An end of week recap
“The beginning is the word and the end is silence. And in between are all the stories.”–
To make amends for last week’s Lilliputian wind up, I have stuffed this post with extra links in the hope they will tickle your bookbuds.
As ever, 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.
* Anne Tyler Reading Project *
Throughout this year, Liz Dexter of Adventures in reading, running and working from home is “re-reading all of Anne Tyler’s novels in order of publication”, at the rate of two books per month. You can check out the official schedule and find out how to participate at Anne Tyler re-read project 2021. If you haven’t already joined the event and would like to do so, Liz doesn’t “really mind WHEN you read the books” – she’s “more interested in sharing thoughts.” Therefore, she invites you to post a review and links […] whenever you can”. You can read Liz’s April post at Book review – Anne Tyler – “Earthly Possessions”. The official hashtag is #AnneTyler2021.
* 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:
The Inverts by Crystal Jeans: A marriage of convenience – In the opinion of Susan Osborne at A life in books, this “hilarious and poignant” new LGBTQ novel published by HarperCollins deserves to be successful. Not only was she drawn to its cover and impressed by its “vivid period detail” but she found the protagonists both “outrageously funny” and “occasionally endearing”. In fact, she thoroughly recommends this tale of “unconventional marriage” to anyone “in the market for a romp” (strictly in a literary sense, of course).
The Foundling – Stacey Halls – Jo at booksceptic.com declares Halls’ recently published novel a “pure delight for the fans of historical fiction”. Set in Georgian London, The Foundling is “well-constructed” and “does not rely too much on twists, but more on a slow reveal.” Although she wasn’t keen on the ending, Jo was fascinated by this story of the establishment of the Foundling Hospital, which she is “definitely planning to visit once the restrictions are lifted.”
The Republic of Love by Carol Shields – an elegant book of a community linked in subtle ways. – “Love in various kinds is the theme of this […] gentle book”, says Northern Reader’s Joules Barham. In Shields’ 1992 novel, there are “no great dramas, mysteries or acts of violence,” simply “lives nearly intersecting” as the characters discover “the slightly unreasonable nature of love.” Julie was “pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this fine book.”
About Time I Read It: Not All Bastards Are from Vienna by Andrea Molesini – Over at Maphead’s Book Blog Mark Curnell shares his thoughts on reading Andrea Molesini’s “outstanding debut novel”. First published in 2010 as Non tutti i bastardi sono di Vienna, this “fictional look at the Italian side” of World War I is “a wonderful novel and easily one the best [Mark has] read this year” – indeed, it may well “make [his] year-end list of favorite fiction.” He urges you to consider reading it yourselves.
* 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 Spinoff: The climate crisis is seeping into books and making them really, really weird – “Ingrid Horrocks is the author of the superb collection of essays Where We Swim. She writes about the swell of new stories in which animals talk and trees dictate narrative – or fall in love – and how her own writing is shifting in response.”
iNews: Jessie Greengrass on The High House: ‘Both my parents are dead. I don’t feel sad. Loss just feels natural’ – “The author talks to Max Liu about climate change, loss and facing her fears in her second novel”, The High House.
The Guardian: The hottest literary travel destinations (to visit when lockdown ends) – “From George Orwell’s Isle of Jura to Willa Cather’s Nebraskan frontier … with travel restricted to the imagination, Henry Eliot picks the most memorable and beautiful literary locations”.
The Irish Times: Writer’s mews: Mary Lavin’s informal literary salon in Lad Lane – Kathleen MacMahon reveals the ‘hugely gregarious’ writer is to have a public space in Dublin city named after her.
The Walrus: The Case Against Shakespeare – “The Bard has had 400 years in the limelight. It’s time our academic obsession came to an end”, argues Canadian playwright, Allan Stratton.
Words Without Borders: The City and the Writer: In Bucharest with Ioana Morpurgo – Nathalie Handal talks to Romanian novelist Ioana Morpurgo about the city of Bucharest and how it has inspired her work.
Literary Hub: Meaning in the Margins: On the Literary Value of Annotation – In the recently published Annotation, Remi H. Kalir and Antero Garcia reveal that “for as long as there have been printed books, there has been marginalia”.
McSweeney’s: “Thank You for Coming”: A Remembrance of the Gratitude and the Gorgeousness of Public Readings – “Literary readings, when they existed, were taken for granted”, says Matthew Daddona, in this piece lamenting the loss of physical readings.
The Age: Perth’s smallest bookshop: Only 14 square metres but packs a punch – It houses thousands of books, employs 20 volunteers and is bringing back to life a little-known but fascinating history.
Pledge Times: ‘Granta’ enshrines the literature of diverse Spanish – “After Japanese, Spanish is the fastest [growing] language on the planet”, says the editorial director of the Granta, Valerie Miles. Here she shares her publication’s new list of “25 young narrators under 35 years of age in the language of Cervantes”.
Radio Prague International: Božena Němcová Museum to celebrate a rebirth, milestone anniversary – Events for Božena Němcová’s 200th birthday were muted due to Covid, but a museum dedicated to the “mother of Czech literature” plans a special season to mark a milestone.
Wales Arts Review: Between Worlds by Jeffrey Weeks | Books – “David Llewellyn reviews Between Worlds: A Queer Boy from the Valleys by Jeffrey Weeks, an autobiography which not only tells a personal story, but also traces the trajectory of the social and cultural transformation seen in Britain from the 1960s to the present day.”
The Cut: Turn’s Out it’s Pretty Good: Reading First Thing in the Morning – Rachel Charlene Lewis on an unexpected solution to her book woes.
Firstpost: Rural India, Sylvia Plath and human relationships come together in Maithreyi Karnoor’s bold debut novel – Aishwarya Sahasrabudhe finds Karnoor’s book, Sylvia: Distant Avuncular Ends, “experiments with the novel form, blending prose with poetry and painting a quaint but haunting portrait of two people: one searching for a story, the other for home.”
History Today: Time’s Changing Tempo – “A great European novel says much about its age of crisis – and ours.”
DW: French children’s author Mourlevat wins Astrid Lindgren prize – “Sweden’s Astrid Lindgren Award is one of the highest awards for books for young people. It was awarded to the French fairytale master, Jean-Claude Mourlevat.”
Humanities: What Zora Went Looking For – “As a budding anthropologist, the storyteller began to find her way”, writes Charles King.
JSTOR Daily: Spectra: The Poetry Movement That Was All a Hoax – “In the experimental world of modernist poetry, literary journals were vulnerable to fake submissions.”
Maverick Life: Voltaire and the art of enlightened gardening – Darryl Accone on “the ‘muddle and miseries’ of life reign in the writings of the great French philosopher, for which he was admired and persecuted.”
The Baillie Gifford Prize For Non-Fiction: Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction announces judges and opens submissions for 2021 – The judging panel for the 2021 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction has been announced.
Prospect: Chips Channon’s diaries—snobbish but irresistible – “Chips Channon wrote witheringly about everyone—except Hitler. But his diaries still make for strangely addictive reading”, finds Chris Mullin.
CrimeReads: Why Traveling Through Fiction Is a Form of Ecotourism – Jeffrey Siger suggests “nine international novels to offset your carbon footprint”.
Al-Fanar Media: Online Book Clubs Keep Conversations on Arab Literature Alive – “The coronavirus lockdowns inspired a shift to online book clubs among groups that focus on Arab authors and their international readers”, says Lynx Qualey.
Electric Literature: I Work in a Bookstore. Why Am I Still Shelving “Mein Kampf”? – “There are historical and scholarly reasons to preserve Hitler’s manifesto—but that doesn’t mean anyone needs to own it”, writes Alexa Abdalla.
Guernica: Te-Ping Chen: “Every story unfolded as a series of surprises in the writing.” – The author of Land of Big Numbers talks to Maggie Lange about “interweaving real life with the fantastic to write about today’s China.”
Electric Literature: We Need to Translate More Armenian Literature – “Books from minority languages don’t always make it into translation—but that’s exactly why we need them”, says Garen Torikian.
BBC Culture: Remembering Miss Fury – the world’s first great superheroine – “Before Wonder Woman, an even more groundbreaking female crimefighter kept humankind safe. As she turns 80, Nicholas Barber pays tribute to her – and her unfairly forgotten creator.”
Evening Standard: What is BookTok: the TikTok trend sending decades-old books up bestseller lists – “With 5.8 billion views, #BookTok is creating new bestsellers and shaping the publishing world – one TikTok recommendation at a time”.
Ebony: From “Sula” to “Luster”: Fiction’s New School of Black Woman Heroines – Kaitlyn McNab finds “today’s Black women novelists are continuing the legacy of their predecessors by crafting complex heroines and expanding Black womanhood.”
The Mit Press Reader: The Dark Radiance of Atomic Bomb Literature – In her book, Invisible Colors: The Arts of the Atomic Age, Gabrielle Decamous concludes that “the more we expose ourselves to the prose of the victims, the more visibility we give them.”
Public Books: B-Sides: Virginia Woolf’s “Flush” – Debra Gettelman is of the opinion Woolf’s spin on the genre of children’s fiction about animals is valuable because of its comedy, not despite it.
Quill & Quire: Canadian Independent Bookstore Day relaunches with prizes, discounts, and more than 60 booksellers – “Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is making a comeback in 2021”, reports Ryan Porter.
Scroll.in: Sarah Joseph’s new novel imagines the life of the woman who was ostracised for ‘marrying’ Nehru – An excerpt from Budhini, by Sarah Joseph, translated from the Malayalam by Sangeetha Sreenivasan.
Vox: The Power author Naomi Alderman talks patriarchy and revenge with the Vox Book Club – “Alderman explains how to build a world in a live Zoom interview” with Constance Grady.
Penguin: Bookshops re-opening: what you can do to support – “Bookshops are back! After a long old winter our beloved local bookshops are due to re-open. Here’s how to help and celebrate them.”
Time Out: This shop on the Lower East Side sells used books and pickles – “Talk about an only-in-New-York kind of experience”, says Anna Ben Yehuda.
Tor.com: Five Genre-Jumping Masterpieces – Ashley Poston’s favourite novels are genre-jumpers. He recommends a few “masterpieces” that fall into this category.
Publishing Perspectives: German Nonfiction Prize Names Its First Round of Finalists – “Eight titles now are in contention for the €25,000 honor, in the delayed first award cycle of the German Nonfiction Prize.”
Literary Hub: On the Years When Jane Austen Couldn’t Write – Hannah K. Chapman, Lauren Burke and Kaley Bales with “an illustrated look at the effects of worry and uncertainty on a literary icon”.
Boston Review: Binguni! – Celebrated writer Binyavanga Wainaina’s first piece of fiction was thought to be lost. Recently rediscovered, it appears here twenty-five years after it originally debuted.
TIME: A Reading List to Celebrate Asian Authors, From Members of TIME’s Asian Community – Peruse a curated reading list from members of TIME‘s Asian community that celebrates Asian authors.
The Guardian Australia: ‘The whole canon is being reappraised’: how the #MeToo movement upended Australian poetry – “Poets and publishers say a surge of new writing has followed the movement, profoundly changing Australian letters in sometimes unexpected ways”.
The Atlantic: ‘Eliminate Every Superfluous Word’ – “Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s new documentary, Hemingway, dramatizes one of the great revolutions in the history of American literature.”
The South African: End of a chapter: Respected SA publisher Jonathan Ball passes away – Jonathan Ball, the larger-than-life personality who ushered in a new era of publishing in South Africa under the imprint that bears his name, has died in Cape Town at the age of 69.
BBC News: Penguin Random House keeps furlough cash despite strong sales – “Britain’s biggest publisher says it will not hand back funds it received under the furlough scheme, despite seeing strong sales in lockdown.”
Stack: Dispatch from Lagos – Special correspondents report from one of the world’s most interesting centres of independent publishing.
The Verge: I’m salivating over this new four-volume Philip K. Dick collection by the Folio Society – James Vincent is thrilled to discover “a gorgeous new set [of books] has been unveiled containing Dick’s complete short stories”.
BBC World: Khraniteli: The Soviet take on Lord of the Rings – Fans are flocking to see an unearthed Soviet TV take on Lord of the Rings.
Vanity Fair: The Failure of American Gods and the Trouble With Neil Gaiman – “Why is an author who’s such a pleasure to read so difficult to adapt?” asks Joanna Robinson.
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