Books in the News: May 2017

May has flown by already and luckily it hasn’t been all Donald Trump and Brexit in the news. Stuff happened in the world that really matters too: the world of books. Obviously, I can’t give you a summary of everything that happened in May; you’d still be reading this blog post by the end of June. So, here’s a compilation of newsworthy stories I found interesting.

Joanna Trollope (Credits: unknown) J.K. Rowling (Credits: unknown)

The month kicked off with a sneer towards J.K. Rowling. Not – as you would expect – by Twitter trolls picking a fight over her political views. This time she was criticized by fellow author Joanna Trollope. According to the latter, social media are not the kind of platforms for a writer to express his views.

“Creating this mass following and tweeting several times a day is like wanting to be Kim Kardashian. Some writers like J.K. Rowling have this insatiable need and desire to be out there all the time, and that’s entirely driven by their ego.”

Joanna Trollope, The Daily Mail

She went on to saying that the growing trend of interacting with fans over social media posed a threat to the literary industry. She finds it depressing that aspiring authors will look at famous writers with millions of followers and think that that is how you have to operate, while in fact, it’s the opposite.
This time J.K. Rowling chose not to react. Maybe she didn’t want to end up in another row, after the one she had with Piers Morgan.


Later this month J.K. Rowling was in the news yet again, as a Harry Potter short story she wrote was reported stolen in Birmingham. The untitled 800-word prequel was written for charity and sold for 25,000 pounds in 2008. The police appeals to anyone who sees, or is offered this item for sale to get in touch with the police.
The story features James Potter and Sirius Black before the birth of Harry Potter. They are confronted by muggle police officers after a high-speed motorcycle chase but manage to escape on broomsticks.


Former President of the United States Bill Clinton has decided to write a thriller about a missing sitting president with the help of crime novelist James Patterson. It is said to be a suspenseful book full of intrige with a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s like to be president. Patterson and Clinton have known each other for a number of years as golf partners and describe their collaboration on this thriller as “terrific”.
The book will be published in June 2018. It goes without saying that it will have no problem becoming a bestseller.

Bill and Hillary Clinton (Credits: Patrick Semansky)

The Clintons will certainly play their part in the literary world the next few years. Before Bill Clinton announced his thriller debut, Hillary Clinton already said that she would publish a collection of essays on her life and the presidential election. And this month it’s been announced that there will be another Hillary Clinton book, though it won’t be written by her. It’s even doubtful that she will approve of the release.
Curtis Sittenfeld has signed a book deal for a novel about Hillary Rodham Clinton in which she will imagine how the life of the former presidential candidate would have turned out if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton. Inspired by the marriage proposals Hillary Clinton turned down in real life, this book will follow Hillary as rejects Bill Clinton once and for all.
According to the publisher the book will be out in 2019 and is part of a three-book deal for Curtis Sittenfeld. The author previously wrote American Wife, a fictionalised account of the life of Laura Bush.


Hugh Bonneville, best known for playing Robert Crawley in Downton Abbey, will play Roald Dahl in a yet untitled biopic of the children’s author. The film will be set in the 1960s and focus on Dahl’s marriage to actress Patricia Neal. The role of Neal is yet to be cast. The biopic has been described as being in the same vein as the Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson film Saving Mr Banks; the story of Walt Disney trying to persuade P.L. Travers to let him make a film out of her novel Mary Poppins.


Anthony Horowitz, bestselling author of the Alex Rider series, was warned off including a black character in his new book. According to his editor it would be inappropriate given that Horowitz, or any other white writer for that matter, do not have the experience to do it justice. Horowitz found this an upsetting request and stated that following this train of thought to the extreme, he would be forced to solely write about characters who were 62-year-old white Jewish men living in London.

Fans of His Dark Materials are counting down the days until 19 October, when the first volume in a new trilogy will be published. The Book of Dust, as the new trilogy is called, will be a prequel to Lyra’s story in His Dark Materials following an 11-year-old boy called Malcolm Polstead. Plot and character details of the new series are being kept secret, but the publishers have confirmed that several characters from His Dark Materials will return, including Lord Asriel, Will Parry and Mrs Coulter.
Author Philip Pullman has released an exclusive extract to help bridge the long waiting period. The scene, taken from chapter 10 of the first volume, La Belle Sauvage, can be read here.
Later this year, the BBC wil broadcast a television adaptation of His Dark Materials.


David France wins the Green Carnation Award, a prize for LGBTQ+ writing, with his book How to Survive a Plague. It is a non-fiction work that narrates the history of HIV from an almost certain death sentence to a manageable disease where drugs are available.

“In this time of renewed activism in an increasingly uncertain world, France’s definitive account of the Aids crisis, and the activists who changed the fate of so many lives, seems vital and important to inspire everyone, not just the LGBTQ+ community.”

John Boyne, chair of judges

The prize was co-founded by blogger and booktuber Simon Savidge. He hopes that the book will enlighten people, make them question what they think they know and encourage discussion.

Sources: The Guardian, and The Daily Mail



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