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The Book Grocer

By Julie PH Last edited 109 months ago
The Book Grocer
Rock on Literary London

Even on its quietest weeks, London is something of a happy haven for bibliophiles such as ourselves, though we may be doing nothing more than perusing one of the city’s many lovely bookshops. This week, however, we’re in a veritable book geek heaven, as the London literary scene goes all glittery, playing host to some major names and fantastic events, leaving us tongue-tied and weak at the knees. Do we gush? Very well then, we gush. We just can’t help ourselves.

Tuesday: The theme for this week should be hot: hotly tipped writers, hot topics, and, well, if not hot, then warm-ish weather. Junot Diaz was named one of the New Yorker’s 20 Writers for the 21st Century, and his latest, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, is a 2007 finalist for the American National Book Critics Circle Award. You can hear Diaz reading from his acclaimed novel tonight at the Southbank Centre. 7.45pm, £7.50 tickets, £3.75 concessions.

Wednesday: When you consider that Martin Amis gets paid £3,000 an hour to teach at the University of Manchester, £8 tickets (£6 concessions) to hear the London Fields and Money author discuss his new book, The Second Plane, seem like a real bargain. Will Amis defend himself against the charges that his book, a controversial collection of essay and short story responses to September 11, is laced with Islamophobia and racism? Or will he only add more fuel to the arguments of his detractors? Only one way to find out. 7pm (doors open 6.30) at the Vanbrugh Theatre, RADA. Tickets available from Blackwell’s Charing Cross store or by calling 0845 456 9876.

Thursday: The Office (British? Or American? Why not both?) meets literary fiction in Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End, and the result has been likened to a Catch-22 of the corporate world, reaping both critical accolades and popular appeal. Meanwhile, Richard Milward’s Apples has earned him comparisons to Irvine Welsh and JD Salinger at the ripe old age of 22, and Joe Dunthorne’s Submarine is one of 2008's hotly anticipated debuts and is also garnering the author Catcher in the Rye comparisons. All three authors will be appearing at Bardens Boudoir tonight as part of the London Word Festival. We can hardly believe our good fortune. 7pm, £6.50.

Friday: The Somerset House hosts Sean O’Brien, winner of both the 2007 Forward Prize and the TS Eliot Prize, which more or less makes him a rock star in the poetry world right now. O’Brien’s appearance is part of the Somerset House series That Mighty Heart: Poets’ Visions of London. We can think of few better ways to spend a lunch hour. 1.10–2.00pm. Free, but e-mail poetryreadings@somersethouse.org.uk to reserve a ticket in advance.

Saturday: The East End’s star is rising, or so we’re told. Who better to discuss the changes the area is undergoing than Brick Lane author Monica Ali, Hamlet of Stepney Green playwright Bernard Kops, and former Bethnal Green and Bow MP Oona King? You can hear all three recount their East End experiences in The East End Now and Then, as part of the London Word Festival in conjunction with Jewish Book Week. 8.30pm. £10 tickets, £5 concessions.

Sunday: Zadie Smith was originally scheduled to appear at the Jewish Book Week’s In Praise of Diasporas talk this evening, but a recent glance at the festival site suggests that there may have been some tinkering with the lineup. We profess ourselves befuddled but nonetheless remain interested in this discussion of the role of exile and emigration in the works of Jewish novelists. With Complicite director and actor Simon McBurney and writer Adam Thirlwell, who along with Zadie Smith and Monica Ali appeared on Granta magazine’s Best of Young British Novelists list in 2003. 5pm, £8 tickets, £4 concessions.

Image courtesy of Luke Robinson's flickrstream via the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 25 February 2008

DeanN

I think the Catch-22 of the corporate world has already been written - by Joseph Heller himself. His second book, Something Happened, is a fantastic read, and it neatly skewers office politics and modern American neuroses of the cold war period.

Why do I always sound like I'm angling for a placement on the back cover of a paperback edition?

Julie PH

True, but isn't there always room for a retelling or reworking of the story, especially if it's well done? Pick up Heller's satire and plunk it down into a Chicago ad agency as the economy goes bust at the end of the '90s - that might be the basic premise behind Then We Came to the End. But from what I know of Something Happened (full disclosure: haven't read it, but have added it to my ever burgeoning To Read List), while the two books share a similar setting, they're likely to reveal some very different anxieties.

And I'm not sure why I sound like one of Ferris's paid publicists.

Is there anyone out there who's read both books and can comment?

jraymondcpa