Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sending books to prime ministers

Apparently, in an attempt to stimulate more interest in the arts, Booker-prize-winner and tiger-on-raft writer Yann Martel sends a book a fortnight to his Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, the Canadian PM. So far, Martel has sent Tolstoy; Hindu scriptures; and Strindberg's Miss Julie. Interesting. The article mentions that Harper is, of course, a very busy man, but Martel hopes he might fit in a page or two at bedtime or even on the loo. This inspires me to suggest that perhaps Martel should send something rather easier to read in tiny snatches of time - why short stories, of course! Some of his own (The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios) or some from Canada's many and wonderful lit mags, such as Front&Centre, Grain, Maisonneuve. or The Walrus.

It also got me thinking about who I might like to send books too, and why. Living in Israel, I'd like to send Gaza Blues, a collection of short stories by dark and funny Israeli writer Etgar Keret and dark and funny Palestinian writer Samir el-Youssef, to our dear Prime Minister, Mr Olmert and to Palestinian PM Mr Abbas, to show them what co-operation looks and feels like. Maybe they could start a book group to discuss? If anyone in high places is reading this, I am happy to lend you my copy and then come up with a few more suggestions.

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