Austrian short-story maestro Stefan Zweig (Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman, Chess, Letter From an Unknown Woman and Fear) also wrote two novels: The Post Office Girl and Beware of Pity. Beware of Pity has now been made into a play by Simon McBurney, creative genius and head of the experimental theatre company Theatre de Complicite, which is showing at the Barbican in London 9-12 February. I cannot recommend Simon McBurney’s productions highly enough. They are without doubt amongst the most original, intelligent and spectacular theatre you will see. If you can’t get tickets the play is available on live streaming from the Barbican. I’ll certainly watch it.
James Wood’s annual list of new book discoveries seems shorter this year but his description of Joy Williams’ Ninety-Nine Stories of God made even me (not usually a short story fan) want to pick it up. Perhaps you too will find something here?
President Obama, interviewed by chief book critic of The New York Times Michiko Kakutani, talks about books and how they help ‘exercise the muscles’ that allow us to imagine what’s going on in the lives of other people. An interview worth reading.
As much as I love Christmas, I’m not so sure about the shopping part of it. My heart sinks when I look at the number of Christmas presents I need to buy over the next few weeks. I do enjoy buying books for people though, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as finding the perfect book for someone you love. We’ve been trawling the bookshops and the newspapers to find the most interesting or beautiful (or both) books out there, and hopefully help you find the perfect book for someone. Here’s what we found.
Michele, Meg, Jane and Julie
Twenty books to choose from, four in each of the five categories: Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Books – there’s is definitely something for everybody on the Costa Book Awards short-list. And it’s a great place to start you Christmas shopping.
In the Novel category we have Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End, Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place, Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, which we loved, and Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata which we weren’t so keen on (full reviews are in the links).
There are also some interesting debut novels to look out for: Susan Beale’s The Good Guy, Kit de Waal’s My Name is Leon, Guinevere Glasfurd’s The Words in My Hand and Francis Suppford’s Golden Hill.
Winners in each category will be announced 3 January and the overall winner of Costa Book of the Year on the 31 January.