An end of week recap
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
– George Orwell
You could have knocked me down with Vladimir Aniskin’s Levsha when I learned that one of my favourite online booksellers, Book Depository, is closing later this month. Not only is this dispiriting news for its long-standing customer base from over 170 countries, but it also creates a major headache for its army of affiliates (myself included), many of whom are fellow book bloggers.
Should you have queries regarding outstanding BD orders, please check the company’s Closure FAQ page on the official website, though I am informed it will be possible to continue placing orders until midday (12pm BST) on 26th April. Now, however, I begin the mammoth task of removing and replacing innumerable URLs dotted throughout Book Jotter.
On a lighter note, I would like to wish a Happy Easter to those celebrating the festival (with or without excessive quantities of chocolate) and a Sameach Pesach (Happy Passover) to my Jewish friends and readers.
As ever, 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.
* Leap Into MCMXL *
With the 1940 Club set to run from 10th to 16th April, co-hosts Karen Langley of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and Simon Thomas from Stuck in a Book are preparing to embark on another exhilarating reading journey. There is a vast array of literature from which to choose, ranging from Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely and Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory to Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls – to name but four fictional titles from a lengthy list. Children’s authors include Enid Blyton and Dr. Seuss, while there are fascinating non-fiction books by Edmund Wilson, C. S. Lewis and even A. A. Milne. Since Karen is playing catch-up with her reviews following a hectic couple of months, she confesses she may “be reading a little in advance” – and who can blame her? Simon, on the other hand, is “heading away from [his] blog until just after Easter,” so he should be ready and raring to read when the event kicks-off.
* There is Nothing Like a DDM Dame *
In a recent post, Ali Hope of Heavenali announced the return of Daphne du Maurier Reading Week from 8th to 15th May. Ali is currently organizing a reading schedule for her annual celebration of the life and works of this widely admired English novelist, biographer and playwright famous for such classics as Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek and Rebecca. No doubt an official post will appear soon, but in the meantime, the next couple of weeks present the ideal opportunity to choose your book/s and plan your review/s. Please use the #DDMreadingweek hashtag when discussing the event on social media.
* 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: ‘I felt a deep desire to escape’: Natasha Carthew on Cornish beauty and brutality – “The poet and author grew up in a coastal village defined by hardship and scenic beauty. What would she find when she returned to an area with some of the lowest wages and highest property prices in the country?”
The Japan Times: 600 pages all at once: What readers are saying about Mieko Kawakami’s new novel – “Mieko Kawakami, Japan’s literary It Girl, has a heavy new novel out about money and desperation,” reveals Thu-Huong Ha.
Penguin: What is the ideal chapter length? – “Whether it’s shortened for today’s distracted reader, or written long, the chapter’s 2000-year history is full of variations, trends, and surprises,” says Kat Brown.
Le Monde: Claire Etcherelli, novelist and valued collaborator of Simone de Beauvoir, has died – Philippe-Jean Catinchi writes: “From factory worker to winner of the 1967 Femina Prize, Etcherelli, author of Elise ou la vraie vie (Elise, or real life), died on March 5, at 89.”
BBC Manchester: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Manchester explored in new exhibition – “An exhibition investigating how a 19th Century novelist depicted her native city has opened at her former home.”
Philosophy Now: We Have Always Been Cyborgs by Stefan Lorenz Sorgner – In Stefan Lorenz Sorgner’s We Have Always Been Cyborgs, “Natasha Beranek sees transhumanism get an upgrade.”
Independent: Walter Scott Prize shortlist nominees announced – The judges of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction have announced a shortlist of seven books for the 2023 prize.
The Quietus: Furious Since Birth: Grime, A Novel By Sibylle Berg – “The music genre provides a backdrop and a backbeat to [Grime,] a novel by Sibylle Berg about England’s uniquely awful treatment of its own population.”
The Asian Age: Book Review | Oh, the joy of the book hunt, the thrill of wishful contemplation – Sridhar Balan reviews The Book Beautiful: A Memoir of Collecting Rare and Fine Books by Sridhar Balan.
Literary Hub: Why I Decided to Update the Language in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Children’s Books – “Literary executor Theo Downes-Le Guin on what that means for readers, past and future.”
Quill & Quire: Suzette Mayr one of five finalists for $150K (U.S.) Carol Shields Prize for Fiction – “Giller-winning novelist Suzette Mayr is one of five authors shortlisted for the inaugural Carol Shields Prize for Fiction,” says Cassandra Drudi.
Brittle Paper: “African literature has always been speculative” | A Conversation with Tobi Ogundiran on Forthcoming Debut Jackal, Jackal – Tobi Ogundiran talks about his new book, Jackal, Jackal: Tales of the Dark and Fantastic, which “has everyone on the edge of their seats.”
The New York Times: How a Tiny Literary Magazine Became a Springboard for Great Irish Writing – “The Stinging Fly has helped launch several of Ireland’s most promising writers. How has a publication with 1,000 subscribers carved a niche in the Irish canon?” wonders Max Ufberg.
Esquire: The Unbearable Costs of Becoming a Writer – “After years of hard work and low pay, the risks I took to work in publishing are finally paying off. But now, I wonder about the price my family paid, and whether it was too steep,” says Nicole Chung.
LARB: Take a Lesbian for a Drink: On 50 Years of Rita Mae Brown’s “Rubyfruit Jungle” – Trish Bendix shows how Rita Mae Brown’s 1973 novel Rubyfruit Jungle has inspired five decades of lesbian pop culture.
BBC News: Judy Blume worried about intolerance and book banning in the US – “Author Judy Blume has said she is worried about intolerance in the US, after some of her novels were removed from schools.”
History Today: The Wing of Friendship – “Charles Dickens’ most enduring friendship was with his sister-in-law, who has been remembered as his housekeeper,” finds Christine Skelton.
Publishers Weekly: Ukraine to Hold Book Festival in Kyiv This June – Ed Nawotka announces the first book festival to be held in Ukraine since Russia’s war on the country – it will run from 22nd to 25th June in Kyiv.
Humanities: Gabrielle Suchon, Philosopher Queen of the Amazons – “Centuries before the rise of feminism, this underappreciated thinker wrote to set women free.”
Public Books: Finding Your “Voice”: Author-Read Audiobooks – Does the author-read audiobook offer a perfect confluence between person, authorial persona, voice and aesthetic form, wonders Samantha Pergadia?
World Literature Today: “A Great Time to Be a Zimbabwean Writer”: A Conversation with Siphiwe Ndlovu – Anderson Tepper “spoke with novelist Siphiwe Ndlovu, author of The History of Man, about her work, her contemporaries, and Zimbabwe’s impressive and deep-rooted literary tradition.”
Guardian Australia: Aphrodite’s Breath by Susan Johnson review – a revealing memoir about mothers and daughters – “A trip to Kythera for the Australian author and her mother results in this unsparing and intimate look at their intense and often unhappy dynamic.”
Newsroom: Easter’s bestselling books – “The latest Nielsen BookScan New Zealand bestseller list, described by Steve Braunias.”
Sierra: “Harvest of Survivors”: 30 Years After Octavia E. Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” – Ayana Jamieson describes this piece on Butler’s 1995 dystopian classic, Parable of the Sower, as “Into the HistoFuture Butlerverse.”
The Baffler: Drinking from the Original Fountain – Suleiman Al-Bustani on translating The Illiad into Arabic.
Nippon.com: “Shinjuku Shark”: Japanese Mystery Writer Ōsawa Arimasa and the Enduring Appeal of His Hardboiled Series – Takino Yūsaku sat down with mystery writer Ōsawa Arimasa to discuss the “latest installment in his long-running Samejima series, […] the enduring popularity of the novels and his approach to writing.
Locus: Archita Mittra Reviews Pomegranates by Priya Sharma – Archita Mittra describes Pomegranates, Sharma’s dystopian tale of environmental disaster as “a lovely, layered, and luscious retelling of the story of Persephone and Demeter, unfolding against the backdrop of climate change and patriarchal violence.”
Quantra.de: I’m not afraid for myself – “In her latest novel, Lebanese writer Alawiya Sobhwrites [highligts] the failure of the Arab Spring and how religious bigotry and patriarchal structures are impacting people’s health.”
Prospect: Martin MacInnes’s science fiction: encounters with the unknown – “The author’s latest novel, In Ascension, takes its protagonist into deep space—and towards deeper self-understanding.”
Scroll.in: Marguerite Duras’s novel ‘The Lover’ is ‘a great literary act of looking back’ – “The book is a study in making and unmaking yourself, reinterpreting past selves through the lens of present and future selves,” says Anthony Macris.
Book Marks: 5 Reviews You Need to Read This Week – A “bouquet of brilliant reviews,” including “a powerful brew of a novel, emitting unpleasant sights, smells, and emotions that are rarely captured in print.”
Oprah Daily: 10 African Writers to Read This Year – Join [Wadzanai Mhute] in reading [a selection of] captivating books—some by debut authors and some by global sensations.”
The Irish Times: All Ukrainians know Gulliver’s Travels. Here at Marsh’s Library they love to hear about Jonathan Swift – “The novel, written by one of the first readers at Ireland’s first public library, is a good guide to making the best of the most awful and absurd circumstances,” writes Olga Taranova.
Yahoo! News: Owner of bookstore down the street from Covenant School opens doors to community: ‘If you don’t know where to go, come here’ – “‘You’re welcome here, today and all the other days,’ says the award-winning novelist,” Ann Patchett.
Australian Book Review: A bon vivant’s life – Susan Varga on Drink Against Drunkenness, the “long awaited biography” of Sasha Soldatow – “gay activist, member of the Sydney Push, party animal, and bon vivant with legions of friends” – from Inez Baranay.
Vulture: The Women Are Smart. The Men Are Sincere. And the Ending Is Always Happy. – Allison P. Davis discovers how Emily Henry “cracked the modern romance novel.”
Arab News: US luxury publisher Assouline celebrates Saudi dates, coffee with two new titles – The luxury US publisher, Assouline has added two new books to its Saudi series.
Indie Wire: Warner Bros. in Talks for Harry Potter TV Series at HBO Max – The HBO Max streaming service, Warner Bros. “is reportedly looking to mine old IP with a new adaptation of J. K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ books.”
The Verge: The OverDrive library ebook app is shutting down on May 1st – “OverDrive, maker of the well-loved library ebook app Libby, is shutting down its legacy OverDrive app on May 1st.”
The Wall Street Journal: He’s Been Dead for Nearly 10 Years. Now He’s Narrating Your Audiobook. – “Apple, Google and others embrace the new AI technology for recording audio versions of books,” says Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg.
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
Happy Easter, Paula!
A very happy Easter to you too, Pat! 🌷🐰🐣
Oh my goodness, that is such a shock about Book Depository. I thought they’d be secure. It just shows how tough things are for booksellers right now.
I really didn’t see that coming – such a shame! 😢
Hope you’re enjoying the sunny weather. 😎
I am thanks Paula 😊 hope you are too!
I’m always glad when someone writes about Octavia Butler and inspires more people to pick up her books, but Jamieson’s article is overly general. She could give examples of how startlingly prescient Butler was about the future but instead she describes the contagion in Clay’s Ark as something like Covid-19, which is wrong.
My friend Joan Slonczewski, a SF novelist and microbiologist, has written about Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy and I wrote about Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents on a website Joan created for Kenyon, and it has better (or at least more specific) information about the novels https://biology.kenyon.edu/slonc/butler1997/butler.htm
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the Octavia Butler piece, Jeanne – you know your stuff and it’s always good to read your views on this wonderful author. The link is also much appreciated. I’ll check out in a mo. 😊
I love that quote. Sorry about your Book Depository news, Paula. That sounds like it came as a shock. And what a lot of work for you. From my whirl through your round up I am going to dive into the article on chapter length – I tried having no proper chapters at all in my first novel, which is divided into three sections; in my WIP they are nearly all under 2000 words and I have been feeding them to friends in instalments; so I am interested in all that, even though I don’t expect there to be one right answer. Also, I want to look at the Osawa Arimasa novels because I love a hardboiled detective and I’ve consumed all of Hammet and Chandler (thoughts provoked by the 1940s reading list). Thank you and hope you have a beautiful weekend!
Thank you, Maria. I’m glad there’s plenty to get your biblioteeth into this week. Hope you have a super weekend, too. 🌞
Marvellous collection of links as always, Paula, and it is a great shame about BD. Thank you for mentioning the #1940Club – such a wonderly year for books, and I’m looking forward to it! 😀
Thank you, Kaggsy. The 1940 Club will definitely be a huge success. Each of your club events proves more popular than the preceding one – and deservedly so! 😃👍
Really sad about Book Depository
It is, Joyce. So sad to see a once successful book business go down. 😞
A couple of links immediately caught my eye, especially the Le Guin piece by her son Theo, which was sensitively discussed. In the meantime, Pasg Hapus, Paula!
I hoped it would. 😊 Pasg Hapus iawn, Chris! 🐇🐣🌷
Book Depository is certainly wrapping things up quickly and it sounds as though they’re leaving everyone else with quite a mess to clean up. Amazon is a menace.
But on a cheerier note the article about Gabrielle Suchon is wonderful, what an interesting woman!
I refuse to have anything to do with Amazon these days! 😒
Yes, what an interesting woman – remarkable in so many ways for the 17th century. 🤩
Another wonderful haul, Paula, I read and gasp and always find something I haven’t seen. It is interesting that you open with Cornwall because I have just finished ten weeks of Cornish studies. I was particularly fascinated with 1845-1926 Cornish miners who put South Australia on the world stage with copper ore mining and left behind a wonderful cultural legacy. Of course Wales helped too 🙂 G.
Thank you for your kind words. It’s a pleasure to oblige! 😀👍
Goodness, you never cease to impress me with your extracurricular activities. No common or garden French or life class for you, Gretchen. I wouldn’t be the least surprised to learn you were studying written Taushiro or getting to grips with the nesting habits of the Northern Bald ibis! 🤣
You’re right about copper mining in Wales. In my home town it is possible to visit Bronze Age mines on the Great Orme. I know they once traded with Cornwall, so perhaps with Australia, too. ⛏🌏
I was very surprised initially when I read about Theo Downes-LeGuin’s decision to change the wording of some of his mother’s books. I do feel he considered it carefully and I’m glad he explained his decision… yet, I think I will still seek for copies with her original wording!
I can’t come to terms with all this word-changing palaver. Like you Marie, I would seek out the original as a point of principal. 😏
I didn’t realise there was a Book Depository affiliate scheme – what a nightmare. Are you changing them to bookshop.org ones? I was going to do those but then I didn’t want to take from the lovely bookshop that’s started locally – really I should include links to their “shop” on it if I really mean that! It’s annoying as I and a US friend used it to send books to each other.
Thank you for mentioning Ali’s DDM week – she’s already lent me a book to read from her extensive collection. I know she’s finding it hard to do her blogging so I hope we can get behind the week and make it a success. I’ve read THREE books for 1940Club and reviewed them all, last one is scheduled for Friday, so am reeling with my success after my Welsh and Irish efforts last month!
I’m not putting all my eggs (books?) in one basket this time, so I’m creating links to Blackwell’s, Foyles and Waterstones (possibly others, too). I think it a fabulous idea to link to titles for sale on your local bookshop’s website. I may well consider doing the same now you have put the idea in my head, Liz. 😀👍
I see that DDM published a non-fiction title called Come Wind, Come Weather in 1940 (true stories of ordinary English people during the Second World War) – so there’s potential for a crossover of events if anyone can get their hands on a copy.
Thanks for highlighting that Mieko Kawakami has a new novel. I read an earlier one by her called Heaven and thought it was extraordinary though disturbing. So of course I am now curious about the new one
It’s a pleasure. I haven’t read Heaven but I’m sure I recall it appearing on the Int. Booker longlist a year or two ago. 🤔
Some shocking statistics in the Natasha Carthew article about the rise in the numbers of children being taken into care in Cornwall. I think I’ll have to read that one.
I agree, Frances. It’s appalling!
That’s sad news about Book Depository. I had no idea!
On a happier note, I am happy to be back to see what’s going on in the book world. I’m excited about the new Carol Shields Award – it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. I’m not sure about having my audiobook narrated by a dead person though – that seems a little creepy. But, depending on who it is, maybe it’ll grow on me! 😉