An end of week recap
“The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within.”
– William C. Bryant
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.
* Prepare for the Annual Wales Readathon *
Ahead of Dewithon 2022, which commences on 1st March (Saint David’s Day), we discuss my chosen title for the event, make reading plans, examine the latest RW logos and discuss a sinister face in an old lady’s shawl! >> Are You Looking Forward to Reading Wales 2022? >>
* Challenges By the Dozen *
There are umpteen reading challenges taking place in and around the blogosphere at present – so many, in fact, that I haven’t the space available to highlight all of them comprehensively in my weekly wind up. Events currently in full swing include Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge, A Humble’s Place’s Art Book Reading Challenge, the Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge at Carol’s Notebook and the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader – to name but four. Also underway is Kaggsy’s and Lizzy’s highly popular #ReadIndies 2022 (explained more fully in WUTW #204), in which you are urged to read books by independent publishers. It continues throughout February, so there is still plenty of time to get involved. Also imminent is The Edith Trilogy Readalong at Brona’s Books and due to start next month is:
* Reading Ireland Month 2022 *
“Reading Ireland Month (or The Begorrathon as it is affectionately known) will return for the sixth year between Tuesday 1 and Thursday 31 March 2022”, says Cathy Brown in her introductory post at 746 Books, which was deftly timed to appear on the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses. She invites you to “grab [the] new badge and get planning your Ireland themed reading or viewing” before spending next month posting “as much as you like about any aspect of Irish literature and culture.” This year, for the first time, Cathy will host “a series of weekly prompts,” in addition to “reviewing short story collections, contemporary and classic Irish novels and hosting interviews and giveaways.” If you need inspiration, she suggests you “check out” her lists of 100 Irish Novels and 100 Novels by Irish Women Writers. She would also appreciate you using the #readingirelandmonth22 or #begorrathon22 hashtags when mentioning the event on social media. Please head over to Reading Ireland Month is Coming…! for all you need to know about participating in this much-loved annual reading jolly.
* 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 Twyford Code by Janice Hallett – An “unusual book,” says Helen at She Reads Novels – and one which was “difficult” to review “without spoiling the fun for other readers” by giving too much away – The Twyford Code, Janice Hallett’s newly published mystery is nevertheless the “perfect book” for those who enjoy “puzzles and word games.” As a child, “Steven Smith finds a book by children’s author Edith Twyford on a bus in London” and passes it on to his Remedial English teacher, Miss Isles (who subsequently goes missing “on a school trip to Bournemouth”). The story, however, begins years later, when he has just been released from prison and is finally able to “uncover the truth” about these “long-ago” events. Helen particularly enjoys Smith’s “troubled” backstory and learning how he drifts “into a life of crime,” and she is fascinated by how he goes about solving the Twyford Code. No sooner had she finished the book than she wanted to return to the beginning and “read it all again.”
A View of the Harbour – Elizabeth Taylor – Temptingly described by Radhika Pandit of Radhika’s Reading Retreat as “a beautifully written, nuanced story of love, aching loneliness, stifled desires, and the claustrophobia of a dead-end seaside town,” Elizabeth Taylor’s 1947 novel of “loneliness, solitude [and] betrayal” tackles themes of “dashed hopes and of feeling constricted.” A View of the Harbour is a “beautiful” book, she says, in which female friendship “forms one of the core themes.” Indeed, Taylor is “at her finest” here, displaying “sensitivity towards her [flawed] characters, but never judges them. Rather, the author depicts “the small dramas playing out in the lives of these ordinary people with her characteristic flair for astute insights into human nature.” In conclusion, Radhika “highly” recommends this classic from one of the finest (if occasionally underrated) writers of the 20th century.
* 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 Observer: Tales of the unexpected: the surprise boom in UK short stories – “The literary form is enjoying a renaissance, with the pandemic allowing people more time to consume and produce it,” discovers Miranda Bryant.
Independent: Costa Book of the Year Awards: Hannah Lowe’s The Kids and the previous winners to read – The Kids, based on the former teacher’s experiences, was described by chair Reeta Chakrabarti as ‘a book to fall in love with’, as Lowe receives £30,000 prize.
Interview: Andy Hunter on Bookshop.org’s Second Anniversary – “Twice developed in a hurry, first for the US and then for the UK, Bookshop.org is gearing up for international expansion over time.”
Literary Hub: Are Screens Robbing Us of Our Capacity for Deep Reading? – “Johann Hari on the symptoms of atrophying attention.”
Slate: Sales of Maus Soar After a Tennessee School Board Banned the Book – Sales of Maus, Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel about the Holocaust, have rocketed since it was banned by a Tennessee school board, reports Daniel Politi.
James Murua’s Literature Blog: Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature 2021 Winners Announced. – “The winners for the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature 2021 were announced at a ceremony in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Thursday, January 27, 2022.”
The New York Times: Dutch Publisher Apologizes Over Disputed Anne Frank Book – “Ambo Anthos Publishers said it would delay printing more copies. HarperCollins, the book’s publisher in the United States, declined to comment,” says Nina Siegal.
The Bookseller: Oyeyemi, Lockwood and Azumah Nelson longlisted for £20k Dylan Thomas Prize – “Helen Oyeyemi, Caleb Azumah Nelson and Patricia Lockwood are among the authors shortlisted for the £20,000 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize.”
Publishing Perspectives: European Writers’ Council Withdraws from the EU Prize for Literature – “The European Writers’ Council breaks with two sister organizations over a new structure for the European Union Prize for Literature.”
The Scotsman: Paper sculptures depicting Scottish literary classics sell for more than £50,000 in Edinburgh – The book sculptures which were sold at auction in Edinburgh for charity, Scottish Book Trust, raised more than ten times the asking prices.
Scroll.in: What made Maria Aurora Couto write books that were deeply political and heartbreakingly personal? – “Jerry Pinto recounts an unusual friendship with the grand writer of Goa, who died on January 14 at the age of 85.”
BBC Business: ‘I have had more time, silence and solitude to write’ – “Celebrated author Isabel Allende is no stranger to international book tours,” finds Jill Martin Wrenn.
Gulf News: World comes together to rebuild a beloved Gazan bookstore – Fawaz Turki argues that the “civilisational role that books play in our lives is universal to all cultures.”
TIME: Why Toni Morrison’s Books Are So Often the Target of Book Bans – Why, asks Olivia B. Waxman, is Toni Morrison’s work so frequently the target of book bans?
Edinburgh Live: Iconic Edinburgh bookstore Blackwell’s put up for sale after 143 years – “Blackwell’s, the UK’s largest independent book retailer, have put their business up for sale for the first time in their 143-year history, as Edinburgh’s South Bridge store could close,” says Kris Gourlay.
Gawker: ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’, 30 Years Later – “The classic of ’90s new-age feminism feels both dated and unrelentingly modern” in Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, finds Megan Reynolds.
News.com.au: Harrowing memoir of Indigenous police officer wins top literary prize – Veronica Gorrie has won the top prize at the Victorian Premier’s literary awards for Black and Blue: A Memoir of Racism and Resilience.
The Paris Review: Cooking with Virginia Woolf – “The dish arrives buoyed by boat metaphors, drawing a parallel between Mrs. Ramsay’s quest to serve dinner and her husband’s to sail to the lighthouse, writes Valerie Stivers.”
Russia Beyond: Why Gogol burned the 2nd volume of his ‘Dead Souls’ novel – “The writer had planned his famous novel to be in three volumes, but the second one was already not to his liking. So, what was wrong with it?” asks Alexandra Guzeva.
3:AM Magazine: Autobiographical Fiction, Avant-Garde Sexuality & Eccentric Family Life – Rob Doyle interviews Norwegian novelist Edy Poppy.
ExBerliner: What to read this month: new books for February 2022 – Alexander Wells suggests “Olga Ravn’s strange tale of (very) late capitalism, distant transit from Maja Haderlap and where Steph Curry meets Bertoldt Brecht.”
iNews: Edmund White on his new novel A Previous Life: ‘People seem to be disgusted that I’m still alive’ – “The American author on turning 82, basing a character on a former lover and why he relishes writing about sex.”
The New York Times: Globetrotting – “Your sneak preview of books in translation coming out in 2022, updated each season.”
BBC Nottingham: Nottingham exhibition to showcase DH Lawrence texts – “An exhibition designed to showcase the struggles and censorship of one of Britain’s most controversial writers is set to launch in Nottingham.”
Literary Review: Bloomsyear – In this centenary year of Joyce’s Ulysses, Hugh Haughton reviews Consuming Joyce: 100 Years of Ulysses in Ireland, John McCourt’s study cum social history exploring the iconic writer and the changing attitudes of his homeland.
Change.org: Elizabeth Koch: Don’t Use Literature to Greenwash the Climate Crisis – An online petition has appeared aimed at Elizabeth Koch, co-founder and CEO of the literary organization Catapult urging her to use her “family’s enormous wealth and influence to help stop the climate crisis.”
The Yale Review: Olga Tokarczuk: The Nobel laureate on her groundbreaking new novel – With the recent publication of Jennifer Croft’s translation of Tokarczuk’s “magnum opus,” The Books of Jacob, the novelist discusses her most ambitious work to date with Rhian Sasseen.
49th Shelf: On Our Radar: Quests and Journeys for Survival – “‘On Our Radar’ features books with buzz worth sharing. [Kerry Clare brings] you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.”
Public Books: Losing Discoveries — So Others Can Find Them – We talk of ‘making discoveries’ as if forming them out of clay. Yet, for Samuel Johnson, discovery is an action rather than an object, argues Carmen Faye Mathes.
Hedgehog Review: Anything But True Love – Talbot Brewer on “Vladimir Nabokov’s anti-erotic masterpiece.”
BBC Culture: The overlooked masterpieces of 1922 – “Joyce’s Ulysses and Eliot’s The Waste Land are rightly hailed as masterpieces – but they unfairly overshadow the year’s other great books, writes John Self.”
Guardian Australia: Non-verbal autistic people like my son will never write his story. That doesn’t mean no one should – “Autism comprises an exponentially wide range of presentations – but the discourse surrounding it doesn’t,” says Al Campbell.
The Hindu: ‘Tales of Hazaribagh’ review: In search of Hazaribagh – “Profiling a Jharkhand hill station, not too beautiful nor too popular, but always interesting.” Neha Sinha reviews Mihir Vatsa’s memoir, Tales of Hazaribagh: An Intimate Exploration of Chhotanagpur Plateau.
The Japan Times: The dystopian society of ‘Monkey Man’ delivers a surreal sci-fi parable – Takuji Ichikawa’s novella, Monkey Man, presents a fully realized world within its short span, with connections and contrasts to our world that are at turns bold and subtle.
Haaretz: The Mizrahi Feminist Who Stopped Asking for Permission From Ashkenazi Jews – “Loolwa Khazzoom has devoted her life to telling the story of Jews with roots in the wider Middle East and Africa. The seminal 2003 anthology of essays she edited, The Flying Camel, is back in a revised edition.”
RTÉ: 2022 Dublin Literary Award longlist announced – The award promotes excellence in world literature and is sponsored by Dublin City Council, and administered by Dublin City Libraries.
Places Journal: Luxury for All – “In 1867, as the first modern urban park system was being built in Paris, George Sand argued that its extravagant artifice was a vital public good.”
The New Yorker: How Elizabeth Taylor Remade the Novel of Old Age – “The genre has always flitted between cruelty and sentimentality. In Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Taylor found a different mode,” writes Charlie Tyson.
Radical Reads: Emma Watson’s Feminist Book Club: The Complete Reading List – Actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, shares the titles from her feminist book club.
News Room: The Guyana Prize for Literature returns – The Guyanese Minister of Culture Youth and Sport has announced the Guyana Prize for Literature will return “after being scrapped under the previous administration.”
Daily Beast: LGBTQ Books Are Being Banned. Their Authors Are Fighting Back. – “‘This makes me more determined to put my work into the world,’ author George M. Johnson says, while Edmund White says ‘intransigent’ Christianity is behind the book-banning rush,” reports Tim Teeman.
The Cut: Reading Is a Competition Now – Jess Thomson explores her “toxic relationship” with Goodreads.
Eater: Thanks for Preordering! Your Cookbook Is at the Bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. – Mason Hereford’s Turkey and the Wolf and Melissa Clark’s Dinner in One were the casualties of a shipping container collapse, reports Elazar Sontag.
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