New Editor wanted at Granta and Charles Moore’s lavish book launch

Book news.

John Freeman, the Editor of Granta magazine, will leave to teach creative writing at Columbia University following the publication of their next issue: “Travel”. Sigrid Rausing, the magazine's publisher, is currently on the look out for a replacement.

Over 150,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the UK government take “decisive action [to] make Amazon pay its fair share of UK corporation tax”. The petition drafted by Frances and Keith Smith, independent booksellers from London, was inspired by Margaret Hodge’s questioning of representatives from Google, Amazon and Starbucks last November.

In a throwback to the heyday of publishing, Charles Moore’s authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher was launched at a lavish book party in the Banqueting House in Westminster. David Cameron and George Osborne were in attendance. Jeffery Archer was spotted buying a copy of the book at the temporary stand on the evening, so eager was he, and a number of others, to get hold of a copy.

John le Carré has published his 23rd novel: A Delicate Truth. The team behind Skyfall and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy have made a short film to celebrate. Watch it here.

Finally, for the discerning voyeur, 25 rare photographs of famous authors.

World Book Day in Bucharest, Romania. Image: Getty Images.

Book talk from the New Statesman culture desk.

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How the radio stations reacted to Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize

For its part, Radio 1 was too absorbed by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards to mention the proclamation on Newsbeat.

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature inspired a bewildering gamut of radio responses. At first, proof of his talent was abundantly forthcoming, Andy Kershaw yelling down the line for World at One from a motorway services on the M6 within ­moments of the announcement. (“I can’t understand why they didn’t give this to him 41 years ago!”)

However, a full six days after Talk Radio excitedly reported the event on its home page (“a pivotal part of the cultural revolution of the 1960s”), the online feature has yet to attract a single comment. That’s zero talk. For its part, Radio 1 was too absorbed by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards to mention the proclamation on Newsbeat, though Heart FM firmly quoted the chair of the English faculty at Oxford (“The Tennyson of our time”), and pencil-suckingly dissected lyrics (“Ain’t talkin’, just walkin’/ Up the road . . .”).

Is it poetry? Is it literature? You could tell it was doing everybody’s head in. But when, on Radio 4’s Front Row, Billy Bragg praised Dylan for “bringing a literary and poetic thread into pop music”, the argument sounded terribly old.

The whole battle about Dylan being as great a poet as Tennyson is a hangover from an ancient battle, from a time when it actually had to be pointed out that this pop-music stuff can be brilliant and clever. A time when boring people battled for respect and prestige for an obvious genius. Over on Radio 2, Mark Goodier cheerfully played “Tangled Up in Blue” (“Major, major prize for Bob today. If that isn’t a decent excuse to play a song, I don’t know what is”). But by Sunday, on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House, the gloves were off and guests were declaring that they couldn’t stand Dylan’s voice (cliché, pathetic).

By Monday Simon Armitage was saying that Dylan’s lyrics had no more sophistication than something composed by a child. Is it poetry? Is it literature? Well, it kind of is. But it kind of isn’t. And it doesn’t matter very much, except to the likes of Dylan – and only a long, long time ago. Now he hardly requires the approbation. The Nobel Committee has given the prize to the one writer in the world who doesn’t need it. 

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood