Sunday, May 31, 2009

At last: a true champion for Ulysses
This inspired celebration of Joyce's great novel succeeds in reclaiming the widely unread classic for the general reader, writes Sean O'Hagan
The Observer, Sunday 31 May 2009

In August 1924, the long-suffering Stanislaus Joyce sent a letter of complaint to his brother, James, in which he mentioned his difficulties with Ulysses. "The greater part of it I like," he wrote, before adding with characteristic bluntness: "I have no humour with episodes which are deliberately farcical... and as episodes grow longer and longer and you try to tell every damn thing you know about anybody that appears or anything that crops up, my patience oozes out."
Ulysses and Us : The Art of Everyday Living
by Declan Kiberd

In his exasperation, Stanislaus anticipated the fate that awaited Ulysses, a novel that, almost 90 years after its publication, seems to have utterly exhausted the patience of the ordinary reader to the point where it is now perhaps the most unread literary masterpiece of all time.
Declan Kiberd begins Ulysses and Us, his inspired reclamation of Joyce's great epic of the everyday, by acknowledging the great irony that "a book which set out to celebrate the common man and woman" has "endured the sad fate of never being read by many of them".
Kiberd's previous books include the brilliant Inventing Ireland: the Literature of the Modern Nation and Ulysses: Annotated Students' Edition.
The preoccupations of both books come together in Ulysses and Us. The first - and more interesting - part of the book is a polemic, which tackles what Kiberd sees as the enduring misrepresentation of Joyce's dauntingly ambitious novel: "How can a book like Ulysses have been so misread and misunderstood?" he asks early on. "How was it taken as a product of a specialist bohemia against which it was in fact in open revolt? Why has it been called unreadable by the ordinary people for which it was intended?" In the second part of Ulysses and Us, Kiberd goes on to give a chapter by chapter breakdown of the novel, best read alongside the original text, to help, it would seem, those "ordinary people" reclaim the book.
Read the rest of this piece online.
Scholar, author inspired decades of English literature students
Obituary from the New Zealand Herald , Saturday May 30, 2009
By Bill Williams

Dr Terry Sturm, CBE, professor of English. Died aged 67.
Almost every student of English since 1980 at Auckland University would have felt Terry Sturm's influence during their studies.
He held a professorial chair at the university from 1980 until his retirement in 2005, and was an eminent critic and scholar of Australasian writing, especially New Zealand popular fiction.
He played a leading role in placing New Zealand literature at the centre of the academic curriculum.

He edited various standard literary reference works including two editions of The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English, and the drama section of the Oxford History of Australian Literature. His literary biography An Unsettled Spirit: The Life and Frontier Fiction of Edith Lyttleton was the product of 15 years of research in New Zealand, Australia and England.
In 2005, he edited a selection of Allen Curnow's verse written under his pseudonym Whim Wham.
Assisted by a Marsden Fund grant, Sturm spent the past few years researching and writing a definitive literary biography of Allen Curnow.
His work met a setback when the memory stick from his computer was stolen last August, taking a large part of the first draft with it. The biography, if published, will be the first full-length study of Curnow's work.

Terence Laurie Sturm was born in Auckland in 1941 and went to school in Henderson. He completed his MA at Auckland University before undertaking postgraduate work at Cambridge University and at the University of Leeds, where he received his PhD.
He lectured in English literature at Sydney University from 1967 and left in 1980 to take his chair at the University of Auckland.

Sturm was involved in literary arts administration for many years. He was on the NZ Literary Fund and the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council and in 1997 became first convener of the Humanities Panel of the Marsden Fund.
In 1990, he was made a CBE in recognition of his services to literature.
John Morrow, dean of Auckland's arts faculty, said Sturm was deeply valued as a colleague and a friend.
He is survived by his wife Linda and sons Jonathan, Mark and Tim
Kate Atkinson tells Hay festival she'd rather not be a published author
Whitbread award-winning writer Kate Atkinson confesses her reluctance to publish to a Hay festival audience
Alison Flood writing in the, Saturday 30 May 2009 14.38 BST

'Not being published would be great' ... the novelist Kate Atkinson. Photograph: Marco Secchi/ Rex Features

Her latest crime novel, When Will There Be Good News, picked up the best book of the year gong at the British book awards last month, but the Whitbread prize-winner Kate Atkinson has admitted that she'd rather not be a published author.
Her reclusive streak was revealed on stage this morning at the Guardian Hay festival, where she confessed her ideal situation would be "to have enough money … [to] write and not be published". She doesn't, she told Guardian Review editor Lisa Allardice, like reviews or critics. "It's a very uncomfortable thing for a writer, we're very tender," she said.
Writing is the thing she does best, how she earns her money, but "not being published would be great", Atkinson continued. "When I say that to other writers they look at me as if I'm totally insane."
Even though she doesn't feel a need to be published, she said she "probably need[s] to write", a distinction which JD Salinger – who hasn't published a word since 1965, despite rumours of shelves groaning with manuscripts – would surely recognise. But it's not an "overwhelming burning urge," she added, suggesting she would "rather potter about in the garden".
"My work is not my life," she said. "I started writing quite late, I didn't have that 'writing is everything, my art is all'. You have to be able to recognise the difference between the two."
'The Future of Books in a Carbon-Constrained World'.

Tim Jones has written this interesting and thought-provoking piece as a guest blogger on Johann Knox's recently established blog - The Quiet World Project.

Tim Jones is a New Zealand author, editor and sustainable energy activist. He is the co-editor, with Mark Pirie, of the recently published anthology Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand. His other recent books are short story collection Transported (Vintage, 2008), poetry collection All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007), and fantasy novel Anarya's Secret (RedBrick, 2007).

For the latest info, see his blog at

John Burningham
Nicolette Jones meets the children's writer and illustrator
By Nicolette Jones writing in The Telegraph

John Burningham has lived with his wife, the illustrator Helen Oxenbury, in the same Hampstead house for 30 years. It is embellished with stained glass windows and gothic doors, a decorative stone fireplace from Somerset and a window seat that once belonged to Lillie Langtry. It is full of Victorian features found on building sites and, more recently, on eBay. In the garden there is a stone fountain from a French square and a belfry that once adorned an English church. Burningham has become expert at how to move masonry and glass across counties and even countries. It is the home of someone who not only has an eye, but also the imagination to think big.
It fits with the picture books he has made – about 50 of them since Borka: the Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers was published in 1963. His are quirky stories that reflect his enthusiasm for Ronald Searle, Saul Steinberg and the French cartoonists André François and Albert Dubout, and his interest in landscape and light. They also resonate with big ideas, though he insists that they contain “no propaganda whatsoever”. Still we agree, as we chat overlooking the garden and the belfry, that Edwardo: the Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World expresses a principle which could valuably be applied not just to child-rearing but to the penal system and even to foreign policy. Edwardo behaves badly when he is criticised and punished, but becomes kind and useful when, even in the face of his wrongdoing, he is given opportunities. “We are beginning to see it now even on an international level that you can’t just keep bombing people and expect them to change their ways. It isn’t going to work,” says Burningham. The world could learn a lot from Edwardo.

Although his work is underpinned by liberal values, Burningham is not didactic. “As soon as you start to deliberately put messages across, it’s like a Seventh Day Adventist on the doorstep… you realise you are being got at.” His guiding principle is different: “The 11th Commandment should have been ‘Thou Shalt Not Bore’.” He deplores what he calls a “party food approach” to books for children: the belief that “lots of colours and pretty pictures will do when there’s no content. Children get very quickly bored. Colour means absolutely nothing unless it is used to some effect.”
This month sees the publication of John Burningham, a handsome anthology of his work and memoir of his life. It reveals that his own childhood was unconventional. He went to nine different experimental boarding schools, ending with a few years at Summerhill. His family lived during the war in a caravan in various rural locations, renting out their home to pay school fees for three children.
Read the full piece abut this giant among children's author/illustrators at The Telegraph online.
John Burningham’ is published by Cape at £25
When The Bookman entered the bookworld via Beattie& Forbes Bookshop in Napier, many moons ago, John Burningham was just beginning to carve out his reputation as one of the finest children's author/illustrators and I remember particularly the huge success of Mr.Gumpy's Outing, and Mr.Gumpy's Mototcar, both still in print to this day. In the 70's he and wife Helen Oxenbury made a visit to New Zealand and I was privileged to join them in Wellington for c couple of days during their tour.What an amazingly talented couple they were and what fun to be with. I have never come across them again but for the rest of my bookselling days I continued to bring their wonderful books to the notice of parents and grandparents whenever the opportunity arose.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

William Dart enjoys The Italian Girl in Algiers at the Aotea Centre
By William Dart reviweing in the New Zealand Herald ,30 May, 2009

Katherine Wiles as trophy wife Elvira. Photo / Martin Sykes

What: The Italian Girl in Algiers.Where: Aotea Centre, to June 6.

The Italian Girl in Algiers launched this year's NBR New Zealand Opera season in a riot of lime green, chintz and glamour, complete with a bevy of bodacious babes.
There were no turbaned potentates and harems on the Aotea stage but, instead, we saw the cast and crew of a Latino soap opera, as director Colin McColl presented his on-screen and behind-the-scenes take on Rossini's opera.
Set numbers were ingeniously played out against a chroma-key screen, enabling us to see the characters on screen, duetting on water-skis, quartetting on a luxury yacht or, in the case of the heroine, playing the femme fatale against a Renaissance Venus.
Backstage goings-on were dished out in the snap 'n' crackle of recitative, while scriptgirls and make-up teams hovered and fussed over the stars.
It was wonderfully wacky, even inspiring the occasional applause over the music.
Read the full William Dart review at NZH online.
The Bookman attended this performance also and was thrilled and entertained by it. Opera like I have never seen before. Think a funny Roger Hall play crossed with the soap opera Shortland Street and all set to Rossini's gorgeous music. Great stuff.
Love poetry is hardest to write, says new poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy
Speaking at the Guardian Hay festival, Carol Ann Duffy explained why, when it comes to poetry, love is both the 'most exciting' and 'most challenging' subject

Alison Flood writing in the, Thursday 28 May 2009

Carol Ann Duffy. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

Love poetry is the most difficult thing for a poet to excel at, admitted new poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy today at the Guardian Hay Festival, where she was making her first major appearance since accepting the role.
It's the most prone to cliché, or to "saying something which has been said before," said Duffy, but is also "the most exciting, the most challenging poetry to write".
The freshly minted laureate was in conversation with national poet of Wales Gillian Clarke, who defended Duffy against herself, describing her as a "terrific" female love poet in what has been a long line of male writers – "all the John Donnes and Shakespeares".
Read Alison Flood's full piece here.

Media Bistro report that:
James Patterson Sets World Record

With 31 hardcover novels reaching number one and 45 total books on the list, author James Patterson has earned the Guinness World Record for the "Most Entries on The New York Times Best-Seller List."
Guinness will bestow the award today (Saturday May 30th) at BookExpo America in New York City.
The record will be recorded in "The Guinness World Records 2010," which comes out in September.
UAE in NYC for BEA
By Edward Nawotka writing in Publshing Perspectives

Arabic language events at BEA, NYC

ABU DHABI: “It is very difficult to get American publishers to come to the United Arab Emirates,” said Beatrice Stauffer, the program manager for Kitab and The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF), “That is why we’re taking our story to New York.”
Stauffer is one of dozens of publishing professionals hopping Etihad or Emirates flights to New York for this month’s BookExpo America, which is this year focusing its Global Market Forum on “Book Publishing in the Arab World.”
The day long series of events on Friday, May 29 opens with a ceremonial ribbon cutting by Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab league, and will be followed by panel discussions covering literary translation, children’s books, logistics, and copyright. An end-of-day “matchmaking” session to pair Arabic publishers with potential business partners from the US.
The ADIBF team won’t be going it alone. They will be joined in New York by numerous Emirati, including representatives from the Arab Children’s Book Publishers Forum (Sharjah), Kalima (Abu Dhabi), Tarjem (Dubai), the Dubai International Children’s Book Fair, and the Sharjah World Book Fair.
BEA says publishers from least ten Arabic-speaking countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia, are also expected. Collectively, it is likely the largest constituency of Arabic publishers to ever attend a publishing event in the United States.
The hope for all those dirhams invested in travel is that it will be enough to change some people’s minds.
“Many Americans are still uncomfortable doing business in the Middle East,” said Stauffer. “The important thing is to see people face-to-face, that is how trust develops and business gets done.”
The next most important thing, from her point-of-view, will be to convince some Americans to make the return trip to Abu Dhabi next March, for both the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair and the 7th International Publishers Association Copyright Symposium, which precedes it.
“If they come,” said Stauffer, “they’ll be able to see first hand, just how hard publishers in the region are striving to do things right.”
Indies back r.r.p.
29.05.09 Victoria Gallagher writing in The Bookseller

Independent bookshops have said they would not welcome the demise of r.r.p. and argued that the move would cost them time and negatively affect customer loyalty.
Overwhelmingly, indies spoken to by The Bookseller said that they would not price above r.r.p. given the opportunity. Indies spoke out following news that Waterstone's is selling a number of titles above r.r.p (The Bookseller, 15th May). The titles affected did not have an r.r.p printed on them.
John Hudson, owner of Fordingbridge Bookshop in Hampshire, said if printed prices were dumped this would create a lot of "extra work" as booksellers would have to individually price up books. He added: "If the prices came off books then people would think everything is overpriced. It would -create a lot of suspicion among customers."
Alex Milne-White, owner of the Hungerford Bookshop in Berkshire, said: "We don't lower prices, so we don't need to raise prices to make up for it. If customers knew we were pricing above r.r.p. they would be put out."
Vivian Archer, manager of Newham Bookshop in east London, said: "It is a very dodgy area. There is a bad enough feeling on pricing anyway and we don't need to exacerbate it."
Most indies said that they had been surprised about Waterstone's decision, branding it "greedy". However, some admitted that it could be a good move as it may reduce the emphasis on price. Foyles c.e.o. Sam Husain said: "If it is a more sustained move away from deep discounting then I see it as a positive signal."
Matthew Crockatt, of south London-based booksellers Crockatt and Powell, said: "In a way I would like it if we got rid of the [discount] stickers, but the price thing is a war we lost a long time ago. Waterstone's can do what they like—they can sell books for free, they can sell bananas—as long as our customers keep coming to us."
Blog: Short and sharp BA
Blackwell secures independent future
29.05.09 Catherine Neilan reporting in The Bookseller

Toby Blackwell has moved to secure the future of the Blackwell bookshop chain as a private business by setting up an "impervious" 80-year trust that will take ownership of the voting shares after he dies.
In an interview in The Bookseller this week, Blackwell said that he wanted to prevent his family from any "interference" in Blackwell's following his death, and has earmarked £1m in case any "defensive action" is required. He stressed that he wanted the firm to remain private. In the past the family has been beset by infighting over the ownership and direction of its retail wing, as well as its publishing business, which was finally sold in 2006.
Blackwell, who is also known as Julian, said he was "as loyal . . . as a man can possibly be" to the firm, which was founded by his grandfather, Benjamin Harris Blackwell, in 1879.
One-third of the shares are already in the Primary Julian Blackwell Voting Trust, which was set up in 2006. The remaining two-thirds, which Blackwell holds, will be transferred to the trust upon his death. Blackwell's board is understood to be aware of the situation.
The trustees comprise Blackwell's "most trusted and loyal friends"—Steven Jeffcott, who has been his commercial and tax adviser for 20 years, and Greg Stonefield, his corporate lawyer. A statement about the trust read: "This trust has been most thoroughly drawn up so that it will be impervious to any attempted interference by my family."
Blackwell added: "The company will continue—people say you can't influence it after your death, but I say if anybody buggers about, I'll come back and haunt them."
Blackwell also outlined his wishes that the company remain private, and that it should not depart from its "basically academic nature". He added that it "should never get delusions of grandeur and go off into trying to rule the world".
He also alluded to the wish that the company not be sold off, stressing that the library supply and UK retail divisions were "big and specialised enough to survive and be profitable as a standalone company".
Blackwell said he would not take any further remuneration or dividends from the company, and that he expected this to apply to his wife and three children "to whom I have given very substantial funds". Likewise, he said he would not invest further in the bookseller.
The last king of Blackwell's

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Hergé museum
Totally Tintin
May 28th 2009 LOUVAIN-LA-NEUVEFrom The Economist print edition

Celebrating one man and his dog

A SPECTACULAR new museum dedicated to Hergé, the pen name of Georges Remi, who created the comic-book hero Tintin, opens in the Belgian town of Louvain-la-Neuve on June 2nd. The museum, a fine addition to a somewhat drab skyline, is best seen at nightfall or under grey skies, says its architect, Christian de Portzamparc. In murky conditions, the building’s structure of angled white planes glows from within, offering glimpses through huge windows of an “imagined landscape” inside.

Hergé-Moulinsart 2008 - Champagne opening

The museum, newly built at a cost of €15m ($21m), runs around a central atrium formed of curving walls in bold colours, pierced by high metal walkways. An internal lift shaft at the core of the atrium is painted with a chequerboard pattern, evoking the moon rocket in one of Tintin’s bestselling adventures. The structure stands on stilts in a park and visitors enter across a long wooden footbridge. It feels like boarding a ship only provisionally moored at Louvain-la-Neuve, a symphony in red brick mediocrity.
Within is a landscape of the imagination, brightly lit and coloured, as outside a steady drizzle falls against the windows from leaden skies. If that sounds like a memory of childhood reading indoors, it is no accident. Since Tintin’s first appearance in a Belgian Catholic newspaper 80 years ago, generations have roamed the world vicariously through his comic-book adventures as a trouble-prone (if unusually clean-living) foreign reporter.
Read the full story at The Economist online.
Digital Bookselling For All
Friday 29 May 2009
Gardners Books digital warehouse launches with over 70,000 eBook files

Gardners Books, Britain's Leading Wholesaler, has announced the integration of over 70,000 eBook files into their trade website ( This innovative service will enable every Gardners account holder around the world to sell eBooks alongside physical books without any investment or additional costs.

In support of both physical and digital editions, over 100,000 pieces of Digital Marketing Material (DMM) have also been uploaded to their trade website. This range of eBooks and DMM is set to increase as more and more publishers see the benefits of having a digital edition alongside their existing printed titles.

Bob Jackson, Gardners Commercial Director comments, "Gardners continues to demonstrate our commitment to providing innovative services for booksellers, through enabling the sale of eBooks with the integration of these digital files into
At the same time we have taken our proven fulfilment service for physical books and applied it to both eBooks in our digital warehouse and over 35,000 DVDs, offering the end consumer a choice of delivery options to meet their requirements.
We look forward to continuing to work closely with retailers in the development of our Digital Warehouse and helping to ensure that booksellers have the tools available to them to compete both in-store and on-line, locally and globally."

Ben Wright, Random House Sales Director comments, "It's great to have Gardners position themselves at the forefront of digital fulfilment here in the UK"
Ken Rhodes, Continuum Sales & Marketing Director comments, "As we see demand for content, visible on screens of any size, growing rapidly over the next five years, retailers of many types are going to want consolidated supplier options - why wouldn't you trust Gardners to fulfil that role?"

State of the Art
Don’t Quit That Kindle Just Yet

Illustration byStuart Goldenberg

One step beyond the Kindle, the new, smaller Cool-er book reader has a removable battery, and one charge is good for 8,000 page turns. What could be wrong?'
Published: May 27, 2009, New York Times

So often in life, reality doesn’t live up to the marketing; the fine print gets you every time. Vacation resort brochures always show the beaches and pools gleaming, well-lighted and completely empty. Movie trailers harvest 45 seconds of hilarity from even the biggest duds. And as for online dating profiles — well, you know.

Likewise, when you hear the description for the new Cool-er e-book reader ($250), from a British company called Interead, you have to sit up and take notice. It’s supposed to be just like the Amazon Kindle, but smaller, lighter, thinner and $110 less expensive. (The name Cool-er comes from “Cool E-book Reader.”)

The Cool-er has enough memory to hold 700 books, but its memory-card slot can accommodate 2,800 more books, which should just about cover your next flight.
Unlike the current Kindle, the Cool-er has a removable battery. The company says that it will offer additional batteries for $5. And one charge is good for 8,000 page turns, which is more than the Kindle or the Sony Reader.
Read the full piece at the NYT online.
Has a pop at the mean bastards at Creative New Zealand who are paying the two artists going to the Venice Biennale something like one third of what they would earn for the same time at McDonalds on the minimum wage. The army of staffers servicing the event are on real pay though - not that they shouldn't be - but why do the artists - who it is all about - have to inevitably be at the very bottom of the food chain?

Lifted from Hamish Keith's blog.

On the subject of mean bastards The Bookman would like to add Fairfax Media, owners of, amongst many other things, the Sunday Star Times.
Until last week Bookman Beattie was the crime fiction book reviewer for the Sunday Star Times.
I had been doing this for the past couple of years for books editor Finlay Macdonald. I was paid the princely sum of $250 for five crime fiction book revews.I often pointed out to Finlay Macdonald that this was hardly a fair rate of reimbursement as it took me a full day to read each book and then another hour or so to write up the review of each title. So for about 45 hours effort I was paid $250 or $5.21 cents an hour, less than half the minimum wage. He agreed but said his hands were tied by the budgets imposed on him.

Then Finlay Macdonald stepped down as editor and Mark Broatch was appointed to replace him. Mark contacted me and said he would like me to continue doing the crime fiction reviews but sadly he could now only offer me $170 for five reviews because of cuts to his budget. The hourly rate he was offering me works out at $3.77. You can probably imagine where I suggested he could put his miserly offer. Needless to say The Bookman is no longer reviewing for the Sunday Star Times.
Yes, Fairfax Media, definitely mean bastards.
BANQUO’S SON, author T. K. Roxborogh, represented by Writers House, New York agent Josh Getzler.

Top New York City literary agency Writers House, LLC has taken on New Zealand author T. K. Roxborogh’s Shakespeare follow-up epic trilogy BANQUO’S SON.

Banquo’s Son will be published in New Zealand by Penguin Group (NZ), October 2009.

Getzler said, “I am thrilled to be representing Banquo’s Son and its sequels. I believe Roxborogh’s characters are complex; the emotions are real; the friendships, love affairs and heartbreaks transcend the 11th Century exactly as they should. It is absolutely clear to me that this is a book, and a series, with the potential to break through into the zeitgeist.”
He continued, “I knew I had a real winner in Banquo’s Son when I walked into our office to find one of our young interns, a girl just out of high school, sitting on a chair with tears streaming down her cheeks, rocking back and forth and saying, over and over, ‘Why didn’t he just DUCK?’”
Banquo’s Son is the story of Fleance, Banquo’s son in Macbeth, who escaped from the men who murdered his father near the Castle of Forres and ran away to England to live with a poor family. He’s no longer a child, and is out for revenge. Many of Shakespeare’s characters reappear as Flea (as he is now known) returns to Scotland, but this is a fast-moving, action-packed thriller, only with chivalry.

About Writers House
Ken Follett, Stephenie Meyer, Nora Roberts, Neil Gaiman, Stephen Hawking, and Christopher Paolini are just some of the extraordinarily successful authors on the books at literary agency Writers House, where much-loved bestsellers, award-winning thrillers and record-breaking sales have become a way of life. Getzler has been at Writers House since January 2007, and represents authors ranging from literary novelists to thriller writers, to serious non-fiction authors to middle-grade mystery and fantasy writers.

About the author:
T.K. Roxborogh (pic above) lives in Dunedin, New Zealand, and has been
an English and Drama teacher since 1989. She is the author of
over twenty published works across a range of genres: novels,
plays for the classroom, Shakespearean texts, English grammar
books and adult non-fiction. She teaches at a secondary school,
writes at every opportunity and, with her husband, runs around
after two teenage daughters and two border collies.

Dear Publishers,
We recently wrote to you to advise that we were seeking a new site for our store located at Queen Street, Auckland due to the sites weak performance. No suitable site has been located at the date of this letter. As a consequence of this, Dymocks will be closing the Queen Street store in order to refocus its resources on areas where it can better deliver to New Zealand Booklovers.

Dymocks remains committed to book retailing in New Zealand. Whilst recent events have impacted Dymocks growth in New Zealand this is seen as a process of rationalisation and an opportunity to refocus efforts with a view to future growth. To this end Dymocks is continuing to seek sites not only in Auckland but throughout New Zealand and looks forward to when it can advise you of new store openings.

Dymocks now has seven stores in New Zealand. We look forward to your continued association and support in New Zealand.

Kind regards,
Don Grover

The Bookman reckons the first thing Dymocks should do is hire a PR firm to teach senior staff how to write well constructed and appropriate letters. This major event, the closing of their company-owned NZ flagship store, is treated as if it were some minor matter in this totally inadequate and unsatisfactory letter.
Book on the Treaty of Waitangi is Named Best NZ Legal Book 2008

Matthew S. R. Palmer’s book “The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand’s Law and Constitution” has won the JF Northey Book Award.

In this academically robust and accessible book, supported by the New Zealand Law Foundation, Matthew Palmer answers a number of questions, for example:
What was the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in the law and constitution in 1840?
What has the Treaty been reinterpreted to mean in New Zealand today?
What is its current legal status and force?
What is its current place in New Zealand’s constitution?
His book goes on to provide concrete suggestions for where the Treaty should be in New Zealand’s law and constitution.

The Legal Research Foundation makes three writing awards annually. The JF Northey Book Award is given for the best book published in 2008 and carries a prize of $2000. The awards were announced last night at a function in Auckland. A group of legal academics, practitioners and judges is involved in shortlisting and judging the awards. The Legal Research Foundation (Inc.) is an independent, non-profit body associated with the University of Auckland Faculty of Law.

Matthew Palmer has worked as a senior official in New Zealand government and as Dean of Law at Victoria University of Wellington. He has experience of the reality of Treaty negotiations and coordinating Treaty strategy for the Crown and has taught and written about the Treaty of Waitangi and comparative indigenous peoples’ rights in New Zealand and North America.

Matthew Palmer wrote this book while holding the New Zealand Law Foundation’s International Research Fellowship. This annual award of up to $100,000 supports research on matters of substantial public importance that is likely to lead to reform or betterment of New Zealand law. Applications close on 1 September.

The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand’s Law and Constitution”
Matthew S. R. Palmer
ISBN 9780864735799
NZrrp $50.00
Published by Victoria University Press in November 2008.
Poetry plasters New Zealand and Nashville

Poster poems will soon be plastered across 13 centres in New Zealand and in Nashville, Tennessee, as part of an initiative by a national poster company.
Phantom Billstickers has produced A1 posters featuring poems by New Zealand poets Tusiata Avia (pic left) and James Milne (aka Lawrence Arabia) and by Tennessee poets Jeffery McCaleb and Michael White.

On Tuesday 2 June the poem posters will be placed nationwide – Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Gisborne, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill —as well as in Nashville.

New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate, University of Auckland Associate Professor of English Michele Leggott, will help launch the initiative in Auckland. She will paste the first poster poem, written by Samoan-New Zealand poet Tusiata Avia.
Tusiata will read the poem in front of a public gathering that will include students from Michele’s Poetry Off the Page class and the Masters of Creative Writing paper, James Milne, and University of Auckland poets and academics Selina Tusitala Marsh and Lisa Samuels.

Over the next six months, four poets will be “exhibited” monthly as part of Phantom Billsticker’s commitment to supporting emerging and established poets. Forthcoming poets to be “postered” include Michele Leggott, David Eggleton, William Direen, Otis Mace, Kevin Fraher and Hilaire Campbell.
“In these tough times, we wanted to put some beauty and thoughtfulness back into the streets of New Zealand,” says Jim Wilson, head of Phantom Billstickers, Ltd. “We are particularly proud of our national poets, both known and emerging, and we want to help spread their words so everyone can enjoy them.”
“I welcome any effort to promote the beauty, playfulness and power of poetry, particularly when it helps take poems off the page and into the consciousness of people going about their daily lives,” says Michele Leggott.
The first poster will be pasted at 12pm on 2 June at a Phantom Billstickers site on Auckland’s Queen St, opposite the Britomart Centre. Refreshments will be provided. All welcome.

The crash comes
and I fly from the top bunk
along the hallway to the lounge
my feet not feeling the floor
and there they are
my father’s hand
on my mother’s white
throat. Call the police
like soprano
me slow dancing
toward the receiver
my father’s hand stretched out
clasping me like you clasp the cheek
of an irresistible child
pulling me across the carpet
like a cutie.

Tusiata Avia is an acclaimed poet, performer and children’s writer.
Her solo stage show Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, premiered in Dunedin in
2002, has since been performed throughout NZ and overseas. Her first
collection, also titled Wild Dogs Under .
Photo at top by Martin Hunter
My Skirt, was published in 2004.
In 2005 she held the Fulbright-CNZ Pacific Writer’s Residency at the
University of Hawai’i.
Bloodclot, her second book of poetry, was published in 2009.
Librarians’ Choice for Children’s Books 2009

From stories exploring the lives and ideals of family and communities to the reminiscence of roly-poly pudding the finalists of the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards are a true celebration of New Zealand writers and illustrators.

The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards 2009 Finalists are:

Esther Glen Award (Fiction)
Juno of Taris by Fleur Beale (Random House New Zealand)
Old Drumble by Jack Lasenby (HarperCollinsPublishers (New Zealand) Ltd)
The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner (Walker Books)
The 10pm Question by Kate de Goldi (Longacre Press)
Violence 101 by Denis Wright (Penguin New Zealand)

Russell Clark Award (Illustration)
Every Second Friday by Kiri Lightfoot, Illustrated by Ben Galbraith (Hachette New Zealand)
Herbert by Robyn Belton (Craig Potton Publishing)
My Favourite Places by Martin Bailey (Mallinson Rendel)
Oliver Goes Exploring by Margaret Beames, Illustrated by Sue Hitchcock (Scholastic)
Roadworks by Sally Sutton, Illustrated by Brian Lovelock (Huia Education)

Elsie Locke (Non Fiction)
Atoms, dinosaurs & DNA) by Veronika Meduna & Rebecca Priestley (Random House New Zealand)
Back & Beyond: New Zealand Painting for the Young & Curious by Gregory O’Brien (Auckland University Press)
Juicy Writing by Brigid Lowry (Allen & Unwin)
Piano Rock by Gavin Bishop (Random House New Zealand)
High-tech Legs on Everest by Mark Inglis with Sarah Ell (Random House New Zealand)

Te Kura Pounamu ( te reo Maori)
Mihiroa by Peti Nohotima (He Kupenga Hao i te Reo Ltd)
Nau te Rourou, Naku te Rourou by Rosalind and Waaka Vercoe (Huia Education)
Ko Maraea Me Nga Toroa by Patricia Grace, Illustrator Brian Gunson, Translator Waiariki Grace (Penguin NZ)
Toheroa by James Te Tuhi (pic right) and Ross Gregory (Huia Education)
Hinemoa te Toa by Tim Tipene, Illustrator John Bennett, Translator Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira (Scholastic)

The Awards including New Zealand's longest-running book award, the Esther Glen Award, are for excellence in literature, illustration, non-fiction and te reo Maori.

Prerequisite to selection as a LIANZA Judge is being a Librarian, along with passion to promote children’s experiences in the literary world; the Judges firmly believe reading and good books are the code to unlocking any child’s hidden potential.

The Esther Glen, Elsie Locke, and Russell Clark Award judges are: Belynda Smith (Panel Convenor), Takapuna Library Auckland; Pene Walsh, District Librarian Gisborne; and Colleen Shipley, Librarian Marlborough Girls College.

The third annual Muslim Writers Awards took place last night (27 May) at the Park Lane Hilton in London. Funded by Innovate Arts, a non-profit organisation set up to encourage creative expression within economically deprived communities, the 11 awards recognise the breadth and quality of literary talent within the UK's Muslim population.

Read the list of winners here.

Inveterate Reader Meets Kindle

By CHARLES McGRATH, New York Times, Published: May 28, 2009

ON a recent golf trip to South Carolina I showed off to the rest of the foursome by taking along my brand-new Kindle 2. No one seemed impressed that I had already stored on it practically all of Trollope and six volumes of Gibbons’s “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” along with the latest Lee Child and Dennis Lehane.

But I got a reaction when I pressed a button and the slim, envelope-size device read aloud to us, in a bossy, robotic female voice, from “Leadbetter’s Quick Tips: The Very Best Short Lessons to Fix Any Part of Your Game”: “As you step up to the ball, breathe through your nose, then exhale and whistle as you start the club back.”
For the rest of the weekend my playing partner referred to the Kindle, somewhat warily, as “The Future.”

It’s not. The reading device of the future will surely be backlighted, unlike the Kindle, so you can read in the dark. It will have different typefaces, and will reproduce photographs and illustrations in something better than a murky gray wash. The read-aloud voice will learn how to pronounce “Barack Obama” and will have mastered a tone more expressive than that of the tiresome know-it-all who talks to you from inside your car’s G.P.S.

In the future airlines will also conclude that you don’t have to turn off a reading device during takeoff and landing. On the way back from South Carolina I had to dash into an airport bookshop for a backup paperback, which sort of defeats the whole point.

But if the Kindle isn’t the future, exactly, it’s a precursor. What it tells you, even if you are an unreconstructed book lover, is that the future will not be as hard to get used to as you imagined. Books are heavy, the Kindle reminds you, and they take up a lot of room.
Read the rest of this piece at NYT online.
President Obama, first lady to continue Book Festival tradition

Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama read The Moon Over Star to second-graders at Washington, D.C.'s Capital City Public Charter School in February.

Story by Darlene Superville, Associated Press Writer, from USA Today

WASHINGTON — President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will preside over the ninth National Book Festival, a day-long celebration of the joys of reading and literacy, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26, on the National Mall.
"The National Book Festival has become a true American institution," said James Billington, the librarian of Congress. "It is a joyous and very popular celebration of books and reading in the Washington, D.C., area."
The Library of Congress organizes and sponsors the event, which is free and open to the public.
An estimated 120,000 people have attended each of the past two festivals, a library spokeswoman said.
Former first lady Laura Bush, a retired teacher and public school librarian, started the festival in 2001, modeling it after events she held as first lady of Texas.
DK puts Eyewitness guides on iPhone
28.05.09 Graeme Neill reporting in The Bookseller

Dorling Kindersley has made its top 10 bestselling Eyewitness travel guides available for download onto a Apple iPhone or iPod Touch.
Priced £4.99, users will be able to browse sights, places to eat and things to do. The 10 destinations covered are: New York City, London, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Paris, Rome, Dubai, Barcelona, Cancun and Bangkok.

Users can also access a "favourites" tool and currency converter. Tom Hall, head of digital licensing for DK Publishing, said: "We are delighted to be launching DK's Top 10 guides for iPhone and iPod Touch users.
"The series is hugely successful in print, and the clear, structured format of its content lends itself perfectly to digital platforms in this manner. iPhone offers a user-friendly, streamlined route into our trusted content, providing travellers with exactly what they need to know, right when they need to know it."
The application was developed with software developer Coolgorilla.
Top prize for Irish novel loved by Obama
By John Spain, Books Editor,
Thursday May 28 2009

A novel by an Irish writer that has US President Barack Obama among its fans has scooped the top award at the Listowel Writers Week Festival.
'Netherland' by Joseph O'Neill, which took the main prize of €15,000, is set in New York. The book's central theme revolves around cricket, marriage, immigrant communities and living in a post-9/11 world.

Earlier review on this blog.

Hay festival: Survival of the Fittest by Ruth Padel

Poet Ruth Padel, who stepped down earlier this week from the post of Oxford professor of poetry after just nine days in the job, reads 'Survival of the Fittest' from her latest book, Darwin: A Life in Poems.
Ellen Feldman bookies favourite to win the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009
William Hill releases closing odds

London, May 28 2009 – With the fourteenth Orange Prize for Fiction only five days away, the latest odds from bookmakers William Hill have American author Ellen Feldman as odds-on favourite with her third book, Scottsboro at 2/1. This is the first time Feldman has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.
Second favourite is British writer Samantha Harvey for her debut novel, The Wilderness, at 3/1, followed by American author, Marilynne Robinson, for Home at 7/2.

The odds are:

Ellen Feldman, Scottsboro 2/1
Samantha Harvey, The Wilderness 3/1
Marilynne Robinson, Home 7/2
Deirdre Madden, Molly Fox’s Birthday 4/1
Samantha Hunt, The Invention of Everything Else 6/1
Kamila Shamsie, Burnt Shadows 7/1

The Orange Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote fiction by women throughout the world to the widest range of readers possible. The Orange Prize is awarded to the best novel of the year written in English by a woman.

The winner of the fourteenth Orange Prize for Fiction will be presented with a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze statue known as ‘the Bessie’, created by artist Grizel Niven. Both are anonymously endowed.
The award ceremony will take place on 3 June 2009 in The Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Star turn authors at Unity Books, Wellington
1. The launch by VUP and Unity Wellington of Vincent O'Sullivan 'Further Convictions Pending, Poems 1998-2008' , RRP $35.

A devoted following turned out and were treated to a very funny speech made by author Vincent O'Sullivan following an excellent introduction by fellow poet Chris Price.
Pic above shows Chris Price speaking with author and publisher in background.

2.Author of American Rust, Philipp Meyer, (pic right reading at Unity), attracts a capacity crowd, with pic centre showing the punters waiting to buy.

These are from last night's reading at
Unity who had marvellous turnout after the positive reviews American Rust received in the NZ Listener, NZ Herald's Canvas magazine and the Wellington weekend supplement Indulgence.
Meyer read and then had a Q&A filled with questions about his process and background. This was followed by a rush on the till and a very patient queue for autographs. My spies tell me it was a great after-work crowd and they seemed to go away pleased at having stayed in the city a while longer.
Arts on Sunday, Radio NZ National for 31 May 2009 - Queen’s Birthday Weekend
2:00pm Glenn Colquhoun

Broadcast of an hour long discussion with award winning poet and GP, Glenn Colquhoun, recorded at the recent Festival of Colour in Wanaka.
Glenn is reading (for Amnesty International) in Dunedin next week. Details are as
Amnesty International, in association with the Dunedin Public Library and Milford Galleries, presents
An evening with Glenn Colquhoun, Diane Brown, Michael Harlow, and David Howard

Friday 5 June,

Lift doors open at 5.30pm for 6pm sharp start
Dunningham Suite, 4th Floor,
Dunedin Public Library, Moray Place

Free entry
Refreshments provided
Ramp Press - RRP $48

Following the success of two earlier books in this format, Heritage Hamilton and the Baches of Raglan, Ramp Press, (the publishing wing of Wintec), has recently published The Houses of Hayes Paddock - in partnership with the Hamilton City Council.
Hayes Paddock was one of the first state housing communities built by the first Labour Government, although only a relatively few homes now remain in Housing Corp ownership.
This most attractive 128 page book, with over 120 photos, reflects a unique community, which now has protection through a heritage cover.
Work on the book was undertaken by student photographer Anne Challinor, designed by Jaimee Ballard who graduated from Wintec last year, with an essay by visiting Wintec historian, Dr Ann McEwan.
The book provides a most interesting piece of social history and is a credit to all involved.


The book is about Raglan’s older Baches, many of which were built in the boom years of the 50s and 60s. Others were much older and have been handed down through families with long connections to the Raglan community. Built of wood, concrete or fibrolite with iron roofs, they remain largely unaltered.
The book tells the stories of people who have “a place at the beach” and an affection for a simple life.Baches of Raglan is the work of students and lecturers from the Wintec School of Media Arts.
Review by The Lumiere Reader here.

To my shame I have never been to Raglan but having spent nearly two hours reading through this handsome soft-covered publication and looking at the great photos I have decided that a weekend down there is a must. I wonder if one could rent one of the featured baches?
Anna Taylor
VUP $30

Anna Taylor was one of the three writers featured in the Emerging Stars session (a full house) chaired by Bill Manhire at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival two weeks ago. The other two were Eleanor Catton (Rehearsal) and Bridget van der Zijp (Misconduct).
Last night at Unity Books in Wellington, (how many book launches have they held in May?), the much-anticipated book was launched by Fergus Barrowman , publisher at Victoria University Press. The place was packed, as can be seen from pic right, with family and friends especially well represented. The book sold very well at the launch and my spies tell me it continues to sell well today.

Bearded man in pic left is Fergus Barrowman of VUP. A reader of this page may identify the woman to whom he is listening?
Noted opera star/Booklover
from the Herald on Sunday, 24 May, 2009

Opera singer Conal Coad performs the role of Mustafà in The NBR New Zealand Opera’s production of The Italian Girl in Algiers opening in Auckland tonight, Thursday 28 May. Bookings

Conal Coad, (pic right in shot from the opera), one of NZ's most renowned opera singers, is home for his role in The Italian Girl in Algiers, is also abooklover and voracious reader. He spoke to the Herald on Sunday about his reading.

The book I love most is….William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream could well fit into this category. As an opera singer, the beauty of the language is of major importance to me and Shakespeare's words flow like music, in an almost operatic fashion. The play is one of the world's most sparkling comedies and has also been wonderfully adapted into one of the 20th century's finest operas by Benjamin Britten, giving me my favourite role - Bottom. That a work written more than 400 years ago can still reach out to enchant and amuse us is a great testament to great writing.

The book I’m reading right now is…. The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld.
This is a fascinating murder-mystery set in New York early in the twentieth century. Amongst its principal protagonists are Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung who, by their presence, bring an intriguing reality to the plot, which nevertheless is totally fictional. Freud (with Jung) was indeed in New York during 1909 and his American experiences left him with a dislike of the country - one that he never explained. Rubenfeld has cleverly used this brief visit to suggest a situation involving psychotic disturbances and murder that could well have left Freud a most unhappy visitor. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a different "take" on the normal crime novel.

The book I’d like to read next is… Gallery A, Sydney 1964 – 1983. This is a most interesting major catalogue for an exhibition of the same name that opened at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in March. It is an in-depth survey of a famous Sydney gallery that introduced many influential and controversial artists during the ’60s and ’70s.

The publication includes many essays, articles and archival images by Nicholas Chambers, Peter Fay, Daniel Thomas, Nick Waterlow and a number of other influential Australian art writers, all of whom were involved in the exhibition. For anyone interested in Antipodean art from this period, this promises to be fascinating.

It is currently on my coffee table and although the images have been "tasted" the "meat" of the publication is waiting...
The Bookman says welcome home Conal. I am looking forward to seeing you on the Aotea stage.
The Wellington season of the opera was a virtual sell-out so Aucklanders are urged to book now.
And to see/learn more about this marvellous opera go to Donald Trott's excellent blog.
In The Kitchen
by Monica Ali
Random House, $37.99
Reviewed by Nicky Pellegrino
Author photo below by John Fol.

If you’ve ever wanted to know exactly what it’s like inside the kitchen of a London hotel kitchen, more especially inside the head of its executive chef, then Monica Ali’s latest novel, In The Kitchen, delivers in great detail and at great length.
Gabriel Lightfoot is at the helm in the kitchen of The Imperial Hotel, in charge of its motley crew, trying to retain his passion for food as he wrestles with staff rosters and petty politics. Lightfoot is a man with a plan. He’s lined up a couple of rich backers and he’s going to open his own place. Maybe he’ll even win that Michelin star.
But then the chef’s life starts to crumble. It starts with the death of his Ukranian night porter Yuri down in the catacombs below the kitchen where it turns out he’s been living. Next Lightfoot becomes tangled up with Eastern European pot-washer Lena, who seems connected with the death. He offers her a place to stay and then, somewhat improbably, ends up semi-imprisoning her in his home and cheating on his fiancé with her. There’s other stuff going on. His father is dying, he’s being forced to face up to some harsh truths about his late mother and he’s suspicious of some sort of racket going on with the hated restaurant manager Gleeson.

Author Ali is certainly across a lot of issues in this book: the decline of British industry and the fragile state it’s left that country’s economy, ingrained attitudes towards immigrant and the brutal reality of many of their lives, human trafficking, even what it means to be British. She conjures up her settings with accuracy and colour – I particularly loved her description of Lightfoot’s childhood home in the north with Nana ensconced in her wingback chair and on her third sherry. “The kiss of the fire, the babble of voices, the blanketing heat….the whole place heartbreakingly tidy as if nothing much ever happened, which probably it never did.”

But when Ali tries to stage meaningful discussions about stuff like free will things start to feel a bit forced; her characters are used as mouthpieces, her tone becomes didactic.
And ultimately, at 430 pages, this book is much too long. With some judicious editing Ali might have told this story in far fewer pages and made her points with more subtlety.
Nicky Pellegrino is the books editor at the Herald on Sunday where her review of In the Kitchen was first published (24 May, 2009). She is also a well respected NZ-based novelist whose latest book, The Italian Wedding, (Orion), was published in NZ, Australia and the UK last month

People behind British homes and gardens added to Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

George Jennings—engineer whose invention allows us ‘to spend a penny’
Christopher Leyland—the gardener behind the Leylandii conifer
Jesse Dawes—pioneer of recycling and salvage
Walter Potter—the Victorian taxidermist favoured by Damien Hirst

Freely available in almost all UK public libraries, with direct home access for library members

Today, Thursday 28 May 2009, the biographies of 87 people who have shaped British history are added to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. This is the fourteenth update to the dictionary, published by Oxford University Press and Oxford University.

Key lives behind Britain’s homes and gardens are revealed in this update. They include Victorian engineers of everyday inventions (now taken for granted) that helped create modern domestic life: basic but essential things including the water closet, public toilets, clean water supplies, dustbin collection, salvage and recycling, and central heating. At the time, Britain led the world in these areas and was celebrated for its high standards of cleanliness, public hygiene, and waste management.

Outdoor pursuits are also celebrated with biographies of 30 gardeners who shaped British domestic landscapes: from the nurserymen who cultivated the nation’s favourite plants—including daffodils, sweet peas, snowdrops as well as, perhaps its least favourite, Leylandii—to plant hunters, broadcasters, and people behind famous gardens such as Heligan in Cornwall.

Updates to the Oxford DNB are published each January, May and October. The next update will include a special focus on people who have shaped Scottish history, the Scots overseas, as well as Britons active in central and Latin America.

Books of The Times
Unraveling the Labyrinthine Life of a Magical Realist

By Gerald Martin Illustrated.
642 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $37.50.

Gerald Martin’s biography of Gabriel García Márquez is the authoritative English-language study of the Colombian literary superstar, written by the ideal man for the job.return encodeURIComponent('Books of The Times');
By JANET MASLIN, Published in The New York Times: May 27, 2009

In a January 2006 interview with a Barcelona newspaper, Gabriel García Márquez, whose memory had begun to fail, deflected a question about his past. “You will have to ask my official biographer, Gerald Martin, about that sort of thing,” he said, “only I think he’s waiting for something to happen to me before he finishes.”

The author Gabriel García Márquez in the mid-1940s.

This otherwise doom-laden remark brought good news to the newly designated “official biographer.” Mr. Martin at that point had devoted 15 years of his own life to chronicling that of Mr. García Márquez, though he spent a total of only a month in that Nobel laureate’s company during his extended research. Until that point Mr. Martin had called this project only a “tolerated biography.” It has turned out to be much, much more.
This intensive, assured, penetratingly analytical book will be the authoritative English-language study of Mr. García Márquez until Mr. Martin can complete an already 2,000-page, 6,000-footnote version “in a few more years, if life is kind.”
He compressed that sprawling magnum opus into 545 pages (plus notes and index), a “brief, relatively compact narrative,” so it could be published “while the subject of this work, now a man past 80, is still alive and in a position to read it.” Both author and subject have been treated for lymphoma, Mr. Martin says.
That kind of bluntness runs throughout “Gabriel García Márquez: A Life,” and it is essential to the book’s success. The last thing this literary lion needed was a fawning, accommodating Boswell. Nor did he need a biographer eager to show off his own flair. When writing about Mr. García Márquez, king of the magical realists, Mr. Martin understands that it is best to stick to the facts and skip the fancy footwork.

Could any biographer have been better suited to this gargantuan undertaking? Absolutely not: Mr. Martin is the ideal man for the job. He has already written studies of 20th-century Latin American fiction; translated the work of another Latin American Nobel laureate, Miguel Ángel Asturias; and written about Latin American history.
These are essential prerequisites for unraveling the labyrinthine cultural and political aspects of Mr. García Márquez’s peripatetic life. So are Mr. Martin’s demonstrable patience, wide range of knowledge and keen understanding of his subject’s worldwide literary forebears, from Cervantes to Dostoyevsky to Mark Twain.

Read the rest of Maslin's full, detailed NYT review here.
And for a UK review this from The Independent.