festival runs until 10th June and provides the only opportunity you’ll ever have to see Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa one day and Stephen Fry, Renaissance Man for the twenty-first-century couch potato, the next. While Salman Rushdie lays into US homeland security at one festival venue, Boris Johnson discusses his chances of being decapitated by a Frisbee at another… Hay-on-Wye, perhaps the only town in Wales where bookshops outnumber sheep, is the place to be this week.