The architect, Lord Norman Foster, has been recently talking about his latest project, the InHub la puntin the Swiss Engadin Valley. Foster, in the video below, talks about the changing nature of buildings and how innovation can be accommodated, often in architecturally provocative ways, whilst offering communities new spatial and intellectual resources.
‘…designed as a centre for innovation, the project seeks to bring new visitors together with the local community to increase prosperity, create jobs, and revitalise local crafts and produce. Separate from the home or office, the setting is conceived as a ‘third place’ for collaboration and creativity. The 6,000-square-meter (64,583 square foot) project will comprise work and seminar spaces, sports facilities, retail outlets, a restaurant, as well as an underground car park…’
Foster is aware of the controversy some of his firm’s designs can create, but is always enthusiastic for intellectual collaboration and human engagement. He also reflects about the context of pandemics in the human experience and, importantly, the sustaining nature and enduring qualities of community.
An important, sustaining position to take, we would argue, in the current epidemiological climate.
This short lecture is delivered by Abdulrazak Gurnah, the 2021 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
It is a concise, masterly exposition about the birth of the writing process in the young mind, as well as how, as a mature writer, the author begins to finally see the warped mirror reflecting the reality of the landscape of colonialism, racism and inequality.
In this video essay Abdulrazak Gurnah traces the arc of anger, joy, confusion and the quest for clarity in a troubled world. His writing is, in essence, a tool chipping away at the vaunting edifice of inequality, mis-direction by elites, cruelty and injustice.
It is a long journey from Zanzibar to the University of Kent, but the journey began with a sheet of paper and a pen.
In his opening stanza, Gurnah reads us an excerpt from the writings of Lawrence, that beautifully captures the experience of the young person discovering the illustrative power of reflection…a sensation, a memory, that any putative writer, in any setting will recognise immediately.
Masterly is too slight a word for this video essay, and it will remain laden with meaning and message for all of us as 2021 comes to an end…
We commend it to our readers, as we hopefully await sunnier uplands in 2022.
Or, if crime fiction is your thing, you can even begin the calendar of events in the company of Val McDermid at the launch event: How the Dead Speak. On February 28th in the evening at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford.
Young Essex has not been forgotten either – with a full range activities for the young reader. We particularly like the Manifesto for Essexlaunch, where young people can give voice to their thinking about Climate Change.
Also for Young Essex is a great idea, the pop-up storytelling armchair. Springing into events across a range of different locations in Chelmsford, Basildon and Harlow.
‘A super comfy treat for book lovers young and old to enjoy their favourite stories out loud! Free and open to all – come along and hear a story…’
Writing in The Guardian in late 2014 the author Rupert Wallis was minded to tell us that ‘…more and more not-so- young adults are reading YA fiction’ – which he declared was no bad thing. He went on…
‘The power of YA fiction to generate an emotional resonance around death should not be underestimated in UK society, where young adults spend a lot of time immersed in the artificial realities of cyberspace and gaming’.
Source: The Guardian, 18th August 2014.
Lynda Haddock, in her first novel, has wonderfully underscored the sentiment with her first novel Ellen Lives On. The book features the journey, the exploration of a new life and the acquisition of a new set of values, by the teenager Ellen.
For Ellen the journey is mapped from the suicide of her mother, an emergent rally to the cause of education and her exodus to the Metropolis in search new friends, political engagement and the forming of a new identity for herself.
‘One way of tackling the difficult questions raised by death is to feel connected to one another in addressing them, to feel human together…’ writes Wallis in his article. Indeed, the sensitively written, clear narrative from Lynda Haddock stirs up the emotions and will clearly illuminate a shared experience for teenagers suffering loss.
The new novel was enjoyed by the Books go Walkabout team in our office. Sue Martin, writing for our new season book list opined…
”A desperately moving novel about a young girl whose life changes forever when she returns home to find that her mother has committed suicide.
Ellen, a scholarship girl at a local grammar school in the 1970’s, finds that life is uncomfortable and fraught as soon as you are no longer the ‘norm’ pupil, let alone the trauma of discovering that she is alone in the world. Alone, that is, apart from her Grandfather, who is elderly and lives a long way from Ellen.
Taken in by her aunt and uncle, Ellen finds the welcome is short lived and that she is a burden to the family, simply used as the girl in the house to do all the chores. Her uncle tells her the sooner she finishes school and starts a job the sooner she can pay for her living.
After a series of heart-wrenching problems with friends, teachers and those who were meant to be supporting her, Ellen goes on the run. She finds friendship with people in a squat, her grandfather is taken into hospital and she abandons any hope of a career with prospects.
Eventually Social Services find Ellen and her life starts to rebuild, but never back to where it was and with very little hope of the future that had been planned.
A moving and poignant story for Young Adults and a thought provoking debut novel for Lynda Haddock.”
It is also, in its way, a primer for adults, the ‘not so young’ in Wallis’s narrative, to recognise the strains and pains of a teenager going through this crisis, such is the insight afforded the reader of any age by Lynda Haddock’s writing.
Lynda Haddock’s work joins a solid tradition of novels that seek to offer reflection and a way forward in the face of death and loss. From The Fault in Our Stars by John Green to Jacqueline Wilson’s Vicky Angel – the Haddock narrative deals with death, yes, but also in the exploration of self, equality and values – all of which are significant markers for young adults as they march forward into the 21st Century.
For Wallis ‘…the true significance of death in YA is that authors are reflecting back what they see everyday; namely, that death is ominously prevalent these days, whether in fiction or a national news broadcast or the obituary columns‘.
This is certainly true of the author Lynda Haddock, whose professional life before her novel encompassed education and the specialist support of children experiencing difficulty in their lives. The storytelling resonates with it.
The experience tellingly shows in the novel Ellen Lives On, and we hope it might become a staple of your library of resources – tendering a way into loss and bereavement that will be recognised by any teenager, whatever their culture, age or background.
We would commend Lynda Haddock’s publisher to note that the YA Book Prize for 2019 is now open for nominations.
The JDRF Gift Packages enable you to select a gift to your value, so that your purchase has even more impact on the work of JDRF, our favourite charity.
How does it work?…
‘Select and order your gift. JDRF will send you a …pack containing a premium gift card that is blank for your own message and a brief description of your gift. We also include a letter from us explaining how this gift can help people with type 1, all wrapped up in a blue gift envelope. You can then personalise and send your gift to a friend or loved one’.
Together, these 17 women—the “Primadonnas”—have worked to create a festival of brilliant writing, borne out of a desire to give prominence to work by women and spotlight authors from the margins—and to create a thoroughly joyous and accessible experience. There will be live music, films and comedy and all sorts of writing represented. ‘ Source: Primadonna web pages.
The dictionary defines a primadonna as a temperamental person, an unpredictable person, a self-important person! However, the event will be characterised by impeccable behaviour and scintillating intellectual challenges, given the stellar line-up of originators above.
The origins of the title are in the 18th Century, in Italy of course, where a literal translation is ‘first lady’. A veritable melange of premier writing and performance talent, we are sure.
E.M. Forster wrote …Beauty ought to look a little surprised: it is the emotion that best suits her face. The beauty who does not look surprised, who accepts her position as her due – she reminds us too much of a primadonna.
We are in for a surprising event, undoubtedly. Packing our tent and weekend bag as we write…
The study it regales us with is Taking Part(.pdf) from the DCMS. It found that…
The greatest fall in adult library usage was seen among 16 to 24-year-olds, according to the DCMS report. In 2005, figures showed that 51% of this age group used the library. In 2015, the figure fell to 25.2%.
Statista, the Statistics Portal, offers detailed annual library visits data, from 2002 to 2014. Here the analysis shows that from a peak in 2005/, with a total of £42 million visits, by 2013/14 this figure had declined to just over 282 million visits.
It is never too late to fight back and get into good library habits. We like the 10 Reasons to use Your Library article, on the web journal Ten Penny Dreams. Elegantly laid out, the author, a North of England writer, gently chides us to remember why using a library is such a joy and a revelation. See more here…
If you need it, visitcambridge.org in the East of England are offering public tours of the Parker Library, including parts of Corpus Christi College. Where you can ‘…sample its amazing collection which includes the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, principal source book for early English history, the sixth-century Gospels of Saint Augustine, the Bury Bible and the best manuscript of Chaucer’s Troilus…
Proof, if proof were needed, that librarians are keepers of our collective culture, and that libraries, as buildings, are the engines of our future dreams. Don’t lose it, use it!