The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - ROSE­MARY SORENSEN

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.

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