An end of week recap
“Welsh mutates initial consonants. Actually all languages do, but most of them take centuries, while Welsh does it while your mouth is still open.”
– Jo Walton
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.
* Week Two of Reading Wales *
Many thanks to those who contributed reviews and features during week two of Dewithon 23 – Chris Lovegrove of Calmgrove in particular, whose prodigious output of posts for the event has been both impressive and greatly appreciated.
I shared the first in the series of this year’s short pieces highlighting recent cultural and bookish chatter from Wales. In the latest post, we revealed Gêm Owain Glyndŵr, a splendid new board game from Y Lolfa. >> DEWITHON ‘23: Llyfrbabble (Bookbabble) #1 >>
Please do pay a visit to the dedicated page displaying this year’s Dewithon-related content. Here I share your reviews, features, interviews etc. with the book blogging community. >> Reading Wales 2023 >>
* 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:
Reviewing Tryweryn: A Nation Awakes Nearly 60 Years After It Happened! – I accidently stumbled across Ember Demi Birchall’s blog earlier in the week and, since it is Dewithon, couldn’t resist highlighting her fascinating review of Owain Williams’s 2016 memoir, Tryweryn – A Nation Awakes: The Story of a Welsh Freedom Fighter. Covering the personal and political life of the author – now the leader of Llais Gwynedd – the book encompasses his time working on “a Canadian ranch before returning to Pwllheli to run a very trendy espresso cafe while driving around in an American Ford Customline.” Most fascinatingly, however, is his account of the period in which he “hit the national headlines” by blowing up an electricity pylon as part of the bombing campaign against the building of the Tryweryn reservoir intended to provide water for the city of Liverpool – an act Ember (who knows Williams personally) describes as “a turning point in the Welsh national awakening of the sixties.” If you are fascinated by the history of the Capel Celyn drowning in 1965, then Ember “highly recommend[s]” this book, which she says is “sad, scary, funny, heartbreaking,” and with “so many emotions folded into the pages that [she] couldn’t put it down.”
* 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:
CrimeReads: 11 Speculative Fiction Titles Out in 2023 Perfect for Crime Fans – Molly Odintz on “pirates, vampires, time travelers, robots, and a fractured fairy tale princess.”
Vintage: What to read, according to the authors of Letters to a Writer of Colour – “Letters to a Writer of Colour is a ground-breaking collection of essays full of inspiration, personal stories, tips and advice.”
Quartz: Women are now publishing more books than men—and it’s good for business – “Women [in the US] have gone from publishing just 18% of books in the 1960s to more than half today, driving up revenue and diversifying readership.”
Le Monde: Five unusual bookstores in the heart of Paris – “Whether it be leafing through a novel on a barge or in a garden in the Marais, plunging into a thriller or reading while enjoying a brownie, Paris has something for every taste and every book lover,” says Maud Gabrielson.
Today: Margaret Atwood said she’d never write a memoir. Why she changed her mind – “The renowned author spoke to Jenna Bush Hager about her life and legacy, and why she’s looking back in a new memoir.”
Mental Floss: The Train Crash That Spooked Charles Dickens – According to Chuck Lyons, Charles Dickens was never quite the same after surviving a train crash in 1865.
The New York Review: The Friction of Language – The novelist Yoko Tawada, [author of Scattered All Over the Earth,] who writes in both Japanese and German, often makes translation one of her central themes.
The Chicago Review: 12 Must-Read Books of March 2023 – Michael Welch recommends a selection of new books you should read this month.
BBC Culture: The power of Forbidden Notebook’s hidden diary entries – “The 1952 novel Forbidden Notebook reveals one woman’s interior life with radical honesty. On International Women’s Day, Clare Thorp [explored] how the book – which has just been republished in English – still resonates today, finding new audiences in repressive societies across the globe.”
The Brooklyn Rail: Asja Bakić’s Sweetlust – Yvonne C. Garrett discovers Bosnian poet and author Asja Bakić writes with rare wit about lust, love, science, the climate disaster, time travel and even provides a female take on the sufferings of Goethe’s Young Werther in her short story collection, Sweetlust.
The Collector: Violence and Community in J.G. Ballard’s Novels – Joseph T F Roberts suggests “J. G. Ballard conceives of the relationship between violence and community in his novels High Rise, Cocaine Nights, and Super-Cannes.”
Deadline: Glenn Close To Star In Charlie McDowell’s Feature Take Of Finnish Novel ‘The Summer Book’ – Anthony D’Alessandro reveals that Glenn Close and Anders Danielsen Lie will appear in a new film adaption of Tove Jansson’s novel The Summer Book.
The Dial: Party at Das Literaturhaus – Jessi Jezewska Stevens shares her “culture diary through the German literary scene, where markets don’t exist (except where they do), and everything is in crisis (except the books themselves).”
LA Times: How a Mexican-born debut novelist created a beautiful monster – According to Gabino Iglesias, Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova is a hybrid of horror, literary meditation and cross-cultural exploration – a unique marvel of its own.
Public Books: Franzen’s Anger – “Throughout [Jonathan] Franzen’s life in public, he has figured himself as embattled, enemy-beset,” writes L. Gibson.
Brittle Paper: The Book Covers for Temi Oh’s More Perfect are Out of this World! – “The book covers for British-Nigerian writer Temi Oh’s science fiction novel [More Perfect] just came out and their futuristic designs are gorgeous.”
The Limited Times: The writer Galit Karlibach is not afraid “I am not pessimistic, there is always a need for books” | Israel today – “In a conversation with Shir Ziv, Karlibach talks about her dream of living overseas, her opinion on the situation in Israel and reveals the source of her new novel.”
iNews: This is what a real culture war looks like: book burnings, ransacked museums and a ban on enemy music – “The Ukrainian language has been repressed in Russian-occupied areas – while many Ukrainians in free cities now refuse to play Russian music or read Russian literature.”
Jewish Currents: Shall We Not Revenge? – “In his polemic against Germany’s ‘Theater of Memory’—which relegates Jews to bit parts in the nation’s redemption narrative—poet Max Czollek may have traded one melodrama for another,” suggests Sanders Isaac Bernstein.
Aeon: After the mother tongues – “Cultural exchange between Iran and India led to the creation of literary histories that inspired modern nationalism,” finds Alexander Jabbari.
Guardian Australia: Australia’s literary canon doesn’t have much for queer women – but these are some of my favourites – “Visiting Australia’s oldest LGBTQI+ bookshop was a formative experience for Madeleine Gray – but Australian sapphic fiction remains rare.”
Big Think: Is “The Great Gatsby” really that great of a book? – “‘Painfully forced’ is how one contemporary critic described Fitzgerald’s writing style,” says Tim Brinkhof.
Nation Cymru: The power of attention: women, nature writing and climate change – Diana Wallace, Professor of English at University of South Wales on Margiad Evans’s “extraordinary” autobiography.
The Quietus: The Act Of Ruminating: An Interview With Sophie Mackintosh – “Following 2018’s Booker longlisted The Water Cure and 2020’s Blue Ticket, Sophie Mackintosh’s latest book [Cursed Bread] marks the author’s first foray into historical fiction. In an interview with Miles Ellingham she talks interiors, wash houses and the fickleness of memory.”
The Telegraph: Why do women love gardening? Prisoners and expats, drag kings and divorcées explain – Journalist Alice Vincent’s Why Women Grow explores the reasons why women turn to the earth, as gardeners, growers and custodians.
Northern Soul: House of Books & Friends: Combatting Loneliness, One Book at a Time – “House of Books & Friends is no ordinary bookshop. Its mission is stated plainly and boldly on its website: to combat loneliness, one book at a time,” says Susan Ferguson.
BBC Kent: Struggling Ramsgate bookshop’s appeal seen by millions – “Celebrities have come to the aid of the owner of an independent bookshop after she said she could not pay her bills.”
The New York Times Style Magazine: Building a New Canon of Black Literature – Adam Bradley poses the question: “What older novels, plays and poems by African American writers are being — or should be — rediscovered?”
Undark: Book Review: Unraveling the Enigma of Schizophrenia – “In Malady of the Mind, Jeffrey A. Lieberman argues that we are finally making progress in understanding schizophrenia,” writes Joshua C. Kendall.
Deadline: BBC Ready To Renew JK Rowling’s ‘Strike’ After Apologizing To Author Over Her Trans Views – The BBC recently apologised to J.K. Rowling over comments made about her on its news programmes. According to Jake Kanter, the corporation now plans to renew the author’s TV series Strike.
Arts Hub: Time out to look at a book – “The national celebration of reading, Australian Reading Hour [returned] on Thursday 9 March.”
People: Meet the FReadom Fighters Taking On Book Bans and Online Abuse: ‘Books Are Not Contraband’ – “A pair of friends [from Texas], alarmed at calls to ban books, decided it was time to speak out to help librarians—and readers,” reports Abby Roedel.
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