Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal’s debut novel, Tourism, has created a bit of a storm with its use of sex—especially the novel’s first scene. He has been labelled enfant terrible. See what he has to say about sex and his aka in a DNA India interview.

If you’d have asked me twenty years ago if I could write a short story, I would have said no. That’s A.S. Byatt answer to just one question about writing from the blog Book Critics Circle.

Dictionary Banned
“The author of what has been described as the definitive dictionary of slang is gobsmacked, gutted, throwing up bunches, honked, hipped and jacked like a cock-maggot in a sink-hole.” That's the lead of Duncan Campbell's Guardian article about a North Carolina school district (Wake County) banning the Cassell Dictionary of Slang. The book, along with four others, were challenged by that literary group known as Called2Action, a Christian activist group.

Meanwhile the Lawrenceville, GA, library system is no longer buying adult fiction written in Spanish because its board eliminated the $3,000 used for such a purpose. Why? Some residents objected to using tax revenue to buy books for individuals who might be illegal.

Why Editors Reject
In an intriguing essay for Guardian, Ian Jack explains why he rejected a piece about Brazilian street children written by Martha Gellhorn, “the last piece” she ever wrote. He does not stop with that. He explains the role of editor and his/her relationship with a writer.

What Drives AB Yehoshua
Bellow called him a world-class writer. He has pissed off others with his analysis of what it means to be Jewish and the future of Jerusalem. But what makes AB Yehoshua write. Maya Jaggi talks with him.

The Angry Howard Jacobson
“On paper, Howard Jacobson is not at all my cup of tea – as a man, I mean, not as a writer. As a writer, he is everything you could wish for. His prose is clever, funny, stylish and full of learning. But as a man … no, he should not really be my bag.”
That's the start of Rachel Cooke's interview with the writer just before publication of his new work.

Pinter Gets His Nobel Treatment
Last month the Swedish Academy named playwright Harold Pinter for its Nobel Prize in Literature. He was unable to attend the announcement and already let it be known that he will not attend the award ceremony in December—for health reasons. To celebrate in London, Alan Stanford is directing Sir Michael Gambon, Jeremy Irons, Joanna Lumley, and Sinead Cusack in a three-day run of Celebration at the Albery Theatre in London.

ACLU Sues Over Book Ban

June 22, 2006

ACLU Sues Schools Over Book Ban
Last week the Miami-Dade County school district voted to ban Vamos a Cuba and its English version, A Visit to Cuba. The book shows pictures of smiling children in Communist youth group uniforms and attending the country's independence day celebrations. The board said it showed inaccuracies. It is part of series, and the board voted to eliminate 24 other books in the series. ACLU is suing, hoping to revoke the ban.

New Standards for E-Books
Members of the International Digital Publishing Forum, manufacturers of software and devices, announced plans to support new electronic book standards in their next generation of software and devices. The new standards will make the sharing of files and their distribution easier. The question remains: Can a company develop a reader that book-lovers, meaning the individuals who like to hold books, will switch to? That's not an easy answer, considering that many of the companies in the field are serving publishing markets that are serving non-leisure readers.

New Literary Prize—Peace from Dayton, OH
Twenty-one members of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Committee are looking for books whose themes address peace as a solution—addressing problems with words. Books must have been published in 2005.

Munro Gives Up Writing
Apparently Alice Munro announced that The View from Castle Rock, a collection of short stories that will be released in November, will be her last book. Jonathan Franzen called her “the best fiction writer now working in North America.” Read more.

Street Lit—Bad or Good
A mild debate has raged ever since author Nick Chiles wrote in the New York Times that book jackets looked like porn and “the sexualization and degradation of black fiction” left him embarrassed. He ran a session at the recent African American Book Industry Professionals Conference, covered by the Washington Post. There's blathering. Most street-lit, like all the other “lits,” are entertainment—soma for the reading curious. The value of any story rests not in its being real but does the real reveal something in the nature of humanity for readers today and readers a century from now. Most lit-lit will be forgotten before their pages rot. A few might survive.

The success of street-lit might not rest on literary merit but on the fact that there isn't enough novels serving the young African-American and Latino readers. That was the problem for Malorie Blackman when she was a girl, and the problem remains. See her essay from the Guardian.

Product Placement in Books
The publishing world has rumbled about authors putting products in their novels, particularly the chick-lit kind. What's wrong with it, some ask? Movies and television shows do it. Athletes and sports franchises do it. Even college athletic programs do it. Therefore it should be fine. It's not that simple as Jane Smiley notes.