An end of week recap
“Love is active, not passive. It is our love for one another, for Mother Earth, for our fellow creatures that compels us to act on their behalf.”
– Laurence Overmire
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.
* 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, there follows a selection of interesting snippets:
Sunday Times ZA: 2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards Longlist – “Announcing the longlists for [South Africa’s] most prestigious annual literary awards for non-fiction and fiction in partnership with Exclusive Books.”
Poetry Foundation: Not Everything Dies – “The young Polish-language poet Zuzanna Ginczanka was killed in the Holocaust.” Lily Meyer finds “two new translations offer different renditions of her startling work.”
The Guardian: Retroland by Peter Kemp review – an author preoccupied with his past – “The veteran Sunday Times critic’s survey of 50 years of British fiction rattles through titles, authors and genres, but often at the expense of insight,” says Anthony Cummins in his review of Retroland: A Reader’s Guide to the Dazzling Diversity of Modern Fiction.
The Spinoff: ‘The woman in her cage’: Mansfield in Paris – “Katherine Mansfield’s Europe: Station to Station is,” says Redmer Yska, “a glorious exploration of the places – countries, cities, hotels, villas, railway stations, infirmaries – she visited in her short, vivid life.” Here you can read an excerpt from the chapter on Mansfield’s Paris.
South China Morning Post: Chinese literary world reflects on how ‘Kundera fever’ chimed with country’s 1980s intellectual ferment – Translators and former students of Milan Kundera pay tribute to the Franco-Czech writer” whose “works were first translated into Chinese during the 1980s, a time when his writings chimed with the post-Cultural Revolution mood.”
Tablet: Lament for Susan – “The rediscovery of Susan Taubes risks trapping her work within the prison of contemporary autofiction,” warns Blake Smith.
Asymptote: An Interview with Wenona Byrne from Creative Australia – Wenona Byrne, the head of literature at Creative Australia, tells Lee Yew Leong: “We have an incredibly diverse population with 30% of Australians born overseas and more than one fifth of whom speak a language other than English at home, yet our literary culture has yet to reflect that in the books that are published by the industry.”
The Irish Times: Patrick deWitt: ‘It’s only sensible that one’s humour should mirror the times’ – “The Canadian writer on his new novel The Librarianist, his ‘exciting’ literary pilgrimage and developing a dark sense of humour.”
The Cardiff Review: Whaling by Nathan Munday – In 1790, a group of Nantucket whalers were invited to found the Welsh port of Milford Haven. What did their arrival mean for the local people? Harry Readhead reviews Whaling, Nathan Munday’s debut novel.
Vintage: Where to start with French Classics – The publisher describes titles in The Vintage Classics French series as “masterpieces of French fiction in gorgeous new gift editions” celebrating “the best classic literature from France,” combining “elegance, romance, heartache, intensity, passion, action…”
The Washington Post: Can novels make us better people? – “Critic Joseph Epstein argues that reading novels can make us better people.” Jacob Brogan suspects the author’s new book, The Novel, Who Needs It? gives quite the opposite impression.
BBC Wales: Dylan Thomas’ copy of first poetry book up for auction – Dylan Thomas’ personal copy of his first book of poems will be auctioned as part of the late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts’ literature collection.” (As reported in WUTW #337)
The MIT Press: How ‘Monsters’ Came to Define Us – “Andrew Mangham, author of We Are All Monsters, examines how science and literature changed understandings of human difference during the 19th century.”
LA Times: We knew about climate change in the ’50s. Why an author tracked the history of denial – In The Parrot and the Igloo, David Lipsky — author of books on West Point and David Foster Wallace — turns his attention to climate-change denial.
DW: Lutz Seiler wins top German literary award – “Writer Lutz Seiler is this year’s winner of the German language’s most esteemed literary award, the Georg Büchner Prize. While he began his career as a poet, Seiler found a new level of fame with his debut novel, Kruso.”
RUV: No one has to be ashamed of their interest in love stories anymore – “‘There is a taboo about love stories,” says author Þórunn Rakel Gylfadóttir. However, she is certain that Iceland’s Love History Society is going to change this by liberating the genre.
WBUR: New novel ‘The Sea Elephants’ hits every note of the human emotional spectrum – “The Sea Elephants hits every note of the human emotional spectrum,” says Katherine Ouellette of Shastri Akella’s gay coming-of-age novel set in India during the 1990s.
Kyodo News: Disabled author wins prestigious Japanese literary award in first – “An author with a physical disability [has] won Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa literary award […] for her work about a disabled woman’s anger and desires.”
Literary Hub: Mikki Kendall Remembers the Indelible Work and Full Complexity of bell hooks – “Creating for more than the white gaze or the male gaze was always the goal,” writes Mikki Kendall in this piece recalling “the indelible work and full complexity of bell hooks.”
Verso: For an Inch of Blue Sea – “In May of 1934, Osip Mandelstam was arrested and interrogated by the OGPU for composing and reciting ‘The Stalin Epigram.’ This excerpt from Ralph Dulti’s new biography [Osip Mandelstam – A Biography] details Mandelstam’s life and work after his first brush with the Soviet authorities.”
Port: Versions and Perversions – “Susan Finlay and Jack Skelley reflect on their respective new books.”
Esquire: The Rise of Tech Worker Fiction – “Novels about Big Tech’s working class are popping up like push notifications.” Rebecca Ackermann is curious to know what they can tell Americans “about the labor movement and late-stage capitalism?”
NPR: She saved the diary of a Ukrainian writer killed by Russia. Then she was killed, too – The award-winning novelist Victoria Amelina, who retrained as a war crimes researcher to document Russian atrocities and preserve Ukrainian culture, is movingly eulogised by Joanna Kakissisby and Claire Harbage in this piece.
Lapham’s Quarterly: A Likely Story Indeed – Stassa Edwards on “Lewis Carroll’s photographic creation of Alice Liddell.”
TikTok Newsroom: Here’s your TikTok Book Awards shortlist – now it’s time to vote! – Social media platform TikTok has announced a shortlist curated by expert judges for its inaugural TikTok Book Awards.
The Walrus: In Conversation with Annie Ernaux – “The renowned French author and Nobel Prize winner on the value of readers’ letters.”
Spiked: The violent purging of womanhood – “It is a sick society that celebrates the medieval-style erasure of Ellen Page,” writes Brendan O’Neill in his outspoken review of Pageboy, the actor Elliot Page’s transition memoir.
World Literature Today: Finding Her #ownvoice: A Conversation with Ivy Ngeow – Susan Blumberg-Kason talks to Malaysian author Ivy Ngeow about her new novel The American Boyfriend, how she got into writing and her thoughts on publishing in Asia versus the UK.
Epiphany: An Interview with Ethan Nosowsky of Graywolf Press – “Ethan Nosowsky, Editorial Director at Graywolf Press, talks with Epiphany’s Editor-in-Chief, Noreen Tomassi” about his work and the wider publishing industry.
The Dial: Sins of the Salmon Kings – “By investigating Norwegian novels, we can arrive at an idea of the position of the salmon farmer in popular culture,” writes Simen Sætre.
JSTOR Daily: Publishing Queer Berlin – “Weimar Germany was an improbably safe space for newspapers and magazines by and for lesbians,” discovers Hannah Steinkopf-Frank.
BBC News: Virginia Woolf: Personal copy of debut novel resurfaces – “Virginia Woolf’s personal copy of her debut novel, The Voyage Out, has been fully digitised for the first time.”
Sydney Review of Books: Sublime Neutrality – In an expansive review of Paul Dalla Rosa’s debut short story collection, An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life, Ursula Robinson-Shaw rethinks our obsession with ‘craft’ and ‘tenderness’ in the context of alt-lit’s aestheticist revival.
The MIT Press: Piranesi, Borges, and the Labyrinths of Time – Victor Plahte Tschudi discovers “Jorge Luis Borges was deeply inspired by the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, whose prints of imaginary prisons and palaces captured the Argentinian author’s imagination.”
The Observer: The indie publishing mavericks shaking up the UK books world – “The indie publishing mavericks shaking up the UK books world Last year, all of literature’s big prizes went to small publishers. In a risk‑averse climate, edgy debuts and ‘tricky-to-sell’ foreign titles have found a home at the likes of Fitzcarraldo Editions and Sort Of Books – and the gamble has paid off,” reports Anthony Cummins.
Euronews: Hungary fines bookstore and pressures others to seal LGBTQ books – “The Hungarian government has levied a large fine against a Budapest bookstore for displaying a young adult graphic novel that depicts a LGBTQ coming of age story,” reveals Savin Mattozzi.
The Scotsman: Passions: My new found love for fantasy novels – “I’ve discovered fantasy fiction – and I am obsessed, says Rachel Amery.”
CBC: Influential Indigenous novel In Search of April Raintree commemorating 40 years with new anniversary edition – Talia Kliot finds “Beatrice Mosionier’s story of resilience, sisterly love and identity paved the way for Indigenous storytellers.”
Shine: China’s Pegasus Prize reflects new generation of diverse literature – China’s top literary prize for Internet literature was given to five novels [at a ceremony in Shanghai],” says Yao Minji.
BBC Essex: Essex Serpent author Sarah Perry becomes university chancellor – “The University of Essex has appointed an author with a ‘deep connection’ to the county as its new chancellor,” reports Katy Lewis.
Hyperallergic: Brooklyn Public Library Has 99 Problems but Jay-Z Ain’t One – “Should a struggling public library be used as a shrine to a billionaire’s glamorous life?” asks Theodore Hamm.
Salon: Large group of tourists trapped for hours in former home of mystery writer Agatha Christie – One of the tourists commented: “They are giving us free teas and things. It’s a bit bleak.”
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