Winding Up the Week #316

An end of week recap

Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously…. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.”
Edwidge Danticat

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.

* 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:

What Writers Read – Edited by Pandora Sykes – Thirty-five Writers on their favourite book – This “beautifully printed gift edition” of Pandora Sykes’ What Writers Read: 35 Writers on Their Favourite Book “contains worlds within its neat hardback covers,” says Joules Barham in her review for Northern Reader. An assortment of writers “from various backgrounds” have each contributed a short essay about a book that has “influenced their lives” – among them David Nicholls, Ali Smith, Sebastian Faulks, Marian Keyes, Elizabeth Day, Kit de Waal and Elif Shafak. “[O]ften incredibly personal,” these pieces are undemanding “summaries of the effects” specific books had on the authors, which can move “our own reactions to reading.” Joules declares it “a super book for anyone who is […] in need of inspiration for what to read next”. What’s more, all royalties go to the National Literacy Trust. 

* 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:


The Guardian: How we fell under the spell of witcherature – “From the Netflix Addams Family spin-off to countless new novels and wellness books, witches are having a cultural moment. Why now, and what does that say about our modern age?” wonders Anya Bergman.

The Booker Prizes: How Fay Weldon’s ‘anti-publisher speech’ became one of the Booker Prize’s bombshell moments – “As Chair of the 1983 Booker Prize judges, Fay Weldon had been expected to make a speech celebrating the year’s best fiction, recalls Donna Mackay-Smith. However, she says, “instead, she delivered a devastating attack on the publishing industry.”

The Critic: Getty Read for pleasure – “Against the functionalist approach to literature.”

The New York Times: Floods, Fires and Humidity: How Climate Change Affects Book Preservation – “As extreme weather events become more common, archivists and conservators are scrambling to protect their collections.”

Electric Literature: An Experimental Novel About Malaysian Chinese Lives in the Aftermath of the May 13 Riots – “Li Zi Shu’s The Age of Goodbyes, translated by YZ Chin, centers the struggles of Malaysian Chinese women through decades and generations.”

Slate: The Tolkien of the Times? – The NYT’s Conservative columnist wrote a fantasy novel. Slate’s book critic, Laura Miller, shares her thoughts.

The Baffler: Unflinching Prisoners of a Grandiose Make-Believe – Colin Asher on “Jan Valtin’s 1941 memoir of revolutionary fervor, suffering, and lost faith,” Out of the Night: The Memoir of Richard Julius Herman Krebs.

The Walrus: The Griffin Poetry Prize Shakeup: New Rules, New Controversy – “Scott Griffin wants to create the most lucrative poetry prize in the world. Not everyone is happy,” finds Amanda Perry.

Women’s Prize for Fiction: The Best Books You Read in 2022 – Readers were asked to recommend their top reads of 2022 – this “amazingly comprehensive list of fantastic fiction” was the result.

The Asian Age: Desi Lesbian romance hopes to make a point – “The [Indian LGBT] romance novel about star-crossed lovers Krish and Mahi has not one, not two, but three happy endings,” finds Kushalrani Gulab.

The Millions: Most Anticipated: The Great 2023A Book PreviewTM has “assembled the best books of 2023A (that is, the first half of 2023), including new work from Nicole Chung, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Claire Dederer, Brian Dillon, Samantha Irby, Heidi Julavits, Catherine Lacy, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rebecca Makkai, Fernanda Melchor, Lorrie Moore, Jenny Odell, Curtis Sittenfeld, Clint Smith, Zadie Smith, Brandon Taylor, Colm Tóibín, and many, many more.”

Brisbane Times: The two little mags that roared out our literary talent – “Jim Davidson’s book examines the founders and long-term editors of Meanjin and Overland.”

The Conversation: What if the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol had succeeded? A graphic novel is uniquely placed to answer1/6 is a dystopian graphic novel that imagines what may have happened if the attack on the US Capitol in 2021 had succeeded in preventing the peaceful transition of power. 

The Atlantic: The Writer’s Most Sacred Relationship – “Creative partnerships can be a challenge for fragile egos—but they also provide a lifeline in difficult times,” says Lauren LeBlanc.

Inside Higher Ed: Is Poetry Dying? – “Once, poetry was a popular art form. What happened?” asks Steven Mintz.

49th Shelf: A Brief History of Mermaids – An excerpt from Canadian author, Alessandra Naccarato’s new non-fiction title, Imminent Domains: Reckoning with the Anthropocene – a book that contemplates our survival and that of the elements surrrounding us.

Publishers Weekly: Obituary: Natalie S. Bober – Shannon Maughan remembers Natalie S. Bober, best known for her biographies of poets, artists and figures of early American history, who died on 29th December at the age of 92.

Tribune: Writing Our Own Story – “James Kelman’s rendering of working-class Scottish life and speech has been incredibly influential on generations of Scottish writers. The novelist’s new portrait of the writer as an old man sees him shift into ironic auto-fiction,” says Calum Barnes.

CrimeReads: The Most Anticipated Crime Fiction of 2023 – Molly Odintz with “100+ mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels to get you through the long winter (and spring, and also early summer).”

Colossal: A Chinese Village’s Breezy New Library Uses Traditional Construction Techniques to Make a Social Impact – “Modeled after a traditional Dong timber house, a new local library designed by Chinese architecture firm Condition_Lab highlights the region’s architectural heritage through elegant, contemporary details,” writes Kate Mothes.

Oxford Review of Books: Pond Crossing – Albanese and Kingsolver explore old novels in new places. Paige Allen on Hester and Demon Copperhead.

The New York Review: The Foolscap Pages – Last month, Noel Stevens spoke to the writer and actor Simon Callow about what makes a good biography.

Reuters: Russian publisher investigated by authorities under new anti-LGBT law – “An independent Russian book publisher is under investigation for promoting ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ [and] “defying Russia’s tough new anti-LGBT laws,” reports Caleb Davis.

The Irish Times: The rules of new year reading: pick a long novel, make sure it’s ‘difficult’, no swearing at dense paragraphs – “Endless novels from the 19th century and earlier are there waiting to eat up the pre-Easter gloom,” says Donald Clarke.

TNR: Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark – “A new biography [I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys by Miranda Seymour] traces Rhys’s life of self-sabotage, excess, and devotion to art.”

WBUR: The WBUR Read-In: Time and transformation – “Arts and culture fellow Lauren Williams recommends three books looking at the passage of time, memories and self-reflection.”

BBC News: Writer Hanif Kureishi in hospital after being injured in fall – “The Buddha of Suburbia and My Beautiful Launderette writer Hanif Kureishi has said he collapsed in Rome last month and now cannot move his arms or legs.”

Sunday Times ZA: ‘A Library to Flee’ hovers between fantasy and reality – Margaret von Klemperer describes South African author Etienne van Heerden’s new novel as a mix of political satire, dystopian horror and morality tale, which “hovers between fantasy and reality.”

ABC News: The best books of 2022 for your summer reading list – “This list of 2022 favourites from ABC’s book experts — ranging from hot new Australian fiction to Booker Prize nominees, lesser-known gems and snackable morsels — has got you covered for summer (and may even help with gift inspiration),” says Kate Evans.

Historia: Are we the bad guys? Writing naval historical fiction from the French point of view – “Mention the ‘classic age’ of naval historical fiction and most people immediately think of the ‘age of Nelson’, Horatio Hornblower, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. […] But there are two sides to every story, as JD Davies writes, and his new series takes the bold step of retelling that conflict from the French point of view.”

Book Marks: The Best Reviewed Books of the Week – Featuring new titles by Tom Crewe, Parini Shroff, V. V. Ganeshananthan, Martha C. Nussbaum, Cheuk Kwan and Matthew Dennison.

Hungarian Literature Online: A Sci-fi Built on Linguistics – “Writing for Könyves magazin, Annamária Apró reviews Katalin Baráth’s 2021 linguistic sci-fi novel, Aphasia.”

Africa is a Country: Reading Fanon in Algeria, reading Algeria beyond Fanon – Anwār Omeish argues that Fanon Studies “stubbornly failed to consider how Algeria may illuminate Frantz Fanon’s theoretical commitments.”

Air Mail: Paradise Found – Jim Kelly asks eight questions of Pico Iyer, “whose new book takes readers around the world in search of paradise and its competing ideas.”

The Verge: Apple Books quietly launches AI-narrated audiobooks – “Starting with fiction and romance, the company says the feature ‘makes the creation of audiobooks more accessible to all.’”

Penguin: Books to read if you’re worried about the cost of living crisis – “From the informed to the consoling and fiercely practical,” Indira Birnie suggests various “books to help you save money this year.”

Wasafiri: They Wanted To Write So I Told Them To Dance by Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa – Read Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa’s moving account of teaching writing through dance and movement in Barbados, and “her nuanced articulations of culture and identity.”

Deadline: ‘Winnie-The-Pooh’ Prequel Feature In The Works From Baboon Animation and IQI Media – Melanie Goodfellow reports: “A prequel feature and series inspired by British writer A.A. Milnes children’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh is under development, in a joint production between U.S. companies Baboon Animation and IQI Media.”

Slate: The Big Flounce – Laura Miller argues that the “story of the romance novelist who allegedly faked her suicide isn’t a story about ‘the book world’ at all.”

BBC News: Spare review: The weirdest book ever written by a royal – Sean Coughlan concludes: “This must be the strangest book ever written by a royal.”



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.

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25 replies

  1. An excellent array of articles, I enjoyed reading about Fay Weldon’s speech and 10 year ban, it certainly took a good number of years before much changed in the industry.

    JD Davies idea of writing naval historical fiction from the French point of view is also an interesting concept when we realise that by its nature, reading in English very often meant, reading a one-sided perspective. It reminds me of the book The Black Count, which is an English language account of the life of the father of Alexandre Dumas, General Dumas; not a very well-known story, though terribly interesting. The trouble seems to be that there is a certain amount of patriotism inherent in most books, so anyone writing from outside their own culture is likely to encounter challenges from within. Let’s see how this one fares.

  2. Great use of David Mitchell’s ‘nasty’ character’s “Are we the bad guys?” in the Armstrong andiller show as a heading. Reminds me of a period adventure film I saw in a French cinema with the dubbed American hero (Steve ‘Hercules’ Reeves, if I remember right) slaying soldiers of the British Raj by the simple expedient of throwing cushions at them. My French exchange correspondent apologised sheepishly for taking me to the film, but I found it rather funny as well as enlightening, seeing one’s own ‘side’ portrayed as the baddies.

    Anyway, another great selection of items, thanks!

  3. So many tempting pieces as always Paula and I’m especially intrigued by the writing through dance article. That will be my first stop!

  4. A long and difficult novel–do they mean it’s time to read Ulysses?

  5. Thanks Paula – another bumper haul of links and I’m off to explore!!

  6. Thank you Paula. Plenty to keep me busy here. Happy New Year.

  7. I always enjoy hearing about Fay Weldon’s public scolding of publishing during the Booker — a woman who tolerated no foolishness!

  8. Holy Crap–that graphic novel of January 6. WOW. Like MacKinlay Kantor’s If the South Had Won the Civil War. Wow.

  9. These two together might give Harry’s wife ideas–lol “Slate: The Big Flounce – Laura Miller argues that the “story of the romance novelist who allegedly faked her suicide isn’t a story about ‘the book world’ at all.”

    BBC News: Spare review: The weirdest book ever written by a royal – Sean Coughlan concludes: “This must be the strangest book ever written by a royal.”

  10. Harry’s face multiplied takes up a whole window at my local Waterstones. It’s a bit unnerving! Like a set of masks. Thanks for all the lovely links, Paula!

  11. I love hearing about what other people read. That’s one of the best things about working at the library. That book by Pandora Sykes is going straight to my wish list!

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