Richard Ovenden’s ‘Burning the Books’ describes the deliberate destruction of the knowledge safeguarded in libraries from Alexandria to Sarajevo, from smashed Assyrian tablets to the torching of the Library of Congress. He and Will Self share a discussion on the history of book-burning, the contemporary focus on cancel culture, the removal of titles from public spaces such as libraries and schools, and the effect that this is having on people’s access to literature, creativity and ideas internationally.
Richard Ovenden is Director of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Balliol College. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2019, is a member of the American Philosophical Society, and serves as Treasurer of the Consortium of European Research Libraries and President of the Digital Preservation Coalition.
Will Self is the author of many novels and books of non-fiction, including ‘Great Apes’, ‘The Book of Dave’, ‘How the Dead Live’, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year 2002, ‘The Butt’, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2008, and a trilogy of Zack Busner novels – 'Umbrella', which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2012, and 'Shark' and 'Phone.' His most recent book is ‘Will’, a memoir.
J.R.R. Tolkien's son and literary editor, Christopher Tolkien, published 24 of his father's posthumous works during his own lifetime. This collection of essays by world-renowned scholars, together with family reminiscences, sheds new light on Tolkien's work. This illustrated volume is essential reading for Tolkien scholars, readers and fans.
What if a demented London cabbie called Dave Rudman wrote a book to his estranged son to give him some fatherly advice? What if that book was buried in Hampstead and hundreds of years later, when rising sea levels have put London underwater, spawned a religion? This book offers a historical detective story set in the far future.
In the summer of 1981, aristocratic, drug-addicted Henry Wooten and Warhol-acolyte Baz Hallward meet Dorian Gray. Dorian is a golden adonis - perfect, and deliciously uncorrupted. The subject of Baz's video installation, Cathode Narcissus, and the object of Henry's attentions, Dorian is launched on a hedonistic binge that spans the '80s and '90s.
A brother is as easily forgotten as an umbrella. James Joyce, Ulysses Recently having abandoned his RD Laing-influenced experiment in running a therapeutic community - the so-called Concept House in Willesden - maverick psychiatrist Zack Busner arrives at Friern Hospital, a vast Victorian mental asylum in North London, under a professional and a marital cloud. He has every intention of avoiding controversy, but then he encounters Audrey Dearth, a working-class girl from Fulham born in 1890 who has been immured in Friern for decades. A socialist, a feminist and a munitions worker at the Woolwich Arsenal, Audrey fell victim to the encephalitis lethargica sleeping sickness epidemic at the end of the First World War and, like one of the subjects in Oliver Sacks' Awakenings, has been in a coma ever since. Realising that Audrey is just one of a number of post-encephalitics scattered throughout the asylum, Busner becomes involved in an attempt to bring them back to life - with wholly unforeseen consequences.
Shark turns upon an actual incident in WWII - mentioned in the film Jaws - when the ship which had delivered the fissile material to the south Pacific to be dropped on Hiroshima was subsequently sunk by a Japanese submarine with the loss of 900 men, including 200 killed in the largest shark attack ever recorded.