Stepping into spring with all things literary and a roundup of the bookish happenings from March! It’s been an eventful month and there are plenty of articles, interviews, and releases to discuss – so grab some tea and biscuits, and let’s get stuck right in.
‘‘One Hundred Years Of Solitude’ Is Coming To Netflix‘ by Michael Blackmon (Buzzfeed)
Fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be delighted to hear the news that Netflix has secured the rights to make a Spanish-language adaptation of One Hundred Years of Solitude. While I’m always hesitant to hear about fresh adaptations of my favourite novels, Marquez’s sons – who will serve as executive producers for the show – are certain that the “current golden age of series” will do justice to the cross-generational Colombian epic. The service of the novel to magical realism as a genre – as well as to the documentation of political violence – certainly deserves continued global recognition. And, with Netflix’s international reach, this adaptation will likely prove an effective means for marking Marquez’s literary resonance across generations.
‘British Library planning Leeds branch with Boston Spa upgrade‘ by Mark Wilding (The Guardian)
It was announced this month that the British Library is launching its British Library North programme, with a planned expansion into Leeds. The programme is being developed with a view to capitalising upon the Leeds 2023 initiative. Originally intended to place Leeds in the running for Europe’s new Capital of Culture – a right stripped from the town following the results of the UK’s EU referendum – Leeds 2023 provides a perfect forum from which the British Library looks to expand itself into new outposts. The Library’s Board simultaneously consolidated plans for a “renewal” of the Library’s Reading Rooms in Boston Spa. These plans are certainly encouraging to those of us looking for greater accessibility of British Library facilities across the UK.
‘2019 longlist announced – Man Booker International Prize‘ (Man Booker Prize)
I definitely have a problem when it comes to literary prize announcements – I mean, I quite literally have the dates in my calendar. Not only do these lists serve as an effective jumping-off-point for piles of prospective new reads, it is always interesting to see which books will appear. As such, I was understandably excited for the release of the 2019 longlist for the Man Booker International Prize (separate from the Man Booker Prize), announced on 13th March. The Man Booker International Prize considers both novels and short story collections, translated into English and published in the UK and Ireland. Needless to say, the resulting list of nominees is always fascinatingly diverse. This year’s list features some real contenders – among which is Samanta Schweblin’s Mouthful of Birds. I read this short story collection soon after it was published and was certainly excited to see it receive this recognition. Be sure to give the longlist a look and let me know if there are any nominees that I should be adding to the ‘To Read’ pile!
‘Marlon James, Writer‘ – Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4)
The interview that sparked the reflections in this week’s Monday Musing, I continue to be endlessly fascinated by Marlon James. Not only is his personal story an interesting reflection on the motto of self-belief that he emphasises to his creative writing students (James’ first novel was rejected over 70 times before he secured a publishing deal), his writing continues to posit the author as one of the most important and unique literary voices to come out of the past few decades. I consider his work absolutely vital – particularly when it comes to occupying spaces traditionally reserved for white voices – and this interview with Desert Island Discs (an institution!) is a true reflection on the humour, experience, and authenticity that James brings to each of his novels. Definitely give it a listen (and then read both A Brief History of Seven Killings and Black Leopard, Red Wolf).
‘John Cooper Clarke “Only eat at the table. And don’t watch TV while eating”‘ by John Hind (The Guardian)
I don’t talk much about poetry on The Book Habit – largely because I don’t feel clever enough to discuss it in any essential detail. But I will now reveal to you my continuing love for John Cooper Clarke. Clarke is a performance poet who emerged out of the 1970s punk era as England’s own ‘punk poet’. His performance pieces are some of the most entertaining I’ve encountered – have a read of ‘Evidently Chickentown‘ or ‘I Wanna Be Yours‘, which are two of my favourites. His interview with the Guardian, centred around food, is typical John Cooper Clarke. He is such an interesting man and one with whom I think any love of poetry, punk, or humour in general, should become well acquainted.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
March saw the release of one of 2019’s most hotly anticipated novels – Candice Carty-Williams’ debut novel, Queenie. Although I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, the reviews are expectedly enamoured with the book. Following the 25 year-old Queenie, a Jamaican British woman living in London, the novel talks through the traditional struggles of twenty-something women – love, loss, and career decisions. These struggles are, however, reflected upon through the eyes of an author acquainted with the dynamics and experiences of a child born to immigrants, attempting to wade through the difficulties that this introduces. The novel is one that’s firmly on my ‘To Read’ list, as a unique and essential take on the ‘traditional’ coming-into-adulthood novel.
What I’ve Been Reading
March has been a crazy month. I left my apartment (under less than ideal circumstances, as anyone who has experienced the joy of relentlessly noisy neighbours will understand) and spent much of the month packing my life into boxes. That, plus a plethora of other smaller issues that have added up to make March a month of little sleep and much stress, has meant significantly reduced reading time. But I won’t complain (too much!). I still managed to get through four books – of which, A Brief History of Seven Killings certainly took up its fair share of the month.
– Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford
– Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford
– A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin