Book news: Good Omens TV adaptation is coming and more

Also, translations start to gather speed and Obama talks about importance of books.

Author Neil Gaiman. Darryl James / Getty Images / AFP
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Good Omens TV adaptation coming

Twenty-seven years after it was published, it has been announced that Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett's best-selling fantasy comedy Good Omens will reach our screens next year as a TV mini-series. Some might say the novel was prescient in 1990 and worryingly on message right now. Amazon Prime describe it in these tongue-in-cheek terms: "The Apocalypse is near and Final Judgment is set to descend upon humanity. According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter Witch, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner." Gaiman has written all six one-hour episodes. Meanwhile the TV adaptation of another of his best-sellers, American Gods, is due to debut in the US in April.

Translations start to gather speed

One of the main aims of the International Prize For Arabic Fiction (Ipaf) is to increase the reach of winning novels through English translation. But it can be a lengthy process – Raja Alem's The Dove's Necklace won the Ipaf in 2011 but ­English readers only got to read it last year. Rather overlooked in the excitement surrounding last week's 2017 longlist announcement, therefore, is the fact that Robin Moger is working on the translation of one of the nominees: Youssef Rakha's Paolo, the sequel to Crocodiles (which Moger also translated). While it might be a pipe dream to hope more English translations might follow so swiftly after all Ipaf nominations, this is surely a step in the right direction, given the winner will not be announced until April.

Obama talks about importance of books

One of Barack Obama's last cultural acts as commander in chief was to talk about the role books have played during his term of office. "At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted," he told The New York Times, reading gave him the ability to occasionally "slow down and get perspective" and "the ability to get in somebody else's shoes". He cited sci-fi epic The Three Body Problem by Chinese writer Liu Cixin, VS Naipaul's A Bend in the River and the last book he read, Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, as novels that had provided succour and inspiration.

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