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SRB: Istanbul City of Sleuths

SRB Picks of the Week 15 May 08
By Jeremy Rose for the Scoop Review of Books

In this week's SRB picks: Kiwi writers getting noticed in Britain, Istanbul city of sleuths, Fritzl's fictional forebears and Auckland's Writers and Readers Festival gets underway.

Published by the SRB this week: (All reviews can be viewed at:

Junot Diaz Battles the Culocracy
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
By Junot Diaz
Faber and Faber Reviewed By JEREMY ROSE
I can think of no other book – and definitely no other novel – that I would recommend for the footnotes alone.

Rita Angus a Life Well Told
Te Papa Press 420pp (RRP $70) Reviewed by MEGAN VIRTUE
Jill Trevelyan struck gold at the Alexander Turnbull Library when she stumbled upon a stash of more than 400 letters from Rita Angus to the composer Douglas Lilburn. Most of Angus’s personal papers were destroyed by her New Zealand-based family following her death in an effort to protect her privacy.

Brrrrrmmmm brrrrmmmmm
The Drivers: a Celebration of New Zealand Motor Sport’s Greatest’ by Tim Nevinson
Harper Collins 2007 RRP $50 Reviewed by MARTIN CRAIG
Tim Nevinson is motorsport fan. His passion for the sport, and the drivers he met and interviewed for this book, show clearly in his writing. But lazy editing and proofreading mean The Drivers fails to do its subjects justice.

SRB Picks from the Web

Links at:

Emily Perkins "one of Britain's most exciting young writers" will be touring the mother country promoting her new work, Novel About My Wife over coming weeks. She's already been in Canada and the book's been positively reviewed by the Britain's Sunday Star Times.

Four Kiwi writers have been shortlisted for the world's richest prize for a short story collection. They are: Tim Jones (Transported - Random House New Zealand Ltd); Sue Orr (Etiquette for a Dinner Party - Random House New Zealand Ltd); Elizabeth Smither (The Girl Who Proposed - Cape Catley Ltd); and Witi Ihimaera (Ask The Posts Of The House - Raupo Publishing Ltd). The other 35 authors can be seen here.

Wellington writer Duncan Sarkies' Two Little Boys is to be published in Britain and Australia. It's being published by John Murray who cracked the UK market with Mister Pip last year.

Sarkies is one of a stella line-up of authors at Auckland's Writers and Readers Festival. Kim Hill will be interviewing the extraordinary Junot Diaz (whose Pulitzer winning novel is reviewed on SRB this week) and Stalin biographer Simon Seabag-Montifiore tomorrow (Sat 17 May).

Radio New Zealand has put up the first of its podcasts from Wellington's Writers and Readers Week, The Cost of Iraq featuring economist Joseph Stiglitz, novelist and journalist James Meek, cartoonist Garry Trudeau and theatre director Nigel Jamieson. As I've already written on this site, the session tends to concentrate on the cost to America rather than Iraqis but it's well worth listening to - James Meek's reading from one of his Iraqi dispatches was the highlight of the festival for me.

Beattie's book blog is covering the festival, as is the excellent Christchurch library blog.

The world's great cities seem to have their own fictional detectives: Sherlock Holmes for London, Pepe Carvalho in Barcelona, and now Istanbul - that truly fabulous city - has two fictional detectives battling it out for supremacy.

I usually skip the crime stories in the papers, but have found myself strangely fascinating by Austria's ghastly Fritzl case. It all seems like some horrific metaphor for Austria's post-war pretense that it wasn't implicated in the Nazi madness. An ability to see nothing. The Times has an interesting piece on Fritzl's fictional forebears.

Finally, to end on a lighter note a new prize for the funniest children's book is being launched in Britain.

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