An end of week recap
“Words are the clothes thoughts wear.”
– Samuel Beckett
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.
* Week Three of Reading Wales *
Dewithon 22, our month-long celebration of literature from and about Wales is approaching its third week. An eclectic assortment of features and reviews were posted by fellow book bloggers and members of the Twitterverse. My heartfelt thanks to every one of you.
I published the second in a series of brief posts looking at literary and other cultural goings-on from the land of poetry and song. In the spotlight on this occasion were the search for the National Poet of Wales 2022-2025 and a new version of the Mabinogion. >> DEWITHON 22: Llyfrbabble (Bookbabble) #2 >>
Please do take a look at the dedicated page displaying all this year’s Dewithon-related posts. Here I share your reviews, features, interviews etc. with the book blogging community. >> Reading Wales 2022 >>
Should you post any content relating to this event on your blogs (or elsewhere), please be sure to let me know.
* Wyrd and Wonder Returns *
Wyrd and Wonder, an “annual celebration of all things fantasy,” is to return for the fifth time in May. As ever, Imyril of There’s Always Room For One More invites you to “join the party” – which she describes as a “geek-out of like-minded adventurers” – and encourages you to share your “enthusiasm and recommendations” with fellow participants by “reading and reviewing books, talking about movies and tv shows, playing games and sharing [your] thoughts on anything vaguely fantasy-related through blog posts, bookstagrams, booktoks, booktubes, Litsy posts and tweets galore.” Please see Wyrd and Wonderful plans for full details of this year’s hosted read-alongs, weekly prompts and other challenges. You are asked to use the #WyrdAndWonder hashtag when tweeting about the event and urged to display the official tree wolf banner created by chic2view.
* 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:
After Agatha: Women Write Crime by Sally Cline – Sally Cline’s “intriguing new book,” After Agatha, “takes a look at women’s crime writing from its beginnings […] up to modern practitioners,” says Karen Langley in her review for Shiny New Books. The author, whom she describes as having an “impressive pedigree,” proffers “a study of the kind of crime novels women produce,” which incorporates “five Golden Age women authors,” along with an exploration of the development of the genre and interviews with “modern-day women crime writers.” It is, says, Karen, an “entertaining” and “thought-provoking read” – ideal for those seeking a “potted history of women and crime writing.”
Magic in London via the booksellers of the capital – Set during the early 1980s in “not quite the London that we know,” and with one or two historical modifications, The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Australian fantasy novelist Garth Nix is “mostly aimed at young adults” but equally “enjoyable […] for older readers,” according to Anne of Anne Is Reading. The right-handed booksellers, she says, are the “intellectuals [who] study magic and know about the different magical creatures in Britain,” while the left-handers of the title “deal with magical threats” – although some “combine both skill sets.” She suggests this story of a girl’s quest to find her father, which is “filled with quirky characters and clever ideas” – not to mention frequent “references to actual books” – is the perfect read for those who enjoy “fantasy novels rooted in the real world.”
* 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:
Sydney Morning Herald: Son of Sin chronicles a young, queer Sydney man’s life of self-sacrifice – Award-winning poet Omar Sakr’s first novel, Son of Sin, imagines the life of an artistically inclined Lebanese Australian youth.
The Guardian: In Somerset did Kubla Khan: Coleridge manuscript returns to poem’s source – “Taunton welcomes handwritten version of work poet said came to him after drug-induced reverie in nearby farmhouse,” finds Steven Morris.
Vox: She was the Agatha Christie of romance novels. You’ve probably never heard of her. – “When will Hollywood discover Georgette Heyer?” wonders Aja Romano.
Scroll.in: Seagull Books at 40: Founder Naveen Kishore through the eyes of colleagues and collaborators – Jerry Pinto with the “first of a two-part study of Naveen Kishore’s maverick and enormously influential publishing practice.”
The Conversation: St. Patrick’s Day: How Irish-born writers contributed to Canadian and Irish histories – According to Michele Holmgren, Irish-born writers from the late 1700s to 1900 who spent time in present-day Canada influenced colonial narratives about Canadian identity or defended Irish linguistic and political autonomy.
Fine Books & Collections: At Risk: Ukraine’s Museum of the Book and Printing – “It is impossible to know where the museum stands during the current crisis, but we know what we are at risk of losing,” writes Christine Jacobson.
JSTOR Daily: Using Thoreau’s Notebooks to Understand Climate Change – “Thoreau’s time at Walden Pond has provided substantial data for scientists monitoring the effects of a warming climate on the area’s plant life.”
Daily Maverick: Countdown to the Open Book Festival: A learning powerhouse that adds colour to our cognitive deficits – “The smell of paper, a throng of people in discussion over a glass of wine, taking a break at the coffee bar between sessions, long lines of people queuing for events …” Joy Watson on Cape Town’s Open Book Festival.
N+1: Shadow and Light – In this essay, Haley Mlotek discusses Deborah Levy’s memoirs.
Wales Arts Review: Welsh [Plural]: Essays on the Future of Wales – “Emma Schofield takes a closer look at Welsh [Plural], a new collection of essays which promises to break down the clichés and binaries which have traditionally shaped our thinking about Wales and Welsh identity.”
Arablit & Arablit Quarterly: Multiple Sclerosis and its Literary Representation: A Talk with Reema Humood – Shahd Alshammari writes: “Disabled female heroines are unheard of in Arabic literature, and Multiple Sclerosis as a disease remains an enigma to many readers.”
The Wall Street Journal: ‘The Greatest Invention’ Review: Where Does Writing Come From? – “Written communication was a remarkable breakthrough, made in many different places and at different times,” says Felipe Fernández-Armesto.
BBC West Yorkshire: Building a bigger home for the British Library collection – “The BBC took a rare tour inside [the British Library’s] cavernous vaults.” Tom Airey finds out about “plans to ensure the nation’s printed works are preserved.”
Hungarian Literature Online: Péter H. Nagy: The Paths that Sci-fi Wanders – “’The best of science fiction seems to me an important literary form in its own right, snobbishly underrated by some scholars of literature.’ – Péter H. Nagy quotes Richard Dawkins. Bence Leczo spoke with the university professor, editor, critic, and literary historian about the paths science fictions wanders.”
SupChina: Turning a new page – “A look at six independent bookstores in Shanghai.”
The Atlantic: The Goon Squad Gets Old – “Do Jennifer Egan’s tricks still work?” asks Mark Greif.
Publishers Weekly: Book Bans and Antisemitism Go Hand in Hand – Angela Engel “examines the disturbing connection between banned books and antisemitism.”
LARB: Real Life Stories: A Conversation with Bel Olid – The Catalan author discusses her newly translated collection of stories, Wilder Winds, with Liam Bishop.
National Post: Toronto exhibit lets visitors tour the libraries of the world, virtually – “VR offerings include real libraries of the past and present, and a fictional one as well,” reports Chris Knight.
The Rumpus: What To Read When You’ve Accumulated Too Much – Vanessa Chakour with a reading list for spring and spring cleaning.
Qantara.de: Writing is activism – “Frequently outspoken in her criticism of political developments in her home country India and around the world, Booker Prize-winning novelist and prolific essayist Arundhati Roy has proven that politics and fiction do go hand-in-hand,” says Manasi Gopalakrishnan.
National Review: Rags to Riches, Winter to Spring – “Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic tales of transformation grew out of a tumultuous transatlantic life,” writes Sarah Schutte.
Aeon: Tales of two jackals – “Kalila and Dimna’s ancient parables on power delight as much as they instruct. But “according to Kevin Blankinship, “their moral maxims are ethically murky.”
Inquest: Burn the Spot – “Writing about people you encounter in prison carries special responsibilities” – an excerpt from The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life in Prison.
Psyche: Emily Dickinson and the creative ‘solitude of space’ – “When the American poet Emily Dickinson began an ongoing conversation with herself about her own inner world, she discovered one of the most unique sources of creative inspiration in the history of poetry,” writes Magdalena Ostas.
The Guardian: ‘Nothing was stolen’: New Zealanders carry on borrowing from closed, unstaffed library – “Door security error meant one of country’s largest city libraries was left open for hours, allowing hundreds to browse shelves.”
Bangor Daily News: The smallest library in Maine is on a mission to bring banned books to its community – “We are buying banned books in order to publicly push back against the impetus to ban books,” says Eva Murray, who helped set up volunteer-run Matinicus Island Library.
AP News: ‘The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois’ wins book critics award – “Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’ The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, her epic novel about racism, resilience and identity named for the influential Black scholar and activist, has received the fiction prize from the National Book Critics Circle.”
49th Shelf: Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2022 Fiction Preview – “Exciting new releases by Alexander MacLeod, Heather O’Neill, Lesley Crewe, Kim Fu, Lisa Moore, Rawi Hage, and more, plus great debuts that are going to knock your literary socks off.”
Literature Hub: Just How Much is Jane Austen a Precursor to Bridgerton? – Robert Morrison suggests, “Austen knew much more about female erotic fantasy than is commonly assumed.”
IWA: Review: The Dossier: Miscarriages of Justice in South Wales 1982-2016 – “Yasmin Begum hails a raw voice of working-class resistance to police corruption,” revealed in The Dossier by Michael O’Brien.
Bad Form: An Unexpected Novel of Partition: A Story from Outside the Whale – Edgware Road is “a British history as well as a South Asian one,” writes Yasmin Cordery Khan of her debut novel.
Gawker: Reading the Catholic Novel in a Secular Age – “It is tempting to imagine that being special is better than being good,” suggests Tara Isabella Burton.
Slate: The Plague, in the Plague – “Two years of Black Death comparisons. What have we learned?” asks novelist Peter Manseau.
The Millions: How Shakespeare Can Help Us Understand the Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Il’ja Rákoš explains what Shakespeare [has] to do with the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
BBC Manchester: Lemn Sissay: Younger self ‘would never have believed’ OBE honour – “Poet Lemn Sissay has dedicated his OBE to his younger self who he said overcame a ‘dehumanising’ time in care.”
Prospect: How my book on China and water was censored in China – Science writer Philip Ball discovers that “authors critical of the government find it a struggle to be published in China without restrictions.”
RetailWire: Are banned books a sales opportunity or political risk for Barnes & Noble? – B&N’s “banned books tables have been well received,” but do they pose a political risk? asks Tom Ryan.
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.