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Weekly Roundup: Fruity language and natural disasters

Weekly Roundup: Fruity language and natural disasters

The longlist for the Man Asian Literary Prize has just been announced and two of this year's Man Booker contenders are on it – Jeet Thayil with Narcopolis and Tan Twan Eng with The Garden of Evening Mists. The winner of the $30,000 prize will be announced in Hong Kong on March 14th 2013.

Still with prizes, James Kelman, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 1994 with How Late it Was, How Late, has been at it again. In his acceptance speech then he responded to criticism of his book's use of rather fruity language saying combatively that “a fine line can exist between elitism and racism”. He has just picked up the Saltire Society’s Scottish Book of the Year for his eighth novel, Mo Said She Was Quirky, worth £5,000. No polite “Thank you” though, he went on to bemoan the fact that he had earned only £15,000 in the past year from his writing and attacked his native Scotland's lack of interest in culture. He even had a go at the audience when one member asked him to tone down his language. Hard-hats should go out with the invitations next time he's up for a prize.

J.M. Coetzee, one of only three novelists to win the Man Booker twice, joins some other celebrated literary figures in calling for books to be an integral part of the emergency response to natural disasters. Coordinated by Libraries Without Borders the likes of Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison, Jeffrey Eugenides and Joyce Carol Oates claimed that “more attention should be given to nourishing the mind as a second measure to help victims cope with catastrophe and move forward”. The organisation's chairman said that the first email he received following the 2010 Haitian earthquake was a request for books to reopen an obliterated library.

Howard Jacobson's top tip for would-be writers? “Enjoy it.”