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Weekly Roundup: 10-month waiting list for The Luminaries in NZ library

Weekly Roundup: 10-month waiting list for The Luminaries in NZ library

It has sometimes seemed that Eleanor Catton and The Luminaries have been discussed in numerical terms rather than literary: she's 28, the book is 832 pages long, the story starts with 12 men gathered in an inn, and so on. Dunedin Public Libraries in Catton's native New Zealand have just thrown in some more numbers for good measure. The libraries have 18 copies of the book but currently there are 124 pending requests to borrow them, that means – according to their calculations – that there is a 10-month waiting list. There is one other number though: to solve this mathematical conundrum desperate readers can pay $5 to jump the queue.

Richard House, longlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize for The Kills, has made the shortlist of the Green Carnation Prize. Also on the list is the winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction A.M. Homes. The prize, to be awarded on 19th November, is named after the scandalous 1894 novel by Robert Hichens whose central characters were lightly disguised versions of Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas. It was withdrawn from sale within a year. The prize celebrates the work of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender writers.

The Booker Prize Foundation's Universities Initiative, which aims to spread an appreciation of high-quality literature across university disciplines by giving students copies of MB novels, is in the middle of a particularly busy period. Julian Barnes will be at the University of Hull on Monday (11th November) in his first Man Booker appearance since winning the prize in 2011. While there, Barnes has apparently requested to see Philip Larkin's lawnmower which is housed in the Hull History Centre and is perhaps the one Larkin, a librarian at the university, wrote about in his poem The Mower. Adam Foulds recently visited Stirling University to discuss his MB shortlisted novel The Quickening Maze and on 27th November Alan Hollinghurst (MB winner with The Line of Beauty in 2004) will be in discussion with Russell Celyn Jones at Birkbeck College, University of London. Hollinghurst has not, it seems, put in any garden implement-related requests. Yet.

In an interesting video interview Ian McEwan (MB winner in 1998) discusses why “it’s very difficult to do happiness in novels in a sustained way”. Novelists like tangles, he thinks, and points out that he didn't write his first love-making scene until the one in Atonement (2001), his eighth novel. Love and happiness in fiction, he reckons, too often come across as “sentimental, smug, unreal” which is why he is content to leave the “best expressions of love to the poets”.

Unsettling news for fans of Deborah Levy (MB shortlisted in 2012). In an event in Manchester with Sarah Hall (MB longlisted 2009) to discuss their recent collections of stories, Levy confessed: “If I could take beautiful photos, I wouldn’t write short stories.” Her many admirers will now have to keep their fingers crossed until Christmas hoping that she doesn't receive a parcel with a camera in it under the tree.