Winding Up the Week #321

An end of week recap

There is a satisfactory boniness about grammar which the flesh of sheer vocabulary requires before it can become a vertebrate and walk the earth.”
 Anthony Burgess (born 25th February 1917)

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.

* 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: The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler – how to speak octopus – “What if the first alien intelligences we encountered were already living with us on planet Earth? This near-future novel of ideas [The Mountain in the Sea] wittily explores the nature of consciousness,” says Steven Poole.

The Collector: Wyndham Lewis: Artist, Novelist, Fascist? – “Wyndham Lewis was widely considered one of the twentieth century’s most talented artists and writers” – but, says Catherine Dent, his politics “reveal a darker side.”

The Conversation: Why is a love poem full of sex in the Bible? Readers have been struggling with the Song of Songs for 2,000 years – The famous biblical book alludes to God only once. Historically, most interpreters have argued the poem is about love between the divine and his people – yet the arguments continue.

Tasteful Rude: A Biography’s Tale: On Anthony Burgess by Roger Lewis – Jonathan Russell Clark demonstrates that sometimes the best biographers can’t abide their subjects.

Perspectives On History: Hope in the Dark: History and Ghost Stories – Scott G. Bruce discovers that everything has a history, including ghost stories.

LARB: Itʼs Just Pourin Outta Me: On Jáchym Topol’s “A Sensitive Person” – Cory Oldweiler reviews Alex Zucker’s English translation of Czech author Jáchym Topol’s novel A Sensitive Person.

Publishers Weekly: No Plans for Dahl Text Changes from U.S., European Publishers – After UK publisher Puffin Books opted to remove potentially offensive language from new editions of Roald Dahl’s books, his American, French and Dutch publishers have stated that they will not be following suit.

Electric Literature: The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World – “Libraries from around the world that must be seen to be believed.”

Air Mail: When a Writer Loves a Writer – Daphne Merkin reviews Lives of the Wives, in which Carmela Ciuraru explores the tumultuous marriages of five literary couples.

The Publishing Post: Remaining Faithful to Individual Truth and Cultural Perspectives in Fear and Lovely by Anjana Appach – Anjana Appachana’s latest novel, Fear and Lovely, “proves another literary victory for Verve Books,” says Eleanor Bowskill.

49th Shelf: Most Anticipated: Our 2023 Spring Fiction Preview – Recommended new fiction from the staff at 49th Shelf, a website produced by the Association of Canadian Publishers.

BBC Leicester: University of Leicester exhibition celebrates Shakespeare anniversary – “An exhibition to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio is to launch in Leicester,” reports Jennifer Harby.

The Irish Times: Letters of the writer who risked his life to save Joyce’s manuscripts in Nazi-occupied Paris – “Joyce’s friend Paul Léon, who was killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, is remembered in a new book that includes moving letters he wrote to his wife while in captivity,” says Lara Marlowe of the recently published James Joyce and Paul L Léon: The Story of A Friendship Revisited.

Arts Hub: Are calls to cancel two Palestinian writers from Adelaide Writers’ Week justified? – “Denis Muller from the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne examines the case for cancelling two contentious festival guests.”

New Lines Magazine: Under the Radar, Between the Cracks – “A new novel set in south-of-the-river London [Category Unknown] explores the aftermath of the 1980s, when social liberalism gave way to the brutalities of neoliberalism,” writes William Mazzarella.

Prospect: Stolen identity: how Nikolai Gogol usurped Mykola Hohol – “Russia has long sought to reappropriate Ukrainian writers as its own,” says the scholar and literary critic Olha Poliukhovych. However, since the invasion, “the west is finally taking note.”

Authors’ Club: Longlist announced for Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2023 – The 12-author longlist for the U.K.-based Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award has been revealed.

Lit Mag News: Showcase Magazine, Ephemera, C & R Press, Steel Toe Books, Fjords Review, PANK Magazine, American Poetry Journal…oh my? – Becky Touch investigates a group of literary magazines and small publishers accused of mistreating writers and failing to deliver promised services. Why Alexander the Great was treated with hostility in Zoroastrian literature – “Even in Firdawsi’s Shahnamah, he is described by Ardshir, founder of the Sasanian dynasty, as ‘the evil-minded tyrant’,” says Ursula Sims-Williams.

The New York Review: The Dream of Forgetfulness – Gavin Francis scrutinizes “two recent books [which] build on an insight of Borges—that to live, it is necessary to forget.”

The Hedgehog Review: A Novelist’s Reflections on Useful Fictions – Alan Jacobs on “Hope Mirrlees and her curious [1926 fantasy] masterpiece,” Lud-In-The-Mist.

Guardian Australia: How to Be Remembered by Michael Thompson review – a proudly earnest first novelHow to Be Remembered is the “story of Tommy, a boy who is forgotten on the same day each year by everyone who knows him.”

The Ashai Shimbun: Svetlana Alexievich: Literature can prevent humans from becoming savage beasts – Nobel Laureate, Svetlana Alexievich, the Belarusian investigative journalist, essayist and oral historian who writes in Russian, explains to Akira Nemoto how writers can “help foster growth in people” and “work to ensure that humanity as much as possible can remain inside people.”

Center For the Art of Translation: On a Woman’s Madness: A Conversation with Astrid Roemer – “Roemer speaks to Two Lines Press about the genesis of her daring novel of queer love in Suriname,” On a Woman’s Madness.

High Country News: The wolf in its own clothing – “A new book, Wolfish, attempts to shed light on how the species is a stand in for fear,” writes Mike Berry.

The New York Review: ‘Devilish Agencies at Work’ – “Walter de la Mare, a poet and writer of weird tales, once counted T. S. Eliot and Graham Greene among his admirers, and now his ghost stories persist with an underground influence.”

The Skinny: Owlish by Dorothy Tse – Marguerite Carson describes Owlish by Dorothy Tse as “a surreal fairytale that tackles the political reality of Hong Kong through a shifting dreamspace.”

Harper’s: At Random – Christian Lorentzen on the “business of books and the merger that wasn’t.”

CBC: 86 works of Canadian fiction to read in the first half of 2023 – You are invited to “check out the great Canadian novels and short story collections” being published during the first seven months of this year.

The China Project: From prizewinning author to censored chronicler of COVID in Wuhan – “Murong Xuecun rose to fame as an internet writer, and then won a prestigious official literature award in 2010. But then the state turned on him. His most recent book, Deadly Quiet City, tells the stories of eight people in Wuhan in the spring of 2020.”

Spine: Freelance February: Will Staehle on Designing Scorched Grace – Designer Will Staehle talks to Vyki Hendy about the process behind creating the striking cover for Scorched Grace, Margot Douaihy’s debut crime novel about a rather unusual nun, who puts her amateur sleuthing skills to the test.

Black Ballad: Rosanna Amaka Is Bringing The Women Of Colonial Nigeria To The Forefront In Her Fiction – “Rosanna Amaka’s second novel, Rose and the Burma Sky, is an immersive journey into 1940s Nigeria and the toll World War 2 took on British colonies,” writes Jendella Benson.

Poets & Writers: Pushcart Rolls Through Fifty Years – “Bill Henderson founded Pushcart Press with one goal: to empower overlooked writers to publish their own work. Fifty years later, Pushcart is still elevating independent publishers and authors with its annual prize anthology,” finds Gila Lyons.

Hindustan Times: Interview: Tiffany Tsao – “Indonesian literature is less well known” – “The author of The Majesties talks about the Chinese community in Indonesia, and about translating Indonesian authors like Budi Darma and Norman Erikson Pasaribu.”

The New York Times: In Defense of J.K. Rowling – “The charge that she’s a transphobe doesn’t square with her actual views,” says Pamela Paul.

ABC News: From Prince Harry’s Spare to Geri Halliwell’s memoir, ghost writers are behind some of the biggest book releases. Here’s how they do it. – Bestselling Australian crime writer Michael Robotham wrote 15 celebrity memoirs in 10 years – including that of the former Ginger Spice. Here he reveals the tricks of the ghost-writing trade.

History Today: Vile Verse and Desperate Doggerel – “Was the worst poet in history a hidden visionary?” asks Ellen Walker.

Buenos Aires Herald: Book ends? Paper price hikes put book industry at risk – “Prices for some kinds of paper tripled last year. The cost is being passed on to customers,” says Lucía Cholakian Herrera.

The Daily Star: Bengali ‘anti-novelist’ Subimal Misra no more – Bengali author Subimal Misra has passed away at the age of 80.

Bad Form: Are Second Chance Romances as Polarising as Marmite – When Harshita Lalwani started reading People Change by Sara Jafari, she wasn’t sure where she would stand on second chances. However, she claims it left her feeling “warmer and calmer” than any other book she had previously read.




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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13 replies

  1. Wowsers, Mykola ‘Nikolai Gogol’ Hohol, Hope Mirrlees, wolves, ghost writers and much, much more – I shall spend a few happy minutes plus this morning, thanks!

  2. Happy weekend Paula and many thanks as always!

  3. Wonderful selection, thank you as always Paula!

  4. Loved that Prospect piece on Ukraine, Hohol, and Russia’s long attempts to wipe out or appropriate Ukrainian culture, and those Pushcart annual collections are unusual treasure troves each year! Your collection of links is quite a treasure trove itself this week, thanks Paula!

  5. I particularly enjoyed looking at beautiful libraries this week. Thanks!

  6. I would have been glad to have your opening quote in my armoury when I was a creative writing tutor! Also what an eye-opener about Hohol/Gogol. The article by Olha Poliukhovych also brought in some aspects of Ukrainian/Russian history of which I was completely unaware. Thanks very much for the round up – I know there are more treasures to be discovered.

  7. I don’t know how you keep finding such excellent resources, week after week. Thank you.

  8. Thanks for sharing the Guardian link for Michael Thompson’s book – he’s a friend of Mr Books, so thrilled to see he’s getting some media love 🙂

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