Anuradha Roy’s Cooking Women has won the third Outlook-Picador India Non-Fiction Competition. Links to the essay not available just yet, but the Babu raises his hat to Anuradha nevertheless.

Why Authors Don’t Like Valentine’s Day: “I learnt early that convents exist only in case I proposition someone: one word from me, and women flock to them.” Thomas Keneally on that first fine careless rapture. Hari Kunzru had an equally bad time: “My friends rather helpfully made up a little rhyme: “Lisa Chow, you silly cow, have it off with Hari now.”

Sara Nelson comments that the Nannies had become the authors from hell. This apparently happens a lot in publishing: “According to a long-time publicist at a major conglomerate, books that are grossly disliked and clearly ‘not ready’ for publication are released every month, and in the rare event that a substandard book is canceled, the publisher often doesn?t bother to try to recoup whatever portion of the advance it has already paid?unless the author is subsequently successful in placing it elsewhere.” It’s always good to know that those giant conglomerates are keeping standards up, right?

First it was Roddy Doyle: “Ulysses could have done with a good editor.” Now it’s Dale Peck: “It took an imagination as literal as Joyce’s, a temperament as dogged, an ambition as lacking in nuance, to turn a book as lively as The Odyssey into a stale monument to everything that had so recently failed the world.” Anyone else got a hatchet they want to bury in the great man’s corpse, join the queue.

Thor Kunkel’s Final Stage is about porn films shot by the Nazis; two months before its scheduled release, his publisher took it off the list. The German author reacts: “This is totally ridiculous. It’s outrageous. What I’ve tried to do in my book is modernise one of the darkest chapters in German history. My novel takes place in 1941 when not a single bomb was falling on Germany. It starts at the turning point in the war, when Germany invaded Russia. The book is about the morbid leisure society of the Third Reich. It’s not that I’m trying to ignore the Holocaust, it’s merely that it’s totally pass? as a theme. Who does Fest think he is?”

If you fit this profile, Harlequin thinks you should be reading romantic fiction: “A 46-year-old woman who is (or has been) married, living in an average-income household. She is more likely to be retired/at home than working, if she does work, it is as likely to be part-time as full-time. She is educated to high-school level and watches television channels Seven and Nine. She reads a tabloid paper (if she reads a paper at all) and women?s gossip magazines. She doesn?t use public transport, preferring to travel by car.” Right. If you’re 45 and you read three newspapers, they’ll take your pulp fiction away from you.

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