An end of week recap
“While thought exists, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living.”
– Cyril Connolly
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.
* 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:
The seasons of love and death: The Year by Tomas Espedal – Norwegian author, Tomas Espedal’s “most recent work to be released in English” is a book that ponders life’s big questions, but is “written entirely in free verse,” says roughghosts’ Joseph Schreiber. Taking his inspiration from Francesco Petrarca, a scholar and poet of early Renaissance Italy with a hopeless passion for a married woman, the objective of the modern-day narrator (described here as “another lovelorn man”) is to keep a daily record over a twelve-month period in the form of a journal as he goes on “a sort of pilgrimage.” The Year, says Joseph, is a “compulsively readable” novel, which “effectively captures the protagonist’s reflective, frequently repetitive and increasingly neurotic consciousness” as he struggles to “let go of his love for his former girlfriend.” It is, he concludes, a “profound, wide-reaching” work, with much to say about “the world in which we all exist.”
The Republic of Love – Carol Shields – When Claire from The Captive Reader was in high school, the triumvirate of Canadian women’s literature was Atwood, Munro and Shields – the latter of whom she only “properly” became acquainted with at “the start of this year.” Much to her delight, The Republic of Love, Carol Shields’ “tender and leisurely-told tale” of two unlucky lovers who find happiness together was the “perfect” choice. Set in Winnipeg – in “a close knit and entirely recognizable” community – the novel “captures normal life so well that when love arrives, it feels both extraordinary and entirely natural.” Quotidian it may be, but, says Claire, the narrative elicits the “kind of magic we all wish could happen” in our lives. She “loved every word.”
* 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:
CBC Books: Here is the Canada Reads 2022 longlist – “The panellists and the books they choose to champion will be revealed on Jan. 26.”
Ploghshares: The Living Sea of Waking Dreams’s New Ways of Writing the Dying World – In Marek Makowski’s critical essay, he contends that Richard Flanagan’s latest novel, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, shows us how a writer can tell the story of our anxious, disturbed world in a meaningful way.
Vogue: It’s high time Malayalam literature claimed a spot on our bookshelves – “Since its launch in 2018, the JCB Prize for Literature has expanded the reach of regional Indian writing beyond the dominant English-language books. And among India’s varied and multifaceted literary voices, Malayalam writing is having its moment in the spotlight,” says Sana Goyal.
The Guardian: Love in a Cold Climate: still sparkling, despite its age – “Nancy Mitford’s novel [Love in a Cold Climate] offers a funny and subversive take on the self-assurance of a 1940s aristocratic family. Each reread uncovers new details, and uses a sharp wit to examine love, attraction and ageing,” writes Moira Redmond.
Nippon.com: Exploring Stories at the “Haruki Murakami Library” – “Robert Campbell, an advisor at the new Waseda International House of Literature (aka Haruki Murakami Library) in Tokyo, talks about how he aims to spark new creativity through events at the facility, and discusses Murakami’s international appeal.”
The Phnom Penh Post: Moliere: 400 years as master of the French stage and language– France marks 400 years of Molière, master of stage and satire.
Oxford Review of Books: Go Small or Go Home – Fresh “literary magazines spring up as often as others go stale,” finds Annabel Jackson.
The New York Times Magazine: Into the Belly of the Whale With Sjón – Sam Anderson finds the “Icelandic novelist, poet and Björk collaborator is a surrealist for our time.”
Lapham’s Quarterly: What an Ending – Dylan Byron considers “E.M. Forster’s Maurice at four moments in time.”
Brittle Paper: Bernardine Evaristo’s New Book on Feminism is Published by the Tate Museum – Alesia Alexander is delighted to discover Bernardine Evaristo new book, Feminism, examines “gender in relation to the artworks in the Tate’s collection.”
Asymptote: Richard Cho reviews Chilean Poet: A Novel by Alejandro Zambra – Cho declares Chilean Poet Zambra’s “best work yet, generously infused with nostalgic tenderness, original humor, and Zambraesque storytelling vitality.”
Irish Examiner: ‘A true man of letters’: Author Colm Tóibín named Laureate for Irish Fiction until 2024 – Denise O’Donoghue reveals the “award-winning author and playwright Colm Tóibín has been named the Laureate for Irish Fiction for 2022 to 2024 by the Arts Council, taking over from Sebastian Barry.”
Boston Globe: After a loss, learning to live – Michele Filgate reviews Tides, Sara Freeman’s debut novel in which she explores a woman’s desperate attempt at transformation.
Vintage: Celebrate Pride and Prejudice Day on 28 January – This year, Jane Austen’s House is taking its ‘Pride and Prejudice Day’ celebrations online, with activities including a virtual book club and guided tour of the house.
Smithsonian: Shakespeare First Folio Acquired by the University of British Columbia – “The volume is going on display at Vancouver Art Gallery as part of a new exhibition,” says Livia Gershon.
WBUR: A Jack Kerouac museum is on the road to reality in Lowell – The iconic author’s estate has announced that it’s been pursuing the concept of a Kerouac museum and performance centre in Lowell for years. Now it’s finally moving ahead, reports Andrea Shea.
The Irish Times: 12 debut Irish writers to look out for in 2022 – Niamh Donnelly introduces new Irish authors Olivia Fitzsimons, Catherine Prasifka, Sheila Armstrong and others.
Book Riot: The Messay: An Introduction – Laura Sackton gets to grips with the messay, a “memoir-essay hybrid,” which she describes as a “genre-defying kind of nonfiction.”
Yonhap News Agency: ‘Kim Ji-young, Born 1982,’ most-sold S. Korean literary book overseas – According to a recent announcement by the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, Cho Nam-ju‘s feminist novel, Kim Ji-young Born in 1982, is “the most popular South Korean literary book overseas [in the last] five years.”
BBC Culture: The sci-fi genre offering radical hope for living better – “In these times of cynicism and despair, is ‘hopepunk’ the perfect antidote? David Robson explores radical optimism, and why it matters.”
AnOther: Nine Great Women Writers You’ve Never Heard Of – “The creative editor at Penguin Classics picks out the most pioneering, unsung authors from the last century.”
Vanity Fair: On Becoming Lucy Sante – “For the first time, the renowned writer, culture critic, and scholar of the demimonde discusses her transition—and finding herself.”
The Quietus: Fuel R 30: Inside The Design-Focused Independent Publisher – “For thirty years, Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell of Fuel Design have been publishing strange and unusual books about sweet wrappers and Soviet bus stops by the likes of Jonny Trunk, Owen Hatherley, Tracey Emin, and the Chapman Brothers. They talk to Nilgin Yusuf about plane crashes and independent publishing.”
PEN Transmissions: The Threat of the Mob: An Interview with Anuradha Roy – “Anuradha Roy on artists facing threat, publishing in India, and literary dogs.”
The Telegraph: Sally J Morgan: Novelist who avoided close call with Wests wins £10,000 literary prize – Sally J Morgan has won the £10,000 Portico Prize for Literature with her debut novel Toto Among the Murderers, based on the author’s own experience of being offered a lift by the infamous murderers Fred and Rosemary West.
BOMB Magazine: You Can Become the Wolf: Maxim Loskutoff Interviewed by Mikkel Rosengaard – Mikkel Rosengaard interviews the author of Ruthie Fear, an “eco-parable about the new Interior West.”
Tablet: The Nomad – A question and answer session with the controversial French intellectual and writer, Bernard-Henri Lévy.
The Guardian: More than 100 writers, artists, comedians and musicians will voice James Joyce’s seminal novel in celebration of its publication a century ago – “More than 100 writers, artists, comedians and musicians will voice James Joyce’s seminal novel in celebration of its publication a century ago.”
iNews: Dana Spiotta on Wayward: ‘Literature overlooked the menopause’ – “I always thought, what if Mrs Dalloway had a hot flush?” Dana Spiotta discusses her fifth novel, Wayward, with Susie Mesure.
BBC Northern Ireland: Bookshops: A new chapter for independent sellers? – “When bookseller Jenni Doherty reflects on how she managed to navigate the various coronavirus lockdowns, she quips: ‘We were all making it up as we went along.’”
DW: Michel Houellebecq’s new novel, ‘Annihilate,’ to be his last – “With his latest tome, the literary provocateur Michel Houellebecq completes his writer’s quest: to portray a dying white patriarchy. The big surprise comes in the acknowledgments,” says Christine Lehnen.
Frontlist: Interview with Venkataraghavan Subha Srinivasan, author of ‘The Origin Story of India’s States’ – “Interview with Venkataraghavan Subha Srinivasan, author of The Origin Story of India’s States.
Columbia Magazine: The Peculiar Perils of Literary Translation – “In balancing authenticity with readability, translators tackle a seemingly impossible art – and rarely receive enough credit,” says Paul Hond.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Peter Carey hands over thousands of personal documents to archives – Kerrie O’Brien reveals that a massive Peter Carey acquisition for the State Library of Victoria “provides unprecedented insight into the process and personality of the author, one of only four to have won the Booker Prize twice.”
Bon Appétit: Hanya Yanagihara’s Dream Dinner Party Is One Big Performance – Dawn Davis finds the “beloved author” of A Little Life “is all about dinner and a show.”
Eurozine: The stakes of feminism – Zsófia Lóránd explains how the Croatian journalist, novelist and essayist, Slavenka Drakulić, “made space for women’s issues in Yugoslavia.”
The Spectator: The first fairy stories were never intended for children – “Nicholas Jubber explores the roots in different cultures of tales such as Cinderella, originally meant for adults” in his new book, The Fairy Tellers: A Journey Into The Secret History Of Fairy Tales.
California18: The Emile Guimet Prize for Asian Literature for NG Kim Chew – The jury of the Émile Guimet Prize for Asian Literature chose NG Kim Chew for his novel Pluie (Rain) as winner of the 2021 award.
Gawker: Tartt for Tartt’s Sake: The Secret History at 30 – Tara Isabella Burton revisits Donna Tartt’s The Secret History – “a book [she] wanted to love but couldn’t, and still can’t.”
Locus: Philip K. Dick Award 2022 Finalists – The six works nominated for the 2022 Philip K. Dick Award were announced by the judges and the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, along with the Philip K. Dick Trust on 11th January.
American Scholar: A Matter of Emphasis – Max Byrd on the word not and “its many permutations.”
Architectural Digest: Spot-On Comparisons of Tilda Swinton and Libraries Are Going Viral on Twitter – “A thread started by writer and cartoonist Jude Atwood perfectly compares architecture and fashion using library buildings and the Orlando star,” says Rachel Wallace.
The First News: Bookworm heaven: Automatic 24hr book dispensers set to become 2022’s newest trend – “Easily mistaken for the parcel lockers that have become such an endemic feature of Poland’s towns and cities, automatic book dispensers have taken the country by storm and look set to become one of the dominant urban trends of 2022,” finds Alex Webber.
Metro: Should audiobooks be considered ‘real’ books? Readers weigh in – Some people argue that listening to audiobooks doesn’t count as actually reading, but many readers say otherwise. Michele Theil asks why.
Eater: The Coolest Place to Drink Is Your Local Bookstore – “New takes on the classic college-town genre offer guests the chance to curate reading lists, sip natural wines, and eat great food,” says Jaya Saxena.
Prospect: Cancel culture is turning healthy tensions into irreconcilable conflicts – Irish polemicist, literary editor, journalist and drama critic Fintan O’Toole suspects ‘decent discourse’ is “dying.” However, he maintains “we still need the antiquated virtue of tolerance.”
Hyperallergic: “Dune” Crypto Group That Paid $3M For Rare Book Mocked For Thinking They Owned The Rights – Sarah Rose Sharp reports: “A coalition of investors raised funds to purchase the film’s storyboard and announced they would ‘make the book public.’”
Longreads: Calling All Writers: Pitch Us Your Reading Lists – Longreads is “seeking new contributors” to write about reading. Whether you are a seasoned professional book critic or just starting out on your book blogging journey, they would like you to “pitch […] your reading list ideas”
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
Lovely to see The Republic of Love mentioned. One of my favourite Carol Shields novels.
Thank you, Susan. I particularly enjoyed your review of Michele Filgate’s Tides this week. 😊
Thanks as always Paula! I hadn’t spotted that piece about the Kerouac museum – off to check it out!
Happy browsing, Kaggsy! 😊
I loved Tartt for Tartt’s Sake, as it articulates some of what I’ve thought about The Secret History. Thanks for the assortment, as always!
Thank you, Jeanne! 😊
Right about now I could use some hopepunk… Thanks for the links and the Connolly quote!
As ever, Julé, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. 😊
Lovely selection of pieces again; I enjoyed the piece on Malyalam translations–something I must explore sometime soon, also the one on the fairy tale book which again I’ll end up adding to my TBR!
I’m glad you always find something of interest in my weekly posts. Thank you so much for commenting. 😊
I know I won’t be able to read all of these and follow up so many fascinating leads but I always feel better informed after seeing your roundup and a bit more in touch with what’s going on. Lovely to see a mention of Carol Shields … Though I feel sad she isn’t around to comment on the world today you have reminded me I haven’t yet read all her published work!
Carol Shields was a great loss – she went far too early.
Thank you, as always, for your kind comments, Maria. 😊
Another cornucopia of delights! If only I had the energy to follow up every single one that grabbed my curiosity ☺️
Thank you, Chris. I’m afraid I get rather carried away once I start link truffling! 🤭
1. I love seeing Carol Shields here!
2. Isn’t the cover for the “Book of Wings” stunning?
3. Book vending machines are such a great idea! (And healthier than a bag of chips!)
Thank you, Naomi, for your lovely list of the links you enjoyed following. Yes, I was most taken with the splendid Book of Wings cover! 🤩
I love that Connolly quote! I’ve always thought reading isn’t quite escapism, but not been able to exactly explain why. Now I know someone much cleverer has done it for me 🙂
It is one of my favourite quotes, too. 😊