An end of week recap
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
– Charlotte Brontë
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.
* Spanish & Portuguese Literature Month 2022 *
It has been ten years since Stu from Winstonsdad’s Blog launched “Spanish lit month,” and 2022 will be no exception. Once again, the event returns with an exciting selection of titles. He plans to read two novels from writers previously featured on his blog – one Spanish and the other Portuguese – and hopes also to fit in a couple of additional titles (the annual readalongs are scheduled to take place in the second and fourth weeks of July). You are invited to join Stu in reading books originally written in either of these tongues, both of which belong to the Indo-European language family originating in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe, but are now spoken in countries throughout the world. If you would like to take part, please head over to The 10th Annual Spanish and Portuguese lit month for further details.
* 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 Word by J L George – Set in “a future that feels unnervingly familiar,” this “compelling dystopian novel” by the New Welsh Writing Awards 2019: Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella winner, JL George, is “an emotional rollercoaster, and a gripping read,” says Rachel Carney of Created to Read. Focusing on “five youngsters born with supernatural powers,” as they go on the run from an experimental facility known as the Centre, The Word consists of “interlinked […] ‘then’ and ‘now’ [narratives]” in a world poisoned by “misinformation and distrust, fake news and corporate persuasion.” Rachel declares it an “extremely unsettling,” though equally “engaging [and] emotional read,” which she feels sure will appeal to admirers of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
“Now the truth would be told” – Over at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings, Karen Langley is wondering why she is only now reading Penelope Mortimer’s classic semi-autobiographical novel, which is this year celebrating sixty years since publication. Describing it as “fascinating […] on a number of levels,” The Pumpkin Eater is narrated by a woman “only ever known as Mrs. Armitage,” who is “neither happy nor fulfilled” as a “1960s housewife.” Offering a “vivid portrait of the mores of the time,” not to mention “the sheer hatred that some men obviously felt for women”, the story “covers complex issues of mental health,” is “full of people having affairs” and is often “melancholy,” however, it “does not end without hope” and the protagonist experiences “a kind of resolution.” All told, says Karen, it is a “moving” and “unforgettable read.”
* 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:
Gardens Illustrated: Claire Ratinon: Why I wrote Unearthed – The British organic food grower and gardener, Claire Ratinon, shares her reasons for writing Unearthed: On race and roots, and how the soil taught me I belong.
Publishers Weekly: Bookstores Respond to Demise of Roe v. Wade – Across the USA, booksellers respond to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade by the Supreme Court last week with grief, rage, educational displays and fundraisers for pro-choice organizations.
Air Mail: Callil Confidential – “For many years, Carmen Callil dominated London’s literary and feminist scenes. In a memoir [Oh Happy Day], the outspoken Melbourne native travels back in time,” finds Harry Mount.
The Conversation: The literary life of Frank Moorhouse, a giant of Australian letters – The renowned Australian author and essayist Frank Moorhouse, best known for the Edith trilogy, has passed away at the age of 83.
European Review of Books: Why we write – Ali Smith writes a letter to George Orwell.
The Wall Street Journal: ‘The Poets of Rapallo’ Review: Ezra Pound’s Fascist Paradise – “To wage a literary revolution based in Mussolini’s Italy, Pound looked to Yeats, Hemingway and others as recruits,” writes Dominic Green in his review of Lauren Arrington’s The Poets of Rapallo: How Mussolini’s Italy Shaped British, Irish, and U.S. Writers.
The Irish Times: Aingeala Flannery’s writing life: ‘I Airbnbed my house and we couch surfed for a summer’ – “Writing her first novel, The Amusements, meant taking a huge leap of faith. It has paid off, writes Jennifer O’Connell.”
Boston Globe: Refuge in a bookstore; a legacy of hate; roots of conflict – “Watching ‘Hello, Bookstore, ‘Hitler’s Mein Kampf: Prelude to the Holocaust,’ and ‘The Long Breakup’” with Peter Keough.
Hindustan Times: ‘I was reborn as a writer’ – Marie Darrieussecq, author, Pig Tales – “French writer Marie Darrieussecq’s first novel, Pig Tales is a radical novella about a woman working at a massage parlour who, as a result of the constant male gaze, slowly begins to transform into a pig.” She talks here to Arunima Mazumdar.
The Smart Set: The Status of the Book in the Age of Digital Media – Paula Marantz Cohen takes “a trip to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair.”
The Atlantic: History Is Never Only One Person’s Story – “A good group biography,” declares Talya Zax, is one which “details with curiosity the ways, trivial and tremendous, that humans influence one another.”
Friedens Preis: Serhiy Zhadan to receive the 2022 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade – It has been announced that the Ukrainian poet, novelist, essayist and translator Serhiy Zhadan is to receive this year’s Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
London Review of Books: The Ultimate Socket – Sylvia Townsend Warner’s diaries and letters demonstrate repeatedly “how important it was to her that she immerse herself in a milieu or environment,” writes David Trotter in his review of Valentine Ackland by Frances Bingham. “She felt identity above all as a relation. But she did not immerse herself […] to stay put or to sink roots. Hers was a promiscuous localism driven by the desire for changes of scene.”
Princeton University Press: Seamus Heaney, pseudonym ‘Incertus’ – “The external signs of Heaney’s inner certainty of direction, coupled with his charisma, style, and accessibility, could arouse resentment among grievance-burdened critics,” says Roy Foster.
Bachtrack: Master of the fantastical: the life and work of ETA Hoffmann – “Known today primarily for his literary works,” the German Romantic author of fantasy and Gothic horror was also a jurist, composer, music critic and artist.
Quillette: Has Olivia Manning’s ‘Fortunes of War’ Finally Found Its Moment? – “The Ukrainian war has made Manning’s writing more relevant now than at any time since it was written,” says Robin Ashenden.
Toronto Star: These 20 books will keep you reading all summer long – “From non-fiction about ‘Putin’s Wrath’ and the history of pop music to fiction about groupies, witches and older women’s passions,” Deborah Dundas discovers “the reading is plentiful.”
Gizmodo: A New J.R.R. Tolkien Collection Gathers the Author’s Writings on Middle-earth’s Second Age – Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will explore the era detailed in The Fall of Númenor, finds Sabina Graves.
The Sydney Morning Herald: The 25 best Australian novels of the last 25 years – “From a barbecue gone awry to the devastation of European settlement, there’s no shortage of heartbreak, havoc or hilarity in these Australian novels from the past 25 years, all worthy of a place on our bookshelves, writes Melanie Kembrey.”
The Washington Post: Bette Howland, nearly forgotten, is now getting the notice she deserves – “New editions of her books, including Things Come and Go, reveal Howland’s singular talent,” says Marion Winik.
Literary Hub: The Unnoticed Generation: How Russian Writers in Paris Grappled With the Complexities of Life Between the Wars – “Bryan Karetnyk on translating the work of Yuri Felsen.”
CBC News: Libraries in Canada hit by wave of hate, threats, as right-wing groups protest all-age drag events – “Online campaign backed by groups associated with Freedom Convoy, fuelled by anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.”
Sunday Times ZA: The 2022 Sunday Times Literary Awards longlist – Jennifer Platt reveals the longlists for South Africa’s most prestigious annual literary awards for fiction and non-fiction.
Hazlitt: ‘I May Dwell in Darkness to Affirm its Opposite’: An Interview with Eugene Marten – Matt Bell talks “to the author of Pure Life about brand names as verbal death, distrusting omniscience in fiction, and elite semicolon use.”
Radio Prague International: Julia Sherwood on discovering Czech comics and on translating in tandem – The “award-winning translator and literary organiser,” Julia Sherwood discusses her work and a “month-long stay in the Czech capital.”
Scroll.in: Shanta Gokhale, Kumar Nawathe among winners of Sahitya Akademi Prize for Translation 2021 – “Twenty-two works in as many languages were chosen by the executive committee of literary organisation for the awards.”
Los Angeles Times: Why are these summer books indebted to an Austrian author of nihilistic rants? – Jessica Ferri looks at the ways in which the Austrian novelist, Thomas Bernhard has influenced a new generation of writers.
Quartz: Publishers discriminate against women and Black authors—but readers don’t – Sarah Todd reports that a new study has revealed there is an “appetite” for books by Black and female authors.
The Guardian: The House of Fortune by Jessie Burton review – a sequel to The Miniaturist – “This thoughtful follow-up is a clever echo of Burton’s debut, tracing a woman’s coming of age in early 18th-century Amsterdam,” says Imogen Hermes Gowar of The House of Fortune.
World Literature Today: Literary and Historical Sources for Understanding Ukraine: A Recommended Reading List – Numerous Ukrainian novels and anthologies have been translated over the last decade. Michael M. Naydan has compiled a list he hopes will “give readers a good starting point to get a deeper understanding of Ukrainian literary culture.”
Entertainment Weekly: Zoe Kazan following in grandfather Elia Kazan’s footsteps with East of Eden limited series – Jessica Wang reports that Florence Pugh “is on board to play the manipulative matriarch Cathy Ames.”
The Yale Review: The Abortion Stories We Tell – “Do we need to be more radically honest?” asks Maggie Doherty, author of The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s.
Aeon: The polyglots of Dardistan – “At the crossroads of south and central Asia lies one of the world’s most multilingual places, with songs and poetry to match.”
Earth.org: 10 Must-Read Ecofeminism Books – “Ecofeminism is a movement that seeks to educate, elevate, and empower women in discussions on climate policy that can often lead to much more impactful outcomes,” writes Olivia Lai. Here she recommends “some of the best ecofeminism books” to get you started.
Publishing Perspectives: In the UK, a New Literary Magazine, With International Intent – “The new literary magazine Fictionable [launched] June 27 with short works including graphic fiction and translation.”
Astra: Writers Around the World Respond to America’s Abortion Ruling – Mariana Enríquez, Mieko Kawakami, Leïla Slimani, Katharina Volckmer and Pola Oloixarac share their reactions to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Town & Country: Spend the Night in Gore Vidal’s Ravello Home, La Rondinaia – “Once a glamorous pitstop for first ladies, royals, and movie stars, the late author’s storied Italian villa boasts one of the most enchanted views in the Amalfi Coast. It’s now available to rent for the first time.”
Collider: ‘Miss Austen’: Best Selling Historical Fiction Adaptation Coming to PBS Masterpiece – “Miss Austen will follow the relationship between the revered author, Jane Austen, and her sister, Cassandra,” says Britta Devore.
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