As many of you pointed out, the book fair at JBW 2010 was smaller than usual. You -meaning our faithful blog readers- may have read the post in which we explained why but this did not prevent a lot of people from complaining. So the unflappable Marcus at Blackwell took in all the criticisms during the Week and decided to double the range of non speaker books for next year. The difficulty is deciding which books to have: new publications only? classics? mostly non fiction? Jewish books or books by Jewish authors?….
We decided to invite someone else on board who would help us to think about all these questions. Martin Kaye from jewishbooksonline (Kuperard‘s Jewish website) agreed to join us. From now on, the new books section of the JBW website will redirect you to their website. After all, why reinvent the wheel when someone else is already doing the same thing. We will work together to make sure we can offer the most exhaustive selection of books possible. If you want to be part of the adventure and help us by reviewing books so we can have more than the publishers’ blurbs, please do get in touch.
Martin will also help us select the books for the book fair. The rest will depend on our visitors. If people just look at the books and then go home to buy them on Amazon as seemed to have been the case lately, the book fair will shrink back to not much more than speakers books. If people mark their support by buying books, then the book fair will go on offering a large selection of titles.
On the subject of books, for those of you who inquired about getting David Grossman‘s amazing new novel ahead of his talk on the 2 September, I am afraid it will not be possible. We are launching To the End of the Land on its publication day. Of course, the book will be available on the night. This will be David’s only event in the UK so do not miss it. He deserves all the raving pre-publication quotes from his publisher, Paul Auster and Nicole Krauss that he has already received.
I had the privilege of receiving a proof copy and can assure you that this long awaited novel is indeed a masterpiece. This story of a mother fleeing to the end of the land to avoid being there when -she is sure- the military comes to announce the death of her son, and in so doing making the very death impossible, is all the more poignant knowing Grossman lost his own son while writing the book. It is an amazing novel about love between man and woman, between friends, between brothers, love of the land and the damage done to generation after generation and its tragic cost.
When I met David’s agent in Jerusalem a couple of years ago, he had just finished writing the book, and she told me that if everybody could stop and read it, there would be peace in the Middle East. If only literature had that power…
He will be in conversation with the wonderful Lyse Doucet (who interviewed AB Yehoshua so brilliantly at JBW 2009) at Friends House, on Euston Road, at 7.00 pm on Thursday 2 September. There are still tickets (£15 or £10 for students) but don’t wait too long. To book, just email me.
More about other books I’ve read and our first speakers for JBW 2011 in our next post.