Hardback Vs Paperback – Is this, too, a gender issue?

A complaint has been lodged in the UK and echoed here in Australia – women writers of fiction are not being taken seriously. Case in point: Fewer women than men are published in hardback.

This point may seem meaningless. The economy and ease of the paperback makes it the choice of any sensible consumer, anyway. Why should women care whether they are published in hardback? Especially when we consider that the number of female readers outstrips the number of male readers, that women dominate publishing from the top to the bottom (women are publishers, agents, editors, writers, reviewers, bloggers, judges, booksellers), that women read more often and buy more books than men which means Continue reading

Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley

Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt’s marriage is one of the most celebrated and scrutinized partnerships in presidential history. It raised eyebrows in their lifetimes and has only become more controversial since their deaths. From FDR’s lifelong romance with Lucy Mercer to Eleanor’s purported lesbianism–and many scandals in between–the American public has never tired of speculating about the ties that bound these two headstrong individuals. Some claim that Eleanor sacrificed her personal happiness to accommodate FDR’s needs; others claim that the marriage was nothing more than a gracious façade for political convenience. No one has told the full story until now.

In this groundbreaking new account of the marriage, Hazel Rowley describes the remarkable courage and lack of convention–private and public–that kept FDR and Eleanor together. She reveals a partnership that was both supportive and daring. Franklin, especially, knew what he owed to Eleanor, who was not so much behind the scenes as heavily engaged in them. Their relationship was the product of FDR and Eleanor’s conscious efforts–a partnership that they created according to their own ambitions and needs.

In this dramatic and vivid narrative, set against the great upheavals of the Depression and World War II, Rowley paints a portrait of a tender lifelong companionship, born of mutual admiration and compassion. Most of all, she depicts an extraordinary evolution–from conventional Victorian marriage to the bold and radical partnership that has made Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt go down in history as one of the most inspiring and fascinating couples of all time.

Hazel Rowley was born in London and educated in England and Australia. She is the author of three previous biographies: Christina Stead: A Biography, a New York Times Best Book; Richard Wright: The Life and Times, a Washington Post Best Book; and Tete-e-Tete: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, which has been translated into twelve languages. She lived in New York City.

from The Sydney Morning Herald March 03, 2011

Gifted Australian biographer dies in New York at 59 by Jason Steger

HAZEL Rowley once described writing a biography as like having a love affair. ”You know how it is when you are in love? You smile indulgently at their faults, you are fascinated by every minor detail about them. You cannot take your mind off them, you become so totally obsessed. You live with them day and night for years.”

Rowley’s affair with life stories came to an end on Monday night when the much admired Australian biographer died after a series of strokes at her New York home. She was 59. Rowley was due to return to Australia this month for the Perth Writers Festival and appearances in Melbourne and Sydney. Click here to read the full article…

Booktopia For Dummies

As everybody knows, March is Dummies month

But this year is extra special – For Dummies are celebrating their 20th birthday!

In November 1991, DOS For Dummies rolled off the press with 7,500 units and the yellow-and-black machine has not stopped since. Not even those closest to the brand could have anticipated the profound effect the brand would have on publishing and pop culture – everything from books to sound bites and placements in major motion pictures.

But 20 years and 200 million books later, For Dummies is the most widely recognised reference series in the world.

Buy a For Dummies title in March and go into the draw for a share in $20,000 worth of prizes and, exclusive to Booktopia, for your choice of twenty For Dummies titles.

Every single day in March you’ll have a chance to win $500.

Once a week in March you’ll have the chance to win an Apple iPad!

Hey, wait a minute, For Dummies celebrate a birthday – and you get the presents! How does that work?

All you need to enter is to follow the instructions on the Dummies bookmark in the book and to make sure you are you able to supply proof of purchase if your name comes up.

Here at Booktopia, we also have an exclusive additional reason to make March your Dummies month. Buy a For Dummies title from Booktopia in March and you might be the lucky one to receive 20 For Dummies titles of your choice. You don’t need to do a thing except buy a For Dummies title and then watch your inbox. During the first half of April the lucky customer will hear from us via email and his/her name will be announced here on the Booktopia Blog by April 15.

Terms and conditions
Open to Australian and New Zealand residents only. Retain full original purchase receipts. Starts 1/3/11 and ends 11:59pm (AEDST) 31/3/11. Limit of 3 entries per person. The first daily draw will take place on 2/3/11 and the last daily draw will take place on 1/4/11. Daily Draw Prizes: 31 x AU$500 cheques. Daily Draw winners published in The Australian 23/3/11 & 5/4/11. Weekly Prize Draws on 9/3/11, 16/3/11, 23/3/11 & 1/4/11. Weekly Draw Prizes: 4 x Apple iPad packs valued at AU$1,125. Weekly Winners published in The Australian 23/3/11 & 5/4/11. All draws to take place at 403/62 Beach Street, Port Melbourne 3207 at 12pm. Promoter John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd (ABN 67 009 673 081), 155 Cremorne St, Richmond VIC 3121. NSW LTPS/10/12498, VIC 10/4611, ACT TP10/5690, SA T10/3108.

Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith – Reviewed by Kylie Ladd

Zadie Smith is one of those writers other writers love to hate. Not for her the years of unpublished obscurity, the endless tweaking of the query letter, the rejection after rejection after rejection that the rest of us tell ourselves is an unavoidable and indeed vital component of becoming a novelist.

Instead, Smith was offered a publishing contract for her first novel on the basis of some short stories written in her second year at Cambridge University and included in a student anthology. She turned that down, electing to be represented by the highly sought-after Wylie agency, who subsequently sold her unfinished manuscript to Hamish Hamilton (a division of Penguin) at a highly-contested auction. Smith completed the novel, White Teeth, in her final year at Cambridge. On its release the following year it quickly became both a commercial and critical success, winning the Guardian First Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize. The Autograph Man, her second novel, was again a bestseller, while her third, On Beauty, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction.

For all these reasons I was quite prepared to resent her when I first picked up White Teeth five or six years ago. The book had been out for a while by then, but I had eschewed it, intimidated by its success, until my husband finally bought a copy, devoured it avidly, then shoved it under my nose and insisted that I read it. He was right to do so. White Teeth, which deals with immigrant families in London adapting to their new society, is a masterpiece- clever, funny and full of heart. On Beauty was even better. Smith reminds me of a younger, sexier AS Byatt- they share the same aggressive intelligence, innate Britishness and absolute command of language, as well as simply knowing a hell of a lot about pretty much everything.

All these qualities are on display in Smith’s collection of “occasional” essays, Changing My Mind. As the author herself acknowledges in the foreword, such books are written essentially by accident, and- in contrast to a novel- with no unifying theme or voice. Quite possibly as a result, I found Changing My Mind significantly less accessible or Continue reading


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