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Weekly Roundup: Wearing wellies, reviewing Roth and crunching numbers.

Weekly Roundup: Wearing wellies, reviewing Roth and crunching numbers.

The final duty for each year's Man Booker Prize judges comes way after they have made their choice and the dust has settled on the winner: they take up a spade rather than a book and start to dig. The Booker Prize Foundation has put down roots with the Woodland Trust and every Spring the judges plant trees to replace those cut down in the service of literature. For this year's sapling-fest Peter Stothard and the band of 2012 will soon be donning wellies and heading for a forest near Leicester. The only judge missing will be Dan Stevens who can't make it over from America. His absence is entirely due to thespian reasons rather than the fact that as Downton Abbey's Matthew Crawley he met his untimely end by wrapping his car around … a tree.

On the eve of the Man Booker International Prize winner Philip Roth's 80th birthday the New York Magazine's Vulture website asked 30 literary notables to assess the great man's career. Among those canvassed were Salman Rushdie (Man Booker, Booker of Booker and Best of the Booker winner), Elif Batuman (one of this year's MBI judges), Brett Easton Ellis and James Franco. Asked if Roth is the greatest living American novelist, 77 per cent said “Yes” with Don DeLillo being the only other nominee. The figure rose to 97 per cent when the panel were asked if Roth deserved the Nobel Prize. Not bad considering 17 per cent also think he's a misogynist, that he stopped being funny when he wrote American Pastoral, and that – according to 43 per cent – his greatest subject is himself.

Yann Martel's Life of Pi has just reached a poetic landmark, noted The Guardian. Currently enjoying a sales boost on the back of the Oscar winning film version, the book has just sold its 3,141,593rd copy – Pi, an irrational number, is approximately 3.14159. Martel's comment on hearing the news? “That sales figure – it's so irrational!”

William Boyd, a MB shortlistee in 1982, is a man of literary variety as revealed in an interview in The Independent. Boyd has been much in the news of late as the author of the next book in the posthumous James Bond franchise (due out in September). He has though attracted less attention for turning two Anton Chekhov short stories – My Life and A Visit to Friends – into a new play, Longing. The play, his first for the theatre, has just opened at the Hampstead Theatre and runs until 6th April. The Russian writer famously formulated the theory of “Chekhov's gun”, saying: “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” With Bond around there's not much chance of that happening.