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Just don't call it a graphic novel and more book news

March 18, 2009 |  8:11 am


At an appearance in England, Art Spiegelman publicly chafed against the term "graphic novel," saying, "I'm called the father of the modern graphic novel. If that’s true, I want a blood test," the Economist reports. " 'Graphic novel' sounds more respectable, but I prefer 'comics' because it credits the medium. ['Comics'] is a dumb word, but that’s what they are."

In news from another groundbreaking contrarian, Iggy Pop is releasing a CD inspired by "The Possibility of an Island" by Michel Houellebecq. "It's a quieter album with some jazz overtones," Pop says in a video on his site, "because at one point I just got sick of listening to idiot thugs with guitars banging out crappy music." He calls Houellebecq's book "a great novel, a funny novel ... about sex, death, the end of the human race and some other pretty funny stuff."

Jamie Byng -- the young, dashing, visionary and foul-mouthed head of Canongate -- may be the closest thing the publishing world has to a rock star. And now, with the help of his staff, he's hoping the bookish in Edinburgh will get up and get down at a quarterly nightclub called Irregular, "a smorgasbord of unexpected sounds that will include bands, readings, stand-up, video installations and DJs." Sounds good -- is it ready for export?

Just what you were waiting for: another prize. The Orange Prize for Fiction -- which is only for women authors, and is judged by women -- has announced its shortlist. The prize is based in England but includes writers from all over; this year, Americans among the contenders include Toni Morrison for "A Mercy," Curtis Sittenfeld for "An American Wife" and Marilynne Robinson for "Home." Last year's winner was "The Road Home" by Rose Tremain.

And from home to away: The upcoming film "Away We Go" was scripted by (married) authors Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida. The movie, about thirtysomething parents-to-be trying to find a place to call home, is directed by Sam Mendes and stars Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski (chalking up his second literary film of 2009). How's it look? Check out the new trailer, after the jump.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image: Art Spiegelman's "Maus" / Random House