An end of week recap
“What millions died – that Caesar might be great!”
– Thomas Campbell
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 Four of Reading Wales *
Thank you so much for all your marvellous posts over the last seven days. We are heading into week four, which means the event is almost over – but not quite. There is still time to read a work or two by a Welsh or Wales-based author or perhaps pick up a book set in Wales. There are so many titles from which to choose.
Earlier this week, I finally posted a brief introduction and a few shared thoughts on my book choice for Reading Wales 2022 >> DEWITHON 22: Sugar and Slate by Charlotte Williams >>
There is a dedicated page on which to display your Dewithon-related posts. Here I share your reviews, features, interviews etc. with the book blogging community. >> Reading Wales 2022 >>
Have you posted any content relating to Dewithon on your blogs (or elsewhere)? If so, please be sure to let me know.
* Reading the Theatre 2022 *
After last year’s successful event at Entering the Enchanted Castle, Lory’s “month-long celebration of theatre-related reading” is returning in April – to coincide with “Shakespeare’s birthday” (on the 23rd). Once again, you are invited to immerse yourselves in “plays, biographies and memoirs from stage artists, stage-related fiction and nonfiction, or whatever else might seem relevant.” Lory intends her theatrical book binge to be “very low-key” and will merely “list the theatre-related books [she has on her] TBR,” in the hope of working her way through them during before the month is out. If anyone decides to do likewise, please let her know in a comment on Reading the Theatre 2022: Free for all and she will “give your post a shout-out.”
* 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: The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville – One of Australia’s most admired authors, Kate Grenville’s 2007 historical novel is, says Rachel Carney at Created to Read, the tale of Daniel Rooke, an “intelligent young man with a passion for astronomy, who has always struggled to fit in with those around him.” Set in New South Wales in the 18th century, The Lieutenant is a “heartwarming [and] engaging story” about friendship, which is “both rooted in its time, yet also strangely contemporary.” The protagonist “eventually finds work in the army” and accompanies a “consignment of convicts” to “establish an observatory in order to locate and track the path of Halley’s comet” – encountering Aboriginals as he does so. Rachel finds Daniel a fascinating character and declares the book “gripping.”
Reading Ukrainian authors, thinking about Russia – Over at Re-enchantment Of The World, Piotrek’s “main concern,” like so many of us, has been about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He has, however, “gone beyond the breaking news” and “reached for some recent Ukrainian literature” translated into English. One book that has made a “huge impression” on him is Serhiy Zhadan’s The Orphanage – a shocking story of the plight of civilians caught up in the ongoing conflict in the east of the country. As a believer in learning “about cultures through novels,” Piotrek has also come across several other titles including The Longest Times by Volodymyr Rafeienko (sadly not translated into English), which he discusses at length along with numerous articles, films and documentaries that go some way towards explaining the current situation. I would recommend this excellent post if you would like to explore more thoroughly the politics behind the ongoing conflict.
* 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 Christian Science Monitor: An Afghan refugee risks everything: A tale of danger, hope, courage – “In The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees, Matthieu Aikins documents a perilous escape from Afghanistan.”
Air Mail: Libraries of Dreams – Temples of Books is a new volume which compiles “photographs of the world’s oldest and most groundbreaking book collections.”
BBC Culture: The stories that reveal the soul of Ukraine – “The history of Ukrainian literature reflects the country’s tragic conflicts, its diverse population, and the people’s distinctive humour, writes John Self.”
Vox: Have we ceased to understand the world? – “Benjamín Labatut’s nonfiction novel [When We Cease to Understand the World] is haunting and astonishing.”
LARB: Near-Coincidences: Digression and the Literature of the Age of the Internet – Gianluca Didino remembers W. G. Sebald through two recent books.
Artnet: In Pictures: See Beloved Author Beatrix Potter’s Magical Drawings From Nature as They Go on View in London – “Potter often based her drawings on her real-life pets,” says Sarah Cascone.
The Conversation: Friday essay: how leftist, feminist poet Dame Mary Gilmore became ‘Aunt Mary’ in the PM’s political narrative – A close friend of John Curtin, Dame Mary Gilmore wrote poems on topics such as colonial violence and the plight of the koala. How has her great, great nephew, Scott Morrison, chosen to remember her?
Writing.ie: Colm Tóibín wins 2022 Rathbones Folio Prize – Irish novelist Colm Tóibín has won the Rathbones Folio Prize for his novel The Magician, which was mostly written following the author’s cancer diagnosis.
Qantara.de: Sleuths on a Sufi path – “Rarely has the world of crime-writing taken such an interesting turn. Richard Marcus spoke to American Muslim historian and novelist Laury Silvers about her four detective novels set in Baghdad under the Abbasid caliphate and the advantages of self-publishing.”
Passa Porta: Which Weapon Should the Writer Choose? – “Just under six years ago, in the week of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, the well-known Russian-speaking Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov delivered this text in Passa Porta” – offering his answer to the question of what he “as a ‘visible writer’ could or should do in times of crisis.”
Slate: She May Have Died in 1999, but Iris Murdoch Is the Perfect Novelist for Our Time – Isaac Butler finds Murdoch’s “absolute refusal to judge her characters […] an antidote to contemporary literary certainty.”
Pop Matters: Marcial Gala’s ‘Call Me Cassandra’ Revolts Against Gender Constraints – “In Call Me Cassandra, Marcial Gala dismantles the suffocating binary of unyielding machismo in pre- and post-revolutionary Cuba,” writes Derick Gomez.
Faber: What to Read this Spring, 2022 – As the days get longer in the northern hemisphere, here are the best books for spring 2022, as recommended by the Faber team in their seasonal Reading List.
Penguin: An extract from Tove Ditlevsen’s ‘The Trouble with Happiness’ – “Translated into English for the very first time, [The Trouble with Happiness, a collection of] short stories by one of Denmark’s most celebrated writers are brief, devastating, acid-sharp portrayals of love, marriage and family in mid-century Copenhagen.”
The Baffler: The Billionaire’s Bard – Rob Madole on “the rationalist fictions” of American sci-fi writer and “tech oracle,” Neal Stephenson.
DW: Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah on exile and literature – “The Nobel Prize winner talks with [Annabelle Steffes-Halmer] about his decision to leave Zanzibar, to write in English, and about the rise of African writers in the post-colonial era.”
Nippon.com: Matsuo Bashō: A Literary Wanderer – “Through his poetry and travel writing, born from the desire to seclude himself from society, Matsuo Bashō established himself as one of Japan’s most important literary figures, known for refining what later became known as the haiku,” says Fukasawa Shinji.
Arts Hub: Book review: Hovering, Rhett Davis – Hovering is a “transformative tale of overlapping realities and temporal strangeness set in south-eastern Australia.”
Radio Free Europe: Yuz Aleshkovsky, Author Of Songs, Books About Soviet Gulag, Dies At 92 – “Yuz Aleshkovsky, one of the Soviet Union’s best-known dissident writers, has died in the United States at the age of 92.”
Literary Review of Canada: Death of an Author – Sandra Martin on Canadian writer, filmmaker and right-to-die activist, John Hofsess – “the weirdest man [she] never met.”
Quillette: Heading Into the Atom Age—Pat Frank’s Perpetually Relevant Novels – Kevin Mims on the American sci-fi writer Pat Frank, whose “novel about a birth dearth” appeared almost a half-century before P.D. James’s Children of Men.
The Times of India: Women AutHer Awards 2022 Shortlist Announced – “The AutHer Awards – a joint venture between JK Paper and The Times of India – is a celebration of women authors who have added value and creativity to the literary space.”
Publishers Weekly: Ben Okri, Booker Winner, Comes to Other Press – “For over 30 years, Nigerian writer Ben Okri has been at the forefront of international literature, but has not attained widespread name recognition in the United States. Other Press wants that to change.”
Hindustan Times: Essay: The enduring popularity of second hand books – “From cultivating eco-friendly reading habits to feeling like they are part of a community of readers across time, buyers cite different reasons for their interest in pre-owned books,” writes Pooja Bhula.
The Guardian: NoViolet Bulawayo: ‘I’m encouraged by this new generation that wants better’ – “The Booker-shortlisted author talks about Zimbabwe after Mugabe – and drawing on Orwell for [Glory] her brilliant new political satire.”
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: EBRD Literature Prize 2022: selected shortlist announced – Jane Ross reveals the newly announced shortlist for the EBRD Literature Prize 2022, which recognises the best works of literary fiction translated into English.
Guernica: To My Lost Trishaw Driver – “Pico Iyer on decades of letters to a man he met, once, in Myanmar.”
Wasafiri: ‘Decolonisation is a constant struggle’: An Interview with Gloria Wekker – Gloria Wekker, author of White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race, talks with Elif Lootens and Sigrid Corry about decolonisation and racism in the Netherlands.
Los Angeles Times: Anthony Veasna So, Diane Seuss among National Book Critics Circle Award winners – “Clint Smith, Anthony Veasna So and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers are among the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards for work published in 2021.”
Gawker: Why Read Fiction in a Bad World? – “It’s not because fiction teaches us empathy,” says Morten Høi Jensen.
RTÉ: Dublin Literary Award shortlist revealed – “The award is the world’s biggest annual prize for a work of fiction published in English and is worth €100,000 to the eventual winner.”
BBC Europe: Anne Frank betrayal book pulled after findings discredited – “A book that claimed to have solved the question of who betrayed Anne Frank has been recalled by its Dutch publisher after its findings were discredited.”
Slate: What to Do When Your Kid Is Reading a Book That Makes You Uncomfortable – “The author of [Gender Queer,] a memoir banned in schools across America on the value of teens reading challenging work.
The National News: First Emirati novel shortlisted for the 2022 International Prize for Arabic Fiction – “Rose’s Diary by Reem Alkamali is in the final six competing for the $50,000 annual prize.”
Reason: Lambda Literary Awards Reject LGBTQ Author After She Defended a Friend Accused of Transphobia – “I am a queer woman, and I was silenced most of my life,” writes Lauren Hough, author of Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing.”
Conversations with Tyler: Lydia Davis on Language and Literature – “The renowned writer and translator describes life as a passionate polyglot.”
The New Criterion: Berryman at letters – William Logan on The Selected Letters of John Berryman, “the correspondence of the twentieth-century American poet.”
LALT: Frontera cuir by Ingrid Bringas – Vanesa Almada reviews Frontera Cuir (Queer border) by Ingrid Bringas.
Tablet: The Landscape of Ukrainian Literature – “Six writers shaping the future of the plucky, original, and politically significant genre.”
Teen Vogue: The Radical Hood Library Is the L.A. Headquarters of Noname Book Club – “The Radical Hood Library wants to promote liberatory and revolutionary ideas,” finds Kandist Mallett.
Hyperallergic: Rome’s New Cooking Museum Invites Visitors to Feast With Their Eyes – “The oldest mass-printed cookbook, 500-year-old recipes from a pope’s private chef, and varied displays of chocolate moulds will go on view in May,” finds Sarah Rose Sharp.
BOMB: No Obsession Is Too Weird: Caitlin Barasch Interviewed by Rachel Schwartzmann – A Novel Obsession is Caitlin Barasch’s debut novel about “a writer in pursuit of a story worth telling.”
Morocco World News: Ministry of Culture Withdraws Moroccan Book Prize from 9 Writers – “The writers sent a group letter to the ministry, urging it to activate Article 13 of the Decree governing the award as they did not want to split the prize between them,” reports Oumaima Latrech.
Multiversity Comics: Julie Doucet Awarded the Grand Prix at Angoulême – The Quebec cartoonist was awarded the Grand Prix lifetime achievement award at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Angoulême International Comics Festival.
Sludge: Publishing Giants Are Fighting Libraries on E-Books – “The Association of American Publishers filed suit to block a new Maryland law that aims to increase public libraries’ access to e-books, with support from a powerful copyright lobbying group.”
Esquire: The 50 Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time – “Plenty of imitators have tried to match the heights of our No.1,” says Adrienne Westenfeld, “but none have come close.”
Electric Literature: Being a Public Librarian Can Be Dangerous Work, Why Don’t We Acknowledge That? – “A former librarian pushes against the romanticization of what libraries are and who they are for.”
The Offing: The Only Thing Holding Back My Writing is That There are Other Writers, and They’re Better Than Me By Michael Falk – “Think about it,” says Michael, “If I had been born with money, talent, empathy, powers of observation, and discipline, I’d be much better at writing.”
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
“The lieutenant“ caught my eye.
Yes, it looks rather good. 😊
I’ve just finished writing my Dewithon post for next week! Hope you’re having a sunny and restful weekend Paula 🙂
Excellent news. Thank you so much, MB! 😀
I’m very much enjoying this beautiful weather. Unfortunately, my eyes keep being drawn passing paddleboarders and sailing boats instead of getting on with my work. 🙄 I hope you are making the most of the sunshine. I expect it’s good planting weather. 🌼🌞
Thanks Paula – what a bumper collection of interesting links!!
I’m glad you think so, Kaggsy. Thank you for winding up the week with me. 😊
The article about Neal Stephenson is well-written and provocative. I don’t much care for the list of 50 “best” SF novels. It skews heavily towards the literary, which means it includes books everybody wishes they’d read and books by authors who disdain “genre fiction,” but not the most-loved works of science fiction.
Sadly, ’tis often the way with such lists. You should compile one of your own: ‘Jeanne’s 50 Best-Loved SF Novels.’ I would certainly be interested in your choices and I’m sure others would too. 🚀
Thank you for mentioning my post, I hope it will provide a few readers with some context to what is going on, I want to show Ukraine as interesting and distinct from Russia.
It’s a pleasure, Piotrek. Your post certainly succeeds in setting apart Ukraine from its bullying neighbours!
What an apt quote again this week Paula; how sad that even now when we claim to be ‘advanced’ and evolved and what not, this hasn’t changed.
My reading plans have gone all completely wonky so I’m giving up any more ambitious plans that I may have had and trying to fit in a set of Welsh Fairy Tales. The author is american though, so far as I recall.
Sadly, nothing ever really changes, does it, Mallika. 😿
I quite understand and completely empathise with your wonky reading plans. Mine are in a perpetual state of muddle. Perhaps you will fit in the Welsh Fairy Tales in a future Dewithon. 😸🌺
There’s some hope for me yet. I managed today to read a fair bit of Dylan Thomas’s very short Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, so I think I should be able to sneak in a last minute entry
A lovely collection! I have finished Richard King’s The Lark Ascending (lots set in Wales, he is of course Welsh and lives there) and will be reviewing Monday or Tuesday. Sugar and Slate is stuck behind a raft of review books but I won’t leave it until next March – I can’t!
Thank you so much, Liz! 😊
Wonderful! I can’t wait to read your review of The Lark Ascending. I am also curious to know your thoughts on Sugar and Slate.
How wonderful that you highlighted some literature with Ukraine as it’s theme; I am definitely interested in reading along that motif. And say it isn’t so! Betrayal of Anne Frank found to be falsely documented? I bought that book in hardcover, and haven’t read it yet with all my International Booker Prize reading going on…now I am super disappointed. But, grateful of course, for your extensive information.🥰 Thank you for all you give to us readers in enlightenment.
I’m so glad you found those Ukrainian links of interest, Meredith.
I don’t think anyone is certain who betrayed the Frank family. The team of researchers for this book felt it was likely to be van den Bergh but readily admitted they couldn’t be sure. However, I expect The Betrayal of Anne Frank will still be an interesting read. I for one would like to know how they reached their conclusions.
Thank you for your kind comments. Much appreciated. 😊
Really appreciated the blog post from Re-enchantment of the World about Ukraine, the differences in attitudes between the two countries are deeply fascinating. And so many great links too, much to mull over and books to add to Mount TBR. Thanks, Paula!📚🌻
It’s a great post, isn’t it!
Thank you so much Julé for winding up the week with me. 😊
Thanks for these great posts. I just bought The Orphanage after reading the Ukrainian article. My kids are from Ukraine. I also bought Lucky Breaks We’ll see how I do with these. https://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Breaks-Yevgenia-Belorusets-ebook/dp/B09QRNP857/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1648340297&sr=1-1
Some fascinating reads there, Lisa. I look forward to reading your reviews. 😊
Well–I returned both. Sorry! I just couldn’t. I’m struggling and they were too much emotionally. I’ll see what other Ukrainian authors I can support by buying.
Quite understand, Lisa. Dark times.
My eyes always get snagged on library issues, Paula, so thank you for your insightful links. Personally I think publishers, editors, bookshops, are scared of libraries and the ‘hidden power’ they have amassed over hundreds of years. Bureaucracy and businesses cannot control voracious library borrowers so they regulate and manipulate output, pricing and marketing. Of course, in the end it’s all about money, they cannot seem to see a world co-existing with libraries to keep literacy and literature alive. (End of rant…)
Please feel free to “rant” without restraint, Gretchen. I always like to ‘hear’ your thoughts on literature and the world in general. 😊
Also, thank you so much for your latest Dewithon post. Black Valley was obviously a worthwhile read. An excellent review, as always, Gretchen. 🤗
Thanks for widening my horizons as usual, Paula! And for the link to the Museo Della Cucina. Somewhere in my store of books I have a copy of Platina’s cookbook. I bought it when researching background for a novel (unfinished, historical). I need another few versions of myself to finish all that WIP!
Thank you for reading, Maria. I’m glad you found the Cooking Museum link of interest. I agree, a few clones would be extremely useful to get through the day – although, I’m not sure that my family could cope with several more of me! 🤣
So many great links here Paula, it’s taken me a while to get to the end of your post to leave a comment. I feel like I’m resting my literary kayak beside the river after taking so many of your recommended tributaries and what diverse wonders each of them has offered this morning.
After reading the no el prize winning Gurnah article I’ve decided to read his novel Admiring Silences and even that decision lead me to some equally ineresting posts and diversions.
Such a delightfully whimsical way of describing your experience of reading this week’s wind up. Thank you, Claire – I’m glad you found so much to enjoy.
I hope you love your literary paddle to postcolonial Zanzibar! 🛶