An end of week recap
“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.”
– Oscar Wilde (Born 16th October 1854)
Thank you so much for all your kind and thoughtful messages welcoming me back to the book blogging fold. Though I still haven’t replied to everyone, I was immensely touched by your comments and promise to respond to all of you as soon as possible.
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.
* A Riot of Reading Events *
We are heading towards the busiest period in the book bloggers calendar – a spell culminating in a maelstrom of literary goings-on, which I have come to know as Nonstop November. I therefore highlight a miniscule assortment of forthcoming biblio-happenings for your consideration:
This month we are roaring back to the 10th and final year of the 1920s in the company of Karen Langley and Simon Thomas. From 24th to 30th October, the indomitable duo will celebrate twelve months of literature with their ever popular bi-annual reading challenge – this time designated the 1929 Club. You are, of course, invited to join them in binging on books first published in this year: a period when the publisher Faber and Faber was founded, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir became (if I may describe them thus) an item and the term ‘science fiction’ was used for the first time in print. “It looks like a heck of a year for books,” says Karen, and she is right. You can choose titles from an impressive list of authors and poets including, but certainly not limited to, Jean Cocteau, Elizabeth Bowen, William Faulkner, Colette, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, W. B. Yeats and Virginia Woolf. As ever, you are encouraged to share your thoughts with others via your blogs and on social media. Please use the hashtag #1929Club when twittering about the event.
Also starting in October – though on the final day of the month for obvious reasons – is Witch Week 2022, which runs from Halloween to Bonfire Night (31st October – 5th November). Hosted by Chris Lovegrove and Lizzie Ross, the theme of this year’s event is ‘Polychromancy’, which, according to Chris, is “a word concocted via Greek polychromos (‘many-colours’) and manteia (‘divination’) to suggest a focus on fantasy/sci-fi by authors from diverse backgrounds.” The aim, it seems, is to “explore the work of SFF authors who identify as Black, Asian, Indigenous, or other colours and ethnicities such as Roma – or indeed who claim a multiethnic ancestry.” For the lowdown on guest posts, the annual readalong and much else besides, please head over to Polychromancy #WitchWeek2022.
Coming up in November are all the regulars (and not a few new ones) – though, sadly, there are rather too many to include them all in a single wind up. Naturally, you are invited to participate in as many of these literary challenges as you wish (or can manage), ranging from Nonfiction November and AusReading Month to Novellas in November, German Literature Month and my personal favourite, Margaret Atwood Reading Month (aka #MARM). The library is your bibliothecal oyster over the coming weeks (and so ends this brief lesson on mangling Shakespeare). I look forward to reading your reviews.
* 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 this one – which was published over the last week or so:
War Among Ladies by Eleanor Scott – This “fascinating addition to the British Library Women Writers series,” first published in 1928, “explores the realities of being a working woman in the 1920s,” says Nirmala of Red Lips and Bibliomaniacs. War Among Ladies is set in an English girls’ school “where a storm is brewing” because French mistress, Miss Cullen’s “students have been performing poorly at exams.” The County Education Office has become involved, and the staffroom now resembles “a war room, boiling with ire” as, during this period, “schools with bad stats [were frequently] closed down.” The “gloves [are] off” but if they aren’t careful, the characters in this tale of office politics may well “find themselves, unwittingly, a pawn in someone else’s scheme!”
* 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:
The New York Times Magazine: The Climate Novelist Who Transcends Despair – “Lydia Millet believes the natural world can help us become more human.” Here she speaks to Christine Smallwood about her new novel, Dinosaurs.
The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction:The Baillie Gifford Prize 2022 shortlist announced – The shortlist for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, which celebrates the best in non-fiction writing, was announced live from Cheltenham Literature Festival on 10th October.
Big Think: 7 great but notoriously hard-to-finish books – Scotty Hendricks aims to convince readers these hard-to-finish books are still worth the effort.
The Guardian: ‘Hope matters’: Ukrainian and international authors on why literature is important in times of conflict – “Ten writers appearing at the Lviv BookForum, run this year in partnership with the Hay festival, discuss why we need books more than ever.”
Astra: Feels Like Fate – Emma Garman explores what it means when a novelist’s fiction later becomes reality. Is it manifestation or premonition, she wonders?
BBC Leicester: Leicester Adrian Mole show celebrates book’s 40th birthday – “A university is planning to stage an exhibition and a series of events to celebrate the 40th anniversary of 1980s bestseller The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾, says Jennifer Harby.
CBC: The finalists for the 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction – “The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year.”
Words Without Borders: A New Translation Prize: The Armory Square Prize for South Asian Literature in Translation – “Jury chair Jason Grunebaum and Armory Square partner and co-founder Pia Sawhney talk with WWB about the new Armory Square Prize for South Asian Literature in Translation.”
Nation Cymru: On Being a Writer in Wales: Jane Fraser – For Jane Fraser, author of Advent, “being a writer in Wales is a multi-faceted experience: positive in the main, but not without its challenges.”
Brisbane Times: Could this outback mystery be our next Australian classic? – Melanie Kembrey finds Fiona McFarlane’s “mesmerising” second novel, The Sun Walks Down, offers a fresh take on the search for a lost child.
Deadline: Raw Truth Entertainment Developing Kalani Pickhart Novel ‘I Will Die In A Foreign Land’, On Ukraine’s Euromaidan Protests Of 2013, As First Feature – Matt Grobar reveals that Kalani Pickhart’s novel I Will Die in a Foreign Land is to be adapted to film.
LA Times: Two podcasters set out to read every Agatha Christie book. It became much more than that – “For six years, thousands of Agatha Christie enthusiasts across the globe have downloaded the podcast for what one listener described as a ‘joyfully geeky’ take on the Queen of Crime’s expansive canon,” says Deborah Netburn.
English PEN: Malorie Blackman shares PEN Pinter Prize 2022 with Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace – “PEN Pinter Prize 2022 winner Malorie Blackman announces Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace as the International Writer of Courage 2022.”
Literary Hub: How Women Writers Speculated Fictional Futures Free From Patriarchal Control – “Lisa Yaszek on the feminist history of science fiction.”
Africa is a Country: Reading List: Edna Bonhomme – “The author writes about books whose true power comes from excavating the perennial endemic diseases that never leave our sight.”
Metropolis: Found in Translation – “Tackling Japanese literature as a couple, one line at a time.” Eric Margolis speaks to co-translators Doc and Reiko Kane.
Nature: Violent conservation, and your brain on magic: Books in brief – “Andrew Robinson reviews five of the best science picks.”
Scroll.in: A new translation of ‘Saundarya Lahari’ has revived the ancient Sanskrit text for modern readers – “An excerpt from Mani Rao’s introduction to her translation from the Sanskrit of Saundarya Lahari: Wave of Beauty, said to have been composed by Adi Shankara.”
Oprah Daily: These 25 Fantasy Books Will Transport Your Imagination to Other Worlds – Sam McKenzie has chosen a “varied [selection of] fantasy fiction, [ranging] from Tolkien’s Mordor to Nnedi Okorafor’s unnamed African country and imagined societies in between.
Prospect: How The Waste Land became the most quotable book of the last 100 years – “With its many places, ages and languages, The Waste Land disturbed the piped music of modernity,” writes Jeremy Noel-Tod.
The Spectator: Good riddance to long books – “The Booker has put the short back into shortlist – and about time too,” writes John Sturgis, veteran journalist for The Sun.
Slate: Hilary Mantel Never Stopped Being Haunted – “In the Wolf Hall trilogy, one of our greatest writers found a story as big as her talent.”
Asia Sentinel: China’s Novelistic ‘Soft Power Invasion’ of Vietnam – “Gooey romance novels thrill everybody but the [Vietnamese] government.”
The Age: A new wave of sci-fi that has plenty to say about today’s world – Jane Sullivan finds there’s a new crop of science fiction and fantasy from writers of colour, and writers with diverse and migrant backgrounds.
Hazlitt: ‘The System Isn’t About Justice or Rehabilitation’: An Interview with Hugh Ryan – “The author of The Women’s House of Detention on forgotten prison history, the incarcerated LGBTQ population, and women being punished for entering the public sphere.”
Middle East Eye: Hanan Issa: The Welsh National Poet on her mission to elevate ‘difficult women’ – “The poet talks to [Adama J Munu] about her influences and how her mixed Iraqi and Welsh heritage has impacted her work.”
Montreal Gazette: Le Grand Prix du livre de Montréal finalists announced – “Heather O’Neill [is] among the honourees for her novel When We Lost Our Heads.”
WBUR: The WBUR Read-In: ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ – WBUR arts and culture fellow Lauren Williams recommends three books from Iranian women and on global feminism.
Asian Review of Books: “Weasels in the Attic” by Hiroko Oyamada – In her review, Alison Fincher describes Hiroko Oyamada’s Weasels in the Attic as “eminently approachable”, offering a “low-commitment introduction to Japanese literature.”
The Walrus: 100 Years of Mavis Gallant – “Her stories are about the cost of living and the cost of love. It’s why they still endure,” writes Heather O’Neill.
LARB: What Is It Like to Have a Brain?: On Patrick House’s “Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness” – Henry M. Cowles reviews Patrick House’s Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness and finds the writer’s brains to be remarkably similar to Wallace Stevens’ birds in “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
BBC Norfolk: Russell Crowe’s £5,000 donation wows Norwich bookshop – “An independent bookshop trying to secure its survival said it had received a “bonkers” £5,000 donation from film star Russell Crowe.”
Air Mail: The Case of the Light-Fingered Litterateur – “When a framed photograph went missing during a Paris Review party, the avant-garde revellers became suspects in an old-fashioned potboiler,” reports George Pendle.
Boston Magazine: Take a Peek inside the Impeccably Designed Beacon Hill Books & Café – Lisa Weidenfeld invites you to explore Beacon Hill Books & Cafe – “Boston’s newest bookstore destination.”
CrimeReads: The Best Fiction About the Theatre – “Joanna Quinn on the rare magic of books set in and around the theatrical world.”
Al-Fanar Media: Moroccan Poet Documents Other Arab Poets’ Work at Expense of Writing Her Own – Diaa Hamed finds the “Moroccan poet Fatima Bouhraka has channeled her creative energies into documenting modern Arab poetry and poets for more than a dozen years now.”
The Millions: On the Cult of Craftism – “If craft is a writer’s fundamental heartbeat, then craftism is hypertension,” suggests GD Dess.
Psyche: Remembrance of telephony past: what Proust made of the phone – John Ashridge looks back at an article penned by Marcel Proust for Le Figaro in 1907, in which he discussed in some detail “the relatively new technology of the telephone.”
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