An end of week recap
“There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that’s a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don’t fit in with others and that nobody really believes in. They keep out of the way all the year. And then when everything’s quiet and white and the nights are long and most people are asleep—then they appear.”
– Tove Jansson
This is a 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.
* Turn to Japan in ’23 *
Meredith Smith of Dolce Bellezza “wondered if there would be an interest in hosting the Japanese Literature Challenge for the sixteenth year, and so […] threw out the idea [to her followers] on Instagram.” She need not have worried because the event has “ardent fans” who were delighted at the prospect. Therefore, the reading will begin on 1st January 2023 (and continue until the end of February), commencing with “a sticky post” on her blog. What’s more, Meredith intends to organise “a few give-aways” – you can peruse photos of the selected titles at The Japanese Literature Challenge 16 is coming soon… “Will you join in?” she wonders. Please use the #japaneselitchallenge16 hashtag when discussing the challenge on social media.
* Irresistible Items *
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting (soon, perhaps, Mastodonning) my favourite finds (or adding them to my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a selection of interesting snippets:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Review: Curiosities join murder mysteries in new novel by Louise Penny – In the thick of a case in A World of Curiosities, Canadian author Louise Penny’s high-tension latest, a colleague visits Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in the village of Three Pines, Quebec, finds Gail Pennington.
Letters From Suzanne: An Exclusive Interview with JK Rowling about her New Project – “When J. K. Rowling tells you she has something up her sleeve that she wants to show you,” says Suzanne Moore, “it’s worth getting on a train to Edinburgh.”
Literary Hub: Napoleonic Conspiracy Theories, Unsociable Shabbiness, and More Occupational Hazards of the Second-Hand Book Trade – “Shaun Bythell chronicles his days as a bookseller.”
The Observer: Steer clear of ‘mediocre writing’ by celebrities for Christmas, authors plead – “Books by TV personalities and other high-profile figures will top bestseller lists, but critics say professionals lose out,” reports David Barnett.
The Atlantic: The Atlantic 10 – “The books that made us think the most this year.”
BBC Culture: ‘Reading it is like codebreaking’ – “What happens to our brains when we learn Braille, asks Red Szell in this video for BBC Culture’s A Sensory World series.”
Bad Form: Historical Fiction: Only For White Authors? – It hasn’t escaped the notice of historical fiction writer, Stacey Thomas, that many books by diverse authors are currently focusing on “recovering the forgotten stories of Black and Brown figures from the past.”
Independent Book Review: STARRED Book Review: Cul-de-sac – “Cul-de-sac by Nick Perilli is “a genre-blending mosaic that explores what lies on the other side of death,” says Joshua Ryan Bligh in his review of this Montag Press novel.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Best reads of the year: Top writers reveal the books they loved in 2022 – Helen Garner, Tim Winton, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Harper and other leading authors reveal what they’ve most enjoyed reading over the past 12 months.
Counter Craft: Processing: How Elisa Gabbert Wrote Normal Distance – “The author on sentence-thoughts, constructing poems, and the eternal themes of ‘boredom, death, and suffering!’”
The Guardian: Marijane Meaker obituary – Michael Carlson on the “[g]roundbreaking author, initially of lesbian-themed fiction including the 1952 bestseller Spring Fire.”
Berfrois: A Farewell to Café Hemingway – “Some writers search all their lives for the perfect place to work,” says John Crutchfield. The Café Hemingway has always been his creative corner.
African Arguments: The best African books of 2022 – “From the thought provoking and evocative to the laughter inducing,” Samira Sawlani spotlights African Arguments favourite books of 2022.
DW: Stephen King and Margaret Atwood console debut novelist – “When Chelsea Banning tweeted that nobody turned up at her book signing event, the post went viral as literary stars shared their own humiliating tales,” reports Manasi Gopalakrishnan.
The Hindu: Crime does not pay: an author on the slow and low demand for Indian crime fiction – “While the crime and mystery genre is a hotseller in the U.K. and the U.S., its sales are surprisingly low in India,” says Richa S Mukherjee.
The Irish News: Dear John: Exploring the letters of Seamus Heaney, Michael McLaverty, Hilary Mantel and others to John McGahern – “John McGahern, one of Ireland’s most important writers, was in correspondence with many other writers throughout his life. A treasure trove of the letters he received from figures including Philip Roth, Ian McEwan, Hilary Mantel, Seamus Heaney and Michael McLaverty makes fascinating reading in its own right, writes Noel McAdam.”
Prospect: The delightful, surprising, secret lives of stones – “A beautiful new book contains 60 essays on the harder parts of the natural world—from diamonds to coprolite. Its revelations are frequently delightful,” writes Cal Flyn of Hettie Judah’s Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones.
NPR: ‘A Dangerous Business’ is an entertaining, Poe-inspired murder mystery – In Jane Smiley’s latest novel, A Dangerous Business, which was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, characters Eliza and Jean are determined to figure out who killed their missing colleagues.
The Booker Prizes: Esi Edugyan announced as Booker Prize 2023 Chair of judges as prize opens for entries – The identity of the judges for the Booker Prize 2023 have been revealed.
Current Affairs: Why We Need Book Reviews – Merely one week after being sold, Bookforum is closing down. Nathan J. Robinson argues that a “flourishing democracy depends on a culture that cares about and talks about books.”
ArabLit Quarterly: Fatma Qandil’s ‘Empty Cages’ Wins 2022 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature – The Egyptian writer, Fatma Qandil, who dedicated her award to Arab women writers, said that winning the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature proves that her long journey with writing “was not in vain.”
FineBooks & Collections: Caveat Emptor: or some thoughts on ethics and online book buying – Alex Johnson discovers: “The Independent Online Booksellers’ Association aims to combine traditional bookselling best practices with the opportunities of online bookselling.”
Hindustan Times: Review: The War Diary of Asha-San by Lt Bharati ‘Asha’ Sahay Choudhry – “The simple diary entries that comprise this book are rare accounts of the diaspora’s role and of women’s participation in India’s freedom movement.”
The Japan Times: Take a journey through the mythic and mundane in ‘The Thorn Puller’ – Hiromi Ito’s semi-autobiographical, transnational novel probes the complexities of life as it follows the struggles of a woman shouldering an impressive load of family troubles.
Shondaland: Explore the Depths of the Sea and Human Experience in ‘How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures’ – “Sabrina Imbler discusses their new collection of essays” with Sarah Neilson.
History Today: Books of the Year 2022 – History Today’s “year in reading covers the year’s major anniversaries such as Partition, Stalingrad and the March on Rome as well as space travel, English law and, of course, the Tudors.”
The First News: The Republic of Dreams – “A new online project brings the Drohobycz of Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz back to life through reimagined immersive soundscapes and narratives.”
Arts Hub: Winners of 2022 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards announced – Celina Lei on Australia’s annual celebration of literature, which has honours people for their cultural contributions and literary talents.
The Irish Times: Nightingale and cello, or Beatrice and the bird – “Poet Mark Roper on being inspired by cellist Beatrice Harrison’s BBC duets with a nightingale.”
Esquire: The Murky Path To Becoming a New York Times Best Seller – “Publishing insiders tell [Sophie Vershbow] why they find “the list” so frustrating—turns out, it’s a data project full of contradictions.”
Zocalo: Why is Fantasy Stuck in the Middle Ages? – “From the latest Tolkien adaptation to the new Thrones series, a genre is reckoning with its most well-known setting,” says Jackie Mansky.
Gawker: The Brilliant Hackwork of P.G. Wodehouse – “In the right hands, recycling a plot can be very funny,” says Dan Brooks.
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