An end of week recap
It has been a good week. When we saw my partner’s specialist on Wednesday he was smiling. Following surgery, we were anxiously awaiting news regarding D’s cancer, and this is what he said: “There’s been a Total Pathological Response to the chemotherapy. In other words, it’s all gone.”
She will continue to receive Herceptin injections for some time and must undergo an intense course of radiotherapy but there couldn’t have been a better outcome following her treatment. In time, her hair will regrow, her taste will return, and she will become physically stronger. Thanks to our magnificent NHS she’s been given a second chance. We don’t intend to squander a single moment.
Thank you so much everyone for your kind and encouraging words over the last few months. Your support has helped enormously
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 nightstand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
I read and reviewed Nina Stibbe’s new novel – which is the third book in her semi-autobiographical Lizzie Vogel series and my latest choice for 10 Books of Summer. >> BOOK REVIEW: Reasons to be Cheerful >>
* Women in Translation Month 2019 *
August is but 19 days away, which means the enthusiastically anticipated reading jolly, Women in Translation Month (#WITMonth) isn’t far away. Now in its sixth year, participants are encouraged to read at least one book in translation by a female writer and hopefully share your thoughts with others (in your blog or on social media). The event is hosted by Meytal Radzinski at Biblibio, who is currently working on several “new and cool projects” for 2019. She invites you to please let her know if you’re interested in taking part in “any sort of readalong.” You may also like to check out the WITMonth Database, which covers titles published from September 2018 to August 2019. For further details please see the official FAQ page.
* 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:
‘The Bookshop That Floated Away’ by Sarah Henshaw – Although Henshaw’s “flair for the (melo)dramatic” can be “rather tiresome”, Kirsty of The Literary Sisters discovered some “nice moments” in this 2014 memoir recalling the voyage of a floating book shop.
Kintu – Over at What I Think About When I Think About Reading, Jan Hicks found Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s 2014 debut novel revealed much about the “complexities of Ugandan history” and “the traditions of African culture”. She declared it “a masterpiece”.
Voices of the Second World War’s Children, Curated by Svetlana Alexievich – “Heartbreaking but revelatory” is the way Rennie Sweeney of What’s Nonfiction? describes Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II. Furthermore, she says, the “impact of these stories is strong” and “the value of such perspectives […] incomparable.”
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer – Clare at A Little Blog of Books found the “scathing tone” of Wolitzer’s 2003 novel “perfectly pitched”. The “satire of the literary world in the late 20th century is excellent”, she asserts.
‘O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis’ (‘The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis’) by José Saramago – The Portuguese Nobel-laureate’s 1984 novel is “gloriously ingenious” and “a hugely compelling read”, according to Susana Faria at A Bag Full of Stories.
The Street of Crocodiles – “Seventy‐five years ago, Bruno Schulz, a 50‐year‐old teacher in command of one of the most original literary imaginations of modern Europe […] was gunned down by a Jew‐hunting contingent of SS men”, writes Ewa K. in a fascinating post at Lydwerk – a blog of writing, culture and ideas.
* 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 my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:
The Guardian: Why should authors read your bad reviews? – Ever since “Angie Thomas requested that she not be tagged into negative reviews of her books on social media, she has received a torrent of abuse”, says Alison Flood.
Wales Arts Review: The Ancient Art of Storytelling at Felin Uchaf – “James H.F. Lloyd explores the magical world and unexpected delights of traditional storytelling at the Felin Uchaf retreat in North Wales, and talks to Daniel Morden, one of Wales’s most renowned exponents of the art form.”
Independent: The Amazon effect: How independent booksellers are fighting back – The online giant reached its 25th birthday on 5th July, James Moore finds out how “the small brick-and-mortar sellers have managed to compete in the face of plummeting prices on the internet”.
The Paris Review: Feminize Your Canon: Ingeborg Bachmann – In her monthly column exploring the lives of underrated and under-read female authors, Emma Garman looks at “the celebrated Austrian poet and novelist Ingeborg Bachmann”.
Publishers Weekly: ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Top Seller So Far in 2019 – Jim Milliot reports on the top-selling print books of the year in the first six months.
The Reykjavík Grapevine: The Old Bookstore of Flateyri: Eyþór Jóvinsson Rolls Back The Years – John Rogers visits Iceland’s oldest store.
Sydney Review of Books: The Ancient Library and a Self-Governing Literature – “I guess it is difficult for any writer who is trying to create stories of an increasingly complicated world, and which for Aboriginal writers, will have many extra layers of complexities”, says Alexis Wright.
Open Culture: A Witty Dictionary of Victorian Slang (1909) – Josh Jones on James Redding Ware’s dictionary of Victorian-era slang.
Los Angeles Review of Books: We Need to Talk About the Aches and Pains of Nonfiction – “Sure, you could say that the process is rewarding — but it’s equal parts excruciating”, writes Emma Goldberg on the “golden age of memoir.”
The New York Review of Books: Carrying a Single Life: On Literature and Translation – Author of Open City, Teju Cole, shares his thoughts on translation.
The Walkley Magazine: Spotlight on: Jeff Sparrow – “Literary criticism isn’t an add-on to the publishing culture; it’s actually a part of what makes good writing.” Meet the 2019 Walkley-Pascall Prize-winner for Arts Criticism.
Book Trust: ‘Every child has the right to…’ Read Cressida Cowell’s giant to-do-list as the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate – Cressida Cowell shares her Children’s Laureate Charter.
Words Without Borders: The Feminist Novel Is on the Rise in the Arab Gulf: An Interview With Mona Kareem – “In this interview with Salwa Benaissa, Kareem discusses her ongoing study, Good Mothers, Bad Sisters: Arab Women Writers in the Nation.”
Vulture: 7 New Books You Should Read This July – Boris Kachka suggests non-fiction and fiction books to read this month.
Tor.com: The Jack London Novel that Influenced a Century of Dystopian Fiction – Matthew Raese finds that Jack London aimed to “shock the audience with a vision of what might come’ in his 1908 dystopian novel, The Iron Heel.
The Curious Reader: The Demonisation Of Empowered Women In Literature – Deepika on the ways in which empowered women in literature are demonised.
Electric Literature: In Memory of Brazenhead, the Secret Bookstore That Felt Like a Magical Portal – “Michael Seidenberg, who died this week, created a real-life space that was like walking into a book”.
The Jakarta Post: ‘It’s about time’: Transit, an indie bookstore that wants you to read more women – Devina Heriyanto visits Transit Bookstore in South Jakarta.
Metro: EasyJet launches on-board lending library with 60,000 books across 300 flights – EasyJet gets Flybraries off the ground to keep the kids amused.
The Japan Times: Hot new Japan book releases for the sweltering summer – Iain Maloney looks at the “treats J-Lit has in store for us” over the next couple of months.
MSN News: ‘Book ripper’ on vandalism spree in seaside town – The hunt is on for a person described as a “book ripper” in an English seaside resort.
Poetry Foundation: On the Run – “Pablo Neruda’s exile marked one of the 20th century’s greatest literary chase scenes, and the Cold War’s first global manhunt”, writes Joel Whitney.
Book Marks: Wit, Wisdom, and Warnings from a Veteran of the New York Literary World – “Thirty-year industry insider Ann Kjellberg on fighting with Roger Straus, being Susan Sontag’s personal assistant, and her innovative new book review platform”.
Gizmodo: Marie Curie’s century-old radioactive notebook still requires lead box – Adam Clark Estes learns that the “radiation levels [Curie] was exposed to were so powerful that her notebooks must now be kept in lead-lined boxes.”
The New York Times: Her Book in Limbo, Naomi Wolf Fights Back – “After her American publisher delayed her new book, Outrages, over accuracy concerns, she is responding with a strategy mixing scholarly peer review and damage control.”
The Daily Star: The secret life of booksellers – Sarah Anjum Bari speaks to several Bangladeshi booksellers about their stores in Dhaka.
Book Riot: 7 Books About the History of Women’s Writing – Beulah Maud Devaney finds the “history of women’s writing is almost as frustrating as it is fascinating.”
Columbia Journalism Review: For many queer writers, Pride Month presents a dilemma – “For queer writers, a more active inbox in June poses something of a dilemma”, says Jake Pitre.
The Conversation: ‘A woman ahead of her time’: remembering the Australian writer Charmian Clift, 50 years on – “Fifty years after her death, Australian writer Charmian Clift is experiencing a renaissance. With her forward-thinking columns, Clift’s voice rose above the crowd during post-war Australia.”
Publishers Weekly: Writers to Watch Fall 2019: Anticipated Debuts – Matt Seidel highlights five works in translation and debuts with a distinctly international flavour.
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.