Friday High Five: Evie Wyld’s win, the CIA and Doctor Zhivago

Evie Wyld wins Miles Franklin 2014

Evie Wyld has won this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award for her second novel, All the Birds, Singing. Judge Richard Neville said, ‘Flight from violence and abuse run through the core of the novel, yet never defeat its central character. All the Birds, Singing, an unusual but compelling novel, explores its themes with an unnervingly consistent clarity and confidence.’ Born in London, where she now lives, Wyld spent periods of her childhood living on her grandparents’ farm in New South Wales; she holds dual nationality, and the novel is set between Australia and the UK. She was named one of Granta’s 20 Best British Writers Under 40 last year.

Wyld was a guest at the Wheeler Centre earlier this year, where she was interviewed by Benjamin Law. You can watch the video below.

How the CIA used Doctor Zhivago to fight the Cold War

Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, banned in the Soviet Union, was ardently admired elsewhere - including by the CIA. ‘Pasternak’s humanistic message—that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state—poses a fundamental challenge to the Soviet ethic of the individual to the Communist system,’ wrote a CIA staffer in a 1958 memo. Later that year, the agency slipped clandestine copies of the book to Russian readers at the World’s Fair in Belgium.

New David Sedaris: With Melbourne setting

There’s a new David Sedaris personal essay in the New Yorker, available to read online for free. Among other things, he’s pondering the joys of a Fitbit (an electronic bracelet that measures your steps taken per day) for obsessive types … and he kicks off in an Italian restaurant in Melbourne, hearing about housekeepers, cataract removal in remote China, and the Fitbit.

Free pregnancy tests in Alaskan bathrooms

Foetal alchohol syndrome is a serious problem in Alaska; its prevalence is linked to a high rate of accidental pregnancies (nearly one half of all pregnancies in the US). In a novel approach to solving the problem, Alaskan researchers are about to install free-pregnancy-test dispensers in the bathrooms of bars, emblazoned with warnings about the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

Julian Assange headed for the catwalk?

Julian Assange has been asked to star in a fashion show as part of London’s Fashion Week (from his Ecaudorian Embassy base), by Ben Westwood, son of the legendary Vivienne, who is a supporter of Assange’s. Ben says Assange is ‘good looking’ and a ‘popular hero’.

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