Today in literature: Gabriel Garcia Marquez's News of a Kidnapping flies off shelves in Iran, Julian Assange's memoir is being released tomorrow against his wishes, and a plea to scrap the Bad Sex writing award.
- If you want to understand life as a political prisoner in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, all you need to do is pick up a copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 1996 book News of a Kidnapping. That's what Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi told his daughters last week during his first meeting with them since being placed under house arrest seven months ago. The comments quickly went online and now Marquez's non-fiction account of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar reign of terror and intimidation in the late 1980s and early 1990s is selling out all over Iran. The Guardian called 10 bookshops in Tehrain to check on the book's availability. All of the stores were sold out, and none of the proprietors would say why. "It took me couple of hours to find a copy of the book," says one journalist based in the Iranian capital. "I first went to bookshops in the Karimkhan area, but none had a copy left. I went to Enghelab Avenue and I was amazed to see people queuing up to buy the book as if they were queuing up to buy a new Harry Potter." The Guardian goes on to note that an Iranian news site called Aftab has listed the book atop its most recent best-seller chart. Marquez clearly approves: earlier today he posted a link to The Guardian's story on his Facebook author page. How well Marquez goes with the Pink Floyd music preferred by Libyan rebels remains to be seen. [The Guardian]
- Julian Assange's memoir Julian Assange: The Unauthorized Autobiography will be published as scheduled tomorrow. The WikiLeaks founder had tried to get out of the book deal in July, and The Guardian reported that the book had "fallen through, at least in its original form" after Assange became "unhappy with the process," despite taking a $1.5 million advance from publishers Alfred A. Knopf and Canongate in December 2010. What's arriving tomorrow is based on a first draft he submitted in March. [The Bookseller]
- The Literary Review's annual Bad Sex in Fiction prize is generally accepted as a fun and harmless way to tease an author about a particularly overwritten or unerotic sex scene, like Tom Wolfe's reference to the protagonist's "otorhinolaryngological caverns" during a dorm room canoodling scene in I Am Charlotte Simmons. In The Guardian, Rick Gekowski, makes a serious case for establishing some sort of good sex writing prize, or at least getting rid of the bad sex distinction, because it encourages "self-promoting, populist prejudice." We're not sure who is doing the self-promoting, subce it's the author being singled out for writing something particularly goofy. But a good sex award does sound like an interesting idea. It's just that we can't think of any right now. The brain keeps returning to Wolfe's caverns. [The Guardian]