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The Longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced and it’s an exciting list with a mixture of well known and debut authors. I’m particularly looking forward to reading ‘The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock’ and ‘Three Things about Elsie’. Which titles are going on your reading list?
From the Guardian:
From murderers to mermaids, the “whole wealth of experience” features on the longlist for the 2018 Women’s prize for fiction, according to chair of judges Sarah Sands, giving the lie to “that stereotype of women’s fiction”.
The 16-strong longlist for the £30,000 award for “excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women in English from throughout the world”, was announced on Thursday. The award, previously known as the Baileys prize, places two major names, Pulitzer winner Jennifer Egan and Booker winner Arundhati Roy, up against six debuts. The latter include Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which won the Costa first novel award, and Imogen Hermes Gowar’s The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, a tale set in Georgian London in which a mermaid is captured.
Topics range from Nicola Barker’s H(a)ppy, set in the far future in an apparent utopia, to Meena Kandasamy’s portrait of a violent marriage, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife, and Sarah Schmidt’s reimagining of the Lizzie Borden murders, See What I Have Done.
“What strikes me is the range and the boldness of it – the true diversity of subject as well as authors. You’ve got mermaids and murderesses, which has got to be good,” said chair of the judges Sands, editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “You feel women could deal with any subject; they can take on big themes. It doesn’t feel like a partial list, where you think you need the men to make up the world. The world is really well covered in this list.”
We have more than half of the titles in stock already and if there is one you would like to read, place a request and we will buy it. The full list is
(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Thursday 8 March is International Women’s day
To celebrate, a number of activities will be taking place in Wakefield One from 10am – 3pm. This year marks 100 years since women were able to vote. Let’s celebrate the achievements of all the inspirational women that fought to make this happen.
Between 10am – 2pm the Electoral Services team is holding a voter registration event.
From 2 – 3pm people from Occupational Health will be promoting the Well Women Centre in Wakefield. They will be promoting the centre and offering advice and support around Women’s wellbeing – anyone can call in and have a chat.
There will also be:
- Poets in Poll Booths – ask a poet to write and perform a poem especially for you
- Display’s in the Museum about the first secret ballot held in Pontefract
- From 10.10am – 11.50am there will be spoken word performances by the Forgotten Women of Wakefield
- Rachel Reeves MP will deliver a talk in the library learning zone at 12.15pm about the life of Alice Bacon, the first female MP from Yorkshire
- At 1pm – the unveiling of a blue plaque dedicated to Alice Bacon
Michael Yates is an established writer whose latest collection of fiction, 20 Stories High, is published this spring. The 20 stories are a mixed bag of the funny, sad and scary, with a cast list of heroes, villains… and ghosts! 20 Stories High will be launched at Henry Boons at 7pm on Thursday 22 February.
Michael will be working with us at Wakefield Library in March and April on a short story writing course ‘What’s the Story’ Over four sessions he will teach you how to write your own short story, make your plots exciting and your characters come alive.
Monday 12 March, 2-4pm: What is a short story? How to build a plot. How to create character. Brainstorm a plot for your story. Write an exciting intro.
Monday 19 March, 2-4pm: Develop your plot. Find a setting for your story. How to win the reader’s attention. How to keep the reader’s attention.
Then a three-week break to write your story! You will be able to keep in touch with tutor Michael to ask his advice by e-mail!
Monday 9 April, 2-4pm: Hearing the stories (1). Writers read their stories. The class look at ways to improve them.
Monday 16 April, 2-4pm: Hearing the stories (2). Writers read their stories. The class look at ways to improve them.
The Learning Zone, Wakefield Library, Wakefield One, Burton Street
Wakefield, WF1 2DD
The course is free but please 01924 305376 or email email@example.com to reserve a place
One of my spring highlights will be Civilisations , an epic new series from the BBC spanning 31 countries on six continents, and covering more than 500 works of art. Presenters Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga will explore African, Asian and American as well as European cultures to explore how human creativity began and developed, how civilisations around the world influenced one another and how artists have depicted the human form and the natural world. Here are some reading ideas to enjoy as you watch. What would your suggestions be?
You can also visit Wakefield Library for Dancing with India, a performance and workshop exploring traditional Indian temple dance on Saturday 3 March 10-12. Free, no need to book.
On Monday 5 March you can enjoy Rainbow Serpent, an Australian creation story workshop, at South Elmsall Library 9.30-3.15. Free but booking is essential.
Castleford Library is hosting a talk on The Romans of Castleford, Tuesday 6 March. Free, no need to book. 2-3.15pm
Read Regional is back for 2018,bringing 12 northern writers and their wonderful new books to libraries across the North of England. The free booklet will be available form libraries shortly with information about the books and interviews with the writers. You can also find out about this year’s writers here .
Four writers are visiting libraries in the Wakefield district. We start on 13 March 11am with crime writer D.M Mark, talking about his first historical crime novel The Zealot’s Bones. It is set in Hull in 1849 during a terrible cholera outbreak and the author describes it as ‘ a story of redemption and revenge: bloody, grimy and raw’. Expect lots of bodies and giant rats!
A second crime event takes place on 26 April, 2pm at Hemsworth Library. A.A. Dhand’s first novel Streets of Darkness was described as “A tense slice of neo-noir that has won Dhand comparisons to both BBC drama Luther and HBO’s The Wire ” (Observer) so we are thrilled he is coming to Hemsworth to talk about Girl Zero, a second outing for his Bradford based detective D.I. Harry Virdee.
May sees a change of mood with A Sweet, Wild Note by Richard Smyth. Richard will be visiting Horbury Library on 18 May, 10.30am. The book is a cultural history of bird song, its place in our literature, science and music, what it means to us and what it would mean not to hear it. Horbury is Richard’s home town and we are delighted to welcome him back.
The final event takes place at Castleford Library on 14 June, 2pm. Sarah Dunnakey will be talking about The Companion, a compelling mystery of buried secrets and unsolved murder set on the Yorkshire Moors and partly inspired by Gibson Mill near Hebden Bridge, a former cotton mill which became an entertainment centre in the early 1900s. Sarah lives in Hebden Bridge and as well as writing works as a question researcher for TV shows like Mastermind, University Challenge and Pointless.
There are lots of good events coming up in the next few weeks at Wakefield Library: all events are free but where booking is requested, please contact the library on 01924 305376.
Medieval Magic, Alchemy and Astrology: Monday 29 January, 2-3pm.
Historian Gillian Waters reveals how medieval people saw their world. Please contact the library to book a place.
Pack Up Poetry: Tuesday 30 January and Thursday 1 February 12.30 – 1.30
Lunchtime writing workshops led by local poets Sarah Leah Cobham and Simon Widdop. Booking not required, just drop in. This event will also be taking place at Pontefract Library on 29th January and 2nd February.
Beasts among the Bookshelves: Thursday 1 February 5-6pm
A Harry Potter Night event with plenty of family fun and the chance to win some beastly prizes! Please contact the library to book a place. Suitable for families, aimed at about age 7-12.
Meet the author: Alison Littlewood. Saturday 10 February 2-3pm
Alison is the author of Richard and Judy hit A Cold Season and Path of Needles, set in the Sandal area. Her latest tiles are Crow Garden and Hidden People. Please contact the library to reserve a place.
Death in the Garden: Saturday 17 February, 2 – 3pm
The Historic Gardener Michael Brown talks about poisonous plants, myths, magic, passion and murder. His book Death in the Garden is due out at the end of March and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Please contact the library to book a place.
Roll Up for Circus Time! Saturday 24th February.
Two events to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the modern circus.
11am Family Circus Skills Workshop with the Rapide Brothers. Please contact the library to book a place.
2.30pm History of the Circus: talk by local historian Steve Ward. Drop in, no need to book.
Crofton Reader Group provide a peep inside a typical meeting..
The October meeting of the Reader Group, in Crofton Working Men’s Club, was attended by 15 women; I don’t know why men don’t come along – but we manage perfectly well without them.
Once we had settled down with our drinks we were ready to start, though it was a while before the book we had been reading got a mention. Our first topic was the plight of three black and white kittens, only a few weeks old that had been found dumped in a cardboard box and were now on Facebook, looking for new homes. Then attention turned to fashion, old-fashion – new-fashion, when Ann commented that the buttons down the back of her new jumper made it necessary for her to sit up straight! Several of us remembered the early 60s when we wore our cardigans back-to-front to be ‘different’.
Somehow we moved on to LGBTQAI+ and what it all means, as well as using the pronoun ‘they’ as singular, for someone who prefers not to have a gender label.
Eventually we talked about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice which had been enjoyed by the majority. Some members admitted that they hadn’t actually re-read it but remembered having enjoyed it first time around, even though that might have been many years ago. A couple of ladies found it tedious and boring; everything took so long, waiting for official invitations and introductions, waiting for a suitable husband. But we agreed that life for the idle-fairly-rich would have been like that, the book was of its time. And although fiction, the story provided a serious look at and comment on the life of the moneyed-class, with little or no thought for what happened below stairs. In that respect we were reading more ‘real’ history than anything from the modern-day imagining of what it might have been like, particularly for fairly well-off young ladies around the turn of the 19th century.
Not surprisingly, reference was made to the BBC’s dramatisation of the story back in 1995; we also touched on the more recent ITV historical drama series, Victoria.
Throughout the evening as we talked we inevitably found things to laugh about, so much so that my cheeks ached, and Trish admitted that she hadn’t laughed so much in ages. We laughed even more when Lynne showed us her bag bearing the words “I was delighted to discover that ‘book’ club is a euphemism for ‘wine’ club”!
I am already looking forward to future meetings and you are most welcome to join us.
Managing Dyslexia: guest blog by Vanessa Goddard
Looking around the group again this morning I am reminded what a good idea this was – to set up a community group for adults with dyslexia and associated mental health difficulties.
This morning we have looked at proofreading and spellings, just two of the many difficulties faced by those with dyslexia.
‘Needs to concentrate more in class’, ‘he’ll never amount to much with that attitude’, ‘too careless’, ‘doesn’t listen to what he’s being asked to do’, ‘refuses to read aloud in class.’
These are just a few of the things they were constantly being told at school and, in the true words of a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ they all truly believed that they were unable to learn and education wasn’t for them.
We have proved them all wrong… It’s true their concentration isn’t brilliant – so we have short bursts of focusing and then take a break. It’s true they don’t remember spellings or facts from one week to the next – so we go over and over and over, as many times as we need to. It’s true that their self-confidence was at rock bottom when I met them but now they are being asked for their opinion, they are being taught the way they learn best and they are no longer ashamed of their disability or too frightened to speak up.
We started the group on 6th September 2016 with the help of library services, who lend us a space in Sandal library free of charge. They also lend us the dyslexia friendly reading books we need so that they can develop reading skills and confidence in their own ability. To make text ‘dyslexia friendly’ all that is needed is a cursive font (like this one – comic sans), preferably a little bigger than the standard 12, evenly spaced with not too much crowding of words or pictures, making it ‘too busy’ for their eyes to focus. Black ink on a white background isn’t good for anyone with dyslexia, and for some it is impossible to manage, so if everything was printed on cream, or even just ‘off-white’ then the difference would be amazing!
There is the misconception that those with dyslexia can’t read and can’t spell….. NOT true!! The written words just needs to be presented in a dyslexia friendly way and the learning of anything needs to be repetitive to accommodate their very poor short term memories.
Developing English skills is certainly not all we do….. There is a lot of focus on coping strategies. Dyslexia is not an easy thing for anyone to manage and it impacts on everyday life. This is a place where they all feel safe – they can talk openly about the difficulties faced – they can help each other – and they can have a good laugh.
I would find it difficult to call this ‘work!’ I’m sure the staff at Sandal library will agree – we are a jovial bunch (though I can assure you this wasn’t the case when I first started working with them)… they are all a joy to teach and I have learnt so much from them…
The funding I have just secured from the Big Lottery will enable me to start another group early in the New Year. I want it to follow straight on from the Tuesday morning group so that there is an opportunity for them all to meet up for a coffee and a chat between classes. There is a real community feel to Sandal library and to the Managing Dyslexia groups….. and this is a big part of what makes it work!
Long may it continue and develop and hopefully our presence in the library will break down barriers and help more people with dyslexia make use of their local library and access the dyslexia friendly books waiting for them inside!
I’ll sign off for now but will hopefully update you of our progress and successes in the near future. Vanessa Goddard