An end of week recap
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
– Anna Quindlen
Next week I will be heading for the Isles of Scilly, a wonderful, unspoilt archipelago just off the southwestern tip of Cornwall – partly to celebrate a friend’s Big Birthday, but also because it is one of my favourite corners of the UK and I find the pull to return almost impossible to resist. Whilst I am beside myself with excitement at the thought of arriving in St. Mary’s, where my partner and I will be based for the duration, it will unfortunately mean a three-week hiatus for this wind up (the longest break between posts since WUTW #1 appeared on 14th January 2018), but I pledge to return on 18th June with literary links aplenty.
As ever, 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.
* For the Family’s Sake Readalong *
If you have an interest in Christian living and parenting, Carol at Journey & Destination is planning a readalong that may appeal to you. Commencing the first week in June, she invites others to join her in reading Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Family’s Sake – a non-fiction title first published in 1999 about raising a family in a Christian environment. Focusing on “the value of home in everyone’s life, married or single; divorced or widowed,” there are fourteen chapters over 286 pages, some “quite short but others are a fair bit longer,” says Carol. She intends to “read approximately one chapter per week and write a blog post when [she’s] finished,” with the intention of generating discussion on the issues raised. For further background information and full details about participating, please head over to Read Along.
* 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: Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris – Over at Literary Potpourri, Mallika Ramacha heaps praise on Priscilla Morris’s newly published historical novel, Black Butterflies – the story of “a city torn by war,” which she describes as “beautiful, powerful, heart-wrenching, and haunting.” Set in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war of 1992–1995, it is “based on [the] real-life incidents and experiences [of the author’s] own family and relatives,” but has “resonance and relevance in the present context.” We “see and experience everything” though the eyes of artist and teacher Zora, giving the reader “a sense of the community” – her neighbours in particular “who turn into a source of much needed comfort and support for each other” as their city is “destroyed” about them. The book, says Mallika, is a “heart-breaking” and “poignant read,” which she “highly” recommends.
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller – This “heartrending story of two adult twins, […] sheltered from the modern world by their mother,” is, says Jacqui of JacquiWine’s Journal, “a poignant [tale] of two outsiders living on the fringes of society.” Although Unsettled Ground is “relatively bleak in tone, it is not without occasional moments of brightness,” and the author has “created two highly distinctive, richly-layered characters that feel fully painted on the page.” Fuller’s “eye for detail is equally impressive” – indeed, she has produced a “tender, achingly sad novel with glimmers of hope for a brighter future.”
* 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:
LARB: “Writing Was an Act of Survival”: A Conversation with Reyna Grande – The author discusses her latest novel, A Ballad of Love and Glory – a sweeping historical drama set during the Mexican American war.
Literary Hub: How (And Why) Primo Levi’s Work Was Once Rejected – Marco Belpoliti and Clarissa Botsford on why Primo Levi’s work was rejected in post-war Italy.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Brilliant debut novel lifts the lid on a little understood community – Abomination, Ashley Goldberg’s debut novel, examines the clash between religious and secular worlds in contemporary Australia.
The New York Times Magazine: How Ukraine’s Greatest Novelist Is Fighting for His Country – “Andrey Kurkov has spent his life writing about realities so absurd they defy satire. It was perfect preparation for this moment.”
BBC India: Geetanjali Shree is first Indian winner of International Booker Prize – Zoya Mateen reports: “Geetanjali Shree has become the first Indian writer to win the International Booker Prize” with her novel Tomb of Sand.
Tablet: Not Unpacking My Library – “Boxes of books are a reminder of a lifelong, sometimes turbulent love for the written word,” writes Jake Marmer.
Public Books: Ditching the ‘New Yorker’ Voice – Australian author and essayist Kate Rossmanith asks: “What does it mean to self-narrate? What does self-insight look like?”
Orion: Landscape, Change, and the Long Road Ahead – “Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness is a classic for its portrayal of gender, but is it also sometimes, for the modern reader, a climate change parable?” wonders Jeff VanderMeer.
Nation Cymru: Former National Poet of Wales honoured alongside Welsh Open University graduates – “The celebrated poet, playwright and editor Gillian Clarke was presented with an honorary degree from The Open University (OU) in Wales during a graduation ceremony at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Wales in Newport.”
The Saturday Evening Post: Creatures of the Deep – An interview with Edith Widder, Ph.D, pioneering marine biologist and author of Below the Edge of Darkness: A Memoir of Exploring Light and Life in the Deep Sea.
BBC Culture: The people who ‘danced themselves to death’ – “In 1518, a ‘dance plague’ saw citizens of French city Strasbourg reportedly dancing uncontrollably for days on end – with fatal results. It’s a bizarre event that continues to fascinate artists and writers, writes Rosalind Jana.”
DW: Internet blackout: The looming threat of collapse – Without the internet, some fear that the world as we know it would collapse — and that chaos would be unleashed. In her book Error 404, the Spanish science journalist Esther Paniagua explores our dependency on the Internet and the dark side of cyberspace.
Document: Iggy Pop and Ottessa Moshfegh examine the pathologies of contemporary culture – “For Document’s Tenth Anniversary issue, the ‘Godfather of Punk’ and the author-provocateur discuss raging against the machine, weaponizing established paradigms, and leaving New York for greener pastures.”
Air Mail: The Queerest of Capitals – Examining every presidency from F.D.R.’s to Clinton’s, James Kirchick’s Secret City is the most comprehensive history of gay Washington ever written. Jonathan Darman reviews.
The Conversation: ‘Dracula Daily’ reanimates the classic vampire novel for the age of memes and snark – Stanley Stepanic discovers a newsletter that sends out chronological snippets from the 125-year-old novel Dracula.
Africa is a Country: The land of the freed people – Anton de Kom’s We Slaves of Suriname (1934) was, says Jonneke Koomen, “the first study of Dutch colonial rule from the perspectives of the people who resisted it. It has been published in English for the first time.”
Le Monde: Skyrocketing royalties for ‘The Little Prince’ – “Licenses linked to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s literary hero generate 200 million euros each year. After a long legal battle, the heirs have ironed out their differences.”
Bon Appétit: Why Is Every Cookbook a Memoir Now? – “Books like Simply Julia, Korean American, and Arabiyya teach us as much about life as they do food,” says Tori Latham.
Northern Soul: Northerners: A History, from the Ice Age to the Present Day – “We all know that Northern England, home to the Industrial Revolution, has been a land of great engineers. Does that mean it must be second rank when it comes to poets, musicians and artists?” asks Helen Nugent.
Pop Matters: More Than a Nose That Grows: A New Translation of ‘Pinocchio’ – “Pinocchio author Carlo Collodi was a socially concerned writer who wanted his fellow Italians (especially children) to avoid becoming ensnared in a life of penury,” writes Brett Miller.
National Affairs: The Perils of Public Writing – Elizabeth Corey explains why she feels academics would benefit from marking the differences between the genres of public and scholarly writing and recognizing that each has its own unique perils and rewards.
Writing.ie: The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter wins the 2022 DUBLIN Literary Award – The French author Alice Zeniter and her Irish translator Frank Wynne share prize for The Art of Losing.
The Bookseller: Women over 45 love books – it’s time the book trade loved them back – “Patronised, pigeonholed and ignored, women over 45 are buoying up book sales but are rarely consulted or celebrated in publishing,” finds Harriet Evans.
Book & Film Globe: F. Scott Fitzgerald Saw It All Coming – Michael Washburn is of the opinion that the “Jazz Age and the modern age aren’t so different.”
The Hill: The long history of book burning – Brad Dress examines the history of book burning, the ancient world to modern times.
The Critic: The monster that lurks within us – Jeremy Black is of the opinion that “enduring popularity of fantasy and horror fiction proves that we still live in the long, dark shadow of the Gothic novel.”
The Hindustan Times: Interview: Arunava Sinha, Translator, winner of the 6th Vani Foundation Distinguished Translator Award 2022 – “I’m very hopeful for the future of translations” – “On translating from Bangla into English and vice versa, and on choosing to translate writers who are closer to the margins than to the mainstream.”
New Books in German: Interview with translator Shaun Whiteside – Helen Nurse “met for a chat with CEATL President Shaun Whiteside at the London Book Fair.”
CrimeReads: Collaborating on Crime in the 14th Century – “Lawlessness reigned over wide swaths of Europe where civilization had been pushed to the brink…”
Al Jazeera: In Turkey, book publishers face agonising choices to survive – “A growing crisis in the publishing industry has implications for Turkey’s cultural vibrancy and freedom of speech.”
The Washington Post: In these gloomy, divisive times, does anyone care about books? I do. – “Books emphasize interiority, encourage empathy, require thought and are meant to foster rational argument — things we all need,” says Michael Dirda.
Antigone: Gilbert Highet, The First Celebrity Classicist – “What does it mean to promote Classics to the public?” asks Robert J. Ball.
International Prize for Arab Fiction: Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table wins 2022 International Prize for Arabic Fiction – Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table by Libyan debut novelist Mohamed Alnaas has been declared winner of the 2022 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
Esquire: The Legacy of Gone Girl – “Ten years after [the publication of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl], this literary sensation still casts a long shadow over the psychological thriller market. But does the novel hold up?” asks Maris Kreizman.
Penguin: The books hidden in the backgrounds of your favourite films and TV shows – “From Bridget Jones to Apocalypse Now to Conversations With Friends, books have been used onscreen to tell us more about characters or just make a brilliant in-joke.” Stephen Carlick suggests “some you may have missed.”
The Irrawaddy: Ex-Myanmar Military Officers to Head Press and Literary Bodies – “In what is believed to be another step to choke the already suffocated media, Myanmar’s military regime has appointed two former military officers to lead the Myanmar Press Council in addition to their oversight over the Myanmar Press Council.”
AP News: Burn-proof edition of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ up for auction – “Margaret Atwood has imagined apocalyptic disaster, Dystopian government and an author faking her own death,” says Hillel Italie. “But until recently she had spared herself the nightmare of trying to burn one of her own books.”
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