Bookish News of the Week: the latest from George R.R. Martin, Bridget Jones, James Patterson, Oprah, Mel Gibson and more.

by |August 8, 2016




George R. R. Martin celebrates 20 years of the Song of Ice and Fire series.

The Song of Ice and Fire series was originally planned as a trilogy, however twenty years on, this series has morphed into a seven-volume epic publishing phenomenon… and TV series. Seventy million copies of the books have been sold worldwide.

A Game of Thrones, the first book in the series, was not Martin’s first book. By the time it was published, Martin was already a three-time Hugo Award winner (science fiction’s most prestigious award), an established novelist, and a screenwriter (including writing episodes for the 1985 revival of The Twilight Zone).

Martin is currently writing the long-delayed next novel in the series, The Winds of Winter. The TV series is set to conclude in 2018.

Martin also recently announced that Wild Cards, a long-running science-fiction anthology co-edited by Melina Snodgrass and himself, will be adapted for TV. The series began in 1987, is written by 30 authors and spans 20 volumes. It is set in post-apocalyptic WWII when an alien virus, Wild Card, spreads across earth and causes a series of crippling defects and superpower mutations.

Explore all books in the Song of Ice and Fire series

Bridge JonesHelen Fielding’s latest Bridget Jones novel, Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries, will be released this October.

This time round, the diaries will tell of Bridget’s somewhat bumpy journey into Motherhood. Expect a pregnancy full of cheesy potatoes, outlandish advice from Drunken Singletons and Smug Mothers, chaos at scans and childbirth classes, high jinks and romance, joy and despair … all of it dominated by the terribly awkward question – Who’s the father?

Helen Fielding’s novel Bridget Jones’s Diary was a global phenomenon when it was first published in 1996. Fielding followed in 1999 with a sequel, Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason and in 2013 with Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. All three were international bestsellers.

The new book will follow the September release of the much-anticipated third instalment of the Bridget Jones movie franchise: Bridget Jones’s Baby.

Explore all books in the Bridge Jones series

The Underground Railroad
Oprah selects The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead as her latest book club pick.

“Oh, have I found a great book!” Oprah says about The Underground Railroad.

“This book has kept me up at night, had my heart in my throat, had me almost afraid to turn the next page. It’s called The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Get it, then get another copy for someone you know because you’re going to want to talk about this with somebody once you read that last heart-stopping page.”

The Underground Railroad follows Cora, an outcast among slaves, who makes the daring (and desperate) decision to escape her harsh circumstances in Georgia, USA. Cora faces unexpected challenges as she seeks out the Underground Railroad. This is a thrilling, heart-wrenching and magnificent tour de force from prize-winning author, Colson Whitehead. Read More.



James PattersonThe richest authors of 2015/2016 have been announced.

According to Forbes, the highest paid authors of 2015/2016 earned a combined US$269 million – with movie and television adaptations helping to drive sales.

James Patterson, whose television adaptation of Zoo was signed up for a second season, has topped the list for the third consecutive year. He earned US$95 million pre-tax. His latest book, Never Never, co-authored by Australian Candice Fox, will be released this month.

Creator of the children’s Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney, has come in second with US$19.5 million … for a series that was originally intended for adults! Telling Forbes, “I wrote the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid for adults … The whole time I thought I was writing comics for grownups, and then my publisher told me I had actually written a children’s series. If you don’t write down to kids, you have a better chance of reaching them.” Read More

Discover the wealthiest authors of 2015/2016

Jemma Birrell

After overseeing four stellar events, Artistic Director of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, Jemma Birrell, is set to  leave at end of 2016.

Under the direction of Jemma, the last three Sydney Writers’ Festivals have had the highest ever attendances, book and ticket sales, with ticket revenue  having increased by approximately 80% since 2014.

Jemma Birrell said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to curate this literary extravaganza. A heartfelt thank you to the writers whose work has enriched me personally and professionally. Leaving Sydney Writers’ Festival has been a difficult decision… After four Festivals, I decided to end my time on a high note and pass on the reigns to the next artistic director”.

Jemma was appointed as the Festival Artistic Director of the Sydney Writers’ Festival four years ago; her previous role was Events Director at the Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris. She is also a former publishing assistant at Allen & Unwin in Sydney.

Learn more about the Sydney Writers’ Festival

mel 2Nearly two decades after acquiring the movie rights to the bestselling The Professor and the Madman, Mel Gibson is finally producing the film.

Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman follows the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary; it’s an extraordinary tale of madness, genius and the obsessions of two remarkable men who created the dictionary. Gibson will play professor James Murray, who began compiling the dictionary in 1857. Sean Penn is also set to star in the film, and if so, would play Dr. William Chester Minor, who submitted more than 10,000 entries while he was an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

Farhad Safinia, who previously directed Apocalypto, will direct the drama. There are plans to start shooting in Europe in September.

Learn more about The Professor and the Madman

MannixBrenda Niall’s Mannix has taken out this year’s $25,000 National Biography Award.

Daniel Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne from 1917 until his death, aged ninety-nine, in 1963, was a towering figure in Melbourne’s Catholic community. Award-winning biographer Brenda Niall draws on her own memories of meeting and interviewing Mannix to get to the essence of this man of contradictions, controversies and mystery.

Niall’s book was chosen from six shortlisted books: Battarbee and Namatjira by Martin Edmond; Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing Envoy by Stephen FitzGerald; Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather by Karen Lamb; Bearing Witness: The Remarkable Life of Charles Bean, Australia’s Greatest War Correspondent by Peter Rees and Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanski.

The award is presented by the State Library of New South Wales. Each shortlisted author receives $1,000.

Learn more about Mannix

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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.


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