Paul Auster

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Counting the days to Sydney Writers Festival

PileofBooksAs with travel, a great deal of the pleasure of book festivals lies in the planning. Hours can be whiled away pouring over brochures or web sites, drawing up timelines and bemoaning a clash of favorites. And as the almost final decisions take place there is that delightful frisson of anticipated pleasure followed by a flurry of preparatory reading.

Sydney Writers Festival, which kicks off next week, has grown from a rather modest, largely parochial affair, to a weeklong extravaganza with such variety of offerings that have earned it an international reputation. Although there are sessions spread around the city the main venue is the Walsh Bay precinct with its awesome outlook over Sydney Harbour. There is a constellation of internationally recognised guests from Australia and

The things they say … about books

Some things people said about books in newspapers around the world at the weekend.

“Well, I didn’t want to write 600 pages of getting even. I thought I would try to be as understanding as possible to everybody else and as rough as possible on myself. I decided not to varnish stuff.” Salman Rushdie talking to Stuart Jefferies in The Guardian about why he decided to write his memoir, called Joseph Anton, the pseudonym he adopted after the fatwa was taken out against him in 1989. 

 “Today, many towns have no bookshops. If they also have no library, where are children to find books? Is it a surprise that we are always reading horrifying statistics about the number of homes without books? If children don’t discover what books they like, they are unlikely to become life-long readers, and we are therefore heading for a less literate society. Illiteracy leads to lower skills, greater social problems, higher crime rates, and a country less able to prosper in the global jobs market. Cutting libraries is a false economy. They are the best literacy resource that we have. “ Julia Donaldson, author of  The Gruffalo, commenting on far-reaching cuts funding for UK Libraries. 

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