An end of week recap
“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.”
– Thomas Mann
A humongous and heartfelt happy New Year to every one of you. Welcome to the first wind up of the year. I should like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support and wish you a healthy, peaceful, book-filled 2023.
As ever, 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.
* Get that #LoveHain Feeling in ‘23 *
Throughout 2023, the widely read and ever-curious book blogger, Chris Lovegrove, will focus his meticulous attention on a series of novels by the “late lamented writer Ursula K Le Guin,” who “died five years ago this month.” The Hainish collection, an assortment of science fiction novels and short tales – which includes such classics as The Left Hand of Darkness – will be read in order of publication, “on a month by month basis, starting this month.” If you would like to take part, Chris welcomes you to do so. He intends to “post three questions for readers’ consideration on the last Friday of each month (except for this month when it will be on the anniversary of Le Guin’s death, Sunday 22nd January)” and invites you to discuss, review and share your thoughts about these works on social media (using the #LoveHain and/or #UKLGsf hashtags). For more in depth information about this exciting event, please head over to #LoveHain: Reading UKLG’s sf at Calmgrove, where you can post comments and familiarise yourself with the schedule.
* Independent Publishers Take Centre Shelf *
I know fellow booklovers will be delighted to learn that Karen Langley of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and Lizzy Siddal of Lizzy’s Literary Life will return in February with their third Reading Independent Publishers Month – a literary challenge they “started during lockdown to support [their] favourite indies during difficult times” – which has become a highly anticipated date in many book blogger’s diaries. Should you wish to take part, there are apparently “only two rules,” conveniently outlined at Announcing Reading Independent Publishers Month 3 #ReadIndies. Please be sure to use the #ReadIndies hashtag when discussing the event 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:
Shondaland: Escape the World in More Ways Than One: Books to Take on a Hike – “Planning on trekking into nature? Consider these reads as your perfect companion,” suggests Shelbi Polk.
Independent: Fay Weldon death: Prolific author and playwright dies aged 91 – Fay Weldon chronicled the ups and downs of British life in novels, TV dramas, plays and short fiction for more than five decades.
Literary Hub: On Transforming Oral History Into Historical Fiction – Aanchal Malhotra reflects on writing a historical novel about Indian Partition as a historian.
City Journal: Liberal Humanism’s Lost World – According to Michael Knox Beran, the literary critic, short story writer and essayist, Lionel Trilling, “resisted an apocalyptic progressivism at odds with liberty and complexity.”
The Guardian: Is Iceland’s language a Norse code – or legacy of Celtic settlers? – In his yet to be translated book, Keltar, Thorvaldur Fridriksson reveals that “Gaelic origins of Icelandic words and landmarks challenge [the] orthodox view of Viking heritage.”
The Asian Age: A treat for literary fiction lovers set in turn-of-century Bombay – “Tatya’s story traverses the textile industry in India during the First World War,” writes Nayantara Roy in her review of Tejaswini Apte-Rahm’s The Secret of More.
The Irish Times: Remembering Eavan Boland on Nollaig na mBan – a leading feminist light – “To mark women’s Christmas” on 6th January, Alan Hayes paid “tribute to the life and legacy of the poet and literary feminist.”
The Bookseller: Faber swoops for ‘timely’ debut novel from Ísberg – “Faber & Faber has swooped for The Mark, the ‘polyphonic novel’ by Icelandic novelist Fríða Ísberg amid a clamour for rights around the world,” reports Katie Fraser.
Open Book: Canadian Writers and Publishers Share Their Literary Resolutions for 2023 – “We all know what a New Year’s resolution is, but what about a literary resolution? [OB] asked writers and publishers across the country to share their hopes and aspirations for 2023 in the realm of reading.”
Time: The 23 Most Anticipated Books of 2023 – “New year, new you, and so many new books to read” says Shannon Carlin – from Jenny Odell and R.F. Kuang to Salman Rushdie and Colson Whitehead.
TNR: Shirley Hazzard’s Great Escape – “A lifelong striver who wrote about lifelong strivers, Hazzard was perpetually dissatisfied with the world she grew up in,” says Hillary Kelly.
Esquire: 37 Years Later, We’re Still Living the Nightmare of White Noise – “Don DeLillo’s novels have evolved with society, ringing true even when they could or should feel outdated, but none are more prescient than White Noise, now adapted for Netflix.”
Aeon: The first Romantics – Marina Benjamin looks at how “a close group of brilliant friends, in a tiny German university town, laid the foundations of modern consciousness.”
The New Yorker: The Writer Who Burned Her Own Books – “Rosemary Tonks achieved success among the bohemian literati of Swinging London—then spent the rest of her life destroying the evidence of her career,” writes Audrey Wollen.
Berfrois: Munch’s Readers – A page of Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch’s art depicting twenty different readers.
The Indian Express: Meet The Agent: Delhi-based Kanishka Gupta, whose agency represents some of the subcontinent’s biggest literary talents, including this year’s Booker winners – “What’s common between International Booker Prize-winning translator Daisy Rockwell and Sahitya Akademi Award-winning writer Anees Salim?” asks Paromita Chakrabarti. “Their literary agent,” it would seem.
Montreal Gazette: Book excerpt: Addressing environmental threats to reproduction, in Fertility: 40 Years of Change in Humans – As part of a series “highlight[ing] some non-fiction by regional writers in 2022,” the MG publishes an excerpt from Fertility: 40 Years of Change by Maureen McTeer – a book that “warns [readers] of the growing global environmental problems leading to sterility and infertility.”
Pop Matters: Caroline Hagood’s ‘Weird Girls’ Prods the Monster Within to Snarling Life – “All women,” declares Megan Volpert, “should have easy access to Caroline Hagood’s bloody but unbowed heart of feminist grotesquerie, Weird Girls.
The Observer: ‘Propaganda literature’: calls to close Mikhail Bulgakov museum in Kyiv – “The Master and Margarita writer’s antipathy to Ukrainian nationalism has led to some demanding his old house be renamed or repurposed.”
Forbes: 7 Most-Anticipated YA Mysteries To Dive Into This Winter – These page-turners “are sure to please teen and older readers,” says Toni Fitzgerald.
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Endless Flight’ Review: The Vision and Anguish of Joseph Roth – “The author of The Radetzky March saw the Europe he loved crumbling around him. He chose to remain as it fell,” finds Dominic Green.
Slate: TikTok Figured Out an Easy Way to Recommend Books. The Results Were Dubious. – “#EnemiesToLovers. #OnlyOneBed. #TheChosenOne. Is picking books by trope too easy?” asks Radhamely De Leon.
The Asahi Shimbun: Students lay groundwork for research project on Donald Keene – “Students have taken the lead in a project to sort out more than 7,000 books in the collections of American-born Japanese literature expert Donald Keene (1922-2019).”
The Hedgehog Review: Language for Life – “The resurrection of Carne-Ross’s book should give a little bit of hope,” says Joseph M. Keegin in this piece about “the role of poetry in literacy.”
The Brink: Unearthing a Long Ignored African Writing System, One Researcher Finds African History, by Africans – “BU anthropologist Fallou Ngom discovered Ajami, a modified Arabic script, in a box of his late father’s old papers.”
Nation Cymru: Crime fiction festival and contemporary circus coming to Wales in 2023 – “A brand-new festival showcasing the rising stars of Welsh crime fiction and a world renowned circus is heading to [Swansea] this year.”
Ploughshares: “Climate change is coming for us all”: An Interview with Matt Bell – Matt Bell’s Appleseed is a sci-fi novel. It is also a re-imagining of a western, a portrayal of a dystopia, and a techno-adventure – but above all, it is a novel of warning, an air-raid siren of impending environmental collapse.”
Arts Hub: Upcoming books for 2023, January to June – “A sneak peek” with Thuy On “at some Australian books scheduled for release in the first six months of the year.”
Tor.com: The Case for Touching All Your Books – “Put your hands on your books,” commands Molly Templeton. “All of them.”
Nature: The magic of physics, and why we have childhood: Books in brief – “Andrew Robinson reviews five of the best science picks.”
Words Without Borders: Literature, a Triumphant Art: A Conversation with Lídia Jorge – “Margara Russotto and Patrícia Martinho Ferreira speak with Lídia Jorge, one of Portugal’s most renowned contemporary writers, about Portuguese colonial history, feminism, and bearing witness through fiction.”
BBC Scotland: Rare Burns book saved after pages ripped out in late 1800s – “A rare first edition of a book of Robert Burns poems was saved by a collector in the late 1800s as it was being ripped up by a barber to clean razors.”
The Guardian: Gravestone-encircled ‘Hardy Tree’ falls in London – “The tree became a powerful symbol of life among death after the novelist and poet stacked gravestones around its base in the 1860s.”
Penguin: How to read more this year – If you want to “’read more books’ on your resolution list,” Penguin has a few “hacks to help with that.”
Asymptote: Everything Is in the Atmosphere: David Boyd on Translating Hiroko Oyamada – Laurel Taylor discusses with David Boyd translating the work of Japanese writer Hiroko Oyamada into English.
Prospect: Wine by the panel: how France is mixing booze with comic-books – “The French are passionate about their grapes and their bandes dessinées,” writes Ginger Clark. He’s pleased to report that at long last, “there’s a publishing trend that satisfies both of those passions at once.”
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