Winding Up the Week #174

An end of week recap

Even if you got rid of paper, you would still have story-tellers. In fact, you had the story-tellers before you had the paper.
William Golding

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.


* Spanish & Portuguese Literature Month 2021 * 

During the first week of this year’s reading challenge, Stu from Winstonsdad’s Blog, who is again hosting Spanish and Portuguese Lit Month along with Richard at Caravana de Recuerdos, says he “would love people to try some modern Latin American lit”. Then, after devoting weeks two and three to Spanish books, he intends to spend week four in “Portugal and its ex-colonies”. You are cordially invited to join Stu and Richard in their quest, which will last throughout the month of July. If this piques your interest, please head over to Spanish Lit Month 2021 plus Portuguese lit to acquaint yourself with the plans and perhaps share your thoughts with others taking part. 

* 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:

What the rules areA Palace of Strangers, Sam Youd’s “family saga” exploring “the disconnect between two of the Abrahamic religions as it affects one particular family” is “intense, absorbing and believable”, says Chris Lovegrove of Calmgrove. He finds it is not merely “a novel about identity issues” but one in which he was “caught up” with the various characters’ relationships. The author, he concludes, “is well able to pen a story that is absorbing as well as reflecting real lives.”

Cornish Short Stories: A collection of contemporary Cornish writing – Over at What I Think About When I Think About Reading, Jan Hicks has been enjoying “a collection of contemporary short stories by Cornish writers” for the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge. Cornish Short Stories “includes writers at various points in their careers”, she says – some already published and others simply “writing for pleasure” – but all with an ability “to spin a good yarn.” She reveals her two “favourite” pieces from the anthology, which she describes as “incredibly beautiful and moving” tales, and finds herself thoroughly relishing “the descriptions of Cornwall’s land and seascapes.”

“One should always act from one’s inner sense of rhythm.” (Rosamond Lehmann) – Rosamond Lehmann’s 1932 coming of age novel, Invitation to the Waltz, is “wonderful”, says Mme B of Madame Bibliophile Recommends. The author captures the “naivete, exuberance and indolence” of Olivia, its 17-year old protagonist, “without her becoming annoying.” Furthermore, it is “deceptively well-written” and she feels sure it “will reward re-reading.”

* 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:


Kirkus: Around the World With Maggie Shipstead – Laurie Muchnick describes Shipstead’s recent historical novel as “a sprawling 593-page barn burner”. Here she speaks to the author via Zoom about Great Circle, flying an historic aircraft and what she hopes readers will take away from her new book.

The Guardian: How Tove Jansson’s love of nature shaped the world of the Moomins – “The Finnish artist’s work was hugely influenced by her passion for the great outdoors – in particular the tiny island of Klovharun”, writes Susannah Clapp.

The Zimbabwean: Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga wins PEN Pinter prize – Zimbabwean novelist, playwright, filmmaker and activist Tsitsi Dangarembga has been awarded the PEN Pinter Prize 2021 for her ‘cultural significance’.

The Paris Review: The Magic of Simplicity – Fernanda Melchor on José Emilio Pacheco’s Battles in the Desert, one of the most widely read novellas in Mexico.

The New York Times: Friederike Mayröcker, Grande Dame in German Literature, Dies at 96 – “An Austrian, she was among the most decorated German-language poets of the postwar period, producing a large body of daring work”, reports A.J. Goldmann.

Variety: Netflix Sets Contemporary ‘Anna Karenina’ Series Adaptation as First Russian Original – Naman Ramachandran reveals that “‘Anna K’ (working title), a contemporary retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel Anna Karenina, will be Netflix’s first Russian original drama series.”

Metropolis: The Sacrifice Needed to Live Between Cultural Worlds – Eric Margolis reads Liane Wakabayashi’s new memoir, The Wagamama Bride: A Jewish Family Saga Made in Japan.

Electric Literature: A Reading List on the Palestinian Experience in the Face of Oppression – Hala and Talal Alyan with a list of books about “Palestinians and the struggle for Palestinian liberation”.

Evening Standard: The Mysterious Correspondent: New Stories by Marcel Proust review – intriguing early works – “The mature writer of In Search of Lost Time is not yet in evidence, but there are hints of the novelist he would become, finds Ian Thomson”.

The Hedgehog Review: Art and the Art of Living – “The disagreement between modernism and the contemporary discourse of ‘self-help’ is not about whether literature has ‘therapeutic’ capacities.” Matthew Mutter reviews The Self-Help Compulsion: Searching for Advice in Modern Literature by Beth Blum.

Prospect Magazine: The irreplaceable art of translation – “As long as people joke, swear and use irony, computers will never take the place of translators”, says Emily Lawford.

Literary Hub: Reading Books About… People Reading Books? – “Alice Jolly recommends biblio-memoirs by Nina Sankovitch, Andy Miller, Jenn Shapland, and more”.

The Baffler: Realism’s Revenge – John Merrick attempts to answer the question: “Do we have more to learn from the nineteenth-century novel?”

The New Yorker: The Classicist Who Killed Homer – According to Adam Kirsch, Milman Parry has “proved that the Iliad and the Odyssey were not written by a lone genius.”

NLR Sidecar: Canny Reader – “The death of J. Hillis Miller, in February, marked the end of an astonishing period in American academic literary criticism”, writes Leo Robson.

Al Jazeera: ‘As the bombs fall, I write’: The poets of Gaza – “Growing up in Gaza is inspiring for poets – life here is poetry blown into pieces and scattered all over the place.”

Smithsonian Magazine: The Fight to Legalize Gay Marriage, the Woman Who Couldn’t Be Silenced and Other New Books to Read – “These June releases elevate overlooked stories and offer insights on oft-discussed topics”, says Meilan Solly.

The Sydney Morning Herald: A fictional take on Australia’s greatest literary hoax – Culture wars, even old ones, raise blood pressure. Stephen Orr answers ‘what if’ questions that give the infamous Ern Malley hoax new life in his latest novel Sincerely, Ethel Malley.

The Globe and Mail: Ontario retailers are reopening – but a summer of uncertainty remains – After many months in lockdown, Fred Lum reports that bookstores and other retailers in Ontario are finally starting to reopen.

Gizmodo: Kelly Sue DeConnick on Her Relationship With Tarot, and a Magical New KickstarterThe Literary Tarot is “a new way to look at the arcana”, says James Whitbrook.

Hazlitt: ‘Oral History is Its Own Source’: An Interview with Sarah Schulman – “The author of Let the Record Show on AIDS activism, gossip, and collective memory.”

Publishing Perspectives: Sudhir Hazareesingh Wins 2021 Wolfson History Prize for ‘Black Spartacus’ – “Called ‘a sparkling example of the role history can play in society today, Black Spartacus by Sudhir Hazareesingh is a biography of a slave rebellion leader.”

Slate: Five Hidden Lives – “The characters in Francis Spufford’s beautiful novel should have died in 1944. Light Perpetual gives them a second chance”, finds Laura Miller.

JewishCurrents: Celan at 100 – 2020 marked the centenary of the Romanian-born German-language poet and translator, Paul Celan. JC celebrates his life.

Latin American Herald Tribune: Brazil Bookstore Celebrates Female-Authored Books – “In a modest parlor in one of Sao Paulo’s busiest streets is Gato Sem Rabo, a bookstore selling books written by women.”

CrimeReads: 24 Queer Crime Novels to Read All Year Long – Molly Odintz encourages you to celebrate Pride Month with her selection of “gay thrillers, lesbian mysteries, and queer crime fiction”.

Words Without Borders: A Call to Break Boundaries: An Interview with the Editors of the Bilingual Indian Journal “Hakara” – Varun Nayar speaks to Ashutosh Potdar and Noopur Desai about Hakara, a bilingual journal of creative expression with “an internationalist outlook”.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Writing: Against Mythologizing the Practice of Writing – Amber Sparks looks at “when the dream derails the process”.

BBC Culture: The worst fashion disasters in fiction – “In life and in fiction, what outfit we wear to a social gathering can make us feel empowered – or ashamed. Rosalind Jana explores the worst – and best – sartorial mishaps.”

DW: Monika Maron: Chronicler of the GDR turns 80 – “Banned in the East and cancelled in the West, polemical author Monika Maron continues to set her own moral compass as she enters her 80s.”

Fine Books & Collections: The Books about Books of Summer – A roundup of this summer’s books about books. “Three fiction, two nonfiction, all on the recommendation of the Fine Books team.”

The Publishing Post: Industry Insights: Clare Gordon – For this issue, TPP “spoke to Clare Gordon to learn more about her role as Fiction Editor at Head of Zeus.”

The Seattle Times: ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ author Ocean Vuong on reading, life during the pandemic and xenophobiaOn Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous catapulted Ocean Vuong into the literary spotlight. He spoke to Jordan Snowden ahead of a virtual Seattle Arts & Lectures event earlier in the week.

Guernica: AE OSWORTH: “I can, in fact, write 419 pages out of spite.” – “Reading A.E. Osworth’s debut novel We Are Watching Eliza Bright is like entering an uncanny valley”, says Sarah Madges. Here she speaks to the author about her exploration of the dark recesses of the Internet and male rage.

Penguin: Desert Island Discs: the ultimate book-lover’s guide – “Which titles do authors most wish to be cast away with? Who wanted to take their own biographies? Charlotte Runcie guides us through the best bookish episodes of Desert Island Discs.”

IFLA: From usage to impact: showing how public libraries make a difference – Christian Lauersen, Director of Roskilde Library, discusses a recent report from Denmark that shines a fresh light on “the different ways in which public libraries make a difference to people’s lives, and how we can measure this.”

BBC News: Covid: Twitter suspends Naomi Wolf after tweeting anti-vaccine misinformation – “American author Naomi Wolf has been suspended from Twitter after spreading vaccine misinformation.”

LA Review of Books: The Genre Guantánamo Made – With the recent release of The Mauritanian, Miriam Pensack considers the legacy of Guantánamo Bay in music, film, literature and art.

Vulture: Rivka Galchen’s Unsettling Powers – Hillary Kelly discovers the Canadian-American writer’s new novel, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch, “is about a vicious, real-life witch hunt—and she somehow still managed to make it funny.”

Glamour: 29 Best Movies Based on Books That Are Actually Worth Watching – “There are a lot of movies based on books. There are very few good movies based on books”, says Anna Moeslein. Here she shares some of her favourite adaptions.

The Irish Times: Small World: Ireland, 1798-2018 by Seamus Deane – A magnificent volume – In his review of Small World: Ireland, 1798-2018 Anthony Roche says he finds the “four chapters on Irish female writers are particularly welcome”.

The National: Who is Daphne du Maurier? Carrie Johnson gives Jill Biden novel by Cornwall-loving author – Carrie Johnson presented Jill Biden with a first edition copy of The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier at the G7 summit. Neil Murphy explains why the author is “one of Britain’s most celebrated suspense novelists.”

Publishers Weekly: Authors Upset Over Goodreads Bugs – According to Michael Seidlinger, “book reviews and ratings began to disappear” from Goodreads earlier in the week. Apparently due to “technical issues”.



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.

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29 replies

  1. Loved the Amber Sparks article, especially this sentence: “I’m not going to spin the pandemic as positive in any way – fuck that – but I do think after emerging from the worst of it here in the US, my expectations for what it means to be a writer have changed.”

  2. SO MUCH to love and enjoy in this post! Well done! A Palace of Strangers and Invitation to the Waltz grab me right off. On to more….

  3. I wish I could be more enthused on learning that there is to be a contemporary retelling of Anna Karenina but some of the recent adaptations have been less than wonderful.

  4. I enjoyed the Maggie Shipstead interview. I loved Seating Arrangements but her second passed me by. The new one sounds fascinating.

    • Thank you, Jan. I’m delighted you enjoyed the Maggie Shipstead piece. I first came across her when she won the Dylan Thomas Prize for Seating Arrangements but like you I’m yet to read Great Circle. 😊

  5. Thank you so much for the mention Paula, too kind! So many tempting links as always… 🙂

  6. Fab Paula! So looking forward to Spanish/Portuguese lit month! 😀

  7. Thank you, Paula, I love ’29 Best Movies Based on Books That Are Actually Worth Watching’ because books to movies is one of my pet peeves but it’s a good list.

  8. I’m looking forward to reading Rivka Galchen’s new book especially from a writer, “Her sentences all have excellent posture.” ! (from Vulture) Thanks for the lovely blog recommendations and links.

  9. Chuffed you featured my review of Sam Youd’s novel, Paula, I hope more new readers get to discover him, and not just his SF titles written as John Christopher. And again, lots of tempting links here to explore — I really don’t know how you manage the range that you gather together every week but we are always grateful!

    • You’re most welcome, Chris. It’s a book I rather fancy reading myself. I must admit, I’m not familiar with Youd’s/Christopher’s work, so many thanks for the heads-up.

      I love doing the weekly wind-ups – they keep me relatively sane in this batty old world. 🦇 Probably something to do with my autie brain! 🤣

      • Yes, that brain! I recognise that condition only too well. 🙂

        This new edition is only available as an Amazon POD, sadly, but thankfully the publisher were kind enough to send me a copy, and though, as they emphasised, they weren’t at all pushing for a review I couldn’t but extol its virtues.

  10. Always up for a piece on bibliomemoirs…of course! Thanks for another great set of links, Paula.

  11. What a splendid smorgasbord you have offered this week. Thanks so much ! I have tucked them away in my Pocket app to savour later.

  12. Oops, I got distracted by the article on Tsitsi Dangarembga, and forgot to some back. A great article that I’m sharing with my reading group as we did her this year. More great articles here, too. Plan particularly to read about sartorial mishaps, and also the DuMaurier one, for a start. Hope you are well.

  13. The Shipstead book DOES sound good. I have been seeing it everywhere recently.

  14. Another serving of delicious goodies, Paula. Thank you! 😊

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