From Slovenia to Paraguay to nineteenth-century Normandy, with some Amazon reviewing skulduggery thrown in for extra topicality…
Ever wanted to read a long list of Gustave Flaubert’s personal effects? Thought not, but how about some pictures? Joanna Neborsky has illustrated a list of possessions compiled twelve days after Flaubert’s death. Among numerous other items, the author of Madame Bovary left behind 35 champagne glasses, 19 shirts, 7 walking sticks, a tiger skin, a lynx skin and the works of Sir Walter Scott in 32 volumes – but not (Julian Barnes will be disappointed to hear) a single parrot.
It’s hard to know which of the eighteen categories in this year’s PEN awards to turn to first. The Award for Achievement in American Fiction, won by EL Doctorow? The Award for the Art of the Essay, won posthumously by Christopher Hitchens? The award for ‘a major work of Paraguayan literature not yet translated into English’ provides a perfect opportunity to include a Paraguayan flag for the first (and perhaps last) time. For the record, Delfina Acosta was the winner.
Our choice for obscure literary festival of the week begins in Trieste tomorrow: the 27th Vilenica International Literary Festival focuses on ‘Nomadic Writers’ and does its best to fit the theme by wandering between 19 venues in Slovenia and Italy. Previous winners of the Vilenica International Literary Prize include Milan Kundera, long-term nemesis of kitsch and creator of perhaps literature’s most provocative bowler hat, and Peter Handke, author of the wonderful but seldom-read The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick.
Amazon user Nicodemus Jones received some heavy criticism from Britain’s crime writing fraternity after posting a series of one-star reviews. Nicodemus offended Mark Billingham with ‘a very nasty… very snipey’ review and dismissed Stuart MacBride’s Dark Blood as ‘another in the seemingly endless parade of same-old-same-old police procedurals…’ Only RJ Ellory was spared Nicodemus’ wrath: A Quiet Belief In Angels was ‘a modern masterpiece’, the product of ‘magnificent genius’… predictably, ‘Nicodemus’ turned out to be Ellory writing under a pseudonym.