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Book news: Madonna's mandate, TC Boyle's advice and more

November 13, 2008 |  8:12 am


Madonna and Guy Ritchie's very public divorce has rippled all the way to the shores of literature. Sons Rocco, 7, and David, 3, visited Ritchie's house recently and were accompanied by a list of generally reasonable instructions. But the Guardian reports that the list mandated that "David must be read the English Roses books that Madonna wrote," describing the English Roses series as "saccharine-pink flurries of rivalry between London schoolgirls," written in "leaden prose."

T.C. Boyle is also engaging with youth. He's kicked off Narrative Magazine's Letters to a Young Writer series with an exchange with Dennis O'Reilly, a Seattle-based budding author. "Advocacy and fiction do not comfortably coexist," he writes. "I write fiction in order to think deeply and to assuage my fear and my pessimism through the act of creating art." (Narrative requires registration, which is free).

Debut author Nam Le ("The Boat") has won the Dylan Thomas Prize; given to an author under age 30, the prize, more than $80,000, is the largest of its kind. The very international shortlist included Brits Ross Raisin, Caroline Bird and Edward Hogan, Ceridwen Dovey from South Africa and Dinaw Mengestu from Ethiopia. "To tell you the truth, mate, I couldn't really believe it," Le told the Australian after winning the prize. "I was stoked to just be in that company. The more I became exposed to the work of those writers and actually met them, the more privileged I felt. It's a phenomenal list."

And three writers get goodbyes in the LA Times: critic John Leonard, and celebrity biographer Joe Hyams, and, with a final book review, Studs Terkel.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: AFP / Getty Images