Winding Up the Week #137

An end of week recap

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
William Shakespeare

This is a weekly post in which I summarise 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.


* Lit Crit Blogflash *

I am going to share with you four of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere. There are so many talented writers posting high-quality book features and reviews, it is difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:

Building Bridges: Language and Cultural Exchange in Children’s Publishing from Wales – A massive thank-you to Chris Lovegrove of Calmgrove for bringing this fascinating post from World Kid Lit to my attention, in which Megan Farr writes: “Wales has one of the longest literary traditions in Europe,” and as “a bilingual nation […] publishes its children’s stories in both English and Welsh, providing a mirror for children to see themselves in Wales, and a window onto a different language and culture to those living outside of Wales.” She goes on to discuss several titles ranging from Siân Lewis’s The Four Branches of the Mabinogi to The Clockwork Crow trilogy by Catherine Fisher, plus subjects such as the importance of national book awards and the publishing landscape in Wales. I thoroughly recommend you read this piece if you have an interest in children’s literature – especially if you plan to participate in the annual Wales Readathon (aka Dewithon 21) next March.

Book Review: The Night of the Flood by Zoe Somerville. – Rachel at Book Bound doesn’t want you to “miss out on this fabulous debut” – a literary thriller set in the early 1950s – which, she says, “has everything”, including “pace, atmosphere” and “important things to say about social change within Britain”. She declares it “stunning”!

School Sabotage and Survival – Opening in the mid-1940s, Paddy Staplehurst’s Back To My Beginnings is a “painful” memoir, filled with anecdotes about life in St Etheldreda’s – an English “home for girls […] run by Anglican nuns.” For Josie Holford of Rattlebag and Rhubarb, it is “a reminder that children fail in school for all kinds of reasons”, and she suspects there is at least “another book” to be had from the author’s memories of this institution.

Happy Launch Day, V&Q Books! An Interview with Publisher and Translator Katy Derbyshire – Earlier this week Sandra van Lente of Literary Field Kaleidoscope spoke to the translator of contemporary German literature, not to mention “the mastermind and publisher behind V&Q Books”, Katy Derbyshire, upon the publication of Paula by Sandra Hoffmann, the first title in a “long series of English translations of German books”.

* 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: 


Bomb: The Novel is a Form that Allows for Chaos: Katy Simpson Smith Interviewed by Michael Zapata – “On writing a heartbroken Satan and digging through the rubble of history.”

BBC Culture: Why do women write under men’s names? – “From George Eliot and the Brontës to JK Rowling, women writers have often chosen to publish their work using a pseudonym. It’s time to smash the myths about why they do it.”

The Paris Review: Lost Libraries – Rosa Lyster reflects on “what is lost when Nadine Gordimer’s personal library accidentally winds up in boxes on the street?”

The Hedgehog Review: Tortoises and Tigers: The Pleasures of a Long Read – “Read because you enjoy it, not to seek parallels to the present”, says Richard Hughes Gibson.

Publishing Perspectives: Hay Festival Announces Its ‘Europa28’ Program as a Hybrid – “Amid Europe’s rising coronavirus numbers, Hay Festival organizers include five live events in Croatia in early October.”

Literary Hub: How the Art—and Love—of Translation Relies on Intuition – Anne Posten explores what it is to “fall hard for a text”.

Los Angeles Times: Margaret Atwood on her virtual ‘Testaments’ tour wardrobe, totalitarianism and Trump – Carolyn Kellogg called Margaret Atwood in her Toronto office to “talk about whatever was on her mind.”

CrimeReads: Alexander McCall Smith: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics – “Exploring the vast, big-hearted world of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency—and a truly prolific career.”

Pan Macmillan: Home is where the heart is: Anita Sethi on Jessie Burton’s books – “Anita Sethi delves into the world of Jessie Burton’s novels The Miniaturist, The Muse and The Confession.”

NZ Herald: Hawke’s Bay’s Wardini Books wins New Zealand bookshop of the year award – “Hawke’s Bay book lovers can now officially lay claim to what they’ve known for a long time – the region has the best bookshop in New Zealand”, reports Shannon Johnstone.

Commonweal: Writings and Rewritings – Anthony Domestico shares the books he read in August – “while summer ran out.”

Book Marks: 11 of the Most Anticipated Poetry Collections of Fall/Winter – “If you’re a poetry reader, you’re in luck – some stellar titles are coming into the world this fall and winter”, says Sarah Neilson.  

Bookforum: Mum’s Boy – “A famous misanthrope shows his heart-warming side”. Daphne Merkin on Philip Larkin: Letters Home 1936-1977.

Wired: It’s Not Easy Being a BookTuber – Daniel Greene makes a full-time living off YouTube but, he says, “building a successful channel is harder than people think.”

Lapham’s Quarterly: Signs and Wonders – Francine Prose on “reading the literature of past plagues and suddenly seeing our present reflected in a mirror.”

Reedsy Discovery: 60 Children’s Books About Diversity To Read With Little Ones – Sixty books offering young minds an introduction to “a range of subjects: from cultural differences to gender fluidity, from social expectations to identity construction.”

Daily Sabah: Who read what in Ottoman Empire?: Authors, books and readers – “Discover which literary works were popular among Ottoman readers, who were the bearers of the empire’s culture even after its fall”.

Vox: The joys and struggles of the gap between words and meaning – “The Idiot is playing some very complex language games”, says Constance Grady. She “breaks it down” for September’s Vox Book Club.

The Guardian: ‘Men still say women aren’t funny’: Nina Stibbe wins Comedy women in print prize – “Reasons to Be Cheerful wins award set up to correct ‘sexist imbalance’ in Wodehouse prize, having also won that honour in 2019”.

Daily Mirror: Poet Mascha Kaléko’s inspirational act when she refused a literary prize for her work – This German-Jewish poet “captured the life of ordinary people in her words.”

Alta: Talking with Steve Erickson – The author of 2017’s Shadowbahn tells Heather Scott Partington: “right now history is outpacing the imagination” and “writing definitely needs to get bigger.”

Publishers Weekly: 2020 NBA Longlists Announced – The longlists for 2020 National Book Award have been revealed by the National Book Foundation.

Metropolis: Comedy is Tragic in ‘Spark’ – Eric Margolis reviews Naoki Matayoshi’s Japanese novel of comedy, art and friendship.

CBC: Author Ann Cleeves funds ‘bibliotherapy’ service to help people heal with books – British crime writer Ann Cleeves is financing the work of two bibliotherapists in northeast England.

3:AM Magazine: ‘and now we are no longer slaves’: notes on eden eden eden at fifty – Scott McCulloch on Pierre Guyotat’s scandalous but legendary novel at fifty.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Bookmark: In praise of mail-order book clubs – W. Scott Olsen recalls the mail order book clubs of his childhood.

The American Scholar: Teach What You Love – Mark Edmundson makes a “proposal for professors of literature”.

Smithsonian Magazine: A New Edition of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Crosses Its T’s and Dots Its I’s – “Barbara Heller used period handwriting—and new material—to bring the novel’s colorful letters to life”.

The National: Murder, mystery and 1950s Mumbai: Vaseem Khan’s latest crime series is led by a strong female detective – “The British author tells [Ben East] why he chose the fearless Persis Wadia as his heroine”.

The Washington Post: The key to a more tranquil mind? One author argues it’s all about revisiting books from the past. – John Glassie finds that in Breaking Bread With the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind, Alan Jacobs argues we should “sift the past for its wisdom and its wickedness, its perception and its foolishness.”

Literary Hub: How a 1960s Sci-Fi Fable Expanded the Meaning of Cuban Pilgrimages – Yoss on Miguel Collazo’s 1960s science fiction classic, The Journey.

Spine: George Orwell’s Animal Farm Gets Revamped for its 75th Anniversary – Vyki Hendy speaks to three designers about redesigning the covers of Orwell’s iconic titles.

Jacobin: How Italy’s Colonial War in Ethiopia Foreshadowed the Barbarism of World War II – “The Booker Prize shortlisting of Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King is the latest sign of rising interest in Fascist Italy’s colonial war in Ethiopia”, finds Anne Colamosca.

Quill & Quire: Zsuzsi Gartner on gleefully flouting the rules in her boundary-breaking fiction – Steven W. Beattie looks at The Beguiling,  a “prototypically Gartneresque novel”, which continues the Canadian author’s practice of pushing “the boundaries of literary technique and style.”

Irish Central: Irish Dept. of Education may drop US literary classics in wake of BLM protests – “The Irish Department of Education is considering dropping texts that repeatedly use the n-word from the school curriculum”, finds Shane O’Brien.

Publishers Weekly: Wildfires Taking Toll on Booksellers, Publishers – Jason Boog reports the many wildfires blazing across the western United States are “taking a toll on booksellers and publishing professionals across California, Washington State, and Oregon.”

BBC News: Booker Prize 2020: Four debuts make shortlist as Hilary Mantel misses out – “Four debut novels have been included on the shortlist for this year’s Booker Prize, but two-time winner Hilary Mantel has missed out.”

The Critic: Who let the dons out? – “Leave literary reviews to reviewers rather than score-settling academics”, is this mystery author’s advice.

Dublin Review of Books: Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang – His indisputable genius ensured that William Shakespeare assumed the status of England’s chief literary emblem, but Enda O’Doherty questions why it was that he seemed so uninterested in writing about his native land?

LitReactor: Evaluating The Wit and Wisdom of H.L. Mencken – Elucidating the style and substance of the cultural critic, H.L. Mencken. Joshua Isard wonders if it holds up to modern scrutiny. Harry Potter star Robbie Coltrane defends J.K. Rowling amid transphobia backlash – Bella Fowler reports: “An actor who played a beloved Harry Potter character has thrown his support behind J.K. Rowling, saying he doesn’t find her trans views offensive.”

Culture Trip: The Best Graphic Novels About Vietnam – Harry Menear with “some amazing comics and graphic novels by Vietnamese and international authors that’ll give you a feel for the country and its past.”

The Paris Review: The Legacy of Audre Lorde – Roxane Gay considers the intelligent, fierce, powerful, sensual, provocative, indelible work of Audre Lorde as relevant in this century as it was in her own.

Mail Online: Feminist book called I Hate Men sells out in France after government official attempted to ban it – “Sales of Pauline Harmange’s Moi les hommes, je les déteste skyrocketed after Ralph Zurmély, a special adviser to France’s ministry for gender equality, called it an ‘ode to misandry [a hatred of men].’”



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.

Categories: Winding Up the Week

Tags: , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. Hurrah for V&Q Books! I’ve read two of their launch titles and am very impressed.

  2. Lovely selection as always Paula 🙂

  3. I note with satisfaction that Francine Prose’s essay on literature as a mirror is better written and more wide-ranging than Richard Gibson’s on every novel not having to relate to present circumstances. Nobody said it did, Richard. Find a better straw man.

  4. Yay for Nina Stibbe! I hadn’t heard that news. I think she is VERY funny.

  5. It’s hard to believe that we’re already a couple of days into fall–too short a lease, indeed! (I’m behind in my online reading…obviously your quotation was timely when your post was new.)

    I was surprised to not see Zsuzsi Gartner’s new novel on the Giller Prize list (her stories have appeared there before), but she does have her cheering circle even so! And I see you’ve managed to squeeze in another Margaret Atwood link. You’re such a fan! 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: