The Scottish Book Awards 2011 Giveaway

To celebrate the 39th year of The Scottish Book Awards, hosted by Creative Scotland, I will be hosting a giveaway!

In the month of July, you will be given the chance to win all of the four titles shortlisted for this years award. Each of which exemplify Scottish literary excellence:

The Scottish Book Awards Creative Scotland 2011

  • Leila Aboulela, Lyrics Alley (fiction)
  • Jackie Kay, Red Dust Road (non-fiction)
  • Stewart Conn, The Breakfast Room (poetry)
  • Sue Peebles, The Death of Lomond Freil (first book)

The winner of the The Scottish Book Awards will have their book named Scottish Book of the Year, and the author will win a whopping £25,000. What’s more, for the first time in the history of the awards, you will be responsible for choosing a winner. The public vote will commence on the 16 May and end on 31 July 2011. So get voting here!! Continue reading

Nobel Prize for Literature 2010: And the winner is…

Mario Vargas Llosa.

Well, I was half-hoping it would be Philip Roth or Haruki Murakami or someone that I could at least say something remotely insightful about. But I haven’t read or heard of Mario Vargas Llosa.

Mario Vargas Llosa by Daniel Devoti

The Latin American, one-time presidential candidate and self-confessed liberalist was chosen for his:

cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual resistance, revolt and defeat.

So that clears that up.

According to The Guardian, Mario Vargas Llosa’s top 5 essential novels are:

  1. The Time of the Hero (1963)
  2. Aunt Julia and the Script Writer (1977)
  3. The War and the End of the World (1981)
  4. The Feast of the Goat (2000)
  5. The Bad Girl (2006)

Despite, having a growing pile of books to read, I will make it my mission to read one of the above… at least before next years’ prize winner is announced.

So has anyone read much of Mario Vargas Llosa, and would you recommend his work? Or, should someone else have won?

Sexism and The Orange Prize

AS Byatt caused a bit of a stir at the Edinburgh Fringe when she criticised The Orange Prize, a prestigious literary award that is given only to women. The Guardian quoted her as saying:

The Orange prize is a sexist prize […] You couldn’t found a prize for male writers. The Orange prize assumes there is a feminine subject matter – which I don’t believe in. It’s honourable to believe that – there are fine critics and writers who do – but I don’t.

In 2008, novelist Tim Lott also claimed that the Orange Prize was sexist. His argument is based on the fact that women sell more books and to a largely female market, which makes the prize “unfair”:

Could the establishment of a men-only prize, with men-only judges, be justified given their level of relative exclusion in schools and the marketplace? Can you imagine the derision with which it would rightly be met?

Woman’s place in the respected literary canon has been a thing of controversy since women began writing. It started even before the publication of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own in 1929, and long before the wave of feminist criticism in the 1970’s, with the Brontes,  Jane Austen and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who metaphorically writes about the difficulties facing women writers in her short story The Yellow Wallpaper.

The Orange Prize is no stranger to controversy. In 2008, the appointment of Lily Allen as a judge, resulted in questions over the ‘seriousness‘ of the award. There is no doubt that Lott and Byatt will face criticism over their comments, but I wonder, does they have a point?

Having a ‘no-men-allowed’ award negates the progress that women writers and feminist theorists have achieved in the past 100-or-so years. It says: “you’re writing isn’t quite good enough to be worthy of a Man Booker prize BUT here’s a special award just for you.” Surely if women writers want to be regarded as equals to their male counterparts, then they should aim to be judged alongside them. Continue reading