Winding Up the Week #227

An end of week recap

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end.’”
George Orwell

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 * 

This week, I am going to share with you only one of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere:

Tales of the Sea: Traditional Stories of Magic and Adventure from around the WorldThe Opinionated Reader, Amalia Gkavea, describes in admiring detail each story included in Tales of the Sea, Maggie Chiang’s collection of seafaring narratives from the popular ‘Tales of’ series. Diverse folktales ranging from “an enigmatic [Icelandic] merman” to “a kind [Japanese] fisherman” and a Bahraini pearl-diver with celestial powers who “sets off to find the twin of a beautiful black pearl,” contain an assortment of fantastical characters accompanied by “haunting illustrations.” Published in March by Chronicle Books, it is, says Amalia, “mesmerizing” and, on the evidence of her review, it would make the perfect gift for anyone fascinated by the sea.

* 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:


Asian Review of Books: “The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali” by Uzma Aslam Khan – Peter Gordon on The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali, Uzma Aslam Khan’s historical novel set in the British penal settlement of the Andaman Islands during the 1930s. 

The Wall Street Journal: Two Books Plumb the Hidden Depths of the Fairy Tale – Meghan Cox Gurdon explores the history of fairy tales in her review of The Fairy Tellers by Nicholas Jubber and The Heroine With 1,001 Faces by Maria Tatar.

Astra: Blunt-Force Ethnic Credibility – “Writers in the Vietnamese diaspora are too eager to signal ethnic authenticity. Have we no shame?” says Som-Mai Nguyen. 

BBC Europe: Daphne du Maurier: Novelist who traced past to a French debtors’ jail – “Dame Daphne du Maurier, the English novelist who died in 1989, was fascinated by her French heritage,” finds Hugh Schofield.

The Baffler: Bard, Misunderstood – Charlie Lee on the “political fictions” of the Icelandic writer and winner of the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature, Halldór Laxness.

The Nation: Elif Batuman Answers Our Burning Questions About the State of the Novel – “A conversation about her new book Either/Or, the limits of aesthetic life, and much more.”

The Guardian: ‘First modern novel – oldest language’: Sanskrit translation of Don Quixote rescued from oblivion – “Translated by two Kashmiri pandits from an C18th English translation in the 1930s, unique work lay forgotten in a Harvard University library,” says Sam Jones.

The Walrus: Twilight of the Libraries: What Gets Lost When Books Go Off-Site and Online – “Libraries can’t escape the push for digitization, but we still need actual books on shelves,” argues Andrew Stauffer.

Book Riot: Dubai Opens New Book-Shaped Library – Dubai’s new Library of Mohammed bin Rashid “exemplifies its purpose through architecture.”

Vintage: 10 times fiction changed the world – “From stunning eco-fiction to iconic feminist literature,” Carmella Lowkis shares a selection of “remarkable novels,” all of which “inspired change through the power of great storytelling.”

Astra: Scars or Wings – In Lidia Yuknavitch’s Thrust, Leah Silvieus finds a novel brushing up against the limits of its form. 

Dissent: A Cold Drink of Objectivity – “In many accounts of the New York intellectuals, the prolific critic Harold Rosenberg seemed to fall through the cracks. Debra Bricker Balken’s biography [Harold Rosenberg: A Critic’s Life] reclaims him for the pantheon.”

Daily Maverick: ‘A Dalliance with Destiny’ — a masterpiece that transcends local and global, history and geography – South African author, Aman Singh Maharaj, “is an exceptional writer who has the linguistic mastery to weave through the darkest and deepest of human emotions,” says Brij Maharaj in his review of A Dalliance with Destiny.

NPR: Here are the 14 books that NPR staff and critics are loving the most so far this year – Every year, NPR staff and contributors share their favourite books. From a list of 167 books so far this year, here are the 14 that the most people chose as their top pick.

The Conversation: Five books to transport you to the Italian Riviera this summer – Open one of these books to enjoy the romance of azure seas, cliff-clinging villages and herbal-scented gardens in a spectacular part of Italy’s coastline.

Esquire: Go Ask Alice Is a Lie. But Bookstores Won’t Stop Selling It. – “Fifty years after its publication, this literary fraud about a drug-addled girl is still on the shelves. Can its damaging lies about addiction ever be undone?” asks Jonathan Russell Clark.

The New Statesman: The last days of Percy Bysshe Shelley – “It was 200 years ago that Shelley drowned, aged 29 – but his poems of tyranny and freedom speak to our own darkening age,” writes Frances Wilson.

LARB: A Call to Wake Up: On Viktor Shklovsky’s “On the Theory of Prose” – Jason DeYoung reads Shushan Avagyan’s new translation of Viktor Shklovsky’s classic work.

People: The Best Jane Austen Adaptations to Watch While You Wait for the New Persuasion Movie – “From Clueless to Fire Island, [Andrea Wurzburger loves] these Jane Austen screen adaptations … most ardently.”

The Irish Times: How James Joyce’s works informed a generation of Caribbean writers – “Aimé Césaire, George Lamming, Maryse Condé, Paule Marshall, Derek Walcott and Lorna Goodison were all influenced by Joyce.”

Bomb: Seize the Narrative Reigns: Méira Cook Interviewed by Costa B. Pappas – The author of The Full Catastrophe talks about “the importance of community, understanding our family history, and intersex representation.”

BBC Kent: Aphra Behn: Public vote for Canterbury statue of female playwright – “A public vote has opened to choose the design for a statue of a prolific female playwright.”

MalayMail: Designed to create a truly immersive experience, Japanese bookstore Tsutaya launches first store in Malaysia with over 240,000 books – “Japan’s largest bookstore chain Tsutaya Books’ outlet in Pavilion Bukit Jalil has over 240,000 books, decorative items and art aimed to create an immersive experience for anyone.”

Air Mail: A Lexical Feast – Mark Cirino and Michael Von Cannon’s One True Sentence collects readers’ and writers’ responses to Ernest Hemingway and his work.

Vogue: Is This the Golden Era of Queer Literature? – Amelia Abraham discovers that “to say we are in a golden era of queer publishing is a controversial assertion.”

Dutch News: Poet and author Remco Campert dies aged 92 – The Dutch poet and author Remco Campert, who was part of the Fifties (Vijftigers) movement of experimental poets, writers and artists, has passed away.

Time: The Crane Wife Author CJ Hauser Is an Open Book – The “38-year-old author and college writing professor is set to publish her debut essay collection,” The Crane Wife.

The New York Review: A Text Adrift – Tim Parks asks: “How does the death of the author change the task of the translator?”

ABC News: Tasmanian ‘book detective’ reunites customers with long-lost books and beloved childhood titles – Toby Wools-Cobb uses investigative skills from his career as a librarian and the archaeological expertise from his studies in Egyptology to find copies of long-lost titles.

Canadian Independent Book Association: Meet Our Member: India Bookworld – India Bookworld in British Columbia, which first opened in 1993, sells books in English and more than a dozen Indian languages.

Guardian Australia: Swimming Home by Judy Cotton review – a mosaic memoir of a creative life – “The Australian artist and journalist has written her first book at 80 – and the result is [Swimming Home,] a confident and lean autobiography, recalling a mother who was ‘determined to be unhappy’”, finds Susan Wyndham.

Daily FT: Ashok Ferry wins Gratiaen Prize 2021 – Ashok Ferrey has won the prestigious Gratiaen Prize for his novel The Unmarriageable Man, published by Penguin, India.

Movieweb: The Sandman Creator Neil Gaiman Defends ‘Color-Blind Casting’ for Netflix Adaptation – “The Sandman creator Neil Gaiman has once again spoken out in support of the casting choices made for the Netflix series.”

BBC Future: The Norwegian library with unreadable books – “Some of the world’s most celebrated authors have written manuscripts that won’t be published for a century – why? Richard Fisher visits the Future Library in Oslo to find out.”

Taipei Times: Beijing blacklisting more Taiwanese books – William Hetherington reports: “Standards for Taiwanese book imports by Chinese resellers have become stricter.”

Nation Cymru: John Geraint on writing ‘The Great Welsh Auntie Novel’ – John Geraint’s debut, The Great Welsh Auntie Novel, “is about belonging and being different in the Rhondda of 1974.”

City A.M.: Capital people: London writer Susie Steiner loses brain tumour battle and dies aged 51 – British novelist and former journalist Susie Steiner, best known for writing the Manon Bradshaw detective series, has died from a brain tumour aged 51.

NBC: What it’s been like as a writer of color trying to sell a book that isn’t all about trauma – “The publishing world seems to think that being a person of color and suffering go hand in hand,” says Raj Tawney. Mori Ōgai: The Polymath Intellectual Who Made Literary History – “Mori Ōgai created new possibilities for Japanese literature with his fiction, translations, and other writings, while also rising to the highest level in his profession as an army surgeon. The year 2022 marks 100 years since he passed away.”

Eater: Romance Novels Are Increasingly Getting Hot and Heavy in the Kitchen – “Move over, bodice rippers,” says Bettina Makalintal. “It’s all about apron tuggers now.”



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.

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21 replies

  1. So many wonderful things to read as always Paula. I’m going to see if the proposed Aphra Behn statues are coming anywhere near me on their tour, I’d love to see them.

  2. Thanks Paula – another great selection! As someone who loves the sea, I may have to search out that anthology!

  3. Nice to see that the Japanese bookstore Tsutaya Books’ newest outlet in Malaysia gets a mention in your post, Paula. A visit is definitely on my to-do list.

  4. Books that changed the world was an interesting read, as was the piece on Shelley. One tends so often to think of his ‘romantic’ poetry that one misses out on his political writings and poetry. And Don Quixote in Sanskrit? Who knew? I haven’t even gotten through the book in English🙂🙂

  5. So many great articles! Thanks for posting these every week!

  6. I love your opening quote! I’ve added Tales of the Sea and Nomi Ali to my wishlist, too. Thanks, as ever, for pulling together so many interesting bookish strands. If only there were more time in the world to do nothing but read!

  7. Cheers for Aphra Behn! Even her name is fascinating. Thanks for all the wonderful links, Paula. George Orwell knew what he was talking about.

  8. I enjoyed the article about Percy Shelley this week. It did more than just rehash previous arguments; I loved the Putin reference at the end.

  9. I loved the piece on Laxness, thank you for sharing that!

  10. Love the sound of John Geraint’s ‘The Great Welsh Auntie Novel’ and must investigate further!

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