An end of week recap
“The art of the novelist is not unrelated to the illness of multiple personality disorder. It’s a much milder form. But the better the book, the nearer to the padded cell you are.”
– David Mitchell
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.
* 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:
Villager – Jan Hicks from What I Think About When I Think About Reading suggests Villager, Tom Cox’s debut novel (though not his first published work), is Mitchellesque in the way “it crosses time and moves characters from the centre of their own story to the edges of other people’s narratives.” A mixture of “folklore […], Bildungsroman, speculative fiction, diary writing and cultural reference points that span Mary Oliver, Mike Leigh, Oliver Postgate and Public Enemy,” the story, which begins in 1968 with a drifting Californian musician in an English village, “sprawls over time and place, slipping through the margins and brushing up against its own past and future.” The “writing is pure Cox,” and there is a “richness to the plot” – to an extent Jan was completely “immersed” and “unwilling to stop reading.” It is, she says, captivating.
Art in Nature – Tove Jansson (tr. Thomas Teal) – Radhika Pandit of Radhika’s Reading Retreat describes Tove Jansson’s Art in Nature, as “a beautiful, beguiling collection comprising 11 short stories of art, ambition, loneliness, unusual relationships and family.” First released in 1978 (and now published by Sort of Books), these “dark and disquieting” tales “drenched with wisdom” are narrated in “a simple, lucid and arresting style.” The characters are frequently “isolated individuals treading an unfamiliar terrain” who discover “the perils” of being utterly devoted to a single thing in life they do well, to the “exclusion of everything else.” The book “beautifully [captures] the creative process,” and, she says, it is “another gem from Jansson’s oeuvre.”
* 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:
Wasafiri: ‘The poetics of skin’: Kayo Chingonyi’s Introduction to ‘More Fiya’ – “Read an exclusive extract from Kayo Chingonyi’s introduction to More Fiya, an anthology of Black British poetry.”
The Atlantic: I invented Gilead. The Supreme Court is Making it Real – “I thought I was writing fiction in The Handmaid’s Tale,” says Margaret Atwood.
BBC Culture: Eight nature books to change your life – “Is it possible to reboot or ‘re-wild’ our minds by living a slower, more feral existence in harmony with nature? Lindsay Baker speaks to the authors who think we can.”
Arts Hub: Book review: If We Were Villains, ML Rio – If We Were Villains, a “slow-burning, Shakespeare-drenched, dark academia mystery” first published in 2017, is experiencing a surge in popularity “thanks to its coverage on BookTok.”
Asian Review of Books: Eliot and I – Qiu Xiaolong “came to know TS Eliot’s name for the first time through a scathing review in Literature Review, a Party-controlled Chinese magazine.” This piece is from his foreword to The Waste Land (100th Anniversary International Edition).
City Journal: Orwell’s Humor – “The British writer confronted totalitarianism with determination but also with wit and irony,” says Jonathan Clarke.
L’OBS: Not the Nobel, but almost… The 2022 Cino Del Duca World Prize awarded to Haruki Murakami – “The Japanese writer is rewarded with this world prize for his entire body of work.”
The Nation: The Many Moods – “Her first three books were odes to the world’s bodies of water and their creative power over all life forms,” says Hannah Gold, as she immerses herself in the “sea according to Rachel Carson.”
NPR: Latin American literature in translation: Stories that take you to unexpected places – New translations of Juan Emar’s Yesterday, Cristina Rivera Garza’s New and Selected Stories and Gabriela Alemán’s Family Album offer a look at human nature – and adventures along the way.
Public Books: Finding Black People in Antiquity: Talking the Future of Classics with Sarah Derbew – “It feels insensitive or dishonest to not acknowledge the ways in which our work is a part of a greater narrative,” says Professor Sarah Derbew, author of Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity – a title heralded by some as “the most important book of the year.”
Toronto Star: ‘We must imagine them as having people who loved them’ Guy Gavriel Kay’s new book reminds us to take a moment for — even fictional — lives lived – Robert J. Wiersema finds “Kay’s compelling new novel All The Seas of the World builds lives, empires, worlds.”
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Making History’ Review: Writers of the Permanent Record – “Everything we know about the past has been shaped by those—from Thucydides onward—who have shaped it into narrative,” says Dominic Green in his review of Making History: The Storytellers Who Shaped the Past by Richard Cohen.
Scroll.in: ‘Adbhut’: A new book surveys all the strangest creatures from Indian myths and folklore – “The tale of Matsya, the cosmic fish, excerpted from Adbhut, by Meena Arora Nayak.”
BBC Wales: Montgomery unveils plaque for Hungarian poet Janos Arany – “What is the connection between a small Welsh town with a population of about 1,300 and a central European country of nearly 10 million people?” asks Craig Duggan.
Harper’s Magazine: The Shock Jock of Russian Letters – Jennifer Wilson on contemporary postmodern Russian writer and dramatist, Vladimir Sorokin.
The New York Times: We, the Writers? A Global Literary Congress Meets in New York. – “Authors from 30 countries held an “emergency” meeting at the United Nations to address the multiple crises of the moment — and whether stories can help.”
Brittle Paper: Older Black Women “Smashing it” in the Creative Field, Says Bernardine Evaristo – The British author and academic “pays homage to the series of recent artistic triumphs achieved by older Black women in the arts and the literary world.”
Publishing Perspectives: Vincent Kling Wins the 2022 Wolff Translator’s Prize – The annual Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize goes to Vincent Kling for her translation of The Strudlhof Steps by Heimito von Doderer.
Liberties: The Fiction That Dare Not Speak Its Name – Morten Høi Jensen shares his opinions on the state of literary biography.
JSTOR Daily: All Male Cats Are Named Tom: Or, the Uneasy Symbiosis between T. S. Eliot and Groucho Marx – “Class and religious differences, among other factors, thwarted the would-be friendship between two cultural titans, suggesting opposites attract, but may not adhere,” writes Ed Simon.
Book Riot: Who Reads Book Reviews? – Julia Rittenberg explores “what […] we mean by a book review” and discusses those “written for more ‘traditional’ media publications.”
The Hindu: Dropping their invisibility: 12 Indian translators discuss their forthcoming works – Twelve “leading translators [share details on] their forthcoming works and the terms in their respective languages that pose a challenge.”
Literary Hub: Life As a Book Publisher in Wartime Ukraine – “Kateryna Volkova on the authors and editors on the front lines.”
Exberliner: Tess Lewis on Lutz Seiler — and why translators are destined to fail – “In a rainy cafe in Prenzlauer Berg, [Alexander Wells catches] up with star American translator Tess Lewis.”
The Asahi Shimbun: Japanese writer who documented WWII Tokyo firebombing dies – “Katsumoto Saotome, a Japanese writer who gathered the accounts of survivors of the U.S. firebombing of Tokyo in World War II to raise awareness of the massive civilian deaths and the importance of peace, has died” at the age of 90.
Toronto Star: Find Toronto’s scariest reads at Trinity Bellwoods’s newest booookstore – “Chris and Jason Krawczyk opened the horror-themed bookstore Little Ghosts in April,” finds Briony Smith.
The Jerusalem Post: Menachem Kaiser named winner of Sami Rohr literature prize for 2022 – Menachem Kaiser, author of Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure, has won The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, which “is given in association with the National Library of Israel.”
Literary Hub: Looking at Willa Cather’s Lesbian Partnership and Domestic World – “Cather left most of her assets, including books and papers, to Lewis, and she named her as her literary executor,” writes Melissa Homestead.
Counter Craft: The Classics Are Whatever We Want Them to Be – Lincoln Michel explains why he thinks classic books “are a lot more varied and enjoyable than people think.”
Radio Free Europe: Belarusian Publisher, Associate Arrested After Opening New Bookstore – “Police in Minsk have detained the director of a publishing house, Andrey Yanushkevich, and his associate, Nasta Karnatskaya, after they opened a general bookstore in the Belarusian capital.”
Boston: A Four-Story Bookstore Is Coming to Beacon Hill This Summer – “Bookworms, mark your calendars,” says Erin Kayata. “There’s a new literary destination in [Boston, USA].”
iNews: Elif Batuman: ‘The past few years have been about coming to terms with my queer identity’ – The Pulitzer-nominated author talks about her return to the world of The Idiot, the political exclusion of women and why she’s given up on men.”
Los Angeles Times: Review: Remember when we looked forward to the future? A new series revives ‘Radium Age’ sci-fi – “Long live the Radium Age,” proclaims Scott Bradfield, which, he concedes, “was (at the very least) a good deal less horrific and disquieting than the one we’re in now.”
Deadline: Julianne Moore & Sandra Oh Set For Lynne Ramsay’s ‘Stone Mattress’; Margaret Atwood Thriller Adaptation From Amazon, Studiocanal, John Lesher, JoAnne Sellar & Film4 — Cannes Market Hot Package – Julianne Moore and Sandra Oh are set to star in an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s short story, Stone Mattress.
The Age: Why Australia is on the brink of losing a generation of authors – “Prize-winning Australian authors are struggling to make ends meet, and the lack of support available could limit who gets to tell Australian stories,” warns Meg Watson.
Taketonews: Death of Jeroen Brouwers (82) generates a lot of reactions: “Dwarse teacher, to whom we owe so much” – The Dutch novelist and essayist Jeroen Brouwers recently passed away in Maastricht at the age of 82.
Fast Company: Here’s the best (legal) site for free e-books, music, and movies – After scouring the internet for free content sites, [Doug Aamoth] found that all roads lead to one spot.” He suggests you “bring your library card.”
AP News: Celebrated literary mag The Believer back to original owner – “After a journey even the creative minds at The Believer could not have imagined, the celebrated literary magazine is back in business and again being run by the company which first owned it.”
Longreads: Plotting Out Structure and Writing Out Heroes: A Chat With the Writer and Editor Behind The Atavist’s New Issue – “In this excerpt from The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, host Brendan O’Meara talks to Katia Savchuk and Atavist editor-in-chief Seyward Darby about their work on A Crime Beyond Belief.
Vanity Fair: Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen on the Bromantic Power of Two Mr. Darcys – “‘Well, we made each other laugh, I think,’ Firth tells [Julie Miller] about costarring with Macfadyen in Netflix’s Operation Mincemeat, a fact-based spy drama.”
Melville House: East London charity celebrates 7000th book bike delivery – “A charity offering books to deprived households in several East London boroughs [recently] celebrated its 7000th drop-off,” says Tom Clayton. What’s more, “they’ve all been delivered by bicycle.”
Quartz: A brief introduction to fanfiction – “Fanfiction is a transformative piece of fiction, written by fans, that uses the setting, characters, or other elements of an existing media property as a starting point for a new story.”
Mental Floss: A Brief History of Library Cats – Cats living in libraries is a tradition “dating back thousands of years.”
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