Date Archives January 2011

Coal funding hits record high

Was astonished by a recent snippet from Christian Aid: Christian Aid has criticised a record high of US$4.4 billion in World Bank funding for coal power stations – a 40-fold increase over the past five years. I can’t believe that at a time when we are facing the need for urgent action to avoid disastrous climate change, the World Bank is pouring more money into coal than renewable energy. Of course developing nations need to generate power for their growing populations, and renewable energy might be more expensive to set… Read More

Congratulations Sophie Duffy!

It was wonderful the other night to see the Luke Bitmead Bursary awarded for a third year, this time to Sophie Duffy for The Generation Game. The prize is £2,500 and a publishing contract with Legend Press. I didn’t get to talk to Sophie at the event, but I did speak to several of the runners-up and of course Luke’s mum Elaine and sister Tiffany. In case you haven’t heard of the Luke Bitmead Bursary, check out the website. If you’re an unpublished writer, definitely enter next year’s contest. It’s… Read More

“The Buddha of Suburbia” by Hanif Kureishi

I grew up in Beckenham, the exact part of London suburbia in which this novel is set. To my knowledge it’s the only time a novel has ever been set in Beckenham – in fact, it’s probably the only time a novel has even mentioned Beckenham in passing. So I very much enjoyed the opening chapters of the book, narrated by the teenaged Karim and telling of his father who becomes the ‘Buddha of Suburbia’. I loved the way that the father is presumed to know the secrets of ‘Eastern’… Read More

“Lux the Poet” by Martin Millar

I thought I would like this book more than I did. It’s a comedy set in the Brixton Riots of the early 1980s, set around the adventures of a narcissistic poet called Lux. In a wonderfully creative mix of storylines, a whole array of other characters run around in Brixton in the chaos of the riots, most of them exasperated at Lux for one reason or another. Most of all I liked the story of Kalia, who was expelled from heaven after being falsely accused of organising a coup against… Read More

RIP Prospero

I learned recently of the demise of Prospero’s Books, my local independent bookshop in Crouch End. It made me very sad – it was a great bookshop, with knowledgeable staff who were always very supportive of me and of other local writers. I was even on their bestseller list for a while. The strange thing is that the place always seemed full of customers, a lot of whom were actually making purchases as well. So I’m not really sure why it couldn’t continue. I still have some good independent bookshops… Read More

Learning from the French

Moving from journalism into fiction writing, it sometimes feels as if I have gone from one dying industry straight to another. All I read about my profession is doom and gloom, and I sometimes wonder whether I’ve chosen a career that will be obsolete by the time I’ve established yourself in it. It’s the internet, or ebooks, or supermarket  discounting, or big-chain conglomerates pricing out independents, or something else that will destroy literature as we know it. So it was nice to read an article in the 8th issue of… Read More