An end of week recap
“Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.”
– Jane Yolen
Today I am toasting 200 wind ups with an immense mug of hot chocolate. Since posting WUTW #1 on 14th January 2018, the contents have expanded somewhat, and the weekly list of links has grown, but I still take great pleasure unearthing literary truffles each week and will continue to do so until everyone is thoroughly cheesed off with the format. In the meantime, I thank you, my good-natured followers, for your unwavering support and invaluable input.
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.
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.
* Join the Japanese Literature Challenge *
In her introductory post to next year’s reading event, Meredith Smith of Dolce Bellezza welcomes regulars and newbies alike to join in the Japanese Literature Challenge, “now in its fifteenth year.” She describes it as “an opportunity to read and share works written by Japanese authors”, during which contributors are encouraged to review one or more books (originally written in Japanese) between 1st January and 31st March. There are prizes to be won, says Meredith, so she suggests you to “stay tuned” for future announcements. If this sounds like your bowl of cha, please head over to The Japanese Literature Challenge 15 (January through March, 2022) for detailed instructions on taking part.
* 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:
Reading and Writing Science – While visiting one of his favourite bookstores in Cincinnati, Dr. Dan L. Fortenbacher of The Visionhelp Blog “chanced upon” Richard Dawkins’ newly published anthology, which includes pieces by fiction and non-fiction writers on subjects relating to science and the natural world. Having only last week referenced Books Do Furnish a Life: Reading and Writing Science in a post, he was delighted discover it also includes a great many book reviews by the British evolutionary biologist, best known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design. “Whether or not one takes issue with Dawkins’ views about theology,” says Dan, this “wide-ranging collection” is entirely “at home in a variety of [academic] departments” and should “be of interest” to a great many readers.
The Memoirs Of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller – Miller’s historical novel, based on a real man “with one eye” who lives “alone on isolated Svalbard”, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, “before the second world war”, is at times “quite beautiful”, writes CravenWild’s Hermione Flavia in her review of The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven. The story takes the reader out of their “warm, social whirl” to “the end of the world”, where the “misanthropic” protagonist leads an “incredibly hard” existence. He does, however, make “quite a few friends over the course of his life” and she particularly enjoys the depiction of “his relationship with a dog.” Hermione suggests this warm-hearted winter read, which throws into relief issues of “not fitting in and finding belonging”, would make the perfect gift for the “introvert in your life”.
* 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:
Fine Books & Collections: Winter Reading: Books About Books – FB&C examines Rebecca Rego Barry’s shelf of “engaging winter reads for bibliophiles.”
The Economist: Scheherazade’s revenge: A new English version of “The Arabian Nights” is the first by a woman – “A classic of world literature gets an overdue makeover” in The Annotated Arabian Nights: Tales from 1001 Nights, translated by Yasmine Seale.
Grattan Institute: Announcing Grattan Institute’s 2021 Prime Minister’s Summer Reading List – “As Australia emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, Grattan Institute has chosen six books for the Prime Minister to read over the summer break.”
Atlas Obscura: Keeping the Memory of Zora Neale Hurston Alive in a Small Florida City – “The preservation of a heritage trail, where the author and anthropologist spent the last years of her life, takes a whole community.”
RÚV: Nominations for the Icelandic Literature Prize Presented – Bjarni Rúnarsson reports that the nominees for the Icelandic Literary Prize 2021 have been announced.
Public Books: Subaquatic Homesick Blues – Taiwanese sci-fi novel, The Membranes, which is set under the sea after the surface becomes uninhabitable, reveals the remarkable burst of cultural freedom in 1990s Taiwan.
Georgia Straight: Gift Guide: B.C. publishers set the table for book lovers on your list (volume 1) – Charlie Smith discovers there’s been “an onslaught of intriguing books from B.C. publishers in advance of the holiday season.”
The Center for Fiction: 200 Books That Shaped 200 Years – A list selected by a panel of authors setting forth “200 works of fiction that had the most impact on American readers, writers, and culture over these past two centuries.”
The Irish Times: Dream worlds: islands, isolation and disintegration – “Alison Moore, author of The Retreat, explores the enduring appeal of remote places, especially islands, for writers.”
Prospect: Jeanette Winterson’s diary: Is this the new normal? – “Yes or no can both be managed. The problem lies in not knowing when the not-knowing will end”.
The Paris Review: Our Contributors’ Favorite Books of 2021 – Paris Review contributors—from across its print issues, website and podcast—give us a peek into their reading habits.
Evening Standard: Best books 2021: our writers pick the year’s best novels, from Patricia Lockwood to Torrey Peters – “Give someone (or yourself) a very good book this Christmas.”
Bustle: This Dishy New Podcast Goes Deep On Dark Academia – Author, Lili Anolik chats to Samantha Leach about the “patron saint” of Dark Academia.
Arab News: Saudi Translation Forum: Language plays ‘crucial role’ in shaping society – The first Saudi Translation Forum examined – “the main issues and challenges facing the global translation industry.”
Changing America: New book wins award for ‘oddest book title of the year’ – “Is Superman Circumcised? by Roy Schwartz is a scholarly book examining the Jewish history of the world’s greatest superhero.”
The Rumpus: Stained with Autobiography: Talking with Christopher Gonzalez – Queer Puerto Rican, Christopher Gonzalez, discusses his debut story collection, I’m Not Hungry But I Could Eat, with Hannah Grieco.
AP News: Nobel Prizes awarded in pandemic-curtailed local ceremonies – “For a second year, COVID-19 has scuttled the traditional formal banquet in Stockholm attended by winners of the prizes in chemistry, physics, medicine, literature and economics”, reports Jill Lawless.
Vulture: What’s So Hard About Crediting Translators? – “Translations into English are expected to be seamless”, says Kira Josefsson, “but the people who do the work rarely get the attention or pay they deserve.”
Harper’s Bazaar: Gayl Jones Wrote the Future – “Gayl Jones’ fiction and poetry laid the map for our current literary landscape”, says American writer Kaitlyn Greenidge. “With her newest novel Palmares out now, three writers at the top of their game—Deesha Philyaw; Jason Reynolds and Angela Flournoy—give praise for what she’s given.”
The National: Dylan Moore’s personal pick of 12 Welsh books from 2021 – “It has been a vintage year for Welsh books,” says Dylan Moore. Here he suggests twelve books with which to stuff your stocking this Christmas.
The Indian Express: Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize to be merged for year 2021, 2022: Organisers – “The annual award, won by Journalist-author Raj Kamal Jha in 2020 for his novel The City and The Sea, will now be held for both the years in New Delhi in October, 2022.”
DW: ‘Lord of the Rings’ film turns 20 – “J.R.R. Tolkien’s saga was long considered ‘unfilmable.’ But then director Peter Jackson came along, and made film history with his ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.”
Bomb: We Must be Willing to Engage: Matthew Clark Davison Interviewed by Lyle Ashton Harris – Doubting Thomas is a “novel that explores gay identity, multiracial relationships, class privilege, and the discrepancy between progressive ideals and enduring stereotypes.”
The Guardian: Crowdfunding offers the UK’s independent booksellers a pandemic lifeline – “As local bookshop numbers grow, readers have come together to back them in Crickhowell, Brighton and Buckley.”
ABC News: Authors of color speak out against efforts to ban books on race – “Authors say that the effort to ban books about race is ‘censorship.’”
ActuaLitté – 1984, the novel by George Orwell, revisited in a feminist version – Clément Solym reveals that Sandra Newman has been “co-opted by George Orwell’s rights holders, for the writing of Julia, a novel telling the story of 1984 through the point of view of the young woman — tortured in the book for breaking the rules.
English Pen: Rebecca Wragg Sykes wins PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize 2021 – Archaeologist and writer, Rebecca Wragg Sykes has been awarded the annual PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize 2021 for her critically acclaimed history of the Neanderthals, Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art.
Exberliner: Judith Schalansky: “History is never complete” – Alexander Wells speaks to the German writer, book designer and publisher, Judith Schalansky, about “the power of the literary fragment” and An Inventory of Losses – her “genre-bending reflection on memory and loss”.
The Yale Review: The Power of Testimony – Vivian Gornick on why she thinks “personal narrative has displaced fiction”.
The Bookseller: Bookshop Heroes class of 2021 revealed – “Twenty-three people have been included in The Bookseller’s Bookshop Heroes class of 2021, a list of some of the best individual booksellers in the UK and Ireland.”
JSTOR Daily: What If We’ve Been Misunderstanding Monsters? – Cody Delistraty suggests “fictional evil creatures might be more nuanced—and have more to teach us—than has long seemed.”
GQ: The 50 Best Books of Literary Journalism of the 21st Century – “From garbage recycling in a Mumbai settlement to shocking murders in France,” Daniel Riley declares this selection of pieces, “incredible feats of reporting and storytelling.”
BBC Devon: 16th Century books sell for £365,000 at Exeter auction – “Two 16th Century books with a rare folding map of the world included have sold at an auction for £365,000.”
Poetry Foundation: She Would Quite Like to Kill Me – Following the recent publication of The Collected Writings of Assia Wevill by Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick, Emily Cooke questions whether Wevill was more than merely the mistress who came between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.
Penguin: 5 London pubs with legendary literary histories – “From pubs Charles Dickens made famous to ‘Shakespeare’s Local’ to the spot where George Orwell found respite, London’s taverns are packed with literary lore”, say John Warland, author of Liquid History: An Illustrated Guide to London’s Greatest Pubs.
Tablet: Treason of the Intellectuals – “The French thinker Julien Benda [author of The Treason of the Intellectuals] made a high-minded case for the moral transcendence of the truth”, writes Mark Lilla. However, he perceives the “flaws in his argument show why speaking truth to power is a fraught endeavor.”
The National: Sheikh Zayed Book Award announces longlist for literature – Evelyn Lau reports – “Works by writers from the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia are nominated for the prestigious accolade”.
Australian Book Review: Books of the Year – ABR contributors “look back at 2021’s literary highlights.”
Jacobin: The Left Should Defend Classical Education – In her review of Roosevelt Montás’ Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation, Liza Featherstone argues that “the great books aren’t just a collection of ‘dead white males,’ and teaching or reading them isn’t elitist or Eurocentric. On the contrary,” she says, “they are a treasure that should be made available and accessible to working-class people everywhere.”
Shine: Fu credited with bringing China closer to European traditions and philosophy – The Fu Lei Library is the only library in China themed on a literary luminary, housing as it does the complete collection of Fu Lei’s translated works and other writings.
Agenda.Ge: Culture minister: Litera Prize will not be resumed after ministry “did everything” to save contest – Georgia’s Minister of Culture, Sport and Youth has announced her ministry “will not resume its support of the Litera Prize”.
Los Angeles Magazine: The Story Behind How Library Cats Came to the Rescue of L.A.’s Kitties – “People have called us crazy cat ladies or even witches, because nearly all the cats are black,” one of the many volunteers tells James T. Bartlett.
Avidly: Herman Melville’s Commode – Hester Blum has “recently become the reverential custodian of a commode that belonged to Herman Melville.” She explains how this came to be.
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