NEED some cheering up? How about the news that Malaysia’s Government this month banned those of non- Muslim faith using Arabic words such as Allah. Inter Press Service reported the Deputy Minister for Internal Security as saying that Allah is a Muslim word, and so ‘‘ we cannot let other religions use it because it will confuse people if the word Allah is published by the Catholics. It’s not right.’’ IRANIAN writers are doing it tough. Britain’s The Guardian reported that Iranian novelist Yaghoub Yadali was imprisoned recently for more than a month, despite his novel, Mores of Unrest , having ministry permission. He was charged with ‘‘ dissemination of falsehood’’, and locked up again for three months. The situation of getting permission to publish has become so onerous according to the report that many Iranian novelists have turned to the internet, publishing enovels for free. IF you had to say who wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang , chances are you’d guess Roald Dahl, who co- wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film with Ken Hughes, who also directed it. But Ian Fleming wrote the original book, and for this centenary year of the creator of James Bond, there’ll be a new edition of the book ( due in May), as well as hardback reissues of 14 Bond novels.
And ( sigh) there’ll be yet another ‘‘ new’’ Bond, this one commissioned from Sebastian Faulks, who is following in the footsteps of Kingsley Amis, John Pearson, John Gardner and Raymond Benson. Now, if a woman had a go at Bond, would there be any difference to his adventures? ANOTHER centenary. Here’s Hazel Rowley, author of the intriguing and beautifully written Tete- a- Tete , about the relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean- Paul Sartre, in response to the huge interest in the French super- couple in this, the centenary year of Beauvoir’s birth: ‘‘ I don’t think we should be trivialising this incredible figure by fixating on lascivious sex,’’ Rowley said. It was Rowley’s book that published the alluring picture of Beauvoir naked, from behind, taken in lover Nelson Algren’s apartment. A NEW edition of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has piggy- backed comfortably on the back of the new Tim Burton film starring pretty- but- wants- to- beugly Johnny Depp. Edited by Robert L. Mack, who provides a history of its publication, the Oxford University Press book is the original serialised version, called The String of Pearls.
There’s Johnny, the kohl- king of cinema, on the cover. ONLINE site Abebooks, which links specialist and second- hand bookshops worldwide, reports that the most expensive item sold in the pre- Christmas period was a copy of Two Stories by Salman Rushdie, which fetched almost $ 8000.
Published in 1991, there were only 12 copies printed of this leatherbound, signed book, which combines The Prophet’s Hair and The Free Radio .
A 1926 first edition of A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh was bought, no doubt as a very special gift, for $ 6200. Someone also picked up a signed copy of the first edition of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children for $ 3400.