An end of week recap
“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”
– Bertrand Russell
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.
* Summer in Other Languages *
“How can we travel the world in the time of a global pandemic?” asks Lory from Entering the Enchanted Castle. Her simple answer: “Through reading, of course!” She invites you to take part in her latest stimulating reading challenge, Summer in Other Languages, and to focus on reading books in languages other than your own. However, if you are “not up to reading books in a foreign language, translated works are fine”, she says. If this event piques your interest, please head over to Coming soon: Summer in Other Languages to check out the various reading levels, share your plans and discover the books in which Lory intends to immerse herself.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I am going to share with you two 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:
In the Garden; Essays on Nature and Growing – In her review of In the Garden for Shiny New Books, Hayley Anderton says she was “mostly impressed” by the “quality of the individual essays”, which “cover aspects of what a garden might be and might mean in ways that might be slightly unexpected.” It is collectively “a strong selection”, although something of a “metrocentric assemblage”. Nevertheless, “there’s a lot to recommend this book” with many “personal favourites – in particular “Zing Tsjeng’s A Ghost Story”. While not quite what Hayley expected, it is nonetheless an “enjoyable revelation of ideas and possibilities.”
The Illumination of Ursula Flight – If you are fascinated by the “frivolity and all-around frenzy of the Restoration Era”, Amalia Gkavea of The Opinionated Reader recommends reading The Illumination of Ursula Flight, Anna-Marie Crowhurst’s 2018 debut historical novel set-in 17th century Britain. The “dialogue is clear, vivid, faithful to the era and entertaining”, she says, and its “wonderful sense of setting” makes the “story exciting”. Indeed, Amalia declares it an enjoyable tale of “a woman’s unquenchable thirst for independence and expression.”
* 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:
Georgia Straight: The 14 best books to read this summer – These new releases, introduced by Susan G. Cole, “range from easy beach reads to memoir and fiction encompassing political analysis”.
The Japan Times: ‘Terminal Boredom’ is a treasure trove of Izumi Suzuki’s subversive science fiction – Izumi Suzuki, a prolific writer of speculative science fiction and a counterculture figure in the 1970s and ’80s, has been largely overlooked by modern readers — until now.
The New York Review: Two Centuries of ‘The Guardian’ – “There have been both lean and comfortable times over the decades, but the paper has held its editorial nerve”, writes Alan Rusbridger.
iNews: Black and LGBTQ+ authors say they’re being harassed on Goodreads and trolled with one-star book reviews – Ruchira Sharma says Black and LGBTQ+ authors “feel the platform has not implemented adequate moderation or community guidelines to stop racism, transphobia and homophobia on the site”.
Inside Hook: Remembering the Life of Julián Cardona, The Bard of the Borderlands – “In the most dangerous city on earth, the courage and compassion of one journalist stood out”.
Boston Review: Poetry in the Critical Zone – “In a new book of lyric essays, poet Cole Swensen answers a call issued by theorists Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel: to reimagine the globe in terms of the fragile surface ecosystems that support all life.”
Russia Beyond: 3 books that made Mikhail Bulgakov want to be a writer – “There were many books in Bulgakov’s library, but only several left the deepest imprint on the author of Master and Margarita.”
Literary Hub: How an Irish Barman Created a Home for New York’s Literary Elite – Sharon DeBartolo Carmack explores her family legacy.
BBC News: Richard Osman wins author of the year after hit debut novel – “Richard Osman has been crowned author of the year at the British Book Awards after the runaway success of his debut novel The Thursday Murder Club.”
The Age: What writers look for when they read a novel – Belinda Castles’ anthology, Reading Like an Australian Writer, offers a compelling series of essays by authors on the qualities of other contemporary writers.
Firstpost: Anand Bakshi, the storyteller: In new book, son Rakesh reflects on the poet’s ‘life and lyrics’ – “In the new book Anand Bakshi-Nagme Kisse Baatein Yaadein: The Life & Lyrics of Anand Bakshi, Rakesh Anand Bakshi “looks back at his father, legendary songwriter Anand Bakshi’s illustrious career that spanned over five decades.”
Electric Literature: 7 Books About the Partition of India and Pakistan – “Anjali Enjeti, author of The Parted Earth, recommends stories about the largest human migration in history”.
The Nation: Helpful Men: Defending Philip Roth, Dismissing Virginia Woolf – “Like most women who write, I live my life according to the firmly stated judgments of literary men”, says Alyssa Harad.
The New York Times: Banning My Book Won’t Protect Your Child – “My memoir could teach teenagers how to exit an abusive relationship”, writes Carmen Maria Machado. “So why don’t some parents want their children to read it?”
The Calvert Journal: Queer Budapest: new book celebrates the LGBTQ+ history that the Hungarian government wants to erase – “Hungary’s conservative government is keen to portray LGBTQ+ people as a recent, “liberal” phenomenon. But history shows that isn’t true, as academic Anita Kurimay proves in her book, Queer Budapest, 1873–1961.”
History Today: Catullus and Lesbia’s Sparrow – “A Roman poet transformed an unremarkable bird into a contested symbol of eroticism.”
Nature: Elegant chemistry, a humane view of robots, and refugee economics: Books in brief – “Andrew Robinson reviews five of the week’s best science picks.”
LA Review of Books: Alchemy Under the Hood – Joe Stadolnik reviews Jennifer M. Rampling’s history of alchemy, The Experimental Fire: Inventing English Alchemy, 1300–1700.
Okaplayer: Kima Jones on Why She’s Ready For Her New Role as a Literary Agent – “On her new role as an agent at Triangle House Literary, Kima Jones shared in an exclusive interview [with Robyn Mowatt] that she’s on the hunt for works by Black women writers.”
Kent Online: Sevenoaks Bookshop named UK and Ireland Independent Bookshop of the Year at British Book Awards – An independent bookshop has scooped a prize for being the best in the UK.
Creative Review: Jeanette Winterson’s words get a fresh look in new Vintage series – “Some of the author’s best-loved novels have been reimagined in a collage-inspired paperback series. [Aimée McLaughlin speaks] to Vintage creative director Suzanne Dean about bringing them to life”.
The Moscow Times: The ‘Other Worlds’ of Teffi – Robert Chandler writes of the difficulties and delights of translating into English this Russian humourist writer’s collection of stories about the occult, folk religions, superstition and spiritual customs – Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints.
BookPage: P. Djèlí Clark Arcane secrets, delicious street food—and murder – Ralph Harris talks to P. Djèlí Clark about A Master of Djinn, his historical fantasy set in a Cairo where humans and djinn coexist.
The Critic: The enduring power of brief encounters – John Self with a “trio of novels that are connected by their surprising manner of finding their way to us”.
BBC Culture: Why Alice is the ultimate icon of children’s books – “For more than 150 years, Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories have captured the imaginations of readers, artists, filmmakers and designers. Holly Williams finds out why.”
The Yale Review: Finding a Literary Inheritance – “Four Korean American writers on jeong, language, and the elusiveness of home.”
Independent: Antonia Fraser: I was once told, ‘You write like a man.’ I took it as a compliment – “The author of bestselling historical biographies, including one about Marie Antoinette that was turned into the film by Sofia Coppola, talks to Charlotte Cripps about life with Harold Pinter, how she dealt with the grief of losing him, and her new book, The Case of the Married Woman.”
Penguin: Where to start with Nancy Mitford – “As a new adaptation of The Pursuit of Love arrives on the small screen, here’s a guide to the wittiest Mitford sister.”
The Drift: The Translation Trap – Julia Kornberg on “Latin American literature and the international market”.
Catapult: Who Gets to Travel to “Find Themselves”? – Rosa Boshier finds “the spirit of manifest destiny has been rebranded into the travelogue.”
Irish Mirror: Irish book store owner looking for someone to take over popular business – for a bargain! – This “successful 15-year-old business is perfect for someone”, says Wicklow bookshop owner.
Cultured Vultures: 10 Books About Connecting With Nature For Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 – Nat Wassell thinks it’s time to “stop and smell the roses.”
Prospect: Fierce attachments in Jessie Greengrass’s The High House – Alex Peake-Tomkinson shares a few thoughts on The High House, a novel about a family coping with climate change disaster.
Guernica: Elizabeth Miki Brina: “The historical and the personal are intertwined.” – The author of Speak, Okinawa talks to Elizabeth Lothian about “learning her family history, writing from guilt, and questioning her father’s values.”
Vulture: In Conversation: Alison Bechdel – “In her latest book, the graphic memoirist examines her relationship to exercise and, in turn, herself,” says E. Alex Jung.
The Paris Review: More Pain Than Anyone Should Be Expected to Bear – Frances Bellerby remains best known—if remembered at all—for her poetry. Her remarkable stories depict with guile and grace a child’s-eye view of the world.
BBC Wales: Dylan Thomas Prize: New Yorker Raven Leilani wins accolade – “New York writer Raven Leilani has won this year’s £20,000 Dylan Thomas Prize.”
The New York Review: Arendt and Roth: An Uncanny Convergence – “Despite very different lives, the two writers not only knew and liked each other, but also found common cause in the great concerns that animated their work.”
Maverick Life: Suitcase of Memory: SA author A’Eysha Kassiem tackles racial and cultural identity in debut novel – “A’Eysha Kassiem is a fresh, black voice on the literary scene”, says Sandisiwe Shoba. “Her novel, Suitcase of Memory, delves into the untold stories of apartheid South Africa and grapples with the memory of our country’s fraught past.”
Counter Craft: Gabagool and Malpropisms: Dialogue Lessons from The Sopranos – “Some thoughts on linguistic errors in fiction and life” from Lincoln Michel.
Study Hall: The COVID Reporters Are Not Okay. Extremely Not Okay. – Olivia Messer finds “an underprepared industry is losing a generation of journalists to despair, trauma, and moral injury as they cover the story of a lifetime.”
Al Jazeera – UAE book award rejected by prominent German academic – “Sheikh Zayed Book Award board of trustees expresses regret after Juergen Habermas’s decision to not accept the award.”
Evening Standard: What London’s Reading Now: Robert Martineau, Michael Lewis and Rachel Cusk top the list – Katie Law continues her regular series highlighting the books that “Londoners are loving”. This week’s top five include “an account of trekking through West Africa, an analysis of gender identity theory and a novel inspired by DH Lawrence”.
Intellectual Freedom Blog: Jason Reynolds Named Inaugural Honorary Chair of Banned Books Week – “Banned Books Week has never had an honorary chair before but unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures”, says Holly Eberle. This year it takes place from 26th September to 2nd October.
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
Summer in other Languages sounds great – I shall probably not join in, but will try to make sure I keep reading in translation!!
I definitely don’t have what it takes to read a book in a foreign (to me) language. I will stick with translations, methinks! 🥴
As usual, several things to explore here, and I’ve already looked at three! 🙂
I’m really chuffed you’re enjoying this week’s wind up, Chris. Happy link dipping! 😀
Thanks so much for including Summer in Other Languages! It will be fun to make this journey together, and translations are definitely welcome.
You’re very welcome, Lory. Have fun! 😀
Wish I’d known about Summer in Other Languages earlier, I might have joined that instead of 20booksofsummer. Not that I can read in any language other than English but I do have a lot of translated fiction on my shelves.
I don’t think it’s too late to join, Karen.
OH, dear, this whole one-star review situation. And this whole publishing-platform situation. How do we legislate respect? How do we moderate compassion? It’s a whole thing.
I like the cover for A Reading List, but I’m usually a little disappointed by bookish books not quite fitting my personal idea of bookish (i.e. obsessive and out-of-control).
Perhaps we should educate rather than legislate – although, that is no mean task in itself. Alternatively, we could do away with stars, so to speak, and simply allow constructive (but not necessarily glowing) criticism. Would this help? I’m not so sure.
Anyhow, I definitely concur with your interpretation of “bookish”, Marcie! 🤣