Claudia Dreifus

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala prefers novels

For screenwriter and novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, 65, the past few weeks have been exciting. Her 11th novel, Poet and Dancer (Doubleday, $19.95), an elegant tale of offbeat passions, has been published to good reviews, and her screenplay for Howards End has won an Oscar. The third partner in the Merchant-Ivory film-production team, Jhabvala is also the pen behind such gorgeous cinematic pieces as A Room With a View, The Europeans, and, of course, Howards End. Is she pleased by the Oscar?

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Gary Sick's conspiracy

If the hot on-screen political conspiracy these days is Oliver Stone’s JFK, its literary equivalent is former National Security Council staffer Gary Sick’s October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan. Sick, an adviser to Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan, and a former deputy director of the Ford Foundation, is an unlikely candidate for a conspiracy theorist.

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Political Trading Cards

When a New York journalist interviewed Portuguese president Mario Soares recently, she brought him a gift: a box of trading cards titled Friendly Dictators: 36 of America’s Most Embarrassing Allies. As Soares examined the 2-by-4-inch caricatures of Gen. Augusto Pinochet of Chile and Haiti’s Jean-Claude Duvalier, he howled with laughter and demanded, ”Who makes these things? WHO???”

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Nadine Gordimer and Nobel

Like the black South Africans whose cause she has long championed, Nadine Gordimer knows the meaning of a dream deferred. But on a recent morning, the white South African author of 10 novels and 200 short stories awoke to find that one of her dreams had finally come true: She’d become the first woman since Nelly Sachs a quarter of a century ago to receive the Nobel Prize for literature. ”I’d been on the list so many times that I was thinking of putting ‘Nadine Gordimer Nobel Prize (failed)’ on my book covers,” says the novelist. ”These things just happen.

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