An end of week recap
“It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.”
– Nancy Thayer
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.
* Leap Into MCMXL *
“1929 turned out to be a brilliant choice!” says Karen Langley, co-host (along with Simon Thomas) of everyone’s favourite biannual reading challenge, which has sadly ended for another six months. However, there’s no need to feel glum because the prodigious pair had a conflab and picked out another exciting twelve-month period in the history of books. We now leave behind ‘Black Thursday’ and the first talking Mickey Mouse cartoon to travel… (drum roll) eleven years into the future; to the dark days of the Second World War and, somewhat less depressingly, the year in which the first Captain America comic book was published. Yes, if you haven’t already guessed, the next Club outing will be 1940. You can pick one or indeed many exciting titles to read for this event from a wide variety of contemporary authors, including Willa Cather, Dylan Thomas, Graham Greene, Nancy Mitford, Arthur Koestler, Raymond Chandler, Ngaio Marsh, John Cowper Powys, Adolfo Bioy Casares and, of course, Agatha Christie. The 1940 Club will run from 10th to 16th April 2023, which, as Simon points out, leaves you with “plenty of time to get thinking about what to pick up off the shelf.”
* 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:
Diary of a Tuscan Bookshop by Alba Donati, translated by Elena Pala – The bookshop in Alba Donati’s Diary of a Tuscan Bookshop: A Memoir “is more than a place to buy a new story,” says Janet Emson at From First Page to Last. It is “a haven for some, it is a port [in] the storm that was lockdown” and, although she isn’t herself an Italian speaker, she would dearly love to visit this charming establishment. “There is a great sense of community” among the villagers of the walled medieval town of Lucignana, and “they pull together when needed” – no more so than when “there is a fire at the bookshop” and they “help put it out, […] clean up, rebuild and restock” the shelves. Janet particularly enjoyed reading about “the little moments” and “loved the list of orders placed at the end of each entry.” Indeed, she concludes, the author’s “recollections and reflections” are ones which will be recognised by many book lovers.
* 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:
Astra: Vigdis Hjorth: The Unclassifiable Master – Makenna Goodman speaks to the novelist and “eminent literary figure in Norway” on subjects ranging from Kierkegaard and nature to Is Mother Dead – her “latest novel to be translated into English.”
Financial Times: Margaret Atwood’s leap of faith with Wayne McGregor – “The legendary writer on teaming up with the choreographer to transform her MaddAddam into a ballet.”
The Atlantic: 125 Years Old and Still Biting – “Bram Stoker’s gothic masterpiece speaks surprisingly well to our information-addled age of paranoia,” writes Jeremy Dauber.
WIRED: Is Listening to Audiobooks Really Reading? – Describing herself as “WIRED’s spiritual advice columnist on bardic traditions for a modern age,” Meghan O’Gieblyn examines the reasons “why book snobs worry about the wrong things.”
Brisbane Times: Writer Charmian Clift, her biographer and one surprising, Aussie-linked Greek island – “When Charmian Clift swapped a swanky London lifestyle to live on the island of Kalymnos, she discovered a tiny community with a surprising culture. Decades later, at the launch of a Greek translation of the book Clift wrote there, her biographer finds those intriguing traditions – and Aussie links – are still going strong,” says Nadia Wheatley.
Astra: A Different Way of Being Dutch – Alienated by the Dutch canon, the writer and translator Emma Rault found solace and kinship in the gay poet Hans Lodeizen (1924-1950).
Brittle Paper: Bernardine Evaristo Throws Huge Manifesto Paperback Launch Party in London – “Nigerian-British author Bernardine Evaristo recently celebrated the paperback launch of her nonfiction debut Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, a memoir of her life and writing career,” reports Kuhelika Ghosh.
RFI: Story of personal tragedy wins France’s prestigious Goncourt literature prize – “French author Brigitte Giraud has won France’s top literature prize, the Prix Goncourt, for a novel based on events that led to the death of her husband in a motorbike accident in 1999.”
LARB: Literature Versus Content: On Dubravka Ugrešić’s “Thank You for Not Reading” – Eric Vanderwall reviews the reissue of Dubravka Ugrešić 2003 book Thank You for Not Reading: Essays on Literary Trivia, translated by Celia Hawkesworth and Damion Searles.
Hindustan Times: Review: Everything the Light Touches by Janice Pariat – “By historicising global warming, the world’s most pressing contemporary concern, this novel [Everything the Light Touches] becomes one of ideas.”
CBC: Here are all the great Canadian books to check out this fall – “Check out all of the CBC Books preview lists for fall 2022.”
Hungarian Literature Online: Sándor Bazsányi: Breathing Prose – “Károly Tardos speaks to critic and literary historian Sándor Bazsányi, about Péter Nádas, his influences, and his intentions.”
Air Mail: Murder, They Wrote – Don’t miss a police procedural from Clare Mackintosh, a bloody thriller from Lisa Unger, a whodunit from Michael Connelly and a Scandi noir from Anne Mette Hancock.
NPR: Two new books challenge the sense of inevitable permanence of the Chinese party state – NPR’s Beijing correspondent Emily Feng looks at a couple books that challenge a sense of inevitable permanence of the Chinese party state.
BBC News: Julie Powell, who inspired the film Julie & Julia, dies at 49 – “Julie Powell, who found fame with an early food blog that was turned into a best-selling book and a hit movie, has died at the age of 49.”
The Asahi Shimbun: Libraries asked to stock books on North Korea abduction issue – “Librarians around Japan are raising concerns their independence may be in jeopardy after the education ministry asked them to stock more books about North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals, reports Ryo Miyazaki.”
Literary Hub: The 60 Best Campus Novels from the Last 100 Years – “Emily Temple rounds up the 60 greatest academic satires, campus novels, and boarding school bildungsromans of the last 100 years.”
The Hudson Review: The Art of Betrayal: Translation in an Age of Suspicion – “Can we trust translations? and why should we?” asks Tess Lewis as she leads us “onto the unstable foundations of translation.”
LARB: The Dreariness of Book Club Discussions – Book clubs are wildly popular but, wonders Naomi Kanakia, are they in any way useful?
Welsh Libraries: Mari Ellis Dunning – An interview with Welsh Libraries Author of the Month, Mari Ellis Dunning.
ABC News: The best new books released in October as selected by avid readers and critics – ABC critics share some of their favourite books published last month.
Bad Form: ‘I Write from the Heart, First’ An Interview With Derek Owusu – The writer, podcasters and author of Losing the Plot tells Nile Faure-Bryan: “I really want Black people to love the book. I want West Africans and East Africans to read it and recognise something in there, or maybe just decide, you know what, I need to get to know my mum. I want them to be curious. I want them to take the time and listen.”
Electric Literature: My Nostalgia for Enid Blyton is Complicated – Pranay Somayajula reckons with “the racism” of her favourite childhood author.
Ploughshares: The Literary History of Morgan le Fay – Few witches in literary history have been as influential – or as maligned – as Morgan le Fay. To understand her, argues Jessica Hines in this critical essay, is to understand something of the nature of witches’ and witchcraft’s literary representation.
Peak: P.E.I. carpenter Nicholas Herring wins Writers’ Trust fiction prize – Nicholas Herring’s novel about an unlucky lobster fisher, Some Hellish, has won the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.
The Baffler: To Name It Now – Tragically, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, the American novelist of South Korean origin, is now more widely remembered for the brutal manner in which she was killed than for her “highly experimental, hybridic hypertext and short cinematically-literate books,” says Vi Khi Nao. (RAPE & GRAPHIC VIOLENCE FEATURE IN THIS ARTICLE!)
Inside Higher Ed: The Future of Monograph Publishing – “New scholarly forms are transforming intellectual creativity, access to knowledge and reader engagement, Allison Levy writes.”
The Walrus: Why This Poet Declared War on Her Own Book – “When M. NourbeSe Philip’s work on a slave ship massacre was translated without her consent, she didn’t recognize it anymore. Who ultimately owns the stories we tell?” asks Connor Garel.
Guernica: Back Draft: Antoine Wilson – “The novelist discusses airport lounges, post-revision regret, and what it means to save someone’s life.”
Gizmodo: When Do Fat Girls Get to Be the Main Character? – “In a guest essay, author A.K. Mulford talks plus-sized representation in fantasy books.”
Pop Matters: How to Read Lauren Berlant: ‘On the Inconvenience of Other People’ – “Lauren Berlant’s oeuvre provokes ambivalence,” says Megan Volpert. As with their posthumous collection On the Inconvenience of Other People [she consumes] Berlant, and Berlant consumes her.
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