An end of week recap
“Houses are like books: so many of them around you, yet you only look at a few and visit or reside in fewer still.”
– Milorad Pavic
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.
* Explore It Lit in ‘22 *
“Italy is such a historically and culturally rich country,” with a myriad of wonderful authors, says Diana in her introduction to the Italia Reading Challenge at Thoughts on Papyrus. She has therefore “decided to make 2022 [her] year [for] exploring Italian literature” and invites others to take part in her evento. Running from now until the end of December 2022, Diana has listed the ten books she intends to read herself – though you may opt for less (more, if you wish!) – and suggests you use the #ReadItaliaChallenge when posting your progress on Twitter. She will create links to your follow-up pieces on a “general list,” in addition to writing a “summary post” at the end of the year. For further information, please make your way over to Italia Reading Challenge 2022.
* Go Wild Reading This Year *
Gum trees and Galaxies will continue its “tradition of hosting” the Gaia/Nature Reading Challenge in 2022, says Sharon – co-host of the nature-loving Australian book, travel and adventure blog. She invites you to join her and GG in reading fiction and non-fiction works devoted to wildlife, climate and the environment between now and the end of the year. There are “no real rules”, except to “pledge to read as many or as few nature themed books” as you like. She therefore suggests you check out the Nature – Environment Book list for ideas and, should this reading jolly take your fancy, “leave a comment [including a] link to your preferred social media platform.” To find out more about taking part, please head to the 2022 Nature Reading Challenge Sign up page before getting started at 2022 Gaia/nature reading book bingo. Incidentally, the delightful critter in the teacup is apparently a Sugar Glider.
* 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:
Book Review: True Biz by Sara Nović – “Set at the fictional River Valley School for the Deaf,” True Biz, says Rachel from pace, amore, libri, “is effectively a love letter to deaf culture.” While far from “plot heavy” and in some ways “anticlimactic,” this “coming of age” novel “informs and engages in equal measure” – indeed, she describes it as a “crash course in deafness for those of us who are lacking in [such] knowledge.” American writer, Sara Nović, who is herself deaf, never patronizes her characters but quietly depicts their daily lives at the residential halls in a style that is “compulsively readable.” In conclusion, Rachel says she enjoyed the book and suspects it will be “a big hit” when published in April.
Resonances – Julé Cunningham of Gallimaufry Book Studio finds it “almost impossible […] to resist a book about books” – especially when it gathers together conversations conducted by two readers with fellow readers, “all of whom are also writers, talking about books they love.” Each piece in Nancy Pearl’s and Jeff Schwager’s The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives is proceeded by an A.E. Kieran illustration, and Julé says she relished reading slowly, “one interview at a time”, enjoying the “enthusiasm” expressed for books by contributors ranging from Laila Lalami and Madeline Miller to T.C. Boyle and Louise Erdrich. It is, she declares, a “thoroughly enjoyable addition to any book about books shelf,” though, should space have allowed, she would love to know which “non-U.S. writers” would its creators have included?
* 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:
The Age: What to read next: A historical mystery and a film buff’s favourites – Lucy Sussex and Steven Carroll cast their eyes over recent fiction and non-fiction.
Aeon: Great books are still great – “Read with love, rather than critical distance, the classics can provide tools to subvert oppressive hierarchies,” says Roosevelt Montás.
Physics Today: Author Q&A: Benjamín Labatut on physics and the void – Ryan Dahn finds the “Chilean author’s new book, When We Cease to Understand the World, has taken the literary world by storm.”
The Scotsman: Robert Burns: When and where was Robert Burns born? Here’s who the Scots bard was – and how he died – On 25th January, Scottish people around the world celebrated Burns Night. Liv McMahon provides everything you need to know about Scotland’s national poet and the Scots bard, Robert Burns.
Literary Hub: We Will Always Need Virginia Woolf: A Common Reader’s Defense – “Emma Knight contemplates the legacy of a literary icon.”
Publishers Weekly: Mazey Eddings Explores the Benefits of Writer Friends – Mazey Eddings, the neurodiverse author of A Brush with Love, weighs up the benefits of having friends who are fellow writers.
Vintage: Tessa Hadley: ‘I am so glad I didn’t publish a debut novel at 25’ – Tessa Hadley, author of Free Love, tells Alice Vincent why returning to the Sixties helped her to understand life now.
The Africa Report: Osvalde Lewat wins the Pan-African Literature Prize with ‘Les Aquatiques’ – Anne Bocandé reveals that the Grand Prix Pan-Africain de Littérature has gone to Cameroonian writer, Osvalde Lewat, for her novel Les Aquatiques.
Refinery29: Filth & Loathing: Why ‘Gross’ Women Are Taking Over Literature – “What makes a character a ‘gross woman’?” asks Natalie Wall. Here she scrutinizes female characters who “embrace filth and debauchery.”
Public Books: Healing Through Ordinary Stories – What Chinese readers consume diverges from what is translated into English. Writers of ordinary life are often left untranslated—until now, finds Angie Chau.
CBC: Hamilton author’s new book tells the story of a woman enslaved in Canada – It Was Dark There All the Time by Andrew Hunter “tells the story of Sophia Burthen Pooley.”
Penguin: Where to start reading Halldór Laxness – Carmella Lowkis writes: “2022 marks 120 years since the birth of Halldór Laxness, the undisputed master of contemporary Icelandic fiction and recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. To mark the anniversary, here is where to start reading his remarkable body of work.”
Words Without Borders: 9 Dystopian Novels in Translation to Read Now – Recent and forthcoming dystopian fiction from Argentina, Egypt, Iceland, Japan and more.
The Hudson Review: On Writing: An Abecedarian – The American writer and political activist, Priscilla Long, shares a few fascinating thoughts (in abecedarian sequence) on writing.
The Asian Age: A telling account of how real women feel, imperfectly rendered in English – Ambai’s “slim volume is valuable in that it draws readers into the world of Tamil writing of which they would otherwise be deprived,” writes Malati Mathur in her review of A Red-necked Green Bird.
Slate: The Newbery Medal Is 100. It’s Smuggled Some Real Duds Onto Our Library Shelves. – Sara L. Schwebel and Jocelyn Van Tuyl pose the question: “Should publishers put some of the older winners out to pasture?”
InsideHook: 25 Years Later, Reflecting on the Genius of “Trainspotting” – “Author Jay Glennie remembers the making of the indie film [adapted from Irvine Welsh’s hugely successful 1993 novel Trainspotting] that became an improbable global phenom.”
Fafnir: Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research: Trends in Black Speculative Fiction – Eugen Bacon discusses “empowerment through storytelling.”
The Spinoff: Rise and shine, the Ockham longlists are out – Books exploring politics, fashion, social change, war, contested histories and family relationships sit alongside works celebrating the natural world and enduring legacies of activists and artists in the longlists for the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
The Nation: The Sublime Ironies of John Ashbery – “Does his first posthumous collection, Parallel Movement of the Hands, help answer the riddle of his poetic project?” wonders Ryan Ruby.
Electric Literature: I Needed to Know if My Favorite Books Were Products of Cultural Appropriation – “From Steinbeck to Foster, Cindy Fazzi re-examines some of literature’s most loved classic novels.”
Hazlitt: Where Monsters Are Made – “For centuries, queerness and horror have been intertwined, horror relying on queerness for shock and pungency, and queerness relying on horror for visibility and validation,” writes Canadian novelist David Demchuk.
Entertainment Weekly: Katie Kitamura, Zakiya Dalila Harris, and more authors pick their most anticipated books of 2022 – Alamin Yohannes suggests you put this selection “at the top of your reading list.”
Notebook: Joan Didion’s Hollywood and “Play It as It Lays” – “Despite Joan Didion’s experience in Hollywood,” Kayleigh Donaldson is surprised to discover “only one film captures […] the unique writing of the author.”
BBC Leicester: Aphra Behn: Campaigners call for statue of female playwright – “Campaigners are hoping plans for a new statue of a female playwright will lead to more recognition of her work.”
TNR: Critical Mass: The Ghosts of Céline – In his review of Damian Catani’s Louis-Ferdinand Céline: Journeys to the Extreme, Scott Bradfield poses the question: “Is it possible to separate the celebrated novelist from the disgraced writer of fascist polemics?”
The Korea Herald: [Herald Interview] Bringing Korean content to the world – Talking to Kwak Hyo-hwan, President of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, Park Ga-young learns the organisation has expanded “its scope to translating all Korean-language content, not just literature.”
The National: Poet Hedd Wyn’s legacy more than 100 years after 1917 eisteddfod – Twm Owen writes about one of Wales’ best-known poets on the anniversary of his January birth.
The Spectator: Formidable woman of letters: the grit and wisdom of Elizabeth Hardwick – “The fearless critic finally escapes the shadow of her husband Robert Lowell in Cathy Curtis’s sensitive biography,” A Splendid Intelligence:The Life of Elizabeth Hardwick.
Arab News: International Prize for Arabic Fiction announces longlist for 2022 award – “The International Prize for Arabic Fiction has announced the 16 longlisted authors competing to receive a $50,000 award when the winner is revealed in May.”
NBC News: ‘Maus,’ Pulitzer Prize-winning book about Holocaust, is pulled from Tennessee school district – “School board officials objected to profanities and a nude image in the acclaimed graphic novel by Art Spiegelman,” reports Tim Stelloh.
Counter Craft: Why You Need to Read Fiction To Write Fiction – Lincoln Michel on “training your brain to think in prose.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: Here comes the sequel for books that missed out in lockdown – Australia’s booksellers have come up with a scheme to help authors whose books suffered because of COVID restrictions.
Air Mail: Murder, They Wrote – Lisa Henricksson with three new mysteries to read.
The Bookseller: Ewen and Salami win inaugural Jericho Prize for Black-British writers – Ruth Comerford reveals: “Abimbola Salami and Diane Ewan have won the inaugural Jericho Prize, a competition for unpublished and self-published Black-British writers.”
The Philippine Star: ‘Asia’s first proletariat novel’ – Penguin Random House South East Asia has released Danton Remoto’s English translation of Lope K. Santos’s 1906 novel, Banaag at Sikat” (Radiance and Sunrise).
The Guardian: The hounding of author Kate Clanchy has been a witch-hunt without mercy – “Publishers and other institutions are turning cowardly and brittle when faced with social media frenzies,” says Sonia Sodha.
The Irish Times: Do writers need Twitter to be successful? – “Jen Herron wants to develop as a writer but finds Twitter hard work. Is it worth it?”
New Age: Bangla Academy Literary Award winners announced – The Bangla Academy has announced the names of 15 individuals to be conferred with the Bangla Academy literature award-2021 for their contribution in different fields of Bangla literature.
British Library: Brontë treasures to be saved for the nation following successful fundraising campaign – An Emily Brontë notebook of poetry, believed lost, will be added to the British Library’s collection, thanks to a successful campaign led by Friends of the National Libraries.
Boston Review: In Search of Foucault’s Last Words – “Against the philosopher’s dying wish, the final volume of History of Sexuality [Confessions of the Flesh] has now been published.” In this review, Mark D. Jordan asks: “How should we approach it, and what can it teach us about how Christianity shaped the modern self?”
Daily Beast: Amazon’s Still Selling Lots of Nazi Books – The global giant says it bans “content that we determine is hate speech,” but, says Spencer Sunshine, it has yet to reveal how it defines “hate speech.”
Wired: Synthetic Voices Want to Take Over Audiobooks – “Publishers hope computer-generated voices can help them tap surging demand, but some fans—and Amazon—are resisting the robots.”
Die, Workwear!: Bookcore: How Everyone Is Dressing Like a Bookstore Regular – A longish but highly readable article (with many photos) about the rise of a fashion trend called Bookcore, – the “aesthetic of your bookstore regular.”
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
I enjoyed your book picks.
Many thanks for taking the time to let me know, Martie. 😊
Oh that Bookcore article was hilarious! Really! OK, I do have some funny hats but I do not have any wide trousers!
I really feel I should invest in some “intentionally ugly shoes.” I can’t possibly visit my local bookstore until I am correctly attired! 👠🎩👜
I’m glad to hear more people are starting to dress like bookstore regulars. The importance of scarves and shawls is understated in the article, however!
I think we’re a bit behind the times here. I’ve never actually spotted a book browser in Barmouth sporting a “leather fanny pack” (at least, I don’t think I have). Whatever is it? It sounds rather kinky to my Anglo-Welsh ears. 🤭
A statue of Aphra Behn – how exciting! I had no idea there was a campaign. I hope they achieve the funding.
Aphra Behn is well overdue wider recognition. She achieved so much in her life and was a fascinating character. I too hope they achieve their goal – they are certainly well on their way to reaching the £125,000 required to erect her statue. 😀
Thank you Paula, you’ve summed up ‘The Writer’s Library’ far better than I did! I’ve bookmarked that Physics Today piece to go back to once the book is read, and laughed over bookshop ‘chic’, but the day audiobooks are read by synthetic voices is the day I give up audiobooks.
Thank you so much, Julé for another fascinating review. It’s always a pleasure to highlight your posts. 😊
Oh, I do so agree about synthetic voices. A potentially grim development in my opinion! 😱
Thank you for highlighting my reading challenge, I appreciate it so much!
You are very welcome, Diana. I hope you have a hugely enjoyable year reading Italian lit! 😊
Thanks Paula for the shout out on the Gaia/nature challenge and loving your images and all the great links!
It’s a pleasure, Sharon. Such a fabulous idea! 🦘
A great selection again, Paula, thank you very much for this. As a retired school librarian I found the Newbery at 100 article extremely interesting.
Good! I’m so pleased, Anne. Many thanks for taking the time to let me know. 😊
Thanks Paula! I should have given you the heads up that Read Indies 2022 starts on Tuesday where we’re encouraging people to read independent publishers for February. Co-hosted by Lizzy at Lizzy’s Literary Life. Should be fun!
I will definitely mention #ReadIndies again in my next wind up. Hope this won’t be too late. 🤔
No, it goes on all month! 😀
Thanks for another great roundup, Paula. The article on reading prose to write prose was very interesting. It’s not just about ideas and plot points and ‘reaction shots’ – as seen on TV. For writers with a visual imagination it is a puzzle sometimes how to get across all that you might gain from a glance. It works the other way too – how to convey all the interiority of a character in scriptwriting. These puzzles are part of the fun and games (if not toil) of writing. Was also delighted to see someone giving a measured account of that perennial advice ‘Show don’t tell’ and making a case for the use of summary to move things on. Hurrah! And thanks again.
Thank you, Maria. It did cross my mind you might find that article of interest – so pleased you did. 😀
A wonderful collection this week, Paula, which I will have to return to further down the track because my garden (read tropical jungle) needs lopping. However, it is rather interesting that I catch up on Aussie newspaper articles by reading your WUTW links. Thank you 🙂
Thank you, Gretchen. I’m only too pleased to highlight Aussie articles of interest – and even more delighted you enjoy reading them. 😀
Good luck with the lopping. I have a vision of your garden filled with koalas and all manner of exotic creatures! 🐨
We do get some exotic birdlife this time of year, and possums, but I can only hope that one day a dear sweet Koala finds a home in our backyard gumtree.
Love that Milorad Pavic quote. 🙂
Thank you, Carol. I like to find something a bit different each week. 😊