Today in books and publishing: NASA dedicates Mars landing site to Ray Bradbury; Katie Couric has a crush on John Grisham.
Ray Bradbury touches down on Mars. One of Ray Bradbury's most enduring books explores a future version of Mars colonized by humans. Sixty-two years after the publication of The Martian Chronicles, the late author's fiction came one step closer to becoming fact when the the Curiosity rover touched down on Mars. Now, NASA has announced that they will name Curiosity's landing site Bradbury Landing after the science fiction writer. The news of Bradbury's enshrinement on the red planet came through Curiosity's Twitter feed. "In tribute, I dedicate my landing spot on Mars to you, Ray Bradbury. Greetings from Bradbury Landing!" the rover tweeted yesterday, on what would've been Bradbury's 92nd birthday. [Los Angeles Times]
RIP Nina Bawden. The author of children's classic Carrie's War, the Phoenix Award-winning story of two British siblings evacuated to Wales during World War II, has died. Born in Essex in 1925, Bawden had been evacuated to Wales during the war herself, and the great upheavals she and others experienced throughout the 20th century inform her fiction. Whether she was writing for adults or children, political sensitivity and historical themes pervade her work. In 1963, after finding her son's reading material deficient, she resolved to alternate between writing for children and adults each year. Bawden said that the strategy proved to be "a useful and satisfyingly real way of working, making use of all my life, all memory, wasting nothing." She was 87, and is survived by her son and two stepdaughters. [Reuters]
J.K. Rowling, like you've never read her before. The woman who launched perhaps the biggest literary phenomenon of the last 15 years has written a novel for adult readers, Casual Vacancy. We know that Rowling's story chronicles election drama in the small town of Pagford following a parish council member's abrupt death. But the book is embargoed, so don't expect galley-grubbing critics or friends with publishing connections to spill any more details. Instead, we have to take the biased word of Rowling's publisher Michael Pietsch, one of the few people to have read Casual Vacancy. He claims Rowling's detailed, socially perceptive novel is downright Dickensian, saying, "I expect the world to be ecstatic at the range of her imaginative reach." But he tells Potterphiles not to expect a magic-less Hogwarts. "This book isn't Harry Potter. It is a completely different concern." An upcoming book tour will bring Rowling to New York. [USA Today]
Katie Couric has the hots for John Grisham. The former CBS Evening News anchor and future daytime talk show host tells Southern Living magazine that her dream man would be legal thriller author John Grishamn. She says, "He’s Southern. He’s a lawyer. He’s a great writer. And, p.s., he’s successful." [New York Daily News]
Fidel Castro could be writing a book. Even though he transfered control of Cuba to his brother Raúl amidst much speculation on his declining health, Fidel Castro is definitely not gravely ill, according to a pro-government Cuban blogger. He's supposedly using his retirement to co-author a book with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. [Reuters]
Thoughts on "red" books sweeping America. On Monday, we noted that the map of political book-buying in the U.S. is overwhelmingly red. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein has a few conjectures as to why. He writes, "It’s easier for the opposition to sell books. If you look at the 'red books,' they’re largely about Obama. The top 'blue book,' meanwhile, is Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It would be interesting to see what this map looked like in 2004." [The Washington Post]