Open Book - 22/11/2009

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Mariella's guests include the novelist James Meek, who talks about his passion for Tolstoy. As a new translation of some of the Russian master's shorter fiction is published, Meek explains how a man best known for writing epic works including War and Peace was also one of the supreme geniuses of the short story. Novelists often dedicate their work to friends, relatives or lovers. Marlene Wagman-Geller, the author of a new book which uncovers some of the surprising stories behind these dedications, and Peter Kemp, fiction editor of the Sunday Times, reveal some of the secrets hidden by writers in their inscriptions. Five years before the coup which brought him to power in France, Napoleon Bonaparte penned a romantic novella. As the full text is published in English for the first time, Michele Roberts joins Mariella to discuss what this unexpected piece of fiction reveals about the sometime Emperor of the French. And Mariella talks to the author of one of the year's most unusual books, a novel masquerading as an auction catalogue. Its author Leanne Shapton explains why she decided to tell the story of a relationship through the medium of photographs of the couple's possessions.