Today in books: Roald Dahl's granddaughter distracts from what would have been his 95th birthday with an appeal for money, Nas is writing his memoirs, and young adult fantasies with gay characters are radioactive.
- September 13 is Roald Dahl Day, but in England at least, this year's festivities have been overshadowed by backlash against Dahl's granddaughter Sophie, who appeared on BBC Radio 4 earlier today to solicit £500,000 to move the tiny hut (above, behind the anonymous schoolchildren) her grandfather occupied while writing beloved children's novels like The B.F.G. and Matilda, from the family's back yard to a museum devoted to the author. The odd request and the staggering sum is even stranger since Sophie Dahl, as The Daily Mail notes, is "a millionaire model, married to a millionaire singer and born into a family which earns huge royalties from Roald Dahl's classic children's books." (Her husband is jazz singer Jaime Cullum.) At The Telegraph, blogger Andrew Brown (brother of former prime minister Gordon Brown) scolds, "There's nothing wrong with venerating the shrine of a writer, if that's what you want to do. But the people who will ultimately benefit most, the Dahl family, should surely foot the bill." At the Repton School in South Derbyshire, where the author attended school as a boy, a display honoring the author has been set up. It's only appropriate, as House Master John Golding tells the BBC, because when Dahl was a student, pupils would test chocolates from Cadbury and provide feedback to the candy company. Golding speculates this bit of school history is surely what "inspired Dahl to write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and also maybe had something to do with the author's "lifelong love of chocolate." Because it's Roald Dahl Day, we accept both theories immediately and without question. [The Guardian]
- Rapper Nas has signed a deal with HarperCollins to write a memoir titled It Ain't Hard. Journalist Touré, who wasn't happy with the creepily-illustrated treatment his ESPN the Magazine essay on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick received, will collaborate with Nas on the book, which is slated to be in stores by autumn of next year. Rolling Stone optimistically suggests the format of the book will "follow the template" of Jay-Z's 2010 memoir Decoded, as if the Nas/Jay-Z feud could ever really be over. [Rolling Stone via Vulture]
- Publishers are gobbling up young adult fantasy novels at a remarkable rate these days--unless it happens to feature characters who are gay. That's apparently a tough sell for agents. Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith co-wrote "a post-apocalyptic young adult novel" in which one of the five viewpoint characters is gay and has a boyfriend. Brown and Smith say than when they were shopping for representation, an unnamed agent called and "offered to sign us on the condition that we make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation." They refused, but it wasn't the first time they heard such a request. "Previous agents," they write, "had also offered to take a second look if we did rewrites… including cutting the viewpoint of Yuki, the gay character." The book, meanwhile, "remains unagented and unsold." [Publishers Weekly]