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Literature Matters
December 2011
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Welcome to this November/ December edition of Literature Matters. This month we are experimenting with a new format, drawing stories from our website. Let us know what you think by taking a look at the link below.

In this edition we look at the new ways of writing and publishing that have come about with the digital revolution. The literature sector is changing shape rapidly, both at grass roots level with new digital innovation driving the industry, and at the level of influence. See the digital innovation winners further down the page.

We’re delighted to have Claire De Braekeleer tell us about some of the great new initiatives highlighted by the Young Publishers Award scheme, run by the Creative and Cultural Economy team, and we feature Dan Franklin's recent talk about digital publishing in Moscow.

Nick Chapman also tells us about digital publishing schemes paving the way in China and we have a quick look at the FutureBook conference that happened this week.

Have a look at our website for all the latest news and reports on Dickens, the Hay Festivals in Dhaka and Kerala and new writers' blogs from around the world.
British Council Literature Website
Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE) Publishing award
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Our International YCE Publishing award will be celebrating its 7th birthday in the spring and we can now really take stock and celebrate what an important part it has been of our ongoing partnership with London Book Fair.

The award is designed to identify entrepreneurial young publishers from emerging economies around the world and help them to build their UK and international connections through taking part in a tour of the UK publishing industry alongside LBF. In more recent years a sibling scheme has emerged to identify up and coming UK publishing businesses and link them up with international opportunities. It’s been a crucial way for the British Council to be connected to those innovative young businesses that are working in – and shaping – the rapidly shifting world of publishing.

With some real critical mass now we have an active alumni bringing the UK and international publishing world together; those involved frequently meet up at LBF and other international book fairs and the awards have spurred some very impressive collaborations.

Joanna El Mir, from Lebanese publishing house Samir Editeur, through her YCE experience built the connections and bought the rights to publish Roald Dahl in Arabic for the first time, opening his stories to a new generation of children in Beirut and beyond. Gavin Weale from award winning social enterprise Livity in the UK was so inspired by his YCE visit to South Africa that he has moved to Capetown to launch a version of their youth engagement platform Live Magazine, reflecting the local social context and empowering young people to build careers in journalism, publishing and the wider creative industries.

The awards have been particularly prescient in identifying new players in digital publishing. Several alumni from our international award, Ramy Habeeb of Kotobarabia (Egypt),Octavio Kulesz of Editorial Teseo (Argentina) and Arthur Attwell from Paperight (South Africa) have founded Digital Minds Network, a consultancy that pools their experience, resources and strategy about digital publishing in emerging markets. Recently we sent several of the leading young lights in UK digital publishing including Michael Bhaskar from Profile Books, Oliver Brooks from CompletelyNovel / ValoBox and Gavin Summers from Hodder Education to speak at the new Publishing Next conference run by Indian YCE Leonard Fernandes of CinnamonTeal Publishing sharing UK experience, and learning about developments from around the world in this ripe area for international exchange.

The YCE programmes are run from our Creative and Cultural Economy team and these are a great example of inter-team working with Literature, with both business and cultural returns for the British Council and participants.

The 2012 international award will bring winners from China, Colombia, India, Russia, Syria, Turkey and the UAE to the UK and to the London Book Fair in April, so stay tuned for updates.

Please do check out our Creative and Cultural Economy website for more YCE publishing alumni profiles and projects.

Claire De Braekeleer, Creative and Cultural Economy Adviser
Creative and Cultural Economy website
Neel Mukherjee blogs from Passa Porta in Belgium
blog, Stories and Ephemera
Neel Mukherjee is currently undertaking a writer's residency at the International House of Literature in Brussels 'Passa Porta'.

Neel's six week programme is part of an exchange with the Flemish writer Rachida Lamrabet and the Free Word Centre in London. Here he writes his first blog...
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© Neel Mukherjee Tick
Exclusive Interview with Hanif Kureishi: part of our rich literature programme with Turkey
Partner Spotlight, Latest Multimedia, Project News
Our specially commissioned interview with Hanif Kureishi for the Tanpinar Literary Festival is now online. Read about this and more of our work with Turkey below.
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Granta Scope Chinese Potential
Partner Spotlight, Project News, General
Today Granta magazine's editors begin meetings in China intent on discovering talent and making links with like-minded literary publications
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The 'Sketches by Boz' project has begun
Project News
Here we kick start the Sketches by Boz project with graphic novelist Zara Slattery's piece on modern-day London.
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Borough Market Sketch © Zara Slattery Tick
Hay Dhaka puts the spotlight on Bangladesh
Partner Spotlight, Project News
The first ever Hay Festival in Bangladesh has taken place in the capital city of Dhaka. Eminent writers and thinkers converged at the British Council premises there to celebrate writing and language.
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An outdoor stage at the Hay festival in Dhaka Tick
Digital Publishing Trends up for discussion at the Non/Fiction Book Fair
Latest Multimedia, What we're doing, Project News, General
Dan Franklin leads a discussion on the UK digital market and the future of the book in Moscow.
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Vladimir Kharitonov and Dan Franklin will talk about digital publishing Tick
Internet publishing in China – the Future is Here
With the focus on China as the Market Focus country at the London Book Fair next year, here Nick Chapman talks about some of the digital publishing initiatives he has encountered as he looks towards April 2012…

With a population that is much happier to buy, read and discard literature as digital content on phones, tablets and computers, digital publishing has rapidly taken the form of serialisation in China. It is not a new concept, having been wildly popular among writers such as Charles Dickens & Henry James in the 19th century, and it is now making a truly modern comeback online.

Like other digital platforms the Chinese model allows a writer to register online and sell their work as a download for approx. 2-3 yuan (20-30p) per 100, 000 words. If a writer attracts large numbers of downloads their copyright is often bought by the website and displayed in a special VIP section of the site; the first few chapters are offered free to readers who can then choose to buy the entire novel online and all profits are split with the author. Many websites now offer this service and can earn their owners and editors very healthy sums of money.

Shanda Literature, the owner of three such websites in China, reported that in the last quarter of 2010 they had 1.46 million registered authors who wrote 4.1 million volumes of work. While many amateur writers use this platform, statistics show that a staggering 42% of Chinese internet users are web readers. With almost half of online browsers reading the content, the market is rife for competition and thus success. Even established writers are drawn to this form of writing in order to reach such great audiences.

For more information on digital publishing in China you might find the following articles interesting:
China: Future Publishing
China Daily: A New Chapter for Online Reading
The FutureBook Conference
Earlier this week we attended the Bookseller’s FutureBook conference.

Dominique Raccah, CEO of Sourcebooks, talked about the transition happening in the industry from books to e-books, while Evan Schnittman from Bloomsbury talked about how ebooks and print books impact on each other.

Stephen Page, CEO of Faber and Faber, discussed his vision for modern publishing, just before Faber were announced as a winner from one of the FutureBook technology awards...

FutureBook award winners:
To see the full shortlists please visit The FutureBook blog
Best adult app: The Waste Land, Faber and Faber and Touch Press
Best reference/non-trade app: The Human Body, DK / AKQA
Best children's app: Cinderella, Nosy Crow
Best website:
Best integrated digital marketing campaign: The Night Circus, Harvill Secker (Vintage Publishing)
Best startup: Unbound
Best technology innovation: Bardowl
Most inspiring digital publishing person: Rebecca Smart, Osprey Group
More details about the Future Book Conference at
Read and Reviewed
Is That A Fish in Your Ear – Translation and the Meaning of Everything by David Bellos - Karen

David Bellos is Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University. He was awarded the first Man Booker International Translator's Prize for his translations of Ismail Kadare's novels. In this book, Bellos explores what translation is and why it’s so central to the human experience. His narrative is filled with fascinating facts and amusing anecdotes about language and communication. Bellos impresses with the way he makes this complicated subject accessible and entertaining. This is a great book for anyone interested in how we understand each other.

There but for the by Ali Smith - Susie

Like listening to a world class symphony orchestra or enjoying a three star Michelin meal, a new book by Ali Smith is always to be savoured. This novel manages to steer clear of whimsy as it outlines the drama which ensues when a barely-known dinner party guest locks himself into the spare room of his perfectionist host's gracious home ('The doorframes are 18th century although the doors themselves are 19th and the hinges are on the inside' she wails.) Featuring a precocious child and an unemployed liaison officer for asylum seekers among others, the narrative takes us from the shocking to the quotidian via puns, memory and a linguistic felicity which never palls.

After The Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld - Rachel

This week I’m recommending After The Fire, A Still Small Voice, By Evie Wyld. It’s her debut novel set on the coast of Queensland in her native Australia. To a backdrop of war and violence two narratives intertwine – the stories of Leon, the son of European immigrants who witnesses decline of his father as he returns from the Korean war, and is then called up himself to fight in Vietnam, and Frank who returns to the Outback in order to escape his city life and its demons. This is a gripping read. Beautifully written and constructed it navigates the traumatic experiences of both men and the ripple effect on their relationships and the community around them.

Evie Wyld will be taking part in our Norwich Showcase in March 2012.

The Bell by Iris Murdoch - Sophie

Having fallen back on an old classic I've been surprised how modern much of The Bell feels; Murdoch’s observations of people, fancies, boredoms and expectations still resonate more than fifty years later. The novel is set in a lay community in the heart of Gloucestershire where the signature convent bell is shrouded in local legend. The tale goes that a nun once had an affair and, when she failed to confess, powerful magic tore the bell from the chapel. Murdoch weaves this fable throughout the story as she sets her characters up for an inevitable, yet touchingly human, fall from grace.
Creative Writing Fellowships at the University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia are calling for submissions for three prestigious creative writing fellowships. Deadlines are in January - please see the link below for more details.
Full details and application forms available on the UEA website