The Latest from the Book WorldFebruary 06, 2015

Thorn Birds author farewelled in Norfolk Island. Colleen McCullough was laid to rest in Norfolk Island, where family and friends braved the rain during her funeral service. McCullough, who lived in Norfolk for many years, died last week. She was 77. She shot to fame with “The Thorn Birds”, which was adapted to a television mini-series and musical. But this wasn’t the only work she would be remembered for. The native of Wellington, New South Wales was the author of the Master of Rome series. She showed great interest in the Roman Empire, her library included an extensive collection of written works on Ancient Rome.

Harper Lee will release her first novel in 55 years. “To Kill a Mockingbird” was Harper Lee’s first novel. It was about racial prejudice in the Deep South, alluding to her early years in Monroeville, Alabama. She earned a Pulitzer Prize. The book became an instant classic in American literature. Literary aficionados looked forward to her next novel, but they waited. And waited. (And waited.) It was a long one, but it was worth it. The author, through her publisher HarperCollins, announced that her groundbreaking novel had a sequel. “Go Set a Watchman” took place twenty years after the events in “Mockingbird”. Lee was hesitant to publish the sequel, but she got encouragement from friends after letting them read the draft. Fans couldn’t wait for July 14.

Milan Kundera’s novel will be published in English. “The Festival of Insignificance” was Milan Kundera’s first novel in more than a decade. (Thirteen years to be exact.) A short work, published in Italian, was out two years ago. A French version of the novel followed, which became a critical success. But no translation in English. Fans of the “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” author don’t have to wait longer, as the English version will come out on June 18. Linda Asner translated from the original French version, which fans are excited. “Ignorace” was Kundera’s last novel (prior to “The Festival of Insignificance”), which was published in French in 2000. The English version was released two years later.

Jane Austen family letters will offer more insight on the author’s era. It is no secret that Cassandra Elizabeth, Jane’s Austen’s sister, burned most of her letters. It could have revealed a lot of details on the author of “Pride and Prejudice”. (Some of her fans believed those letters would settle an issue. Did Austen have written those novels based from her experience?) The Huntington Library in California acquired letters written by Cassandra, the author’s mother. The letters might not tell something about Austen, but it would shed more light on 19th-century England.

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