An end of week recap
“And perhaps there is a limit to the grieving that the human heart can do. As when one adds salt to a tumbler of water, there comes a point where simply no more will be absorbed.”
– Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger
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.
* Week Three of Wales Readathon *
Week three of Dewithon 21, our month-long celebration of literature from and about Wales, is almost at an end. An eclectic assortment of features, reviews and comments were posted by fellow book bloggers and members of the Twitterverse.
We marked the start of the third week of Dewithon with a poem written by Gwyneth Lewis, the first National Poet of Wales. >> A Poem by Gwyneth Lewis >>
There is a dedicated page on which to display your Dewithon-related posts. Here you can share your reviews, features, interviews etc. with the book blogging community. >> Wales Readathon 2021 >>
Should you post any content relating to Dewithon on your blogs (or elsewhere), please be sure to let me know.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I am going to share with you three 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:
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang – In her review of Bestiary for Shiny New Books, Anna Hollingsworth describes her feelings of “awe” combined with confusion for “this smorgasbord of a debut novel.” It is a queer transnational fairy-tale about “three generations of Taiwanese-American women,” with a “reoccurring theme [of] a tiger spiritwhich” and is “packed in magical realism”. Anna declares it “enchanting as it is strange.”
My J-Lit Library – Over at Tony’s Reading List, Tony Malone shares with us “the Japanese section of [his] home library”, taking us on a guided tour of its shelves. Natsume Sōseki, Yōko Ogawa, Hiromi Kawakami, Ryū Murakami are just a handful of the authors to be found in this impressive collection and, what’s more, he’s expecting a further “influx of Japanese books” any day now.
Summerwater by Sarah Moss – This “short, lovely book” is a “read that will linger” writes Deb Baker of Bookconscious about Moss’s 2020 novel set in Scotland on the longest day of the summer. The author “captures [the characters’] different perspectives astutely and slips from one to the other in brief chapters.” The ending, she says, “surprised” her.
* 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:
Penguin: 10 books by Welsh authors you should read – “From criticism to short stories, Dylan Moore recommends a list of reads that celebrate the country’s unique history and culture.”
The Guardian: Salena Godden: ‘I’m a furious and emotional woman — when things pop up I have to talk’ – “The taboo-busting poet has written her first novel, Mrs Death Misses Death. She talks about missing performing and why Brits struggle to speak about her novel’s all too timely subject”.
49th Shelf: 9 Canadian Writers Who Run with the Night – A recommended reading list by the founder and publisher of Pedlar Press, whose new novel is Instructor.
Entertainment Weekly: Read an excerpt from Jeff Vandermeer’s new endangered species conspiracy novel Hummingbird Salamander – Hummingbird Salamander, Jeff VanderMeer’s latest novel, delves into “issues like climate change and ecoterrorism,” and the author “will also donate a portion of profits to conservation efforts”.
Literary Hub: On the Language of Revolution Ten Years After the Arab Spring – “Layla AlAmmar considers literature that seeks to represent the unrepresentable”.
Words Without Borders: Translating the Dictionary – Janet Hendrickson describes the process of translating the idiosyncratic entries of Sebastián de Covarrubias’s four-hundred-year-old Spanish dictionary into English.
BBC Culture: The Frankenstein’s monsters of the 21st Century – “Novelists are exploring man-made, human-like beings in a new wave of AI fiction. John Self speaks to the authors, including Kazuo Ishiguro, and asks what these sentient machines tell us about being human.”
Sierra Club: 14 Fabulous Contemporary Lady Nature Writers – “Katie O’Reilly on the ‘greatest—and greenest—Women’s History Month reading list’.”
iNews: ‘We live for the scandal’: Naoise Dolan on the joy of literary threesomes – “The author has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Exciting Times, her debut novel about a love triangle. Here, she celebrates their allure”.
The Conversation: Generation X: its tales about McJobs and information overload feel as poignant now as in 1990s – Published in 1991, the tale of over-educated, under-employed young people who lament the broken world they’ve inherited speaks to the concerns of today’s youth.
CBC: I Travel Therefore I Am: The Philosophy of Travel – “Through travel, ‘we are forced to expand and rethink what we know,’ says philosopher Emily Thomas”, author of The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad.
The Washington Post: Independent bookstore owners look back at a year spent trying to stay afloat. Not all of them succeeded. – Angela Haupt asks six independent bookstore owners to look back at a year spent trying to stay afloat.
Brittle Paper: Scholastique Mukasonga is the First African Woman to Win the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom – “Rwandan writer Scholastique Mukasonga has won the 2021 Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom.”
The Believer: An Interview with Chang-rae Lee – Mimi Wong speaks to the Korean-American novelist Chang-rae Lee about writing creatively, wellness and the importance of food in his latest novel, My Year Abroad.
The Markaz Review: On Literacy and the Lack Thereof – Marcus Gilroy-Ware argues we must “tune up our essential literacy when it comes to understanding what the hell we’re reading”.
Brain Pickings: Proximity: A Meditative Visual Poem for Those Reaching for Something They Can’t Quite Grasp, Inspired by Trees – Maria Popova describes this poem as a “soulful sylvan consolation partway between David Byrne, Bill T. Jones, and the Buddha.”
Bustle: 13 Books About Anti-Asian Racism To Understand It Better – JR Thorpe with a “reading list for anyone wanting to dismantle racism against Asian Americans today.”
The Japan Times: Cathy Hirano: Translation is a door to another world – “Translator Cathy Hirano balances her time between freelance translations and young adult literature and has earned accolades for both.”
The Paris Review: Imagining Nora Barnacle’s Love Letters to James Joyce – Nuala O’Connor concludes that when you are writing a novel about Nora Barnacle and James Joyce, it’s impossible to ignore the joyously filthy love letters they wrote to each other.
Simpson Literary Project: Joyce Carol Oates Prize 2021 Finalists – The 2021 Shortlist Finalists for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize have been announced.
Bomb: Points of Tension, Points of Solidarity: Naima Coster Interviewed by Yasmin Roshanian – What’s Mine and Yours is a “novel that explores love, family, racial integration in a school system, and the deep range of experiences across different communities of color.”
BBC News: Amazon will not sell books that ‘frame sexual identity as mental illness’ – The retail giant removes a conservative book about gender dysphoria for violating its guidelines.
The Rumpus: What to Read When You Want to Celebrate Women’s History – Rumpus editors share a list of new and forthcoming books to celebrate Women’s History Month.
Catapult: Visible Invisibility: The Ghostly Nature of Queer-Reading – Michael Elias “cannot explain queerness any longer in ways that don’t involve ghosts.”
Book Marks: 5 Reviews You Need to Read This Week – “Of a Philip Roth biography, a history of New York, a tale of an American utopia, and more”.
Los Angeles Review of Books: What’s a Novel Good For? – Andrew Koenig reviews The Novel and the New Ethics, a recently published book by Dorothy J. Hale.
Vox: The Plague Prophets – “From Contagion to World War Z to Palm Springs, what the artists who foresaw the pandemic are thinking now.”
Medievalists.net: Why I translated The Chronicle of the Good Duke – Steven Muhlberger explains why he has been working on a translation of The Chronicle of the Good Duke, a 15th-century biography of Louis II, Duke of Bourbon.
Global Times: China’s first 3D-printed concrete bookstore opens to the public in Shanghai – China’s first 3D-printed concrete bookstore, located in Shanghai’s Wisdom Bay Innovation Park, has opened to the public.
Deadline: Wiip Sets Up TV Series On Teenage Years Of British Crime Writing Icon Agatha Christie – “Former ABC chief Paul Lee’s independent studio wiip is developing a TV series exploring the teenage years of Agatha Christie, reveals Jake Kanter.”
Lambda Literary: Congratulations Lammy Finalists – This year’s nominees have been announced for the Lambda Literary Awards, given for the best LGBTQ writing.
Guardian Australia: Monsters: A Reckoning by Alison Croggon review – beware the many-tentacled beast of empire – Beejay Silcox explores a “tale of family estrangement and a discomforting, roiling sea of ideas that threatens to pull the reader under rather than along”.
Town & Country: Lady Chatterley’s Lover is Getting A New Movie Adaptation – “The new take on the classic and controversial novel will star The Crown’s Emma Corrin.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education: Literary Scholars Should Argue Better – “Recent ‘method wars’ suggest that we have something to learn from other fields”, says Hannah Walser.
Literary Hub: Why So Many Novelists Write About Writers – “David Laskin on an unyielding literary paradox”.
iNFOnews.ca: New Okanagan bookshop owner takes a risk and taps into the power of the page – “The owner of a new Lake Country bookstore believes in the power of a tactile reading experience.”
Atlas Obscura: Eat Like England’s First Non-Royal Ruler With This Propaganda-Filled Cookbook – Anne Ewbank discovers that “opponents of Oliver Cromwell published his family recipes, with a side of fake news.”
Publishers Weekly: Authors Guild, HMH Partner to Publish Benefit Collaborative Novel – The Authors Guild has partnered with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on a Decameron for the Covid-19 era, which Margaret Atwood will edit.
Persuasion: Beware of Books! – Otis Houston voices his concern about a “new moralism […] gripping the literary world, treating grownups like children”.
American Libraries: Where Monarchs Reign – “Library butterfly gardens emphasize sustainability [and] community partnerships”, finds Emily Udell.
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 is an excellent description on Urban Dictionary.
Categories: Winding Up the Week
I’m “at” a virtual conference for SF readers and writers this weekend and VanderMeer is the guest of honor, as the theme is climate change and SF writing. My presentation was on climate change predictions in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.
I hope all goes well with the conference, Jeanne. I would love to have watched your presentation.
Gosh, a bumper set of links this week, Paula – thank you!
Thank you, Kaggsy! 😃
Well, the Sierra Club article has added a few more books to the TBR and and I’m going to try and fall asleep tonight thinking about lovely butterfly libraries. Wonderful links Paula.
Thank you so much, Julé. I love the idea of a butterfly library! 🦋
I am grateful to you for yet another exhaustive, intriguing list of literary links.
Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to comment. I’m so glad you found the links of interest. 😊
Great links as ever! I’m loving my Dewithon book, “On the Red Hill”.
Thank you, Liz. I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on Parker’s book. I fancy reading this one myself.
The article about the philosophy of travel is particularly interesting, thank you Paula.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Jane. 😊
What do you think of those choices by Penguin of books by Welsh authors? I’d agree with a few of them (Jan Morris and Raymond Williams) but Rachel Tresize I’m afraid does nothing for me. I saw her in a panel at Hay and she had nothing to contribute at all – really embarrassing being in the audience
I read Fresh Apples shortly after it won the Dylan Thomas Prize but I’m ashamed to admit, I recall almost nothing about it now, except that it was rather depressing. 😏
Oh well at least you read one, which is more than I can say