An end of week recap
Disaster struck as I was taking a short break in Mid Wales last week. My laptop conked out losing all my most recent work and I could do nothing about it until I returned home several days later. Unfortunately, I was unable to post WUTW last Saturday – for which I apologise. I shall do my utmost to make amends today.
As ever, this is a weekly post in which I summarize books read, reviewed and currently on my TBR shelf. In addition to a variety of literary titbits, I look ahead to forthcoming features, see what’s on the night-stand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
* New Welsh Writing Awards 2019 *
The two shortlists for this year’s New Welsh Writing Awards have been revealed. >> NEW WELSH WRITING AWARDS 2019: Shortlists Announced >>
* Thirty-Five Years Earlier… *
After successfully hosting last month’s 1965 Club, Karen and Simon have announced that the next occurrence of their popular biannual reading event will be from the 14th to 20th October 2019. Rather excitingly, they’ve “plumped for 1930”, says Simon, as they haven’t previously done the “beginning-of-a-decade […] and there are quite a few big hitters you can turn to if needed.” The briefest of online searches for books originally published in that year produce titles from William Faulkner, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy L. Sayers, Evelyn Waugh and Agatha Christie, to name but a handful. So, start searching the attic for your favourite Art Deco pieces, tune the wireless to the BBC National Programme and put on your high waisted sailor pants: 1930 promises to be a swell reading year.
* The Persephone Readathon Returns *
Jessie B at Dwell in Possibility has revealed that Persephone Readathon #3 will take place from 31st May until 9th June 2019. Readers are invited to indulge in “ten days of reading, reviewing, chatting, and celebrating all things Persephone.” Please check out the official Persephone Readathons page for a complete description of the event or take a look at Jessie’s most recent post: A Persephone Readathon #3 Readalong?, where you can vote for the book you would most like to read from a list of four free eBooks.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I’m going to share with you six of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere. There are so many talented writers posting high-quality book features and reviews, it’s difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:
Review 1344: Minds of Winter – Ed O’Loughlin “has done a beautiful job of intermingling history and fiction”, writes Kay at Whatmeread. She describes this 2017 novel as “wondrous”.
Novella a Day in May 2019 #4 – On day four of Novella a Day in May Madame Bibi Lophile read J.L. Carr’s poetic novel, A Month in the Country. She found it: “Absolutely deserving of its classic status.”
259 Dead Mountain – Donnie Eichar’s “discoveries are as captivating as the mystery itself”, says Veronica of Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Read her review of “this real-life X-File” at The Thousand Book Project.
Harper Lee’s Abandoned Work: A Crime Spree and a Mysterious Reverend in the Deep South – Over at What’s Nonfiction? Rennie Sweeney found Furious Hours by Casey Cep “a masterful work, weaving together many threads”.
Secret by Philippe Grimbert (France) tr. Polly McLean – Claire McAlpine of Word by Word found this award-winning 2004 historical novel “a compelling, thought-provoking read”.
The “Appalachian States” Reading Challenge – Diana at Thoughts on Papyrus has challenged herself to read books set in the Appalachian States. Her goal is to read books set in “13 American states: West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.”
* Irresistible Items *
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting my favourite finds (or adding them to our Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:
The Guardian: Feminist retellings of history dominate 2019 Women’s prize shortlist – “From Pat Barker’s reworking of Greek myth to Anna Burns’s take on the Troubles, the finalists turn familiar stories on their heads”, writes Alison Flood.
Vulture: Will Translated Fiction Ever Really Break Through? – Chad Post wonders if translated fiction will ever truly achieve success in America?
Granta: On Taking Time – Elizabeth Crook shares her thoughts on taking time to write.
Book Marks: In Context: Ali Smith – Lori Feathers found that “reading Ali Smith allows one to hope that these individual transformations, collectively, hold the promise of a better world”.
BBC Culture: The story of handwriting in 12 objects – The British Library has a new exhibition that traces the evolution of writing.
The Washington Post: Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s ‘Call Me Zebra’ wins PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction – Stephanie Merry reveals that the “offbeat” novel, Call Me Zebra has won this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
The Observer: Why Harry Potter and Paddington Bear are essential reading … for grown-ups – Oxford don, Dr Katherine Rundell, “champions children’s books as figures show that sales to adults are soaring”.
The Economist: Obituary: Les Murray died on April 29th – “Australia’s greatest modern poet, a political controversialist, was 80.”
Los Angeles Review of Books: The Fantasy Editor – Tim Groenland on the history and shifting role of the literary editor.
The Paris Review: The Siege of Clarice Lispector – “How was it that an author who had revolutionized Portuguese writing [and] whose debut novel was praised as ‘the greatest novel a woman has ever written in the Portuguese language’ suddenly couldn’t get her name in print?” asks Mike Broida.
Quill & Quire: CanLit mourns as Wayson Choy, Teva Harrison pass away – Two much-loved Canadian literary figures passed away during the night on Saturday 27th April.
Read it Forward: Enchanting Books for Fans of Fairy Tales – “Fairy tales remind us just how powerful a captivating story can be”, writes Dianca London Potts.
Slate: Contemporary Clothing – Claire Jarvis asks the question: “Is Sally Rooney a millennial novelist or a 19th-century one?”
The Strand: Psychology as a Forensic Science: From Auguste Dupin to Sherlock Holmes – From “the earliest detective fiction, authors have used mysteries to explore human behaviour”.
Independent: It’s the 21st century, yet Spanish books are still suffering from censorship – “Two generations have passed since the death of dictator General Franco – yet his legacy is felt to this day. Jordi Cornellà-Detrell explains how doctored literature from his reign has a chilling effect on free speech”.
The Bookseller: Penguin rushes out Extinction Rebellion book after protests – Mark Chandler reveals that “Penguin Books is rushing out an anthology by environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion who brought parts of London to a standstill [last] month.”
Book Riot: Happy Birthday, Sir Terry Pratchett – Priya Sridhar remembered the late Terry Pratchett on what would have been his birthday.
Crime Reads: T. S. Eliot, Crime Fiction Critic – “Thoughts on crime writing from the man who rescued Willkie Collins from obscurity”.
BBC News Northern Ireland: Aimée Johnston, ‘Barefoot Bookseller’ in The Maldives – “Aimée Johnston believes she has one of the world’s best jobs”, says Eimear McGovern.
The Irish Times: Sherlock Holmes facts you should know – Daniel Smith is surprised to learn that “Holmes and Dr Watson were once going to be called Sherrinford Hope and Ormond Sacker”.
Culture Trip: Robinson Crusoe, and Other Tales From Literature’s Desert Islands – Grace Beard “takes a voyage through Western literature’s most iconic desert island stories.”
The Penguin Newsletter: The stories behind the notebooks that documented Rob MacFarlane’s travels underground – “As Robert Macfarlane prepared to write Underland, he recorded everything in a series of notebooks.”
The Times Literary Supplement: Death of the critic? – “Michael LaPointe on complaints about criticism”.
Washingtonian: Is Shakespeare’s DNA Hiding in the Folger Library’s Vault? “Project Dustbunny” Aims to Find Out – “That extremely unlikely outcome is just one aspect of an intriguing scientific effort”, writes Rob Brunner.
Creative Review: How I Work: Vintage Creative Director Suzanne Dean – Vintage’s Creative Director talks about her creative process when designing some of the most iconic book covers.
The Local Fr: Paris’ riverside booksellers battle for survival as Unesco race heats up – Evie Burrows-Taylor on the ‘bouquinistes’ of Paris and their fight for UNESCO World Heritage status.
Bookish: Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Through Literature – “May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month”. Kelly Gallucci and Elizabeth Rowe highlight some of their favourite books by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Book Riot: What It’s Like to Use the Hogwarts Library – Alice Nuttall investigates the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
Publishers Weekly: Eight Essential Books Set in Isolated Locations – Julia Phillips believes “every tale ever told depends in some way on isolation”.
The Atlantic: Was Shakespeare a Woman? – The investigation into Shakespeare’s identity continues.
The Conversation: Spoilers: making people angry since Victorian times – It would seem that ‘spoiler culture’ and ‘spoiler-phobia’ have been issues since the 19th century.
News.com.au: News Corp Australia journalist Trent Dalton wins big at Australian Book Industry Awards – “News Corp Australia journalist Trent Dalton has swept the Australian Book Industry Awards in Sydney winning four gongs for his acclaimed debut novel, Boy Swallows Universe.”
Gulf News: Speed-reading with Blinklist isn’t reading at all – “A book is something we ought to live with”, writes David L. Ulin. “Reading app Blinklist doesn’t quite get this”.
BuzzFeed: 18 Bookcases That Make Us Feel All Warm And Fuzzy Inside – “Any book lover knows that their bookcase is their most prized possession”, says Ciera Velarde. “Many of us spend hours organizing it to make it absolutely perfect.”
If there is something you would particularly like to see on Winding Up the Week or if you have any suggestions, questions or comments for Book Jotter in general, please drop me a line or comment below. I would be delighted to hear from you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I wish you a week bountiful in books and rich in reading.
NB In this feature, ‘winding up’ refers to the act of concluding something and should not be confused with the British expression: ‘wind-up’ – an age-old pastime of ‘winding-up’ friends and family by teasing or playing pranks on them. If you would like to know more about this expression, there’s an excellent description on Urban Dictionary.