Winding Up the Week #325

An end of week recap

To live in Wales is to be conscious at dusk of the spilled blood that went into the making of the wild sky.”
 R. S. Thomas

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 Four of Reading Wales * 

Thank you so much for all your marvellous posts over the last seven days. We are nearly through week four, which means the event is almost over – but not quite. There is still time to read a work or two by a Welsh or Wales-based author, or maybe pick up a book set in Wales. There are so many titles from which to choose.

Yesterday, I finally posted a brief introduction and a few shared thoughts on my book choice for Reading Wales 2023. >> Birdsplaining: A Natural History by Jasmine Donahaye >>

There is a dedicated page on which to display your Dewithon-related posts. Here I share your reviews, features, interviews and so forth with the book blogging community. >> Reading Wales 2023 >> 

Have you posted any content relating to Dewithon on your blogs (or elsewhere)? If so, please be sure to let me know.

* 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:


Spine: Emma Dolan on Designing Tell Me Pleasant Things About Immortality – Vyki Hendy talks to Emma Dolan, a book designer at Penguin Random House Canada, about the process of “designing the stunning cover” for Lindsay Wong’s collection of immigrant horror stories, Tell Me Pleasant Things about Immortality.”

The Smart Set: Retracing His Steps – “Following Dylan Thomas in Laugharne.” 

BBC Culture: The six ancient Norse myths that still resonate today – “From Marvel’s Thor to Game of Thrones and Neil Gaiman, Norse legends have influenced culture and current ideas, according to a new book.” 

Literary Review: In Man We Trust – “To be a humanist in the early 21st century might seem to require as least as much faith as to be religious,” writes Julian Baggini in his review of Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Enquiry and Hope by Sarah Bakewell.

African Arguments: “Mainstream history was written by the coloniser…it’s time we wrote ours” – “An interview with Leila Aboulela whose latest novel [River Spirit] returns to Khartoum’s 1884 siege to make a case for a different construction of history.”

The Critic: Hay dude – “Hay is the place to go for a literary harvest,” says Christopher Pincher in this piece on the famous Welsh book town and festival.

The Irish Times: When a ‘dungeon’ on Leeson Street cost £2 a week and swarmed with literary life – Chris Morash discusses Dublin: A Writer’s City, his new book dedicated to Dublin’s literary past.

The Markaz Review: War and the Absurd in Zein El-Amine’s Watermelon Stories – Rana Asfour reviews Is This How You Eat a Watermelon?, a collection of stories from writer and educator Zein El-Amine, who was born and raised in Lebanon.

The New Atlantis: A Humanism of the Abyss – “At a moment when people who don’t share our identity feel alien,” Alan Jacobs suggests that “Oliver Sacks’s classic book [Awakenings] about reaching catatonic patients has much to teach us.”

Times of India: Micro review: ‘Independence’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s new novel, Independence is a powerful tale of sisterhood and friendship amid a nation being divided.

The Yale Review: On Anton Shammas’s “Arabesques” – What Shammas envisioned was an Israel for both Jews and Arabs, one that treated its citizens equally, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Here Ratik Asokan revisits Arabesques, “the first major book in Hebrew by an Arab writer.”

The Scotsman: Book review: Electricity, by Angus Peter Campbell – “Telling the story of a small Hebridean community through the eyes of an elderly lady writing down her memories for her granddaughter in Australia, Electricity is an enchanting novel and a kind one, writes Allan Massie.” 

Publishers Weekly: John Steinbeck’s House May Become a Writers Retreat – “John Steinbeck’s home in Long Island’s Sag Harbor may soon secure its place in literary history, thanks to an impassioned coalition of readers, writers, and booksellers,” says Sophia Stewart.

NIKKEI Asia: Shared bookstores let bibliophiles meet owners with a passion – Masaaki Morioka reports: “Low initial costs help renters of shelves sell their favourite books easily” in Japan’s largest cities.

BalkanInsight: Well-Known Croatia-Born Writer Dubravka Ugresic Passes – The Croatian author and essayist left her country in 1993 as Yugoslavia fractured into open conflict. The author of Ministry of Pain, Ugresic wrote lyrically of the exile experience.

The Guardian: Man-Eating Typewriter by Richard Milward review – homage to 60s gay counterculture – “Studded with Polari, this bold novel [Man-Eating Typewriter] is a dazzling entertainment of sexual and linguistic transgression,” writes Neil Bartlett.

D Magazine: How Will Evans Became an Accidental (and Wildly Successful) Entrepreneur – “As he builds his independent publishing house and bookstore Deep Vellum, Will Evans is sparking a literary movement in Dallas,” reports Will Maddox.

The Spinoff: From mountains to the sea: (re)reading Helen Dunmore’s Ingo series – “Shanti Mathias explores what the quartet of underwater adventure novels meant to her childhood self, and what they mean to her now.”

Alice Walker the Official Website: They’re trying to burn the WRONG Witch – The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling | Redacted | Video – In an essay posted to her website, the celebrated African American writer defends Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling over her statements about transgender people.

Independent: ‘I want to write and I am going to write’: The lost world of Zelda Fitzgerald – “Her husband F Scott Fitzgerald called her ‘America’s first flapper’, but Zelda Fitzgerald, who died 75 years ago, was much more than the tragic wife and muse of a famous male writer. Kat Lister explores her literary legacy.”

Deccan Chronicle: Book Review | Masters and seekers unravel philosophy of the Himalayas – Shunali Khullar Shroff reviews Mystics and Sceptics: In Search of Himalayan Masters.

BBC Wales: Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize: Shortlist revealed – “Three novels, two short story collections, and one poetry collection have been shortlisted for the 2023 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize.”

World Economic Forum: The International Booker prize longlist is out. Where are the authors from? – The International Booker Prize longlist 2023 features books from 12 countries including Ukraine, India and South Korea, and translations from 11 languages.

Radio Free Europe: Interview: Writer Vladimir Sorokin Says Russia’s Unresolved Historical Traumas Have Now ‘Taken The Form Of War – “Vladimir Sorokin is among the best-known Russian authors of the last 50 years, a leading postmodernist [who] became one of the first targets of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s system…”

Aperture: The Afterimage of Joan Didion – “Aside from portraits capturing her own nervy glamour, how might we consider the iconic writer through photography?” asks Brian Dillon.

Inside Higher Ed: The Internet Archive Is a Library – “A lawsuit against the Internet Archive threatens the most significant specialized library to emerge in decades, say a group of current and former university librarians.”

La Prensa Latina: Chile’s Jorge Edwards, 1999 Cervantes Prize winner, dead at 91 – “Chilean author Jorge Edwards, an acclaimed novelist who was awarded the Chilean National Prize for Literature in 1994 and Spain’s prestigious Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 1999, [has] passed away.”

Morning Star: The many and the feudal – “Tomasz Pierscionek rediscovers [The Peasants by Wladyslaw Reymont,] a masterpiece of Polish realism, finally translated into English.”

Shondaland: Margaret Atwood Is No “Prophet of Dystopia.” She’s Just Studying History – “The prolific, award-winning writer discusses her latest short story collection, Old Babes in the Wood, and its intimate look at a long-term relationship.”

Fine Books & Collections: Books About Books: Spring 2023 Picks – “Books included on [B&C’s] spring issue’s Editor’s Shelf are three novels and two works of nonfiction, all highly recommended.”

Latin American Literature Today: “My Writing Comes from Fear and Desire”: A Conversation with Mónica Ojeda – Andrea Armijos Echeverría speaks to the Ecuadorian writer Mónica Ojeda about her twist on the Book of Genesis, The Book of Eve – newly translated by Samantha Schnee.

The New Criterion: T. S. Eliot’s still point – James Matthew Wilson on the poet’s life and work.

The Sydney Morning Herald: My cat is old and sick. Can a book get me inside his head? – When Ronnie Scott adopted this cat, he was 13, and the most striking thing about him was his missing eye.

JSTOR Daily: Virginia Woolf’s Only Play – “Based on Woolf’s own family, Freshwater was a tongue-in-cheek comedy full of inside jokes, written to entertain members of the Bloomsbury Group,” says Emily Zarevich.

The Observer: ‘ChatGPT said I did not exist’: how artists and writers are fighting back against AI – “From lawsuits to IT hacks,” Vanessa Thorpe finds “the creative industries are deploying a range of tactics to protect their jobs and original work from automation.”

The Washington Post: After 70 years of writing, Elena Poniatowska has more questions – French-born Mexican journalist and author, Elena Poniatowska, may type more slowly these days but she hasn’t finished writing yet.

The Monthly: Being John Hughes – Anna Verney & Richard Cooke ask how did “an acclaimed Australian author become one of the most prolific literary plagiarists in history.”

TNS: Urdu’s forgotten woman critic – “Fifty years after her passing, Mumtaz Shirin’s work continues to be a valuable contribution to the literary canon of her times,” finds Raza Naeem.

NiemanLab: Amazon calls it quits on newspaper and magazine subscriptions for Kindle and print – Laura Hazard Owen quotes one Redditor as saying: “I actually enjoy reading my local newspaper when it’s on the Kindle as opposed to the paper’s poorly designed website and frequently broken app.”

Vox: The authenticity paradox of BookTok – “BookTok is the only profitable publishing trend of the year. How much of the profit goes to BookTokers?” asks Constance Grady.



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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18 replies

  1. Jacobs’ article in The New Atlantis is interesting. As a person who lives in a region where many of the people are not like me in some essential ways (Trump signs in yards), I’m still looking for ways to communicate across divides.

    • I can see that might be difficult, Jeanne. As a complete outsider I find it almost impossible to comprehend why people support Trump (much as I struggled to understand why people voted in favour of Brexit in the UK), but it solves nothing when communities remain stubbornly alienated. How to remedy the problem is a real quandary and I don’t have the answers – but at least you are seeking to build bridges, which says a great deal about your human decency.

  2. Thanks Paula – and a quote from one of my favorite RST poems too!

  3. What a fascinating life Mumtaz Shirin led, and she was so much more than just a literary critic. I’m curious about her short stories now… Thanks for the great links this week!🙂

  4. I read the article on book design with interest. This is how I always imagined the process would be when it is done for love and money. I have also learned today that in Norse myth the great tree is an ash. Seems all too portentous! Thanks for a wonderful round up. There’s a lot more to explore.

  5. Beautiful opening quote Paula!

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in Dewithon and am pleased I got my two books read and thoroughly enjoyed!

  7. Thank you so much for including the link to the Joan Didion article. I had read a few of her books from the library. Recently, I bought a lovely Everyman’s Library volume holding several of her books. I begin again with some I’ve read before, but that’s okay because she is my favorite nonfiction author.
    I used to buy some magazines through Amazon and read them on my Kindle. I now read a few borrowed from the public library and on my Kindle. Thank you for including this information and link too.

  8. Thank you for creating and curating these fantastic posts, Paula. I know how much work goes into them and one is guaranteed to find a treasure somewhere in your list – three for me today!

  9. A lovely collection of links as always Paula, I found myself clicking on the Books about Books (where I found one I’d read, and another by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed previously), and Norse myths. The novel Independence looks interesting and is likely to end up on my TBR!

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