Margaret Atwood: Shes ahead of everyone in the room

As excitement mounts for the sequel to The Handmaids Tale, we talk to publishers and writers about the great novelist The hoopla around the launch of Margaret Atwoods The Testaments is more reminiscent of the unveiling of an iPhone or something Pokmon-related than that of a mere book. On the evening of 9 September, 400 people will gather outside the doors of Waterstones Piccadilly store in London for the midnight release of the sequel to The Blind Assassin in 2000, and had five other novels shortlisted. She has yet to be given the Nobel prize for literature but that is widely seen as an error to be righted. When an embarrassed The Heart Goes Last, you may relish her wit …

Lionel Shriver returns to Australia and doubles down on ‘fascistic’ identity politics

Three years after controversial speech in Brisbane, US author denounces cultural control, obedience and conformism Three years after vowing never to return to Australia, author Lionel Shriver says she stands by her controversial keynote speech at the Brisbane writers festival in 2016, calling identity politics fascistic. Sunday night marked the American novelists first appearance in Australia since that controversial tour, despite her having released two books in the intervening years. Shrivers 2016 address on fiction and identity politics, she said she hoped the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad, received widespread backlash. Sudanese-Australian writer Yassmin Abdel-Magied walked out of the event midway, later ABCs Q&A on Monday night where she will be joined by Black Lives Matter activist …

Toni Morrison remembered: Her irreverence was godly

Leading contemporaries pay tribute to the Nobel prize-winning novelist The Bluest Eye. Its a first novel and yet astoundingly everything is there. The voices, nimbly alive, dont just mimic or signal black life, but, rather, invoke and rejoice in it. The clarity and urgency of characters is telegraphed through indelible gestures: three pennies guarded in a childs shoe, the poor hunched shoulders and tilted head of the girl Pecola, whos lived her whole short life with an internalised sense of ugly unlovability. The various forms of rage that rise up in the face of lack stand revealed, as do the barbarous social conditions in place to perpetuate such lack not just in America but everywhere that difference between people is …

Old men by the sea: Tennessee banker takes Hemingway lookalike contest

Joe Maxey, 68, beats 141 other author impersonators in long-running event that shows importance of being Ernest A retired banker from Tennessee beat 141 other white-bearded contenders to win the coveted Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in Key West, Florida, on Saturday, at the eighth attempt. Joe Maxey, 68, of Cedar Hill triumphed at Sloppy Joes Bar, a hangout of the author when he lived in Key West in the 1930s. A judging panel of former winners chose Maxey from a vast field which competed in two preliminary rounds and Saturdays finals. Maxey said he loved Hemingways writing and shared the authors fondness for mojitos and women. During his Key West years, Hemingway wrote literary classics including For Whom the Bell …

Author Lisa Taddeo: I wanted to explore desire, not sex

In her extraordinary book Three Women Lisa Taddeo charts the intimate lives of real American women. Below, we print an extract In 2010, a young American writer called Lisa Taddeo published Gay Taleses notorious 1981 exploration of sex culture in 1970s America (Talese, a pioneer of new journalism, ran a massage parlour as part of his research; during the writing of the book, he stayed at a clothing-optional resort). Taddeo, conscientious but curious too, went to see Talese, by then in his late 70s, at his home in New York. It was the first of what would turn out to be several false starts. He said the only way I could come close to matching his so-called masterpiece would be …

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert review the glamour of New York

The Eat, Pray, Love authors romp through 1940s Manhattan is a glorious, multilayered celebration of womanhood There are some writers who are destined to be judged on one outlandish success.Robert Galbraith for nothing. But when your name is Elizabeth Gilbert and that book is A Signature of All Things, its so true to life in places including real historical figures in the story that it occasionally feels like pastiche. Elizabeth Gilbert Photograph: ddp USA/REX Shutterstock But Gilbert is nothing if not emotionally intuitive, and while City of Girls is unquestionably a sexy, glamorous romp, its similarities with vaudeville end there. The plot bristles with moral intent: Vivians fall, when it inevitably comes, is complete and damning and utterly gendered, its …

Why Tales of the City is still a revolutionary show

Armistead Maupins creation has been rebooted for a new generation. Laura Linney and its makers talk LGBTQ life on TV For five decades, Tales of the City has been life-affirming, life-changing and even life-saving. Tales of the City, which first came to the small screen as a pioneering Channel 4 miniseries in 1993, and has been revived sporadically ever since. Over the past 25 years it would bubble up, says Tales of the City received critical acclaim and high ratings but attracted protests and threats from religious fundamentalists around the country. The network bowed to the pressure and pulled out of funding a sequel. I was just shocked. I was so surprised, in a very naive, Mary Ann Singleton way, …

Literature provides shelter. That’s why we need it | Arundhati Roy

In a world that is hardening, literature can offer an indestructible place of refuge writes Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things I am truly honored to have been invited by PEN America to deliver this years Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture. What better time than this to think together about a place for literature, at this moment when an era that we think we understand at least vaguely, if not well is coming to a close. As the ice caps melt, as oceans heat up, and water tables plunge, as we rip through the delicate web of interdependence that sustains life on earth, as our formidable intelligence leads us to breach the boundaries between humans and …