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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Book news: author Colson Whitehead wins America’s National Book Award for Fiction and more

Plus: Steve Coogan's production company buys rights to Zadie Smith's Swing Time? and Bob Dylan unable to attend Nobel Prize for Literature award ceremony.
Colson Whitehead. Photo by Madeline Whitehead
Colson Whitehead. Photo by Madeline Whitehead

Underground goes overground

Last Wednesday, we ran an interview with author Colson Whitehead about his brilliant novel The ­Underground Railroad – and that night he was up for America’s National Book Award for Fiction. When we spoke to him, he said he was excited to be nominated but noted that the NBA does not quite have the clout of the Booker Prize. Nonetheless, he won, so it will be interesting to see how that, combined with the timely issues the book explores about race in America, affects sales. How does he feel about winning the NBA in the aftermath of Trump’s victory? “I’m sort of stunned,” he says. “And I hit upon something that was making me feel better … be kind to everybody, make art and fight the power.”

Coogan gets Into the Swing

Enjoying Zadie Smith’s new novel, Swing Time? So is British actor and broadcaster Steve Coogan: his production company, Baby Cow, has bought TV ­adaptation rights for the story, set in London and West Africa, of two girls who dream of ­becoming dancers. Smith will adapt the book herself with her husband, poet Nick Laird, and the involvement of BBC Worldwide in Baby Cow means that UAE audiences should get to see the series on BBC First. Baby Cow chief executive Christine Langan said: “Zadie Smith is the voice of a generation and Swing Time is a thrillingly ambitious story of friendship, rivalry and fame. We’re delighted and honoured at Baby Cow to be developing such a unique project and we can’t wait to share it with TV audiences everywhere.”

Nobel winners still in the news

The Nobel Prize for Literature laureates continued to hit the headlines this week. The latest development in the bizarre saga of Bob Dylan’s award is that the singer will not be attending the ceremony in Sweden next month because “other commitments make it unfortunately impossible”. But he is still required to give a lecture “on a subject connected with the work for which the prize has been awarded” some time before June next year. Meanwhile, the German government has bought the Los Angeles home of Doctor Faustus ­novelist, and Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann, with the aim of making it a cultural centre for debate over migration, exile and integration.

artslife@thenational.ae

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