An end of week recap
“Because all books are forbidden when a country turns to terror. The scaffolds on the corners, the list of things you may not read. These things always go together.”
– Philippa Gregory
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:
Back to the Shops by Rachel Bowlby – Rachel Bowlby’s “social history of shops, shopkeepers and shoppers in the UK,” covers “the past two hundred or so years, [with] forays […] as far [back] as the Middle Ages,” writes Shiny New Books co-founder Harriet Devine in her approving review of Back to the Shops. “[D]ivided into three sections,” the book has “pleasingly short chapters,” building up “a picture of everything from Bakers and Butchers to Jewellers and Umbrella Shops” – the section on sweet shops being of particular interest to her because it recalls one she visited as a child, “in an old lady’s dark, poky front room.” All told, Harriet finds this “overview of shopping history” absolutely fascinating and she declares it a “lively and entertaining read.”
‘Motherhood has always been very porous’ [book review] – Recently translated from Spanish into English by Rosalind Harvey, Guadalupe Nettel’s fourth novel is described by Eleanor Updegraff of The Monthly Booking as “deeply compelling.” Examining “complex questions around motherhood and friendship,” Still Born tells the story of Laura and Alina, “close friends throughout their twenties and into their thirties” who live for a time in Paris before returning to their homes in Mexico. “[U]nited in their outlook on life” and both “committed to pursuing […] fulfilling career[s],” the women make a conscious decision never to have children. However, after one of them opts to be sterilized, while the other falls in love and is gradually drawn to motherhood, their “once-shared point of view threatens to become an insurmountable obstacle.” A book about “differing attitudes,” to becoming a mother, it is “its own brand of page-turner,” says Eleanor, and she finds it a “frank exploration of motherhood as both social concept and personal experience.”
* 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:
Literary Hub: Bad Seeds and Mad Scientists: On the Build-A-Humans of 19th-Century Literature – The Mexican Canadian author of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, “on her fascination with creation gone awry.”
LA Times: Op-Ed: Why inappropriate books are the best kind – David L. Ulin with an ode to “inappropriate books.”
Mel Magazine: Book Twitter Will Always Be at War with Itself – “To read or not to read? That is the question.”
The Guardian: Shortlist announced for Waterstones debut fiction prize – “The ‘dazzling’ finalists include Sequoia Nagamatsu, Eloghosa Osunde, Tara M Stringfellow, Tess Gunty and Louise Kennedy,” reveals Sarah Shaffi.
Hedgehog Review: Past Lives of the Paragraph – Richard Hughes Gibson delves into the “backstory” of the paragraph and discovers “why it is so hard to say what exactly defines and governs this curious convention.”
Esquire: Inside the Dark Fantasy of Hotel Life – “Author Liska Jacobs discusses The Pink Hotel, her glittering satire about a class war inside Hollywood’s most storied hotel.”
Kyodo News: Female writers win top Japan book awards, dominate shortlists – “The winners of Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa and Naoki literary prizes [have been] revealed.”
Middle East Eye: Unrequited and left longing: The epic love stories of the Arab world – “The romantic epic was an important genre of Arabic poetry for hundreds of years and many works remain popular today.”
iNews: Alexandra Heminsley – ‘I feel fearful about writing fiction – you can give yourself away’ – “The author talks about her debut novel Under the Same Stars, her life-changing trip to Norway and why she’s relieved she doesn’t have to have opinions about books anymore.”
Women’s Prize for Fiction: Emma Dabiri: ‘I love ghost stories’ – Vick Hope takes a tour around the bookshelves of writer, academic and broadcaster Emma Dabiri. From folklore to feminist sci-fi, Emma shares the five novels that have influenced the ideas at the heart of her own powerful essay-writing.
Gizmodo: The Mirrored Politics of SciFi and Fantasy – “Author Ryan Van Loan talks about how novels can be used to critique power structures.”
BBC Bristol: Charlotte Carter books brought back to life by Bristol artist – “A black artist says she was “honoured” to be asked to illustrate a series of re-issued novels by a black writer.”
Slate: The 50 Greatest Fictional Deaths of All Time – “The most tearjerking, hilarious, satisfying, and shocking death scenes in 2,500 years of culture,” according to Dan Kois.
The Irish Times: How to run a literary festival – “Jan Carson celebrates the John Hewitt Summer School and other book festivals that get it right.”
CBC: New book club in Hamilton to help inspire Black authors to write romance novels set in Canada – “The Black Romance Book Club will be hosted at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.”
Historia: Books for history lovers – summer reading 2022 – Historia “asked 12 historical writers to each recommend two books for history lovers, fiction or non-fiction, which stood out for them recently.”
Penguin: ‘You have to know how to keep people turning the page’: 21 Questions with Sarah Pearse – “The Devon-based novelist and author of The Sanatorium and The Retreat [speaks to Sarah McKenna about] her love of Kate Atkinson, the best writing advice she’s ever had and the fears that inspire her fiction.”
Gawker: Elisa Albert and the Art of Literary Swagger – “Few contemporary authors embody feminine swagger” like US author Elisa Albert, says Lily Meyer.
Bustle: The History Of Reproductive Rights In The US, As Told Through 20 Books – “Bustle has pulled together a list of 20 nonfiction books about reproductive rights” because, according to K.W. Colyard, “conservatives won’t stop at overturning Roe v. Wade.”
The New Statesman: The lying life of Emmanuel Carrère – “In his new book, Yoga, the French literary star is fixated on truth – so why,” asks Chris Power, “does he play fast and loose with it?”
Harper’s: The Enemy of Promise – Christian Lorentzen investigates “what time did to Christopher Hitchens.”
CrimeReads: Little Essays on Sherlock Holmes: ‘The Engineer’s Thumb’ – “Olivia Rutigliano close-reads one of the strangest Holmes stories.”
The Bookseller: Desmond Elliott Prize on hiatus for 2023 while Sunday Times Short Story Award could be discontinued – “The Sunday Times Short Story Award is in danger of being discontinued, while the Desmond Elliott Prize will be paused next year in a bid to secure funding, organisers say.”
Nation Cymru: Mori by Ffion Dafis wins the Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year award 2022 – “The Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award 2022 is the ‘masterpiece’ Mori by Ffion Dafis.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: What to read: ‘Bizarre’ animal tours and why you should walk in winter – Lucy Sussex and Steven Carroll cast their eyes over recent fiction and non-fiction.
The Hindu: With Amritsar in her heart: Deepti Naval on her book, ‘A Country Called Childhood’ – “Deepti Naval’s A Country Called Childhood is both a memoir and a commentary on life in the late 20th century,” writes Ziya Us Salam.
The New York Times: Love the Smell of Old Books? This Bookseller Would Like You to Leave. – “In his grouchy, funny memoir, A Factotum in the Book Trade, Marius Kociejowski writes about what a good bookstore should feel like, famous customers he’s served and more.”
IndieWire: ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Will Tell Us If Blockbuster Novels Have a Theatrical Future – “Where the Crawdads Sing, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, and The Gray Man defy current film trends,” says Tom Brueggemann.
Montreal Gazette: Beloved LaSalle second-hand bookstore closing this week – “Livres Bronx is selling off its inventory as it prepares to close for good,” reports Susan Schwartz.
Mashable: #BookTok rejoice: TikTok launches official Book Club – “First up for discussion is a timely choice: Jane Austen’s Persuasion.”
Scroll.in: Menstruation in South Asia: ‘Period Matters’ explores the complexities with writings and art – “This compilation edited by Farah Ahamed offers an inclusive and objective study of menstruation in South Asia,” writes Sayari Debnath.
BBC News: Richard Osman to embark on new series of crime novels – “Richard Osman has revealed he plans to take a break from writing his successful Thursday Murder Club novels to embark on a new crime series,” reports Rebecca Jones.
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
Great round up, Paula! Where does the Phillipa Gregory quote come from? Is it one of her novels or an article? The Sarah Pearse interview was v interesting and has made me want to read ‘A God in Ruins’ by Kate Atkinson. Also am intrigued by the women writers winning prizes in Japan. Last week’s article about ‘When the Crawdads Sing’ is followed up here…I found the novel partly fascinating to read but also problematic. Finished it now. By the end I was just glad I got through it!
Thank you, Maria. 😊
I lifted the Gregory quotation from The Queen’s Fool – a novel from her Tudor series set in the time of Mary I of England, which is narrated by a fictional character called Hannah whose father runs a book shop on Fleet Street.
Ah thanks. It makes sense in any period of history!
Very apt quote again this week, Paula. With all that’s going on all over the globe really, we need to keep reminding ourselves of things that are close to or have become reality.
I ended up clicking on the piece about memorable deaths, and there were indeed some that I had found upsetting like in Watership Down. And the second review I’m reading of Still Born which will probably end up on my TBR.
Love to the 🐱🐱 and 🐶🐶
Thank you so much for your continued support, Mallika. x😸x😸x🐶x🐶x
Thanks Paula – these posts are always so bad for the TBR!
Thank you, Kaggsy! 😊
I usually love these round-ups but for some reason the sheer volume of titles and discussions leaves me exhausted. I blame it on the weather, the political situation, the cost of living… 😁
Don’t forget the Russians! 🤣
Hurrah for ‘Mori’ by Ffion Dafis winning the Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year award. Sounds like a fascinating read. Among others I enjoyed the Slate link ‘The 50 Greatest Fictional Deaths of All Time’, sad and enlightening.
Interesting that the op-ed calls them “inappropriate” books. When I was growing up, my parents had the same policy of letting me read everything, which I did, and I had fun with a few of the books I brought home, watching them squirm while they (successfully) refrained from asking me not to read “that.” The behavior you model is even more important than what you say.