An end of week recap
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
– Elie Wiesel
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.
* It’s a Wrap for Reading Wales *
Dewithon is over for another year. A massive thank you to everyone who took part – I’ve been thrilled with all your terrific contributions. I will, of course, update the Wales Readathon Library with all your latest discoveries.
There is a dedicated page for all Dewithon-related posts. This is where I share your reviews, features, interviews etc. with fellow contributors and the wider 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.
* Back to MCMLIV *
If you are partial to the novels of Kingsley Amis, Agatha Christie, J. R. R. Tolkien, Iris Murdoch, James Baldwin, Françoise Sagan, William Golding, Simone de Beauvoir or even Dr. Seuss, then you are in luck because the 1954 Club is scheduled to begin on 18th April and every one of these authors published a major work in this year. There are also plenty of non-fiction titles from which to choose including books by Alice B. Toklas, Aldous Huxley and Barbara Woodhouse (yes, she of the canine catchphrase “sit!”). You will have a week in which to gorge and share your thoughts on famous or lesser-known writings of this period – a time, incidentally, when the book world lost Colette but gained Kazuo Ishiguro and Ernest Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As ever, Simon Thomas from Stuck in a Book and Karen Langley of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings will host this much-loved event. Please remember to use the hashtag #1954Club when tweeting about matters relating to the challenge. You can read more at Rolling into April – and the #1954Club!! 😀.
* 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:
Brittle With Relics: A History of Wales 1962-1997 by Richard King – I can think of no better way to conclude Dewithon 2022 than by spotlighting Liz Dexter’s perceptive critique of Brittle with Relics: A History of Wales 1962–97 for Shiny New Books – a title, incidentally, she also reviewed for the event. Described as an “extraordinary book,” Richard King’s history of the people of Wales “takes the voices” of those “active in various forms of culture and politics over the period covered” and “weaves them into a seamless narrative.” Moving from the “gathering of momentum in the Welsh language movement to the referendum on and vote for a new Welsh Assembly,” Liz calls attention to some of the most seismic episodes covered in this “vital resource.” The miner’s strike, she says, is “brilliantly done” and the final paragraph from Michael Sheen is both “powerful” and “poetic.” All in all, she “highly” recommends this “lively” and unique volume.
The stars used to be on our side: Lucky Breaks by Yevgenia Belorusets – An “eerie atmosphere […] envelopes the stories” in Ukrainian writer, Yevgenia Belorusets’ forthcoming collection, says roughghosts’ Joseph Schreiber. Translated by Eugene Ostashevsky, Lucky Breaks focuses on “the impact [of] years of covert military action on civilians [in] the impoverished Donbas region of eastern Ukraine,” but its publication in English, “on the heels of Russia’s full scale invasion,” is merely a “terrible coincidence,” he says. Belorusets’ protagonists “are almost exclusively women” and she documents the mood of the people prior what he calls “the barrage of headlines that have come to dominate our understanding of her country.” However, she provides a platform for a multitude of “passionate” and “disaffected voices” – and “[d]espite the grim subject matter,” these “thirty-two stories” are “filled with warmth and humour.”
* 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: The Rack by AE Ellis review – a masterly map of suffering – First issued in 1958, Derek Lindsay’s The Rack – the only novel to be published under the playwright’s nom de plume – is, says Alex Preston, “a stark, hallucinogenic trip into a barbaric postwar TB hospital.”
Air Mail: Speaking Volumes – “In Paris, the beloved Red Wheelbarrow bookshop is growing—along with readers’ appetites for the printed page,” finds Alexander Lobrano.
The Scotsman: Scotland’s ‘forgotten Jane Austen’, 19th century author Susan Ferrier, was an early adopter of the meme – “‘It is a truth universally acknowledged…’ that Jane Austen is a very good writer, one who transcended her own time, with her wit and wisdom surviving through two centuries to the present day.”
Asian Review of Books: “The Paper Republic Guide to Contemporary Chinese Literature” – “Paper Republic is an alliance of Chinese-to-English translators who have come together to promote Chinese literature in English translation, with a focus on new writing.”
BBC News: Sir Philip Pullman resigns as Society of Authors president after book row – “Author Sir Philip Pullman has resigned as president of the Society of Authors in the wake of a controversy over his support for an author who was accused of racial and ableist stereotyping.”
Book Riot: When It Becomes Work: Reading for Review Isn’t Reading for Pleasure – Arvyn Cerézo has reviewed “science fiction, horror, and fantasy books for Publishers Weekly for three years.” He enjoys his work but has discovered that “reading for review purposes […] is a different beast altogether from reading for pleasure.”
Today: Ukrainian literary publishing house is sending books, humanitarian aid to refugees – “The editor-in-chief of Old Lion Publishing is asking for donations to help send books to the more than 2 million Ukrainian refugee children in surrounding countries.”
CrimeReads: 10 New Novels You Should Read This Month: April 2022 – “The month’s best in crime, mystery, and thrillers.”
ArtsHub: 2022 Stella shortlist celebrates diversity of form – “A graphic novel and two books of poetry are among the six titles shortlisted for this year’s Stella Prize.”
Metropolis: What is Japanese Literature? – Iain Maloney studies Rip It Up by Kou Machida.
ExBerliner: What to read this month: April 2022 – “Looking for something to read this April?” ExBerliner staff pick their favourite books “from the Dussmann bookshelf.”
Literary Hub: How the World’s Languages Evolved Over Time – Morten H. Christiansen and Nick Chater discuss the “solidification of linguistic conventions” in this excerpt from The Language Game: How Improvisation Created Language and Changed the World.
The Guardian: ‘The novel can’t just leave the war out’: Ali Smith on fiction in times of crisis – “The Orwell Prize winning author looks at how the first world war forced writers Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf to rip up convention – and asks if today’s conflicts demand a similarly radical response.”
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Keats’ Review: Truth, Beauty, Sex and Drugs – “The transcendent poet of ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ was a young man with distinctly earthbound interests,” writes Elizabeth Lowry in her review of Keats: A Brief Life in Nine Poems and One Epitaph by Lucasta Miller.
United News of India: Ishan Khosla Wins Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize 2022 – Ishan Khosla’s cover for Anukrti Upadhyay’s novel Kintsugi has won the Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize 2022.
Aeon: Kafka the hypochondriac – “Franz Kafka believed illness was at the root of his writing, yet he embraced wellness fads with hearty vigour,” says Will Rees.
The News Nigeria: Emmanuel Iduma, others win 2022 Windham-Campbell Prize – Nigerian writer Emmanuel Iduma has won the 2022 Windham-Campbell Prize for Non-Fiction.
The Strategist: Why Is Everyone Suddenly Reading Cassandra at the Wedding? A forensic investigation. – Cassandra at the Wedding, Dorothy Baker’s “1962 novelette about a pair of twins reuniting at their family ranch in the Sierra Nevada,” is “circulating rapidly right now.” Nora DeLigter makes it her business to find out why.
The Atlantic: The 12 Most Unforgettable Descriptions of Food in Literature – “Haruki Murakami’s stir fry, Maurice Sendak’s chicken soup with rice—only the most gifted writers have made meals on the page worth remembering,” says Adrienne LaFrance.
ABC News: Greta Thunberg aims to drive change with ‘The Climate Book’ – “Climate activist Greta Thunberg has compiled a handbook for tackling the world’s interconnected environmental crises, with contributions from leading scientists and writers.”
Fine Books & Collections: The Book of the Most Precious Substance: An Interview with Sara Gran – The US novelist and screenwriter talks about her new erotic bibliomystery, The Book of the Most Precious Substance.
Quill & Quire: Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians wins 2022 Canada Reads – Five Little Indians by Cree writer and lawyer Michelle Good has won CBC’s Canada Reads contest.
Electric Literature: 8 Jamaican Women Writers You Should Be Reading – Donna Hemans with a list of books that “interrogate the complexities of Jamaican girlhood and womanhood.”
InsideHook: How a Tragic, 7-Year-Old Novel Became This Year’s Literary Sensation – “The secret to a long life for a dense and dark novel? You guessed it: social media.” Trish Rooney on Hanya Yanagihara’s bleak masterpiece, A Little Life.
Open Culture: Brian Eno Creates a List of 20 Books That Could Rebuild Civilization – Brian Eno, artist, music producer and author of A Year with Swollen Appendices, shares his list of books “humanity could use to rebuild civilization, should it need rebuilding.”
Poetry Foundation: On Grief: A Conversation with Sara Henning – “When the earliest cartographers set out to draw the world—seeking a way to understand their place on Earth, and Earth’s place in the universe—they also had to find a method of mapping what was beyond their knowledge,” writes Corinne Segal.
Meath Chronicle: This is only the beginning of the story for Chapters – “The famed Chapters bookstore in Dublin has been re-opened by Gamestop founder and Nobber resident Michael Finucane who set up his first game store business at the back of the iconic bookshop in 1994.”
Sydney Review of Books: ‘Reading is Like Dreaming’: An Interview with Lisa Robertson – “What is most important to me is to write a strong text,” says Lisa Robertson, author of The Baudelaire Fractal. “My intentions are aesthetic, not therapeutic. The work of research, composition, revision, structuring, is what absorbs me utterly and what brings me repeatedly to the page.”
TNR: H.G. Wells, the Rational Escapist – According to Stephanie Burt: “A passion for science made Wells famous. But he was driven by a longing for something more.”
OPB: Mobile library Street Books feeds literary passions of Portlanders living outdoors – “For more than a decade, librarians with the nonprofit mobile library Street Books have been biking around Portland bringing books directly to people who live outdoors.”
The Bookseller: Lockwood and Azumah Nelson make shortlist for £20k Dylan Thomas Prize – Under-represented voices dominate the 2022 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist.
Firstpost: Anindita Ghose on her debut novel The Illuminated: ‘It is essentially a novel about shifts in perspective’ – “Anindita Ghose on The Illuminated: ‘It is a story about women coming into their own, how they dazzle when they choose to shine together.’”
The London Magazine: Essay | Rediscovering Violette Leduc by Isabelle Marie Flynn – Though Violette Leduc may have “fallen away from public consciousness,” she once “ran in the glittering literary circles of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.”
Christianity Today: C.S. Lewis Was a Modern Man Who Breathed Medieval Air – “As both a writer and a scholar, his work hearkened back to a ‘slow, contemplative, symphonic world,’” says Louis Markos.
Korea Joong Ang Daily: Meet the translator behind two of the nominations for this year’s International Booker Prize – Lee Jian talks to Anton Hur about the two translated Korean books on this year’s Booker longlist.
The Conversation: How fairy tales shape fighting spirit: Ukraine’s children hear bedtime stories of underdog heroes, while Russian children hear tales of magical success – The Russian army has fared poorly and the Ukrainian military has fared well, defying experts’ predictions about the war in Ukraine. Can children’s fairy tales help explain the difference?
Asharq Al-Awsat: Sheikh Zayed Book Award Announces Literature, Young Author, and Children’s Literature Shortlists – The Sheikh Zayed Book Award has announced the shortlisted entries in its Literature, Young Author and Children’s Literature categories for 2022.
Broadsheet: The Sydney Writers’ Festival Announces Its 2022 Program – “This year the festival speaks to the theme ‘change your mind’, with writers of all stripes.”
The Armenian Mirror-Spectator: Balakian’s Lyric Voice Resounds in No Sign, His New Poetry Volume – “Armenians sometimes wonder if their voice is audible in the world, especially during times of crisis. In the realm of literature, and poetry in particular, there is no doubt that it is,” says Aram Arkun.
Bloomberg CityLab: A Bookstore Revival Channels Nostalgia for Big Box Chains – Alexandra Lange believes that “fond feelings for the big chains of the ‘90s help to explain a renaissance for mall bookstores in the U.S.”
Eurozine: Cancel culture vs. execute culture – “Victoria Amelina explains why Russian manuscripts don’t burn, but Ukrainian manuscripts burn all too well.”
This is Reno: Reno Business Weekly: Radical Cat book shop opens on Wells Avenue – Bob Conrad reports: “The Radical Cat, a new bookstore and cat-friendly hangout, recently opened on South Wells Avenue” – which he describes as “a feminist bookstore, cat adoption center and community space.”
Nation Cymru: Welsh creator of Wordle says he sold the game due to ‘deeply unpleasant’ rip off copies – “The Welsh creator of the smash hit game Wordle has admitted he felt he had to sell the game to the New York Times due to stress from number of copycat versions which sprang up following the original’s success.”
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.