Lit Review |92| Renegade Librarians

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British comedian and author Shappi Khorshandi has withdrawn her book from the Jhalak Prize long list. The prize, which is in its first year, seeks to recognise fiction by BAME authors. The prize was founded by British-Indian author Sunny Singh. Of her decision to withdraw from the longlist, Khorshandi said that, given her novel had little to do with ethnic identity she felt it “the colour of her skin which was up for an award rather than (her) book.”

Chuck Finley has been reading books at almost as impressive a rate as he has been borrowing and returning them to a particular Florida library. A recent complaint by municipal staff has called Finley’s voracious reading habits, which ranged from Steinbeck’s Cannery Row to Ann Fullick’s Why do my Ears Pop? Known for dispatching batters with the flick of a wrist, Finley, who is originally from Louisiana and spent most of his career in California, was often borrowing books and returning them within the hour.

Another explanation put forward in the complaint suggest that two librarians had been creating false accounts in order to protect unread titles from being removed from stock. Removals are made based on analysis carried out by dedicated software. By providing false check outs, the librarians in question were allegedly beating the system.

Five years after she initially filed charges, Jorge Luis Borges‘ widow and executor, Maria Kodama has been given her court date. She intends to sue Argentinian author Pablo Katchadjian author of ‘The Fattened Aleph’, an embellishment of Borge’s own story, ‘The Aleph’. Katchadjian’s version stretches the original’s word count to 9,600 (up from 4000) with added descriptive passages, and no meaningful alteration to the plot.

Katchadjian also adds additional adverbs and adjectives, a technique he is rumoured to have hit upon as an undergraduate, fifteen minutes before submitting an essay.

The situation is a little more serious than the Lit Review is letting on: Kodama views Katchadjian’s story as a breach of Borges’ intellectual property and is seeking damages. While Kodama’s legal team reject the story as a “literary experiment’, PEN International have defended it on that very basis. Katchadjian admits he purposefully sought to confuse the reader as to who had written each passage.

“I suspect we will see a lot more Brexit or Trump-America books once we have all lived through whatever changes these may bring [this year],” says Kirsty Dunseath, fiction publisher at Wiedenfeld and Nicolson. She’s not alone in this view: titles published in reaction to Brexit as predicted to sky rocket by the end of 2017, according to a bevy of publishers and novelists interviewed by the Guardian. While this all sounds very exciting, the Lit Review can’t help but be reminded of Kurt Vonnegut‘s words on the Vietnam war.

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About Author

Conor O'Donovan

Conor writes and interviews people about books and storytelling. He grew up in Cork where a piece on the view from his bathroom window made it into his school yearbook. He studied English at Trinity and now works as Literature Editor for Headstuff. Spin him a yarn at literature@headstuff.org

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