Back to normal posting soon – I’ve lots of book reviews to catch up on! But here are the bookish events I’ve been at recently…
The Last Chance Hotel Book Launch
Firstly – the launch party for friend, former bookseller, and now published author Nicki Thornton, whose book for older children (8-11) The Last Chance Hotel was published a couple of weeks ago. Nicki won the Times Children’s Fiction Competition in 2016 with this book – part of the prize was to be published by children’s book specialists, Chicken House, run by Barry Cunningham (who used to work for Bloomsbury and discovered JK Rowling).
I’ve just read it and it was super – a locked room murder mystery with some magic thrown in. Full review to come.
The Golden Man Booker Prize
This past week has been all things Booker at Shiny New Books, and yesterday I went down to London to see the Golden Man Booker Prize announcement at the Royal Festival Hall. I’ve written the event up for Shiny, which will be posted tomorrow.
There have been several days of bookish fun at the Southbank in the lead-up to the Golden Booker. I could only really fit in one visit, so just went to one session earlier in the afternoon which was Roddy Doyle and Paul Beatty in conversation with Natalie Haynes chairing, ostensibly talking about comic writing.
It was an interesting hour with some contrasting personalities – Doyle put on a twinkly Irish persona to hide his middle-aged grumpiness, “I haven’t laughed since 1992,” he quipped. Interestingly, neither Doyle nor Beatty enjoy reading their own work to audiences. Haynes, with her stand-up chops was pushing them to talk about this aspect of promoting, but both were a bit reticient, happier talking about other topics. Although both did read briefly from their work, Doyle perversely read from The Snapper, not his Booker-winner Paddy Clarke! Doyle also confirmed something I’d always hoped was true – that his fictional suburb of Dublin, was named for the Steely Dan song Barrytown, “Pretzelogic, side one, track four” as he said.
What stood out for me, was what a lovely man Paul Beatty is. He wasn’t what I expected at all, and in the signing queue afterwards he talked to every single person and wrote a personal message for them too. I told him that I’d felt a little intimidated by what I’d read about his novel, but that now having heard him talk about it, I could read it with new eyes. I think he’s written: “Thanks for engaging! Don’t stop…”