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Jenny Offill’s Dept of Speculation is small but perfectly formed

Ever since I read the opening paragraph of Jenny Offill‘s Dept. of Speculation I have beenimages looking for an opportunity to slip it into casual conversation. “Antelopes have 10x vision, you said… That means that on a clear night they can see the rings of Saturn.” I checked it out on the Internet where opinion seems divided on its accuracy. But I’m backing Offill. I like the idea of a group of antelope standing around looking up into the night sky and marvelling at its wonders.

The book is peppered with scientific data and quotations from, or references to, texts from writers like Socrates, Coleridge, Simone Weil and Carl Sagan, interesting snippets that Offill says

Folio Prize shortlist sees some intriguing omissions

Sometimes, the list of entrants who don’t make make it onto the shortlist for a literary prize can be as interesting as those who do. The prestigious Folio Prize, which is open to books of any genre from anywhere in the world, written in the english language and published in England, this week named its final eight, and there were some surprising omissions. First the shortlist which includes some exciting and original works:

Dylan Thomas prize long list reveals exciting literary treasures

PileofBooksIt’s been a big week for literary prizes with the announcement of the Man Booker long list  hogging most of the headlines. This has resulted in the long list for the annual Dylan Thomas Prize going largely unnoticed which is a shame, not least because this is the centenary year of the Wales’s most famous son.

The Dylan Thomas prize was set up seven years ago to encourage and develop exciting young talent and is open to writers aged 39, across all genres. The list just announced includes former Man Booker winner Eleanor Catton (the Luminaries) and Bailey’s Women’s Prize winner Eimear McBride (A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing).  Welsh poet and author Owen Sheers is there as is fellow poet Jamaican Kei Miller, crime writer Tom Rob

When it comes to reviewers and published authors men rule. But is that OK?

Men are still the big winners in the latest count of male and female bylines in malewritersbook reviews, magazines and literary journals published in America, according to VIDA,  a women’s literary organization. VIDA tallied bylines in 39 publications including New Yorker, New York Times Book Review, Granta and The New Republic.

When the London Review of Books was recently approached over the same issue, this was its response: “It shouldn’t be controversial to say that doing better isn’t as easy as it seems. The number of women’s bylines are low in the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, the TLS. Just as numbers of women are low on corporate boards. It’s down to more than editorial whim. The problem is, as Jenny Turner said earlier this year, both subtle and deep-rooted. Partly a matter of social arrangements that work against women and partly due to the effect a sexist world has on women. Women send fewer pitches to the

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