why shouldn’t writers and novelists get paid?

On Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, I heard Monica Ali, author of The Untold Story, having to defend the fact she has written a commercially viable novel.

OK, so the ‘what if’ plot focuses on the imaginary scenario of Princess Diana having faked her death to escape media attention. And, from a marketing point of view, this is perfectly timed – what with the royal wedding of William and Kate a months away. Some of the commentators were shocked that the author of literary, character-driven novel Brick Lane could descend to such depths as writing popular fiction, and that it would “be hard to take the literary hard ground after a book like this”.

Monica responded in the Today interview by saying Continue reading

The beauty of book club

It’s taken me years to find a Book Club: through lack of time or opportunity, I’d always listened wistfully to friends who were reading a book specifically to discuss with their avid-reader friends. For me, it’s a total pleasure to read a book for fun, and discuss it with gusto, rather than have to analyse its narrative arc, the effectiveness of the dialogue, or the nuances of tone, structure or symbolic architecture.

While I do enjoy the detailed and technical analysis of a novel (I’m studying for a creative writing MA, after all), there’s a freedom, purity and bliss in just discussing what I liked and didn’t like about a book. Looking too closely at a book can show the seams, whereas tonight I’ll be enjoying the entire garment.

Hurrah for World Book Night

I love the idea of World Book Night – a new initiative to give away a million books (40,000 copies each of 25 titles) in libraries and book shops across the UK, as well as in homeless centres, pubs and hospitals.

It’s such a feel-good initiative that could revive the beauty of reading among so many people – as well as bringing books to people who probably can’t afford the luxury of buying them.

With the likes of literary greats such as Margaret Atwood taking part, I’m tingling with joy and excitement.