An end of week recap
“The more history I learnt, the less interested I got in winning arguments and the more interested in establishing the truth.”
– Hilary Mantel
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.
* Women in Translation Month 2021 *
Meytal Radzinski of Biblibio has issued a reminder to her readers that “August is Women in Translation Month”, a time she describes as the “WITtiest month of the year”. She is diligently beavering away on the New Releases list – turning, once again, “to industry professionals, translators, authors, editors, and anyone in the know-how” for help in expanding this year’s roll. Naturally, a new WITMonth “brings with it new questions and challenges” and she is “looking forward to writing a bit more about different genres,” in addition to posting about varying “perceptions of classic women in translation.” You are, of course, encouraged to participate, and Meytal hopes you will share your plans with her by posting comments on #WITMonth 2021!.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I am going to share with you a couple 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:
China by Edward Rutherfurd – Helen of She Reads Novels was greatly impressed by Edward Rutherfurd’s latest historical novel set in 19th century China. Not only is it “different” from his earlier works – “all of which [she] has read and enjoyed” – but it contains “fascinating little snippets of information on Chinese folklore” alongside all the “major political and military events” of the period. While reading it may be time-consuming and “quite a commitment”, China, she concludes, will be of immense interest to “anyone with even the slightest curiosity” about this vast and ancient East Asian country.
The Silver Darlings by Neil Gunn (1941) – Having “never heard” of Gunn or his 600-page “coming-of-age tale”, Sandra from A Corner of Cornwall was delighted to make “the acquaintance of both.” With its simplistic plot, “superb dialogue” and “striking sense of place”, The Silver Darlings, which “takes place in the far north of Scotland during the fishing boom” is, she says, “a joy” to read. She wished never to reach the end.
* 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:
Sierra: An Ode and Elegy to Nature’s Songs – In Earth’s Wild Music: Celebrating and Defending the Songs of the Natural World, Aaron Mok finds nature writer and environmental philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore “invites us to listen more closely”.
The New York Review: The Triumph of Mutabilitie – “Edmund Spenser’s long, daunting The Faerie Queen combines political allegory with some of the most flickering, ambiguous poetry in English”, writes Catherine Nicholson in her review of Edmund Spenser and the Eighteenth-Century Book.
Australian Book Review: The gospel of Stan Grant – Declan Fry with a look at the writings of the venerated Wiradjuri journalist and author, Stan Grant.
BBC Leicester: Leicester book firm donates to help shop destroyed in Gaza – “An online book shop is donating 1,000 books to a store in the Gaza Strip, which was completely destroyed in the recent Hamas/Israeli conflict.”
The Paris Review: Eibhlín Dubh’s Rage and Anguish and Love – In her latest book, A Ghost in the Throat, Doireann Ní Ghríofa becomes fascinated with a tragic poem written by an eighteenth-century Irish noblewoman.
Times Live: Hilary Mantel wins Walter Scott Prize for second time – Hilary Mantel has won the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for a second time for The Mirror and the Light.
Aeon: Africa writes back – “European ideas of African illiteracy are persistent, prejudiced and, as the story of Libyc script shows, entirely wrong”.
Words Without Borders: Subverting Gendered Language: Hannah Kauders on Translating Iván Monalisa Ojeda’s “Las Biuty Queens” – “In 2019, translator Hannah Kauders stumbled on a copy of Las Biuty Queens, the second book of short stories by Chilean writer Iván Monalisa Ojeda, and fell in love”, writes Shoshana Akabas.
Granta: In Conversation Louise Kennedy & Sarah Moss – “Two Ireland-based writers discussing national identity, disappointing holidays and art deco china.”
ArabLit Quarterly: The Two Egyptian Novels Available in Translation This Month – “Two very different Egyptian novels appear in translation this month: They are Sonallah Ibrahim’s ‘provocative masterpiece’ Warda, translated by Hosam aboul-Ela and Mohamed Kheir’s ‘musical and parabolic’ Slipping, translated by Robin Moger.”
Literary Hub: Jews in Space: On the Unsung History of Jewish Writers and the Birth of Science Fiction – “Lavie Tidhar considers the past, present and future of Jewish writers in sci-fi and fantasy”.
Lapham’s Quarterly: A Star Is Born – Claire Cock-Starkey examines the history of the asterisk.
The Calvert Journal: VIJ! How one Bulgarian magazine defied the odds and became a cultural institution – “In Bulgaria’s increasingly monopolised media sphere, one cultural magazine has survived to make its mark for almost a decade. As VIJ! releases its 100th edition, [Ashira Morris digs] into the secrets behind its success: from targeting seaside readers to welcoming pensioners.”
Essence: 18 Books To Celebrate Juneteenth With – “As the tears of white fragility are flooding newsfeeds, taking a close look at the origins of our institutions, and customs is more important than ever”, writes Keyaira Boone.
The Irish Times: What does it mean, today, to call a magazine the European Review of Books? – “A co-founder of a new journal invites support for a project to explore pan-European culture”.
The Nation: It’s All in the Angles – “What is it about Joan Didion that seduces and then betrays?” asks Haley Mlotek.
The Age: ‘Choking on sanctimony’: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pens essay scorching social media generation – The novelist said social media had created a cohort of young people terrified of having the wrong opinions and robbed of the opportunity to think.
Global Citizen: Global Citizen Book Club: ‘Somewhere in the Unknown World’ Highlights 14 Refugees’ Defining Moments – Refugees tell their stories in Somewhere in the Unknown World, a “beautiful new collection.”
Brittle Paper: New Anthology Explores Black South African Feminist Perspectives – Surfacing: On Being Black and Feminist in South Africa features “leading feminist thinkers such as Pumla Dineo Gqola, Zoë Wicomb, Yewande Omotoso, Danai S. Mupotsa, Barbara Boswell, Grace Musila, Patricia McFadden and many others.”
Bookforum: What forms of art, activism, and literature can speak authentically today? – “Bookforum contributors on the risky books they’d like to read now”.
Printweek: OUP closure to end centuries-long print tradition – Oxford University Press to end centuries of tradition by closing its printing arm.
Poynter.: Here are the winners of the 2021 Pulitzer Prizes – “The Pulitzers, regarded as one of the highest honors in journalism, were announced later than usual this year due to the pandemic”, writes Ren LaForme.
iNews: Was Enid Blyton racist? Why English Heritage updated its blue plaque online entry for the children’s author – Joanna Whitehead with “everything you need to know about the latest controversy relating to the famous children’s author”.
Public Books: Four Ways to Ruin Dante—And One to Save Him – “Why would Dante need help?” wonders Justin Steinberg. “Because if the poet’s only readers are Dante scholars, then we’ll all lose out. Dante deserves better, and so do we.”
CBC: The Next Chapter’s mystery book panel recommends 9 books to read this summer – The Next Chapter columnists Margaret Cannon, Michael Bumstead and P.K. Rangachari reveal their mystery and thriller fiction picks for the summer season.
Fiction Writers Review: Who Decides to Stay: An Interview with Dariel Suarez – “Dariel Suarez talks with Tim Weed about his debut novel, The Playwright’s House, which takes place in Havana.”
The New York Times Style Magazine: Nearly 70 Years Later, ‘Invisible Man’ Is Still Inspiring Visual Artists – The writer and scholar Adam Bradley speaks about Ralph Ellison’s 1952 classic, Invisible Man.
Europe Online: Bloomsbury staff must be vaccinated before office return – “The Harry Potter publisher will require all staff to be vaccinated before they return to offices.”
Independent: ‘Lateral thinker’ Edward de Bono dies, aged 88 – The Maltese author, doctor and inventor of the term lateral thinking who wrote more than 60 books on his original and unorthodox theories died on 9th June.
Current Affairs: 9/11: The Novel – “Almost twenty years after September 11th, a new novel [History in One Act] explores the psychological and political motives behind the attacks,” says Alex Park. It also, he suggests, “illuminates some dark truths that many Americans may not be ready to accept.”
Avidly: Charlotte Brontë’s OCD – Diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder the same year she “discovered Charlotte Brontë’s novel, Villette”, Elissa Myers found there were many similarities between herself and the young woman in this book.
BBC Tees: Mystery book-lover at Waterstones Yarm gives £100 of vouchers to shoppers – “A mystery book-lover gave a shop £100 to split between other customers in a pay it forward moment.”
Pocket: Human Hair, Dolls Clothes, Love Letters and Other Strange Things Found in Old Books – “UVA’s Book Traces Project tracks human interactions with physical books.”
Believer: An Incomplete Survey of Fictional Knitters – “The craft of knitting is such a prominent literary act that”, according to Zeynab Warsame, “a subgenre of literature—called “knit-lit”—has formed.”
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