Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekly Round-Up: Publishing News From Around The Internet

Here's some interesting literary news from around the internet this week. You can also find similar literary news on our twitter feed:

Last week, we reported that security forces allegedly detained a Syrian American woman, Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, for her blog entitled “A Gay Girl in Damascus”. However, this blog is a hoax. On Sunday June 12, 40–year-old Tom MacMaster confessed that he started and maintained the blog since February 2011. MacMaster lives in Scotland, but wrote his apology in Istanbul, Turkey. In his apology MacMaster explains that he never expected the blog to receive such a high level of attention. He writes that “while the narrative voice may be fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation” in the Middle East. MacMaster is a Middle East Activist pursuing a Master's Degree at the University of Edinburgh. Many supporters of the Amina persona responded to MacMaster’s apology negatively. In particular, the Syrian gay community did not accept his apology. The blog was traced to MacMaster through IP email messages supposedly from Amina to the blog from Edinburgh University. On a similar note, investigators found pictures on MacMaster’s private email. Those pictures revealed a woman who looked identical to Amina on the blog. MacMaster’s wife took the pictures on a 2008 trip to Syria.

Meanwhile in the "real world", a young student poet from Bahrain, Ayat Al-Gormezi was sentenced to one year in prison on Monday June 13. A couple weeks ago, we discussed on the weekly round-up how Ayat was imprisoned in March 20, 2011 for reading a poem at a pro-democracy rally in Pearl Square. Her trial began on June 2, 2011 on charges on anti-state claims against the Bahraini King. The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International is protesting this sentence and asking for the poet’s unconditional and immediate release. In their petition, WiPC explains how Ayat’s trial did not comply with international standards of fairness. Her family has reported that Ayat was hospitalized for severe mistreatment in the prison, but her treatment has improved a bit due to the international attention of Ayat’s situation. WiPC plans to send their petition to the Bahraini king, the Minster of Justice and Islamic Affairs, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Washington D.C.

Monday June 13 marked the 20th anniversary of the publication of Bret Easton Ellis’s second novel, American Psycho. Ellis wrote the novel at age 26. In the past twenty years, American Psycho has sold more than a million copies in the United States, has been published internationally, and has been developed into a movie. Last year the novel was sold by Vintage in an e-book format. It’s currently being developed into a Broadway play. In an interview, Ellis states “as I get older and the book moves further away from me, I can put it into perspective. It seems to me to be an extremely autobiographical novel in a lot of ways despite being about a supposed psychopath.”

Students accused Phillip Baker, a medical school dean at the University of Alberta, of plagiarizing a speech by The New Yorker writer and Harvard University Professor Atul Gawande for University of Alberta’s commencement ceremony on Friday June 10. Gawande wrote the speech Stanford University’s 2010 commencement ceremony and published the speech in The New Yorker. Baker admitted that the theme and a substantial amount of the content were similar to Gawande’s speech in his apology to the students on Sunday June 12.

The National Archives have hired its first “Wikipedian in Residence,” Dominic McDevitt-Parks on Wednesday June 15. McDevitt-Parks is a graduate student in history and archives management at Simmons College in Boston. The “Wikipedian in Residence” is part of an international movement to connect Wikipedia to museums and archives. Archivists have previously served as a “Wikipedian in Residence” in the British Museum, the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, and the Archives of American Art in Washington DC.

The Guardian lists one hundred of the best non-fiction books. Many of the books reside in the British Museum Reading Room. Books on the list include The Diary of Anne Frank, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

Thursday June 16 marked Bloomsday, an annual literary celebration of author James Joyce and his novel Ulysses. Specifically, the literary world remembers Leopold Bloom’s fictional journey across Dublin in Ulysses.

Have a great weekend!

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