An end of week recap
“I will cut adrift—I will sit on pavements and drink coffee—I will dream; I will take my mind out of its iron cage and let it swim—this fine October.”
– Virginia Woolf
I apologize profusely for my unannounced, though temporary, disappearance from the book blogging community. Thank you so much for your patience.
As ever, this is a weekly post in which I summarize 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 one 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 pick only one – which was published over the last week or so:
Cursed Bunny – Bora Chung (tr. Anton Hur) – Over at Radhika’s Reading Retreat, Radz Pandit finds much to commend Bora Chung’s Cursed Bunny, which she describes as “a terrific collection of ten stories [merging] the genres of horror, science fiction, magical realism and dream logic” – that may also be “a commentary on the ills of Korean society but [can equally] be applied to any society where patriarchy and greed rules the roost.” In addition to the author’s “smorgasbord of genres,” her “unflinching perspective” makes for “vivid” and “strangely riveting” reading. “Absorbing and utterly compelling,” these “macabre” tales act as a “framework to explore the horrors of real life” and should “not to be missed.”
* 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:
Ploughshares: Literature and its Manipulations in The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li – Yiyun Li’s new book, The Book of Goose is, according to Shinjini Dey, “a taut landscape built of all literature’s attachments, manipulations, displacements, anxieties, and escapes. It is the labored breadth of an economy that is resplendently libidinal and compelling.”
The Bookseller: Fitzcarraldo kicks off new classics list with de Andrade ‘modernist masterpiece’ – “Fitzcarraldo Editions is launching a classics list next spring, with the first title to be 1928 Brazilian epic ‘modernist masterpiece’ Macunaíma: The Hero With No Character by Mário de Andrade, translated by Katrina Dodson.”
The New York Times: Early Cormac McCarthy Interviews Rediscovered – “The Pulitzer Prize-winning author has done vanishingly few interviews during the course of his career. In these early ones, some newly uncovered, he is less guarded,” says Elizabeth A. Harris.
BBC Culture: The ‘dangerous’ books too powerful to read – “Forty years on from the launch of Banned Books Week, censorship is once again on the rise. To launch a new BBC Culture series, John Self considers the long and ignoble global history of book-banning.”
Publishers Weekly: Volodymyr Zelenskyy Opens Virtual Lviv BookForum – The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened Lviv BookForum, “one of Ukraine’s most prestigious book festivals.”
The Nation: The Decline of Progressive Publishing Houses Is a Loss for Everyone – Tom Engelhardt finds the “end of Pantheon and Metropolitan augers a strange and unchallenging world of ideas.”
Quillette: Two Hundred Years of Stendhal – “2022 marks the bicentennial of the pseudonym’s transformation from literary dabbler into one of the greatest novelists of the modern age,” writes Robert Zaretsky.
Metropolis: The Rise of Multicultural Japanese Literature – “Real, imagined, or hiding this whole time?” wonders Eric Margolis.
The Irish Times: Why wouldn’t you judge a book by its cover? I always do – “Donald Clarke: A book’s design is essential to the reading experience. Mess with it at your peril.”
CBC: 5 Canadian writers shortlisted for $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize – Three Canadian novelists and two short-story collection authors have been named to the 2022 Scotiabank Giller prize shortlist.
Slate: How Libraries Became Refuges for People With Mental Illness – Anthony Aycock on the ways in which libraries are refuges for people with mental health problems.
Lux: A Serious Woman – The radical feminist critic, journalist, essayist, and memoirist, Vivian Gornick, reflects on “a life in feminism and psychoanalysis.”
Atlas Obscura: What Do We Really Know About the History of the Printing Press? – Line Sidonie Talla Mafotsing explores the earliest history of the printing press in Europe and Asia.
The Guardian: ‘A national scandal’: Australian authors take aim at ‘woefully underfunded’ literary sector – “Richard Flanagan, Helen Garner and Kate Grenville call for ‘vast inequity’ to be corrected, as planning continues for national cultural policy.”
Deccan Herald: High demand, but not enough literary translators – Asra Mavad “takes stock” of Bengaluru’s literary translation scene.
Al Jazeera: Zimbabwe court fines novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga over protest – “Dangaremba, who was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2020, is a prominent critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.”
Public Books: Where is all the Book Data? – According to Melanie Walsh, industry is already using data to remake culture. To reverse the tide – to make culture more equitable – she strongly believes we need to decode that data for ourselves.
Pop Matters: Debut ‘The Novelist’ is Among the Best Books About Addiction – Jordan Castro’s debut The Novelist is, finds Brandon P. Bisbey, a relatable and humorous study in the economy of plotting, ironic description and the addictive nature of the self.
BBC News: Annie Ernaux: ‘Uncompromising’ French author wins Nobel Literature Prize – Helen Bushby and Ian Youngs report that the French writer Annie Ernaux “has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, for what the panel said was an ‘uncompromising’ 50-year body of work exploring ‘a life marked by great disparities regarding gender, language and class’.”
The Atlantic: Historical Fiction Turns a Life Into a Story – “Our day-to-day doesn’t follow an obvious plot,” says Emma Sarappo. “The arc of the past is visible only in hindsight.”
High Country News: Native Lit is more than a marketing term – “Its use is just another fence, and we’re busting them down,” writes Nick Martin.
LoveReading: Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction Longlist Announced – “The £50,000 non-fiction award features seven British authors, three Americans, one Irish writer and one translated work by a French-Rwandan writer.”
DW: ‘The Satanic Verses’: The long road to German publication – “Following the recent brutal attack on Salman Rushdie, famous writers have been reading passages from his works. Here’s a look at how 1988’s The Satanic Verses struggled to be published in German.
The Sydney Morning Herald: We’ve forgotten how to read long novels – and we’ll pay the price – David Free makes a pitch for “Great Big Books – for those literary whoppers that make unashamedly large claims on our time and attention.”
LARB: A Cartography of Redemption: On Heimito von Doderer’s “The Strudlhof Steps” – Joshua Hren reviews the first English translation of Heimito von Doderer’s 1951 novel, The Strudlhof Steps.
Prospect: The risk of nuclear disaster grows every day – “From Three Mile Island to Chernobyl, the story of atomic energy is littered with catastrophes,” writes Oliver-James Campbell in his review of Serhii Plokhy’s Atoms and Ashes: From Bikini Atoll to Fukushima.
The Asian Age: Book Review | Love, and the dilemmas of devadasi life – Malati Mathur describes N Kalyan Vaasanthi’s Breaking Free as a “novel that beautifully echoes the sentiment of the Devadasi community.”
Observer: Let’s Get Rid of the Blobby Book Cover – “As critics and influencers continue to point out, cover art has in recent years regressed to a sort of algorithmic average: the colorful, crowded blobs,” writes Miles Klee.
Rolling Stone: Publishing Wants To Cash In On BookTok. Creators Say No – “Penguin Random House introduced a new promotion feature on the social media platform, and creators are calling it a cash grab,” reports CT Jones.
Cyprus Mail: Scheme launched to translate literary works to boost understanding between Cypriot communities – “Grant applications for the translation of literary works by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are now being accepted by the island’s deputy ministry of culture,” reports Sarah Ktisti.
JSTOR Daily: Remembering Gwendolyn MacEwen – “The Canadian poet was inspired by everything from Ancient Egyptian mythology to folk magic, from Gnosticism to global politics.”
Words Without Borders: What Comes after #NameTheTranslator? – “Translators and publishers reflect on what still needs to change.”
The GW Hatchet: Little District Books elevates queer stories in neighborhood rich in LGBTQ+ history – “Little District Books has welcomed visitors with a store-front window studded with books and rainbow walls of countless queer must-reads since opening in June.”
The Conversation: My Year of Rest and Relaxation: ‘sad-girl’ fetishism or ‘cuttingly funny’ feminist satire? – In a new series, Charlotte Chalklen examines “books that have become cultural touchstones.”
The Public Domain Review: Colonizing the Cosmos: Astor’s Electrical Future – “During America’s Gilded Age, the future seemed to pulse with electrical possibility. Iwan Rhys Morus follows the interplanetary safari that is John Jacob Astor’s A Journey in Other Worlds, a high-voltage scientific romance in which visions of imperialism haunt a supposedly ‘perfect’ future.”
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