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Wednesday 23 February 2011

Bookseller magazine has announced the shortlist for its Diagram Prize. The award celebrates oddness in book titles. In culling the long-list of 66 entrants into a shortlist of half-a-dozen, judges gave preference to titles that they deemed accidentally – rather than deliberately – odd.

Early favouritism is with Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way, although Joel Silverman’s What Colour is Your Dog? is sure to garner votes from the colour-blind community. There’s no cash prize, but last year’s winner Horace Bent (for his Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes) has stated that sales of his tome benefited from a significant bump folowing his win.

Readers can vote for their favourite on the Bookseller website and the winner will be announced on March 25.

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23 February 2011

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play_Wikileaks

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Love him or loathe him, Julian Assange has, with WikiLeaks, irrevocably changed the nature of journalism and governance. As a consequence, a host of similar whistleblowing sites have sprung up, all hoping to emulate WikiLeaks' success. What are the implications for the media, the law, governments, the intelligence fraternity and the wider community?

In this video, our panel of guests – journalist Paul Ramadge, author Suelette Dreyfus and lawyer Julian Burnside, chaired by Lyndal Curtis – explore the topic of WikiLeaks and its transformative effect.

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23 February 2011

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About a month ago we reported on Ian McEwan’s win of the Jerusalem Prize. McEwan’s acceptance of the prize led him to be accused of tacitly condoning some of the more controversial aspects of the Israeli government’s policy in relation to Palestinians and the occupied territories. McEwan himself defended the decision to accept the prize. The prestige of the Jerusalem Prize overshadows its modest cash purse thanks to its stellar list of previous winners.

McEwan has responded to the criticism with criticism of his own – of the Israeli government’s policy in relation to Palestinians and the occupied territories. In so doing, he also defended the relevance of the novel as an art form, saying, “The novel was born out of respect for the individual, and is impelled towards pluralism. There is no man, woman or child, Israeli or Palestinian, whose mind the novel cannot lovingly reconstruct.”

McEwan’s theme was the nihilism displayed on both sides of the conflict. He suggested creativity was the key to finding a political solution: “The opposite of nihilism is creativity. The mood for change, the hunger for individual freedom that is spreading through the Middle East, is an opportunity more than it is a threat.” McEwan spoke in front of an audience that included the Israeli president Shimon Peres, the minister of culture Limor Livnat and the mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat. The US$10,000 cash prize will be donated to the charity Combatants for Peace, in which former combatants on both sides of the conflict promote a non-military solution.

Update: here’s the New Yorker on the issue.

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23 February 2011

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