Archive for December, 2011

  • 4th Estate Boxing Day E-Book Sale!

    • Dec 26, 2011 •

    We hope you all had very merry Christmases and are suitably full of Christmas happiness and turkey.

    Now, if you were one of the lucky people to have been given a brand-spanking new e-reader this Christmas, well then we have just the selection for you.

    Why not try Patrick Gale’s best-selling ‘Notes From an Exhibition’ for only 99p?! That’s a £7 saving on the RRP of the paperback!

    Or, how about the Man Booker shortlisted ‘The Northern Clemency’ by British literary star Philip Hensher for only £1.99?

    If non-fiction is more of your thing, we’ve got Ben Goldacre’s bestselling ‘Bad Science’ for an incredible £1.99.

    Spent a little too much this Christmas? You might want to check out Meryn Somerset-Webb’s ‘Love is Not Enough: A Smart Woman’s Guide to Money’. Best of all, it wont break the bank at 99p!

    For all these deals and more, check out the carousel widget-y thing below

    <A HREF=””> Widgets</A>

  • Extract of Wolf Hall audio-book, read by Dan Stevens.

    wolf hall
    • Dec 21, 2011 • Tags:

    The judging panel for The Man Booker Prize 2012 has been announced and includes Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens, who – back in 2009 – read the audio-book for Wolf Hall.

    Click below to hear an extract

    Wolf Hall Extract

  • Joanna Blythman's blog: Palestinian photographer censored

    • Dec 20, 2011 • Tags:

    Until last week, the talented, internationally recognised Palestinian photographer, Larissa Sansour, was one of eight hopeful artists shortlisted for the 2012 €25,000 Lacoste Elysée Prize, awarded by the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland. Now the eponymous fashion label sponsor has stepped in and demanded that her nomination be revoked because her work is ‘too pro-Palestinian’. The museum tried to argue but was unsuccessful: Lacoste sponsors not only the prize but also the museum. Understandably, Sansour, who has already exhibited in the Tate in London and L’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, is saddened and shocked by this development. “This year Palestine was officially admitted to UNESCO, yet we are still being silenced.”

    Sansour’s work is rather beautiful and thought provoking. It richly merits an audience. Her shortlisted work, Nation Estate, was conceived in the wake of the Palestinian bid for UN membership. Nation Estate (above) depicts a science fiction-style Palestinian state in the form of a single skyscraper housing the entire Palestinian population. Inside this new Nation Estate, the residents have recreated their lost cities on separate floors: Jerusalem on 3, Ramallah on 4, Sansour’s own hometown of Bethlehem on 5.

    As a nominee, Sansour had been awarded a bursary of €4,000 and given a free hand to produce a portfolio of images for the final judging in 2012. In November, three photos for Sansour’s Nation Estate project were accepted. She was congratulated on her work and professionalism by the administrators of the prize and her name was included on all the literature relating to the prize and on the website as an official nominee. Now Sansour’s name has since been removed, and her project has been withdrawn from an upcoming issue of contemporary art magazine ArtReview introducing the nominated artists.

    In an attempt to disguise the reasons for her dismissal, Sansour was asked to go quietly by approving a statement saying that she withdrew from her nomination ‘in order to pursue other opportunities’. Sansour has refused. Quite right too. The world needs to know how Palestine is routinely censored at all levels.

    What lies behind Lacoste’s intervention. Is it straightforward racism? It’s hard to imagine that the company would dare to silence any other artist on the basis of ethnicity. Or is it corporate cowardice because Palestine is deemed to be too hot to handle politically? Either way, it stinks.

    Originally published on today (20th December 2012)

  • The Gap Yah App – perfect party season madness

    Gap Yah app
    • Dec 15, 2011 •

    Worried your friends are NOT going to make a fool out of themselves this party season? Download the Gap Yah App and doctor photos to make them look like total idiots!

    On the other hand, if you’re a good friend (unlike me) you can create hilaire images of you and your mates on a ‘Gap Yah’ with Orlando himself.

    Visit a totes spiritual temple, or the lash-tastic Rio Carnival. Just add your images to pre-loaded backgrounds and share the result to facebook or twitter.

    Buy it now for the knock-down introductory price of 69p!

  • Another HBO adaptation for 4th Estate? Stephen Daltry looks at The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

    Kavalier and Clay detail 2
    • Dec 12, 2011 • Tags: ,

    Stephen Daltry wants to adapt Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay‘ for HBO

    Daltry had been signed on to direct, working with Chabon and producer Scott Rudin to adapt the novel for the silver screen (Rudin is also working on the HBO adaptation of 4th Estate’s ‘The Corrections’ by Jonathan Franzen).

    This has been a long-rumoured film, with Hollywood elite Natalie Portman and Toby Maguire linked to roles.

    As Chabon fans will know, Kavalier and Clay is not the shortest of novels so turning it into a screenplay was something of a challenge. In a recent interview, Daltry stated that he would love to adapt the novel into an 8 part TV series for HBO.

    Now, we can’t get too excited yet as nothing is official and there are a few rights issues about moving forward with the project.

    When asked about the rights question, Daltry said:

    What a good question. Well I spent a year working on it with Michael Chabon so we’re pretty close. And the rights, good question. Will Paramount give them to me? I don’t know

    So, it’s early days at the moment but we’ll keep you posted with any updates we hear of.

    Let’s hope that Paramount will be happy to allow Daltry to move ahead with HBO. Seeing as the film project as languished in development hell for a decade, I reckon there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be seeing Michael Chabon’s story on the small screen instead.

  • 'Mark Steel's In Town' on Radio 4

    Mark Steel
    • Dec 8, 2011 • Tags: , , ,

    In the first episode of comedian Mark Steel’s third BBC R4 Series ‘Mark Steel’s In Town’, he visits Berwick-upon-Tweed to discover what’s distinctive about the town…

    Read more…

  • Joanna Blythman's Blog: What's lurking in your Christmas Pudding?

    • Dec 8, 2011 • Tags:

    Joanna Blythman, award winning food journalist, blogs for

    Apologies in advance for disturbing the cordiality of the festive season, but beware the ingredients in your shop-bought Christmas cake.

    Not just those tooth-cracking, ‘edible’ silver ball decorations either, it’s the long list of weird and distinctly un-wonderful industrial ingredients that turn up in yuletide cakes, puddings, mincemeat pies. I’m talking delights such as ‘gluten-free breadcrumbs’, with their secondary ingredients list of water, potato starch, maize, vegetable oil, guar gum, methylcellulose, salt, plus  a dash of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids.

    Anything with dried fruits is a safe house for synthetic flavourings, such as caramel, colourings, preservatives, shelf life-extending humectants, and various forms of glucose-fructose sugar: a highly suspect ingredient increasingly being linked to the obesity epidemic in the US.

    Fruits are usually described as ‘mixed vine fruits’, code for the cheapest, most anonymous, pedigree-free product available. You’ll have to hunt down nuts. As they are pricey, manufacturers are truly stingy with them and keep their use to a minimum.

    You’ll struggle to find a pie, cake or pudding made with freshly shelled eggs, let alone liquid ones. It’ll be pasteurised egg if you’re lucky, a substance called ‘dried egg albumen’ if you’re not. Even Heston uses dried egg in his mincemeat pies. Be sure to go for ‘all butter’ items, otherwise you’ll be chomping your way through margarine and vegetarian suet made with rapeseed, and rainforest- depleting palm oil. At Christmas, ethical ingredients go out the window. Anyone who’s looking for Fairtrade nuts or raisins will have to head to Oxfam.

    I have often wondered why shop-bought Christmas offerings never taste quite right. For an explanation, look no further than items you’d never use at home, such as citric acid, lemon juice ‘from concentrate’ and industrial orange oil.

    I did flirt with the idea of buying, rather than making my own, but the sobering list of ingredients I’d rather avoid soon re-motivated me. My home-made pudding looks and smells fantastic, made with organic raisins, sultanas, and home-made candied orange peel, Fairtrade African sun-dried mango and Palestinian dates, plump Agen prunes, a decent amount of pecans, freshly cracked organic eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice, grated windfall apple, freshly ground spices, sour-dough breadcrumbs and lashings of Somerset apple brandy. Call it cocky, but I’m cautiously confident that it will taste a whole lot better than anything I could buy.

    First published in The Grocer 3rd December 2011 and on Joanna Blythman’s blog 

  • Ewan McGregor, Diane Wiest and Chris Cooper cast in HBO's 'The Corrections'

    • Dec 8, 2011 • Tags: ,

    Ewan McGregor has joined the cast of the HBO drama  ”The Corrections”, adapted from Jonathan Franzen‘s 2001 novel of the same name.

    Franzen is working with Noah Baumbach on the script and the series will be produced by Scott Rudin.

    McGregor has been cast as Chip, the younger son of a Midwestern couple trying to gather all their children and grandchildren together for a family Christmas at home.

    McGregor joins Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest who will play the parents.

    Scott Rudin produced the Cohen brothers’ film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘No Country for Old Men‘ and Upton Sinclair’s ‘Oil!’, which was turned into the hit film ‘There Will be Blood‘.

    Both films were nominated for an amazing 8 Academy Awards.

    More recently, Scott Rudin has been the man behind the cinematic sensation that is ‘The Social Network’, staring Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield and Jessie Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (who many people believe was robbed – robbed! – of an Oscar).

    Baumbach wrote and directed ‘The Squid and the Whale’, a semi-autobiographical film about his childhood in Brooklyn, which won two awards at the Sundance film festival in 2005 and was nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay.

    We’re having quite a time of it at the moment with HBO series. It was recently announced that the BBC are working with HBO to adapt Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker-winning novel ‘Wolf Hall’ into a TV series. This followed the amazing news that there will be not one, but two sequels to the novel.

    The First, ‘Bring Up The Bodies’, will be published in May 2012.

  • Joanna Blythman's Blog: Food v Film? No Contest

    • Dec 8, 2011 • Tags:

    Joanna Blythman, award-winning food journalist and writer, blogs for

    OK, I probably think about food more than 99 per cent of the population, but some other things are sacred, and film is one of them.

    The Odeon at Whiteleys shopping centre in London’s Queensway is opening a cinema called The Lounge that gives customers the option of ordering and eating a meal while watching a film. Critic Mark Lawson got it absolutely right when he branded the proposed mix of film and food “a noxious combination”. His concern is about smells and sounds of mastication and digestion. My objection is that when you team up a film and food, neither gets the attention they merit.

    Much as it pains me ever to turn down food prepared by that most capable chef, Rowley Leigh of Le Café Anglais, if I’m going to eat Rowley’s food, I’ll be doing it in his restaurant, not in the dark, on my lap, while I’m watching a film.

    His supposedly easy-to-eat, “remarkably tactile” dishes- hamburger royale (a fillet steak in a bun), red mullet risotto, deep fried squid and salsify fritters- do sound appealing, but the thought of eating them while watching a film is fundamentally uncivilised, dishonouring both the food and the cinematic experience.

    I already find it deeply irritating to sit next to someone who’s rustling around in a mega-container of popcorn or slurping from a tub load of cola. And those multiplex nacho things really do stink. But the thing that really bugs me is that cinema munchers aren’t concentrating properly on the film, and so they’re interfering with my concentration too. The point being that film deserves focus. Lights off, no sound, full attention, no distractions. Give the director a break. Ditto good food, it ought to be centre stage also, enjoyed at a table, sitting down, not on the hoof, or lap, or desktop.

    Perhaps I should take Mr Leigh out to watch Babette’s Feast, which makes my point, only more eloquently.

    Originally published on Dec 6th 2011 on Joanna Blythman’s Blog

  • Exclusive first look at the cover for 'BRING UP THE BODIES' by Hilary Mantel

    Bring up the Bodies featured

    Unveiled here for the first time, the cover for ‘Bring Up The Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel.

    Like Hilary on Facebook and tell us what you think

    ‘My boy Thomas, give him a dirty look and he’ll gouge your eye out. Trip him, and he’ll cut off your leg,’ says Walter Cromwell in the year 1500. ‘But if you don’t cut across him he’s a very gentleman. And he’ll stand anyone a drink.’

    By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line.

    When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation.

    As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a ‘truth’ that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.

    In ‘Bring up the Bodies’, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning ‘Wolf Hall’, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. From history’s darkroom, this novel offers a speaking picture to the modern world, a vision of Tudor England so recognizable it defies archaism.

    It is the work of one of our great writers at the height of her powers.

    For more information oh ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ read our announcement here.