Book News: Turkish Protesters Form 'Taksim Square Book Club'

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The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Erdem Gunduz, the protester known as "The Standing Man" who held a six-hour silent vigil in Instanbul's Taksim Square in response to clashes between Turkish police and demonstrators, has inspired protesters to form "The Taksim Square Book Club" — a group of demonstrators, some masked, standing silently and reading books. An Al Jazeera slideshow shows a many protesters holding pointedly political books such as George Orwell's 1984 (which has recently enjoyed a massive surge in popularity in the U.S., following revelations about NSA surveillance.)
  • Jane Austen might be the new face on the £10 note, says the outgoing governor of the Bank of England. According to The Guardian, Sir Mervyn King told the Treasury select committee that the author of Pride and Prejudice is "quietly waiting in the wings." This comes after an outcry last month over the planned replacement of Elizabeth Fry, one of only two women (!) other than the queen ever to appear on a British banknote.
  • John Quincy Adams, sixth U.S. president, champion of the Treaty of Ghent and possessor of stern sideburns, was also a rather undistinguished poet. He once said, "Could I have chosen my own genius and condition, I would have made myself a great poet." His ode to a Eurasian bullfinch is up for auction in July: "Not Solomon the wise, in all his glory / Bright bird of beauty, was array'd like thee / And thou like him shalt be renown'd in story - / Bird of the wise, the valiant and the free."
  • For The New Yorker, Ian Buruma writes about the Chinese poet Liao Yiwu, who is living in exile: "And so it is that this immensely gifted Chinese writer performs his poetic acts of mourning for the entertainment of audiences in Berlin and New York—an exotic "dissident" abroad, his voice to be heard everywhere except where it is most needed."
  • Barnes & Noble will stop manufacturing its own Nook tablets, the bookstore chain announced in a press release Tuesday. The tablets will soon be, ahem, "co-branded with yet to be announced third party manufacturers of consumer electronics products." Earlier this week, the company reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $118.6 million, up from a loss of $56.9 million at the same time last year.
  • The spy novelist Alex Berenson gives his take on the Edward Snowden saga in an essay for The New York Times (his use of the phrase "huggle-muggle" alone makes it worth reading): "For a spy novelist like me, the Edward J. Snowden story has everything. A man driven by ego and idealism — can anyone ever distinguish the two? — leaves his job and his beautiful girlfriend behind. He must tell the world the Panopticon has arrived. His masters vow to punish him, and he heads for Moscow in a desperate search for refuge. In reality he's found the world's most dangerous place to be a dissident, where power is a knife blade and a sprinkle of polonium. ... I wish I'd written it."
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