An end of week recap
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 nightstand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
I shared a few thoughts on My Cousin Rachel for Daphne du Maurier Reading Week. >> THOUGHTS ON: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier >>
* 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:
Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin – Over at He Writes Words Adam Burgess has been reading a short-story anthology “about the human condition from a paradoxically cynical but hopeful perspective,” which “balances a wide array of topics and narrators without losing cohesion.”
A Stranger City by Linda Grant: A river runs through it – Susan Osborne at A life in books describes this contemporary novel as a “many-layered, vibrant portrait of London”. It drew her in and kept her “rapt to its end.”
East of Suez by Alice Perrin (1901) – Jane at Beyond Eden Rock discovered this book in her Victorian Secrets catalogue. She found Perrin “had the knack of making the India she knew come to life” in her “small human dramas”.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – Nirmala of Red Lips and Bibliomaniacs found Braithwaite’s blackly comedic novel “compelling”, “fast-paced” and “twisted enough to keep [her] guessing”.
On the nature of evil – Michael Graeme of The Rivendale Review has written a fascinating piece on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1973 “magnum opus”, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 – a three-volume work that made the author a “target for the Soviet authorities”.
‘The Farm’ by Tom Rob Smith – Kim Forrester at Reading Matters had “mixed feelings” about this “strange and twisted story”. She found the mystery aspects “compelling” but the ending “abrupt”.
* 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:
i News: Judith Kerr: The Tiger Who Came To Tea author dies aged 95 – “The Tiger Who Came To Tea has sold more than five million copies since it was first published in 1968”, says Ruchira Sharma.
Publishing Perspectives: Oman’s Jokha Alharthi and Translator Marilyn Booth Win the 2019 Man Booker International Prize – The Man Booker International has its first Arabic-language winner.
The Irish Times: Helen Cullen: the literary letters I have loved the most – “From Patti Smith and Vita Sackville-West to the inventions of Jane Austen and Ian McEwan”.
The Paris Review: Feminize Your Canon: Mariama Bâ – In her monthly column exploring the lives of underrated and under-read female authors, Emma Garman looks at a woman once hailed as the pioneering feminist voice of a continent.
The Sydney Morning Herald: ‘Disappointed’: No winner for Australia’s prestigious manuscript prize – The judges for this year’s Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award have announced they will not award the prize this year.
The Guardian: Jeanette Winterson: ‘I did worry about looking at sex bots’ – Winterson talks to Lisa Allardice about her new novel, which “reimagines Frankenstein for the AI era.” She also discusses “immortality, anger and why she’s still an evangelist”.
The Atlantic: The J. R. R. Tolkien Story That Makes the Case for Fantasy Fiction – Yosef Lindell discovers that the Lord of the Rings author “once wrote a short tale about a painter that elegantly argues for the value of escapism in literature.”
Aeon: Susan Sontag was a monster – “She took things too seriously. She was difficult and unyielding. That’s why Susan Sontag’s work matters so much even now”, writes Lauren Elkin.
New Statesman: John Buchan’s clubland heroes – “In The Thirty-Nine Steps and his other yarns – with their decent chaps in scrapes and men on the run – John Buchan invented the modern spy novel”, says William Boyd.
Public Books: The Return of Homer’s Women – Eleanor Johnson wonders if books reinterpreting Homeric poems toward feminist ends rob readers of ethical ambiguities.
Columbia Journalism Review: The story of Ernest Hemingway’s $187,000 magazine expenses claim – Was Hemingway’s arrangement with Collier’s magazine doomed from the beginning asks Peter Moreira?
Literary Hub: 13 Common Mistakes in Book Reviewing and How to Avoid Them – Jay A. Fernandez shares his views on what you should and shouldn’t do when reviewing books.
Literary Tourist: What’s so exciting about London, Stratford, and Hamilton, Ontario? – Nigel Beale (aka The Literary Tourist) explores Ontario, Canada.
Longreads: Reimagining Harper Lee’s Lost True Crime Novel: An Interview with Casey Cep – “Somewhere along the way it became very clear to me that I was writing the book she never would.”
Read it Forward: Nonfiction Books That Are Perfect for Your Book Club – “The real world is chock-full of great stories that are perfect for discussion with your book club”, says Keith Rice.
BBC News: Hilary Mantel: Publication announced to complete Cromwell trilogy – “Hilary Mantel’s next novel will be published on 5 March 2020,” her publishers have revealed.
Book Riot: Cool Bookish Places: Sticky Institute, Melbourne – “Melbourne has no shortage of quirky literary spaces”, says Christine Ro. She visits “the only dedicated zine shop in Australia”.
Book Marks: Gabino Iglesias on Moby Dick, Goodreads, and Nightmarish Fairy Tales – In this week’s Secrets of the Book Critics Gabino Iglesias shares his thoughts on favourite books and literary criticism in the age of social media.
The Washington Post: Binyavanga Wainaina, barrier-shattering presence in African literature, dies at 48 – Harrison Smith on the death of a prizewinning Kenyan writer who explored themes of postcolonialism, gender and sexual identity.
The Bookseller: Harrison wins EU Prize for Literature – “Melissa Harrison has been revealed as the UK winner of the European Union Prize for Literature 2019 with All Among the Barley (Bloomsbury Circus), a novel exploring the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia.”
The New York Times: A Room Without Books Is Just Very Sad – “Tag your shelf! Hotels, restaurants, shops and yachts stock up on beautiful and lamentably inexpensive treasures.”
The Telegraph: New ‘novel’ edition of Anne Frank diary is ‘what she wanted’ – Jorg Luyken and Steve Bird on Liebe Kitty (or Dear Kitty), a new novel version of Anne Frank’s diaries.
The Guardian: John le Carré and Neil Gaiman join writers warning Brexit is ‘choosing to lose’ – Alison Flood reveals a “letter to the Guardian signed by many of UK’s most celebrated authors urges voters to support the EU in Thursday’s poll – or prepare for economic damage”.
Melville House: Las Vegas as a literary hub? The city has a surprising history of book culture – Liv Lansdale looks at literary Las Vegas.
Sky News: ‘Alexa, read a bedtime story’: Parents swapping books for tech, new research warns – “Many parents say they are often too busy or tired to read their children a bedtime story and so rely on technology instead.
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.