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Weekly Roundup: The bestselling books of 2013 so far and more literary prizes

Weekly Roundup: The bestselling books of 2013 so far and more literary prizes

A list of the bestselling books (in print and e-book versions) for the first half of 2013 has now been compiled and it contains a decent Man Booker showing. Top of the tree with more than half a million copies sold is Dan Brown's non-Man Booker Inferno but at No5 is Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (236,163) – not bad for a first-time author who was longlisted for last year's prize. And at No7 comes Yann Martel's all-conquering Life of Pi. Although he won the prize back in 2002 – when he was the first writer to win the Man Booker Prize under the new Man sponsorship - the cinema version of his book has helped him sell 149,373 copies so far in 2013. This year's chair of judges, Robert MacFarlane, just missed out on a top 20 spot with his book of perambulations and musings The Old Ways – still it was important to leave room for a selection of diet books, thrillers and, of course, The Hobbit.

It is likely that Rachel Joyce will have received the news of her sales with a slightly quizzical expression. In a recent interview to coincide with the publication of her new novel, Perfect, she confessed that “I'm a worrier, quite a pathetic fretter” who “takes praise with a very big – probably too big – pinch of salt”. The way things are going she had better keep a bucket of the finest Maldon sea salt to hand.

Congratulations to Adam Foulds (Man Booker Prize shortlisted in 2009 for The Quickening Maze) who has just been awarded the prestigious E.M. Forster Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Foulds is a serial gong-winner but he doesn't let it go to his head: “This is a non-consuming kind of fame. No one really knows who I am. Only very occasionally has someone recognised me on the street. It is not like the world reflects fame to me.” The E.M. Forster Award is given to a British or Irish writer to fund a period of travel in the United States and Foulds joins an eminent list that includes other Man Booker writers such as Margaret Drabble, Julian Barnes, Colm Tóibín and Alan Hollinghurst. 

The Russian Booker Prize has been running since 1991 and has just announced this year's longlist of 24 (from 87 submissions). The winner of the 1.5 million rouble prize will be named on 4th December. In announcing the contenders the chairman of the jury, Andrei Dmitriyev, made the point that reports that Russian literature isn't what it used to be are somewhat wide of the mark: “The decline of Russian literature is only spoken about by people who do not read, or read sporadically.” Plus ça change – it is a defence jury chairman are forced to make the world over but which prizes such as the Man Booker and its Russian equivalent prove false year in, year out.

For anyone struggling to wait until September when the much anticipated film version of John Banville's 2005 Man Booker-winning The Sea hits British cinemas, a trailer has just been released. The film's cast includes Ciarán Hinds, Charlotte Rampling and the housewive’s choice, Rufus Sewell. These teasers should be treated with caution since they can make the wait seem even longer.