I don’t usually publish articles at weekend but wanted to recognise two items which don’t fit into my normal review schedule.
The first is this week’s announcement that the Literature Prize has gained sponsorship from The Folio Society and is now to be known as The Folio Prize. The Literature Prize was first announced last October in reaction to general dis-satisfaction with the Man Booker Prize which seemed to have prioritised readability over artistic achievement. Andrew Kidd, the agent for the new prize told The Bookseller magazine, that the prize “will offer readers a selection of novels that, in the view of these expert judges, are unsurpassed in their quality and ambition”.
He went on to say, “We believe though that great writing has the power to change us, to make us see the world a little differently from how we saw it before, and that the public deserves a prize whose sole aim is to bring to our attention and celebrate the very best novels published in our time.”
The Literature Prize people have obviously been busy since then and this weeks announcement about sponsorship shows that they have not only gained a substantial prize fund (£40,000 for the winner) but also established an Academy of 100 writers and critics including such names as Margaret Attwood, Colm Tóibín, Salley Vickers and Philip Pullman who will select titles to go on the short-list. Each year, five members of the Academy will be asked to be the judges for the competition.
I am not usually very interested in literary prizes but this one looks like it will be well worth-while. The Folio Society is a great match for the aims of the prize because, as Andrew Kidd says, “they are about recognising the books of today that will be in print in 50 or 100 years time”.
At a time when many of us are planning short city-breaks I’d also like to mention a little book that came my way called Doodle Paris, a sort of colouring book for grown-ups but just as much fun for a child. When I saw it I thought what a great idea this is for anyone who happens to be spending a few days in Paris. You can take Doodle Paris with you and use it to record your memories of the visit. The idea is simple,
“Each page comes with a simple illustration prompt inspired by the French capital, say the window of a patisserie, a line drawing of the city’s skyline, or a series of picture frames hanging in the Musée d’Orsay, and encourages you to draw in the rest”.
Not many people would have the confidence to take a pencil and a blank sheet of paper and actually draw something while sitting at a café table or relaxing on a park bench. This book may give you the prompt you need to begin sketching – no other equipment is required other than a pencil or pen.
There’s plenty of space in the book for recording your notes and comments too and I could well imagine that if you took Doodle Paris with you it’s one book you would keep on your shelves for years to come to help you remember your visit.