Winding Up the Week #334

An end of week recap

Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice.”
 Rebecca Solnit (born 24th June 1961)

I have arrived home from a highly pleasurable and enlightening holiday in rural France (see WUTW #333), during which I stayed with my partner in a gargantuan gîte, visited Oradour-sur-Glane (a now uninhabited village preserved since its destruction by the Nazis in June 1944 when 643 civilians were massacred as collective punishment for resistance), enjoyed a delightful Chabanois music festival, devoured delicious French foods (fresh croissants from the nearby boulangerie were divine) and spent many happy hours rekindling an old friendship. We intend to return at the first opportunity.

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.

* Discover a Grande Dame of Brit Lit *

Annabel Gaskell of AnnaBookBel’s blog provides oodles of notice for her next reading event celebrating the life and works of Beryl Bainbridge (1932-2010), the inimitable Liverpudlian writer best known for her psychological, frequently macabre stories, often set amongst the English working-class. Reading Beryl 2023, which runs from the 18th to 26th November (a week that includes the author’s birthday on 21st), will offer participants the opportunity to indulge in one or more of her many novels, short story collections and non-fiction titles in the company of likeminded souls. Please head over to Announcing another Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week (the last one took place in 2016), where Annabel invites you to join her for #ReadingBeryl23.

* 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:


NPR: Debut novel ‘The God of Good Looks’ adds to growing canon of Caribbean literature – Carole V. Bell finds that Caribbean literature is having a real moment. 

BBC Northern Ireland: Belfast writer Lucy Caldwell wins Walter Scott fiction prize – “Belfast writer Lucy Caldwell has won the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction for her novel These Days.”

The Guardian: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o: three days with a giant of African literature – “The Kenyan novelist’s life and work has intersected with many of the biggest events of the past century. At 85, he reflects on his long, uncompromising life in writing.” Carey Baraka speaks to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.

The New York Times: Everyone Likes Reading. Why Are We So Afraid of It? – “Book bans, chatbots, pedagogical warfare: What it means to read has become a minefield.”

Literary Review: Seoul Stirring – Korean pop music, cinema, food and fashion have made waves across the West while Korean literature has not received quite the same level of attention. In his review of The Penguin Book of Korean Short Stories by Bruce Fulton, Bryan Karetnyk explains why fiction only took root in Korea in the early 20th century.

Esquire: The Casual Ignominy of the Book Tours of Yore – John Banville on “touting your wares when nobody cares.”

The Biblioracle Recommends: “The Reader in Mind Is Me” – John Warner ponders “Cormac McCarthy, Elizabeth Gilbert and authorial relationships with audiences.”

Salon: Grief is a distant planet: How “A Wrinkle in Time” is helping me deal with my father’s decline – “From Madeleine L’Engle to Ray Bradbury, sci-fi favorites from childhood help [Meaghan Mulholland] make sense of [her] sorrowful present.”

The Bookseller: Debut authors Crewe and Apps win Orwell Prizes – Peter Apps’ account of the Grenfell fire tragedy and Tom Crewe’s historical novel about pioneering Victorian gay rights advocates will each receive £3,000.

Frontline: How a textbook department opened new avenues for literature in translation – “The TNTBESC is committed to promoting cross-cultural understanding and expanding Tamil literature’s reach worldwide.”

ABC News: Why so many of the world’s best writers hail from Ireland, from James Joyce to Colm Tóibín – Nicola Heath declares Ireland: “Arguably the literary capital of the world.” ‘The Woman who Climbed Trees’ deftly carves out space for women’s emotional and physical subversions – In The Woman Who Climbed Trees, Smriti Ravindra “creates the possibility of a women’s culture, one framed by shared experiences and often, similar trauma in a patriarchal society,” writes Saloni Sharma.

Wales Arts Review: The Sleeping Stones by Beatrice Wallbank | Review – “Ffion Beynon takes a look at a debut novel which packs a punch as she delves into the world of pseudo-Arthurian legend in Beatrice Wallbank’s young adult novel, The Sleeping Stones.” 

Literary Hub: I’m obsessed with these hand-stitched recreations of classic composition notebooks. – “No one else is reading the same books as me in the same order, so in a way, my reading is my life’s work,” says artist Candace Hicks. Here she talks with Emily Temple about the hand-stitched notebooks in which she records her thoughts about recent reads.

Asian Review of Books: New Book Announcement: “Four Seasons in Japan” by Nick BradleyFour Seasons in Japan is described here as “a love-letter to Japanese culture, landscape, and literature.”

The Nation: The Nation Leads the Relaunch of Bookforum – A press release from The Nation last Thursday announced: “Resurrecting a leading voice of US literary criticism, the quarterly will remain editorially independent, with the first new issue out August 2023.”

Orion: Beware the Woods: 10 Memorable Forests from Literature – Writer and commissioning editor for The Observer, Kathryn Bromwich, invites you to venture with her into the woods.

JSTOR Daily: Queer Literature from North Africa and the Maghreb: A Reading List – Saadia El Karfi Azzarone with a list of “theoretical and literary works that explore themes of queerness, identity, and resistance within the context of North Africa and the Maghreb.”

Kirkus: Questions Raised About Book on Tennessee Williams – “Writers are raising doubts about the veracity of an eight-year-old book on playwright Tennessee Williams,” reports Michael Schaub.

The New York Times Magazine: Lorrie Moore Will Not Confess – “In a literary culture obsessed with self-disclosure, her brilliant short stories — and, now, a new novel — have always been about art, not autobiography,” writes Dan Kois.

The Tablet: The Horrible and Enlightening Life of Jean Améry – “In an age of easy antisemitism, the Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivor’s work remains bitter, resentful, and hauntingly pro-Zionist,” says David Mikics.

Stanford Report: Reading rare books by candlelight – “Manuscript Sciences at Stanford wants scholars of all disciplines to engage with the question, how can we automate discovery about objects that are unquantifiable?”

TLS: Touch me not – In Mary Magdalene: A Cultural History by Philip C Almond, Anna Della Subin discovers a “witness to the Resurrection, saint, sinner and feminist icon.”

Quillette: Roald Dahl’s Forgotten Novel, 75 Years On – Christian Kriticos is intrigued to discover that “before finding fame as a children’s author, Dahl penned the first novel on nuclear war to be published after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.”

Lit Mag News: Are We Eating Each Other Alive in the Indie-Lit World? – “Chill Subs co-founder [Benjamin Davis] discusses money and profits in indie-lit publishing.”

Arts Hub: Book review: Cellnight, John Kinsella – “This verse novel weaves disparate themes together into a cohesive whole, including anti-nuclear protests in 1980s Western Australia and the ill treatment of (Indigenous) prisoners,” writes Annabel Harz.

The Walrus: Does Journalling Actually Improve Mental Health? – “Writing down your thoughts can be helpful. But getting the perfect notebook isn’t a substitute for professional care,” cautions Toronto-based writer Anne Thériault in this piece on Sylvia Plath and journaling for mental health.

Hereford Times: Sir Salman Rushdie awarded prestigious German literary prize – Organizers of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade have announced that Sir Salman Rushdie will receive the prestigious Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels for “his literary work and for his resolve and positive attitude in the face of constant danger.”

Slate: How the Queen of True Crime Transformed Murder Stories Forever – “The seeds of today’s true-crime boom were sown 50 years ago, when [Ann Rule] befriended the stranger beside her.”

The Hedgehog Review: “I Love You” (in Theory) – A 1975 lecture “in which [the French literary theorist, essayist, philosopher, critic and semiotician] Roland Barthes asks ‘Alors, l’amour?’”

The Yale Review: James Baldwin in Turkey – Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi on how Istanbul changed the career of American writer James Baldwin.

Metropolis: Your Summer Reading List 2023 – Iain Maloney with his favourite “new recommendations from Tokyo’s literary scene.”

Hungarian Literature Online: Botond Markovics: I take the ‘science’ in sci-fi very seriouslyHLO’s “interview series The Scientific Writer turns from biology to economics (with a healthy dose of physics) in [its] conversation with Hungarian science fiction author Botond Markovics. Read on to see how he weaves the pressing issues of our times into his award-winning novels.”

Star Tribune: Next Chapter: Summer – “It’s going to be a scorcher! Whether you prefer a beach blanket or a breezy spot by the lake, [Connie Ogle, Carole E. Barrowman and Trisha Collopy claim to] have the hottest thrillers, fiction and young adult titles to get you through August.”

Brisbane Times: From South Sudan to the Miles Franklin shortlist, with ‘a novel of national significance’ – The 26-year-old novelist, Kgshak Akec, has been shortlisted for Australia’s most significant fiction-writing prize along with five other authors.

N+1: Outside the Museum of Literature – Nicholas Dames on the Romanian novelist, poet, short-story writer, literary critic and essayist, Mircea Cărtărescu (in a piece recently un-paywalled from the Spring issue).

Al Jazeera: Ethiopian quest to re-create ancient manuscripts – “Priests and worshippers in Addis Ababa work by hand to replicate centuries-old religious manuscripts and sacred artwork.”

The Baffler: Queer History Now! – The modern interpretation of lesbian, gay and trans records – defined here as ‘queer history’ – should “stop being a contradiction and become an imperative,” insists Ben Miller.

Toronto Star: Robyn Harding’s latest thriller ‘The Drowning Woman’: flawless in its execution – Nancy Wigston finds the “Vancouver writer’s thirteenth novel [The Drowning Woman] is unputdownable and examines the lives of two women fighting for independence.”

The Guardian: Dilemma for UK authors as Russia offers huge sums for escapist fiction – “Writers are receiving enticing bids for foreign rights to their books this spring, but many feel they cannot accept the money while the war continues,” reports Vanessa Thorpe.

City Journal: A Poet’s Politics – “W. H. Auden’s lyrical and evocative work, often rife with ambiguity, reflected the turmoil of the twentieth century,” finds Adam Kirsch.

Blood Knife: AI Writing Proves the Author is Very Much Alive – In a piece for digital magazine Blood Knife, which specialises in “sci-fi, horror and capitalism,” Connor Wroe Southard argues that “ChatGPT may strive to mimic humans, but its lack of humanity is the reason we’re interested at all.”

Elle: Elizabeth Banks Is Starting a Book Club Exclusively for Drinking Wine – “The actress, producer, director, and co-owner of Archer Roose canned wines, is shaking things up—literally,” says Jessica Bumpus.

The Irish Times: Is the Bible the filthiest story ever told? – “Donald Clarke: A mischievous complaint has exposed the absurdity of the current wave of American book-banning.”



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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22 replies

  1. Ah, you reminded me of those buttery croissants and now I want to eat one (ok, more than one)!

    Wonderful set of links as always Paula! I hadn’t come across the Dahl book before or known of the Tamil Lit translations that the Textbook Society has been doing. An interesting piece on Korean Lit as well–I did have some idea of the development of Hangeul and how it made reading and writing accessible to most but not the effects of Japanese occupation on this.

    Lots of meows and wuffs to the meows and wuffs 😀

  2. It sounds like you had a delightful holiday in rural France! Your recap of the trip and the various activities you enjoyed there is quite engaging. On another note, I’m intrigued by the upcoming reading event dedicated to Beryl Bainbridge’s works. Have you read any of her novels before, or will this be your first introduction to her writing? What aspects of her stories do you find most appealing? Additionally, I noticed the article about book bans and the fear associated with reading. Do you think society’s attitude towards reading has changed over time, and if so, in what ways?

    • Hello AJ! 😊 I had a fabulous time in France, thank you.

      In answer to your question, yes I’m familiar with Beryl Bainbridge and have read many of her books. One of my favourites is According to Queeney – a sort of historical novel about the friendship between Samuel Johnson and Hester Thrale. Well worth reading. 👍

      With regards to your second question, I fear the west is regressing in many ways and books are a sort of canary in the mine, if you see what I mean. I very much believe that those of us who care about freedom of speech and human rights should kick back against such stupidity – before it’s too late!

  3. Thanks for the usual bumper selection of links, Paula, and so glad you had a lovely break!

  4. Glad you had a super break! I’ve just read “The God of Good Looks” and really enjoyed it so it was nice to see it here!

  5. Glad you had a wonderful break Paula 🙂

    • Thank you so much, MB. It was amazing returning home to sunshine – not something that usually happens – but I’m not complaining. I expect you, like me, are rushing about in the evenings watering the flowers. The poor things get so thirsty! 🥀💦

  6. I am so impressed that you took the time to post all those links.

  7. I loved The Wishing Game and recently posted on it.
    Hope all is well.

  8. Your holiday break sounds as though it was just about perfect! Your menagerie must be very happy to have you back though.🐱🐶

  9. Your holiday sounds wonderful!

  10. Welcome back! It sounds like you had a wonderful time. Lots of lovely links – Beryl Bainbridge: I must see if there is something of hers I haven’t read. I am also interested in the Hungarian sci fi – and much more…Prepare to click 😉

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