Alison Flood 

World Book Night authors choose extracts to be given away with their work

Stephen King picks Hesh Kestin and Terry Pratchett adds GK Chesterton to accompany their novels in million-book giveaway
  
  

Terry Pratchett would like us to sample GK Chesterton, Iain Banks is pushing Alan Moore and Roald Dahl's estate is keen on Sarah Waters. The authors chosen to be part of World Book Night on 23 April, when 1m books will be given away for free, have picked the books they themselves would recommend to readers – with Stephen King's ringing endorsement of obscure American crime novel The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats as "the best book you never read" leading a British publisher to pounce on it.

From King's Misery to Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, Pride and Prejudice to The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, each of the 25 titles to be distributed in April by 20,000 volunteers is now also set to include a sample extract from another title selected by its author. King's pick of Hesh Kestin's The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats – he calls it "The Godfather on laughing gas, or Catch-22 with guns … witty, sexy, thrilling, and all story" – will see two chapters of the book included in the back of the 40,000 copies of Misery distributed in April. Publisher Hodder & Stoughton couldn't miss out on the chance and has just acquired Kestin's 1960s New York tale about a college student who meets a notorious Jewish gangster, published in America in 2009 but previously ignored in the UK, for release on 12 April.

King might have plumped for a recent novel to promote to readers, but other World Book Night authors are hoping to push older titles. Martina Cole has chosen an extract from Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, Kinsella is pushing EM Delafield's The Diary of a Provincial Lady and Ishiguro is hoping readers will be intrigued by Stefan Zweig's 1938 novel Beware of Pity. Further picks mean Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit will be sampled in Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle, Jorge Luis Borges's The Aleph in Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist and Ann Patchett's State of Wonder in Emma Donoghue's Room.

"The idea is really very simple," said World Book Night chief executive Julia Kingsford. "World Book Night is all about encouraging people to embark on a reading journey and we believe that you're never more vulnerable to your next read as you are when you've just finished a book. We are really excited at the prospect of being able to put another great book into the hands, hearts and minds of new readers the minute they've finished their WBN book. Asking our World Book Night authors to recommend something seems like the perfect way to introduce new books and writers to readers and encourage people to keep on reading."

The award-winning poet Don Paterson has also chosen a Shakespeare sonnet for each book – themed "as much as possible" around each individual title – which will be printed in the books to mark Shakespeare's birthday, which coincides with World Book Night. Pride and Prejudice will feature Sonnet 116, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments"; Donoghue's story of imprisonment is matched with Sonnet 133, "Me from myself thy cruel eye hath taken"; and The Remains of the Day with Sonnet 73, "In me thou see'st the twilight of such day / As after sunset fadeth in the west".

 

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