What’s happening in Kathmandu this week? Who’s the Rihanna of literary fiction? Which not-so-dark secrets has Jack Kerouac’s ex-girlfriend been hiding for more than fifty years? Read on for the answers…
Is it possible to learn anything at all from this column? If nothing else, I’m aiming to prove that there’s a literary festival happening somewhere every single week; the world, looked at from a certain skewed perspective, is one big party with constant book readings. This week, the Nepal Literature Festival takes place in Kamaladi, Kathmandu, home of the Nepal Academy, with over 90 writers in attendance. Discussion topics include ’Rewriting Myth’, ‘Lost in Translation?’ and ‘The Rise of Chicklit’.
Who’s your money on? ‘Safe pair of hands’ Hilary Mantel and her scheming Tudors? Will Self and his sprawling, hallucinatory Umbrella? One of three novels from ‘indie’ publishers? The Booker (Man Booker, for all the corporate sponsorship sycophants out there) shortlist has been announced, and the winner is anybody’s guess, although it will probably be Mantel again… or Self, the Rihanna of literary fiction: several years of ‘love me/hate me’ critical acclaim, followed by a major international breakthrough with Umbrella.
Did Jack Kerouac really write On The Road in a three-week burst of inspiration, typing continuously on a 120-foot scroll? Of course not, as The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac, a new memoir by former girlfriend Joyce Johnson, re-reveals. Johnson’s Kerouac is inevitably more complex than Kerouac the hipster hero: he incessantly revisited his drafts, suffered multiple rejections from publishers, and spoke French as a first language (or Joual, should the pedants of the world unite).