Winding Up the Week #326

An end of week recap

The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists’ discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish.”
 Milan Kundera (born 1st April 1929)

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.

*  It’s a Reading Wales Wrap * 

March is done and so is Dewithon.

A great big fat thank-you to everyone who took part in this year’s event. Over the weekend, I will be adding the latest titles to our Reading Wales Library shelves (if they are not already included). It is gratifying to watch the list grow a little longer each year. Be sure to speak up if you think anything is missing.

* 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:

All the Horses of Iceland – Sally Miller from Books by the Window was intrigued by Sarah Tolmie’s Nordic fantasy, All the Horses of Iceland, after reading several reviews. It is a tale of Eyvind, a trader who sets off with others on a “long and dangerous journey” to “buy horses from Mongolia,” which he intends to sell as he travels back to his Icelandic homeland. Sally was pleased to discover the author had “created an interesting protagonist for the reader to engage with throughout her myth-like narrative.” During the course of this short novella, he “meets an eclectic group of characters and stumbles unexpectedly into a supernatural situation that will have a lasting impact on him and the mythology” of his country. Although it took “a little while to adjust to the writing style,” she was particularly impressed with the middle section and found the ending “really stood out in [her] mind.” Overall, Sally declares it a pleasurable reading experience and she “would recommend [it] to those who enjoy mythological or legend-based narratives.” 

* 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 Conversation: Pip Williams shows how World War I transformed women’s lives, in a new novel that captures the ‘poetic materiality’ of books – In The Bookbinder of Jericho, Australian author, Pip Williams explores World War I, women’s rights and sisterhood – but, says Jen Webb, “what makes it special is its unwavering attention to the making of books.” 

El Nacional: Júlia Bacardit: “All that ‘privilege’ stuff is fine for making boring articles; To write, forget it” – Víctor Recort enjoys a “conversation about drinking, eating and writing with the [Catalan] author of Sentimental Ditari.”

Politico: France’s feminist literary revolution – “For the longest time, people were afraid of the word feminist, they associated it with radicalism and angry women. Now, that’s changed,” writes Alice Kantor.

RTÉ: International flavour to this year’s literary award shortlist – Six books are on the shortlist of the 2023 Dublin Literary Award, the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction.

National Review: The Dark Is Rising and the Logic of Fantastical Worlds – “Susan Cooper’s series takes us to modern London and Arthurian villages, the Lost Land and magical meeting places, with characters both mortal and mysterious,” writes Sarah Schutte.

The Guardian: Points mean pages: why I’ve embraced the world of online reading challenges – “I’ve set a goal of reading 50 books this year, and logging my progress is strangely satisfying,” says Joanna Cannon. “Some might not approve of turning reading into a game, but if it works for you, why not?”

The New Yorker: How an East German Novelist Electrified Socialist Realism – “Seizing upon the margin of artistic freedom she was allowed, Brigitte Reimann captured life in the G.D.R.—and her own fissured commitments,” writes Joanna Biggs.

The Oxonion Review: A Journey through Elena Ferrante’s Naples – Last year, Irina Husti-Radulet “embarked on a tour of Europe” to “follow in the footsteps of the books that have shaped [her].”

Ploughshares: The Joys of a Journal Author – Katie DePasquale “attended Alexander Chee’s talk on reporting the self. He said: ‘The thing that you remember is the thing that you live with.’ [DePasquale] never heard this truth stated so clearly before. What else but memory could be at the root of so many personal conflicts?”

The Booker Prizes: The Booker Prize names its trophy ‘Iris’ after public vote – “The trophy’s new name honours 1978 Booker winner Iris Murdoch, who was nominated for the prize seven times.”

Arrowsmith: Review: Motherfield – In his review of Motherfield by Julia Cimafiejeva, Robin Davidson explains that the Belarusian poet considers what happens when language is under such intense political pressure that it collapses.

Toronto Star: ‘Camp Zero’: a book to haunt your dreams as our world gets hotter – “B.C. writer Michelle Min Sterling’s debut novel [Camp Zero] explores a dystopian future less than 30 years away,” says Robert J. Wiersema.

The Korea Herald: [Herald Interview] Korean literature gaining global momentum, says US literary agent – “Publishing veteran [tells Hwang Dong-hee] misguided efforts have slowed reach of Korean authors.” 

3:AM Magazine: My Preliterate Works – John Wisniewski interviews the Romanian-born American poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter and commentator for National Public Radio, Andrei Codrescu.

Africa is a Country: The projected versions of Dambudzo Marechera – “With its new edition, Penguin Classics disfigures Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera’s novel The House of Hunger,” according to Tinashe Mushakavanhu.

Reader’s Digest: Here’s Why You Get a Book Hangover—and How to Get Over It – “Can’t stop thinking about the book you finished last week? Classic book hangover.” Leandra Beabout says she knows “why it happens, plus how to get over the sadness of leaving a fantastic fictional world.”

The Moscow Times: Author Jade McGlynn Takes On ‘Russia’s War’ – In Russia’s War, “manipulation of a mythical past makes for a violent present.”

The National: Palestinian author Samira Azzam’s short stories translated into English for new book – “Popular in the 1940s and 50s, her work disappeared from public discourse following her sudden death in 1967,” writes Maan Jalal.

Electric Literature: Kelly Link Makes Fairy Tales Even Weirder Than You Remember – “The author of [White Cat, Black Dog] on why we’re drawn to folk tales and how superstitions shape stories.”

National Post: New novel Birnam Wood shows good and evil at play – “Booker winner Eleanor Catton suggests you can’t believe in one and ignore the other,” reports Jamie Portman. 

Asian Review of Books: “Hospital” by Han Song – “Hospital by acclaimed Chinese science-fiction writer Han Song is a Kafkaesque trip through a fictional hospital turned nation-state that explores the Buddhist philosophy on suffering, the nature of the doctor-patient relationship, and the mental state of patients who suffer from chronic conditions,” writes Patrick McShane.

Publishers Weekly: Little Free Library Aims to Eliminate Book Deserts – The Little Free Library non-profit literacy organisation announced that it hopes to eliminate book deserts across the U.S. by partnering with local community organisations to install and maintain book-sharing boxes. The Galileo Series: Higashino Keigo’s Mystery Hit – “Yukawa Manabu, the sleuth in Higashino Keigo’s Galileo series, is known for approaching mysteries with the cool detachment of a scientist. The books have won millions of fans, and subsequent screen adaptations have boosted the series’ popularity to the point that many—including the author—now associate the character with actor Fukuyama Masaharu,” says Sainowaki Keiko. 

Buenos Aires Herald: Author María Kodama dies at 86 – “She was Jorge Luis Borges’ widow and sole owner of the rights to his work.”

Global Times: Galaxy Awards encourage young sci-fi writers – Li Yuche reveals the winners of the 33rd Galaxy Awards – describing the prize as “the cradle of Chinese sci-fi writers.”

Blue Labyrinths: The Story-Creature Anomaly: Jeff Vandermeer and Digital Ecosystems – “VanderMeer’s work is often charged with an argument of transformation” and “is the subject of many interpretations,” says Emilio Dijard. The “common thread” through most of his writing, however, “is the examination of the relationship between human and nature.”

Nation Cymru: New book details extraordinary story of how Pontypridd beat Chicago to host the National Eisteddfod – “A new book has detailed the extraordinary story of how Pontypridd once beat Chicago in a bid to host the National Eisteddfod.”

Arts Hub: AustLit marks one million records – “One of the longest running digital humanities projects in Australia has just passed the million records mark,” says Thuy On.

DNYUZ: D.M. Thomas, 88, Dies; His ‘White Hotel’ Was a Surprise Best Seller – D.M. Thomas, the English poet and novelist “whose ingenious interweaving of Freudian themes and the Holocaust made The White Hotel a surprise best seller” in the ‘80s, died at his home in Truro, Cornwall, at the age of 88.

Penguin: Where to start reading the Penguin Little Black Classics – “There are 128 books in the Little Black Classics box set; here, [John Self picks] the best ones to kick off your reading journey.”

The Marginalian: The Value of Being Wrong: Lewis Thomas on Generative Mistakes – “In praise of our ‘property of error, spontaneous, uncontrolled, and rich in possibilities’” – Maria Popova discusses ‘To Err Is Human’ from Lewis Thomas’s magnificent collection of essays, The Medusa and the Snail.

The Texas Tribune: Texas Observer, legendary crusading liberal magazine, is closing and laying off its staff – “The 68-year-old progressive publication, which published Ronnie Dugger, Molly Ivins and Kaye Northcott, hit financial troubles and wasn’t able to broaden its audience, board members said.”

BBC Scotland: Old documents could be used in bid to save Aberdeen library – “A campaigner fighting to save a library from closure has uncovered a letter from the original benefactor which he believes could help his cause,” reports Phil McDonald.

The Times of Israel: Authors, poets to read Book of Lamentations in protest of overhaul – “‘We are currently on the brink of destruction of the Third House,’ says writer Ilan Sheinfeld.”

Independent: Agatha Christie books, including Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries, to be rewritten for modern sensitivities – According to a report by Annabel Nugent: “The n-word and the term ‘Oriental’ are among the language being removed from new editions.”

Mint Lounge: For Arunava Sinha, time is the best workspace – “Arunava Sinha talks about finding his identity in the act of translating and developing close bonds with every text with which he works.”

NiemanLab: The El País reading club creates community among Spanish-language readers – “The first book was a risky pick: Poetry,” says Hanaa’ Tameez.

Open Book: Kate Beaton’s Ducks Wins Canada Reads, Making it the First Graphic Narrative to Capture the Crown – CBC Canada Reads 2023 has officially announced the one book all Canadians should read this year “to shift their perspective” – the title is Ducks.

Dutch French novelist loses bid to stop Dutch art group’s porn film – “French novelist Michel Houellebecq has lost his legal attempt to stop a Dutch art collective issuing a film in which he has sex with several young women.” 

Literary Hub: What Makes Spiders So Terribly Scary to Human Beings? – In an excerpt from her latest title, The Book of Phobias and Manias, Kate Summerscale examines the “enduring persistence of arachnophobia.”



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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19 replies

  1. Congratulations on another Dewithon Paula! Another wonderful year full of tempting reads 🙂

  2. Looks like I’m going to end up adding to my TBR again from your links this week; All the Horses of Iceland looks wonderful as do a few others mentioned. And I spotted a title with a CAT 🙂

  3. A bumper crop this week as far as I’m concerned, Paula! Hmm, where to start? Susan Cooper, perhaps: “Her characters, however, sometimes read a bit flat, and the action scenes can be rather muted.” I can sort of understand the first, not the second, but then I’m no great fan of most fantasy action movies so maybe not surprising! The María Kodama article was enlightening, as I wasn’t aware of her or her significance, and that’s a literary rabbithole for me to go down now. 🙂

    I had a copy of Lewis Thomas’s The Medusa and the Snail but it seems to have disappeared in a house move unfortunately; and the Pontypridd-Chicago story sounded like an April Fool item until I read the Nation Cymru piece and saw it was published before today…

    Anyway, hurrah for WUTW, thanks!

  4. Thanks for the links as always Paula, and thanks also for the Dewithon – great fun! We have the 1940 Club starting on 10th April, which should be fun if you can join in!

    • Many thanks for taking part. I will post a notice about the 1940 Club in next week’s wind up. I don’t know how you keep up with all your literary commitments, Kaggsy – I’m filled with awe and admiration at your reading prowess. 🤩

  5. I still have Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh read but not yet reviewed for Dewithon. Sinustitus has kept me from blogging, hopefully I will get to them soon….

  6. I remember reading Lewis Thomas’ books when they came out–I thought I was so “intellectural” SNORT! Lol I was 20-something. Another excellent bunch of links–thank you.

  7. Wonderful links Paula, thank you! You’ve already put yet another book on my wishlist, The Bookbinder of Jericho looks quite intriguing.

  8. The spree of editing older novels to remove racist epithets or racially charged language has me a little worried. On the one hand, encountering racist writing can be uncomfortable but does it actually promote racism? And to what extent does erasing history’s mistakes mean we can’t learn from them?

    I appreciated the guardian article about reading number goals. I had previously found them “missing the point” of reading by focusing on quantity rather than enjoyment or immersion. I tried one last year though; I simultaneously found it rewarding for all the “game” reasons the author mentions and problematic because I spent less time thinking about each book since I felt like I had to rapidly pick up the next one.

  9. As someone who is enjoying a book hangover at the moment for ‘Maru’ by Bessie Head I am not sure I want to get over it. Intrigued to read the article though. Great roundup, Paula! Horses, Pontypridd, and so much more. I will be visiting the Reading Wales reading list too.

  10. Love the article about book hangovers!!!

  11. I so enjoyed doing Dewithon this year, two fab books, and am glad it went so well! I am also excited about the Booker trophy name of course, being a massive Iris Murdoch fan …

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