Winding Up the Week #333

An end of week recap

It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, ‘As pretty as an airport.’
 Douglas Adams

Next week I will be tootling over to southwestern France with my partner to catch up with an old friend who followed her dreams and moved there with her fella (as we say in Blighty) a few years ago. We will stay in the small town of Chabanais, which isn’t too far from Limoges – a city once renowned for its magnificent medieval library housed in the Abbey of St. Martial (tragically razed in the 19th century). So, as you may by now have deduced, all this is leading up to me making profuse apologies for yet another post hiatus. However, all being well, I hope to bring you my next wind up on Saturday 24th June.

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.

* 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:

“It’s just another terrific novel from one of the world’s greatest living writers” – Blue Skies by TC BoyleBlue Skies, the newly published satirical cli-fi offering from American author T.C. Boyle is described on Bookmunch – Valerie O’Riordan’s and Peter Wild’s blog – as an “environmental disaster novel, only […] shot through with a sense of ‘this is where we are, this is not science fiction, this is happening…’” Centred on an affluent Santa Barbara family, Boyle explores “a whole range of environmental catastrophes without anything feeling in the least bit contrived”, moreover, you cannot help but like his “brave, flawed, stupid people” – indeed, you “hiss when disaster befalls them.” The world may well be “going to hell in a handcart” as wildfires rage and homes are swallowed by the ocean, but this ill-fated cast of characters is entertaining and “Boyle manages, somehow, to be fluid and dynamic in his story-telling.” In short, it is simply “another terrific novel from one of the world’s greatest living writers.”

* 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:


Caught by the River: Moths, moths, so many moths – Kerri ní Dochartaigh introduces an extract from her newly published memoir, Cacophony of Bone.

The Japan Times: The curious case of Fuminori Nakamura’s genre misalignment – Few English-language readers are aware that the author of The Rope Artist and other critically acclaimed books does not merely write crime fiction.

Air Mail: In Search of Lost Homes – “A road trip around France, with stops at the houses of literary stars Colette, George Sand, Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, and Victor Hugo along the way.”

Literary Review: Modernism in Motion – Claire Harman on Katherine Mansfield and the movies.

BBC Africa: Ama Ata Aidoo: Ghana’s famous author and feminist dies – “One of Africa’s most-celebrated authors and playwrights, Ghanaian Ama Ata Aidoo, has died aged 81.”

Arts Hub: Book review: Call me Marlowe, Catherine de Saint Phalle – “Among many other things, this novel canvasses love, reconciliation and friendship,” says Erich Mayer.

Electric Literature: 7 Arab and Arab Diasporic Novels about Storytellers – Sarah Cypher with “stories that counter-colonize the Western narrative and reclaim cultural agency.”

iNews: Naoise Dolan on The Happy Couple: ‘Marriage has been an overwhelmingly violent institution’ – “As her second novel is published, the Exciting Times author talks to Holly Williams about autism, heteronormativity and adapting her bestseller for the screen.”

Portuguese American Journal: Author | Esmeralda Cabral on how to call two countries home | Interview – Esmeralda Cabral, author of How to Clean a Fish: And Other Adventures in Portugal, talks to Millicent Borges Accardi about subjects ranging from Lisbon, sardines and travelling with pets to translating for family, immigration and saudade.

The Moscow Times: In ‘Places of Tenderness and Heat,’ Olga Petri Maps the Queer History of Late Imperial St. Petersburg – “For anyone interested in the Russian Empire’s nuanced, often tense relationship with queerness,” Olga Petris’ Places of Tenderness and Heat “offers an illuminating long-exposure shot of a community long swept under the rug of Russian history,” says Samantha Berkhead.

The White Review: Interview with Geetanjali Shree – Reya Divekar speaks to the Indian Hindi-language novelist and short-story writer Geetanjali Shree – author of the 2022 International Booker-winning Tomb of Sand. 

The Guardian: Conquest by Nina Allan review – alien invasion, coding and Bach – Nina Allan’s Conquest is a science fiction novel set in the 1950s, which Steven Poole describes as a “brilliantly digressive exploration into art, ecology and the psychology of conspiracy theories,” that must surely be “the best book yet to emerge from the pandemic.”

Faber: Reading List: Nine Books Set on Small Islands – “From paradise getaways and idyllic landscapes to floating exiles and dystopian nightmares, islands have long captured the imaginations of writers – and readers – throughout the ages.” Faber has compiled a lovely list of books set on small islands, “to help inspire some escapism.”

ITVX: Shortlist announced for world’s oldest literary prizes – Barbara Kingsolver, Selby Wynn Schwartz and Jokha Alharthi are among those shortlisted for this year’s James Tait Black Prizes.

The First News: Tale of thwarted love which inspired Mickiewicz’s greatest works to be turned into epic new film – Stuart Dowell reports on an “upcoming film and TV series,” which is “set to capture the fiery passion of [Poland’s] national bard Adam Mickiewicz, responsible for towering literary achievements such as Pan Tadeusz and Dziady.”

Los Angeles Times: Opinion: A map of 1,001 novels to show us where to find the real America – Over five years, Susan Straight has “read or reread 1,001 books of fiction” to complete her “library of America” project.

Esquire: Is My Writing a Hobby Or a Career? – Author of two books, Rainesford Stauffer is “used to writing on the side of other jobs.” However, it leads her to question if this makes it a hobby – or is it, in fact, “what knits [her] whole life together?”

49th Shelf: Biggest and Best: Finding My Literary Champions – A recommended reading list by the Vancouver-based author of Tracking Giants: Big Trees, Tiny Triumphs, and Misadventures in the Forest. A tale of disappointed love – “German-Moroccan philosopher and writer Fawzi Boubia has long acted as a mediator between East and West, building cultural bridges in multiple publications. His strongly autobiographical novel Mein West-Oestlicher Diwan takes a merciless look at Germany’s political and cultural trends, while celebrating its cultural and intellectual past,” says Volker Kaminski.

Xtra: The intoxicating headiness of lesbian heartbreak – H Felix Chau Bradley reviews The Adult – Canadian author Bronwyn Fischer’s “masterful debut novel.”

The Critic: Bringing the Bacchae to the bush – Bijan Omrani finds Alexander Chula’s Goodbye, Dr Banda: Lessons for the West from a Small African Country reveals “a cultural confidence in Malawi that is lacking in the contemporary West.” 

BBC Wales: Welsh books need Michael Sheen-style champion – author – “A prize-winning author believes Welsh literature could do with a “champion” like Hollywood actor Michael Sheen.”

Guardian Australia: Exquisite Corpse by Marija Peričić – boundary-pushing and disturbing feminist gothic horror – “In the Vogel prize-winning author’s hands,” says Bec Kavanagh, Exquisite Corpse becomes a “shocking tale of necrophilic obsession [that] liberates the victims from the true events that inspired it.”

The Tribune: Goan writer Damodar Mauzo gets Jnanpith Award – Goan writer Damodar Mauzo has received the prestigious Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honour.

The Marginalian: May Sarton on the Art of Living Alone – “The people we love are built into us,” wrote the Belgian-American novelist, poet and memoirist May Sarton in what Maria Popova describes as “her stunning ode to solitude,” The House by the Sea.

Publishers Weekly: International Booker Prize Winners on Nostalgia, Translation, and ‘Time Shelter’ – Sophia Stewart spoke with this year’s winners of the International Booker Prize about the newfound urgency of Eastern European literature.

The Baffler: Bad Romance – Elia Cugini on the “unbearable timidity of erotic fiction.”

The New York Times: The Life and Times of China’s Pirate Queen – “In her debut novel, Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea, Rita Chang-Eppig resurfaces the story of the famous pirate who ruled the South China Sea in the early 19th century,” says E. Lily Yu.

Observer Arts: A Doppelgänger Personifies Broadly Painted Possibilities in Deborah Levy’s August Blue – “While the author’s latest work isn’t a queer novel,” says Noah Berlatsky, “Levy quietly and insistently acknowledges queer possibilities.”

Fortune: Top publishing CEO says people are reading more because streaming services are too expensive: ‘You’d get 2 books every month’ for the cost of Netflix – According to Prarthana Prakash, “old-school books are making a comeback.”

Book Riot: Go Under the Sea with the Best Mermaids in Literature – If you are fascinated by mermaids, Emily Martin suggests eight books that may appeal to you.

Tarpaulin Sky: Vi Khi Nao’s Suicide: The Autoimmune Disorder of the Psyche – Laura Paul reviews Vietnamese author, Vi Khi Nao’s, journal-type report on suicide.

The Korea Times: Korean literature in translation enjoys growing universal appeal – Korean literature in translation continues to grow in popularity, according to this recent report from Kwak Yeon-soo.

First Things: Kafka’s Trials – “The job of a translator is both difficult and one of great responsibility” – in fact, “an author can be utterly misrepresented in a language that is not his own,” observes Theodore Dalrymple in his review of The Diaries of Franz Kafka, newly translated by Ross Benjamin.

The MIT Press Reader: An Illustrated Guide to Mouth Gestures and Their Meanings Around the World – “An excerpt from François Caradec’s book Dictionary of Gestures.”

Insider: ChatGPT’s secret reading list – “Turns out the bot is a giant sci-fi nerd,” finds Adam Rogers.

Momus: Working It – Kate Wolf examines two new books on sex work and commoditisation.

KITAAB: “One doesn’t always write only to be published.”- Naveen Kishore (Poet, Artist, Publisher, and Writer) – “Team Kitaab is in conversation with Naveen Kishore, a poet, artist, publisher, and writer, who recently released his second book of poems Mother Muse Quintet.”

Open Country Mag: How Damilare Kuku Topped Nigeria’s First Ever Bestseller List – “Nearly All the Men in Lagos Are Mad, the actress’ debut collection of stories, sold over 2,200 copies, assuring it the No. 1 spot on The Rovingheights Bestseller List: Presented with Open Country Mag. So why do these stories of failing romance connect so widely?” asks Paula Willie-Okafor.

The Times Higher Education: Poetry is a door into many disciplines, not just a literary one – Pádraig Ó Tuama argues here that “a poem can act as a memory aid, ground facts in individual experience and prompt questions about policy, power and generational impact.”



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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35 replies

  1. Sounds like an amazing trip to southwestern France! Have you explored any other charming towns in the region? Also, I’m curious, what book are you most excited to read from your TBR shelf? Any upcoming book releases that caught your attention? Lastly, if you’ve read “Blue Skies” by TC Boyle, what are your thoughts on its satirical take on environmental disasters?

    • Thank you for your comments.😊 I’ve visited France many times but there is always somewhere new to explore. As for my TBR shelf, it is completely unwieldly and groaning in the middle but there are numerous books I am longing to read – if only there were enough hours in the day. I haven’t read Blue Skies (yet!) but I think satire can be a really powerful device and often sways readers far more profoundly than sharing stark facts.🤷‍♀️

      How about you? Any books you are particularly enthusiastic about at the moment? Do you know France well? What are your thoughts on satire and environmental disasters? I look forward to reading your thoughts.📖

      • It’s always a pleasure to explore new places in France, and I can relate to the struggle of an overflowing TBR shelf. Satire does have a unique way of making an impact. Are there any specific books on your TBR that you’re excited to read? I haven’t read “Blue Skies” either, but environmental disasters and satire can indeed prompt deep reflection. What are your favorite books that use satire effectively?

  2. Have fun in France . And, as always – thanks for all the great leads and items.

  3. Your French break sounds lovely, Paula. Bon voyage!

  4. Have fun on your French trip Paula! I especially enjoyed the links about the literary trip across France (or rather the writers’ homes), and on Arab writers reclaiming their voices, among the many excellent ones this week. And lovely so see my favourite summer fruit watermelon here-so refreshing to eat!

  5. Bonnes vacances Paula!

  6. A nice congruence with the Adams quotation and the article about ChatGPT reading SF, mentioning Adams specifically!

  7. Thanks for another bumper crop of interesting links, Paula – and I hope you have a glorious time in France!

  8. I’m glad I’ve found you again Paula, for some reason I was knocked off your follow list! Thanks for all the brilliant research and info and have a great holiday!

  9. Hope it’s not too wet for you both in France, Paula, I see western Europe has been getting some heavy downpours for a while Cymru in particular has been basking in 20°C sunshine (though with cooling north-westerly breezes, brrr) – some neighbours have had one day without rain after a couple or so weeks in Corsica!

    Anyway, happy vacationing and, hopefully, happy reading!

  10. Ooo, that’s a trip to look forward to, have a marvelous time! Always happy to see Georgi Gospodinov get some attention and am looking forward to picking up Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea, besdes that cover is pretty eye-catching.

  11. It sounds like it will be a wonderful trip and I wish you both bon voyage. So nice to see your all too unusual correct use of ‘raze’ – I feel the glow of trust between you and your readers! Recovering from a wedding and will dive back into the post later. I have two weeks to enjoy it!

  12. Thank you for another enticing selection of links, Paula. I hope you have a wonderful holiday in France.

  13. Thank you, Paula, a great selection to keep me going! I particularly liked the Guardian Australia review of “Exquisite Corpse by Marija Peričić – a boundary-pushing and disturbing feminist gothic horror” because I played that game as a child. Nothing like the book of course but I will seek out a copy 🙂 Have a truly wonderful holiday!

  14. Lovely links as always, and bon voyage!

  15. I look forward all week to this post. I find so many interesting, timely things. The Esquire article hit me where I live. I’ve done 500 words since my job loss. I said “I’m retired” hoping that will help. Sigh–glad it isn’t just me.

  16. An amazing list..thanks!


  1. Winding Up the Week #334 – Book Jotter

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