An end of week recap
“How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?”
– Dr. Seuss
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.
If you are planning a reading event, challenge, competition or anything else likely to be of interest to the book blogging community, please let me know. I will happily share your news here with the fabulous array of bibliowonks who read this weekly wind up.
* Non-Fiction Fest *
Should you feel the need to read non-fiction in the coming year but lack motivation, there is help at hand. Shelleyrae at Book’d Out invites others to join her literary challenge, which runs from 1st January to 31st December 2022 and aims to encourage members of the bookish community to make factual prose a part of their everyday reading experience. To participate, you should sign up at Linky; “select, read and review a book from the categories listed” at 2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge; and choose a goal (or set your own) from the named categories. Please use the official ReadNonFicChal when promoting your posts on Twitter and, should you require assistance selecting a title, you are asked to look out for “recommendation posts” appearing in the New Year.
* A Plethora of Postcards *
If “anyone on your gift list [would] like a signed and personalized copy of Postcard Poems” in their sack this Christmas, Jeanne Griggs of Necromancy Never Pays has a few “extra copies” from her publisher, which she is offering for $15.00 each until 17th December. Simply let her know to whom it should be dedicated after visiting Postcard Poems for the holidays for further instructions on placing your order.
“With Christmas just around the corner,” the Sea Library has a new postcard available for €5, reveals curator Anna Iltnere. Designed by the Latvian artist and creative thinker Katrīna Ģelze, this unique illustration “perfectly captures the soul of the Sea Library [and] the magic of books”. However, there are “only 100” in stock, so you will need to place your orders as soon as possible. Please head over to Sea Library Postcards for Readers and Dreamers for further information.
* 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 two – both published over the last week or so:
“You saw a lot of odd things in Leningrad, after all.” – As someone who has a passion for “classic crime fiction and […] Russian/Soviet literature”, Karen Langley of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings was delighted at the prospect of reading Yulia Yakovleva’s Punishment of a Hunter. Set in Leningrad in the early 1930s – a period in Soviet history she describes as “terrifying” – Investigator Vasily Zaitsev and his team are called to the “murder of a very ordinary female Soviet citizen”, but something is amiss. The plot is both “complex” and “fascinating”, says Karen, and the story turns into something far “stranger” than the reader could possibly anticipate. Nevertheless, it boasts an “excellent protagonist” and superb “supporting cast”. Indeed, so “thoroughly absorbing” is this book she found it difficult to put down “towards the end.” Karen declares herself addicted to what she hopes will be the first volume in a forthcoming series!
Departure is Liberation: All the Roads Are Open by Annemarie Schwarzenbach – This travelogue cum memoir is, says roughghosts’ Joseph Schreiber, a “roughly chronological assemblage of short pieces” written by Annemarie Schwarzenbach as she makes “her way by steamship back to Europe from Bombay” in 1939. Accompanied by “ethnologist and filmmaker” Ella Maillart, the Swiss writer, journalist, photographer and “LGBT icon” – characterized here as an “androgynous beauty” – creates “a memorable, exciting and insightful look at a way of life in Afghanistan that was on the verge of disappearing”. All the Roads Are Open: The Afghan Journey has qualities “not seen in more typical travel writing”, and the country “touched her deeply.” Joseph suspects she “would be heartbroken by the tragic condition of the country today.”
* 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 selection of interesting snippets:
Catapult: Native Flowers and True Names: Using Research to Write Richer Narrative Fiction – “To write her book If You Leave Me, Crystal Hana Kim used research to be true to Korea, down to its roots.”
iNews: Dan Rhodes on Sour Grapes: ‘Publishing is run by a small clique of squares worrying about who will come to their next dinner party’ – “The author talks to Julia Raeside about his raucous new satire [Sour Grapes] that takes aim at the ‘toffee-nosed’ publishing industry and his other day job – as a postman”.
The Age: ‘It only takes one’: How Australian crime writing took over the world – Fifteen years ago, a very senior UK publisher told Michael Robotham that he would happily accept a crime novel set anywhere in the world except Australia. Times have changed.
History Today: Books of the Year 2021 – “Revolutionary France, lights out in the Ottoman Empire, gross obscenity, Napoleon’s gardens and the humble index: ten historians reflect on a year of reading.”
Irish Examiner: Dervla Murphy: ‘If you’re fearless, you don’t need courage’ – “Her travels have taken her all over the world. As she turns 90, trailblazer Dervla Murphy reflects on an extraordinary life.”
Ploughshares: The Joy of Reading Slowly – Laura Spence-Ash feels she has become a far better reader over the last year and a half because of learning how to read more slowly. Most importantly, however, she once again loves to read.
Liberties: Against Translation – Benjamin Moser writes about translation as a form of tourism in literary life.
The New York Times: The 10 Best Books of 2021 – “Editors at The Times Book Review choose the best fiction and nonfiction titles this year.”
Nippon.com: “Isekai” Boom Offers Better Lives in Other Worlds – “Japan’s youth-friendly light novel industry is currently seeing a boom in isekai, a subgenre of fantasy where protagonists are “reincarnated” from their boring life in the real world into something much more important in another. What is behind the popularity of these stories?” asks Ogihara Gyorai.
Book Marks: Mikhal Dekel on Anna Karenina, Dubliners, and A Room of One’s Own – “Rapid-fire” book recommendations from the Israeli-born writer and professor of literature, Mikhal Dekel – author of In the East: How My Father and a Quarter Million Polish Jews Survived the Holocaust.
The Guardian: Cain’s Jawbone: TikTok helps reissued literary puzzle fly off the shelves – Alison Flood on the reissue of Cain’s Jawbone, a “1934 murder mystery that has only been solved four times [and has sold] out online after social media boost”.
Nation Cymru: Book Council of Wales at 60: But there are ghosts by Richard Lewis Davies – “Two Rivers from a Common Spring is a new volume of essays celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Books Council of Wales [charting] the legacy and work of the Council through contributions from voices in the Welsh publishing industry.”
gal-dem: Nairobi’s formerly ‘white-only’ libraries are now the centre of Kenya’s literary renaissance – Michelle Chepchumba explains how “a group of Nairobi citizens are working to bring the city’s oldest library back to life, and back to those who need it most.”
Public Books: Brilliant Together: On Feminist Memoirs – Megan Stephan suggests that collective feminist narratives can acknowledge, to differing degrees, the stories that are missing from them.
Spectator World: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece is finally appearing – Robert D. Kaplan shares his thoughts on March 1917: The Red Wheel, Node III, Book 3 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – part of a multivolume masterwork about the Russian Revolution told in the form of a historical novel (now translated into English).
The Paris Review: Re-Covered: Looking for Trouble by Virginia Cowles – A female war journalist takes to the front lines during World War II in Looking for Trouble, a memoir first published in 1941, now reissued by Faber.
World Literature Today: World Literature Today’s 75—Make That 100—Notable Translations of 2021 – “2021 was a robust year for literary translations” – and “this list kept growing,” says Michelle Johnson.
Reason: Foucault in the Panopticon – In this piece about Foucault in Warsaw by Remigiusz Ryziński, Geoff Shullenberger reveals how “Michel Foucault’s encounters in Poland’s heavily policed gay community informed his ideas”.
Quill & Quire: 2021 Cundill History Prize winner announced – Marjoleine Kars wins 2021 Cundill History Prize for Blood on the River: A Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast, an untold story of a slave rebellion unearthed from an untapped Dutch archive.
JSTOR: How an Incan Nobleman Contested Spanish History – “Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala left behind a one-of-a-kind object that undermines the crónicas de Indias.”
The Irish Times: Irish women who rocked the patriarchal system with their words – Sonja Tiernan on Irish Women’s Speeches: Voices That Rocked The System – a collection of thirty-two inspiring speeches by women of Ireland from the nineteenth century to the present.
NPR: 12 books NPR staffers loved in 2021 that might surprise you – Books We Love, formerly known as NPR’s Book Concierge, is back for 2021. Here are a handful of books that NPR staffers named as some of their favourites of the year.
The Markaz Review: Three Banned Saudi Novels Everyone Should Read – Despite its repressive regimes, Saudi Arabia has produced a number of world-class novelists – several of whom have seen their best work banned. Rana Asfour reviews three in English translation.
Literature Alliance Scotland: Scotland’s National Book Awards 2021 Winners – Ely Percy’s coming-of-age novel Duck Feet won Book of the Year at the Scotland National Book Awards 2021, while Canongate scooped Publisher of the Year.
Evening Standard: Bernardine Evaristo appointed president of Royal Society of Literature – “Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo has been appointed as the new president of the Royal Society of Literature.”
The New York Review: Howl – “The author of a new book on werewolves has hunted across the centuries for buried items of lore, ranging from ancient Greek texts to Victorian ghost stories”, writes Marina Warner in her review of The Werewolf in the Ancient World by Daniel Ogden.
The Asian Age: Discovering the Oz author who was lawyer for Rani of Jhansi – “In his short life of 48 years, John Lang produced 23 novels, one travelogue, some plays and five volumes of poetry”, writes Sucheta Dasgupta in her review of John Lang: Wanderer of Hindoostan, Slanderer in Hindoostanee, Lawyer for the Ranee.
Geographical: Survival, Innovation and Profit on the Front Lines of the Climate Crisis by Simon Mundy book review – According to Katie Burton, “Simon Mundy’s Race For Tomorrow is a work of hugely impressive breadth.”
BBC Wales: How Hay-on-Wye book lovers fought to save town library – “Despite some 300,000 book fans visiting Hay Festival each year,” reports Tyler Edwards, “council cuts almost left the Welsh border community without a library.”
LALT: Introduction: 100 Years of Jaime Sáenz – Jessica Freudenthal Ovando introduces readers to the Bolivian poet, novelist and short story writer, Jaime Sáenz.
Mint Lounge: Book on Naoroji wins Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF prize 2021 – “Historian Dinyar Patel’s biography, Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism, wins fourth edition of prize”.
Penguin: The easy reading hack that completely changed my day – Indira Birnie reveals how “a different approach helped [her] feel more energised” – and helped her to “fall in love with books again.”
This is Africa: KwaChirere Previews Where the Heart Is: a novel by Andrew Chatora – “The fast-rising UK based Zimbabwean writer, Andrew Chatora, has a second novel in the wings”: Where the Heart Is.
Toronto Star: Quebec writer Marie-Claire Blais, once the enfant terrible of French Canadian fiction, has died at the age of 82 – Canadian novelist and poet Marie-Claire Blais, an emblematic figure of contemporary Quebec literature, died in Key West on 30th November.
The Wall Street Journal: ‘The Collected Prose of T.S. Eliot’ Review: Keeper of the Flame – “T.S. Eliot was not only one of the most important 20th-century poets—he defined what poetry of the era ought to be”, says Joseph Epstein in his review of Ronald Schuchard’s monumental eight-volume edition of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot.
Smithsonian: Smithsonian Scholars Pick Their Favorite Books of 2021 – “The writings of many fine authors support the research and ambitious undertakings of an Institution rising to the challenges ahead”, writes Beth Py-Lieberman.
Bitch Media: Righteous Spirit – Indigenous horror authors are resisting the long impact of colonization and Christianity, which forced their communities to either hide or abandon their stories, finds Abaki Beck.
Japan Today: World’s first NFT of a Japanese novel with English translation hopes to provide profitable opportunity for translators – In a “first ever NFT (non-fungible token) novel project,” Japanese science fiction author Miyuki Ono’s novel Pure is “being re-edited as an NFT Original novel to release on the OpenSea NFT marketplace.”
La Prensa Latina: Acclaimed Spanish writer Almudena Grandes dies – The Spanish author Almudena Grandes has died of cancer at the age of 61.
The Asahi Shimbun: Library in an apartment setting an idea catching on fast – Overwhelmed with books, Junya Dohi came up with a novel idea for setting up a library.
InsideHook: A Generation of Writers Turns to a New Muse: Skateboarding – “New books from José Vadi and Kyle Beachy are just the tip of the iceberg”, finds Tobias Carroll.
HKFP: Exclusive: Hong Kong public libraries purge 29 titles about the Tiananmen Massacre from the shelves – “Hong Kong’s libraries now have 392 fewer copies of books about the June 4, 1989 massacre than they did in 2009,” finds Selina Cheng.
Mashable: Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition review: The upgrade is worth the money – According to Stan Schroeder, it’s “the best e-reader out there, and it’s not much pricier than the regular Kindle Paperwhite.”
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