Winding Up the Week #339

An end of week recap

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
 Isaac Asimov

My partner and I are preparing to marry in 2024. We had a Civil Partnership in 2004 (when it first became legal in the UK), and were pretty much the first couple to do so in our small Welsh community with only our mums in attendance – mainly because, as local business people, we were utterly terrified of drawing attention to ourselves. Both mothers are now in their nineties. What changes they have witnessed since their war-time girlhoods!

D and I have lived through ‘interesting times’ since we met some 34-years-ago, but we have always loved each other no matter what – and much as we’re different in many ways, the things that matter most have kept us together. I tell you this because those of you with whom I have become acquainted in the reading world are generally open minded and probably the least bigoted people I know. I therefore wanted to share our happy news with you.

Incidentally, we are planning a Moomin-themed do.

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.

* Celebrate WIT Month 2023 *

Coming up in August is the hugely popular Women in Translation Month, though I’m unsure at present if its founder, Meytal Radzinski of Biblibio Life in Letters, will be hosting it this year as I cannot find any up-to-date details on her blog. Nevertheless, as a staple of the online literary community the event will, as ever, take place throughout the month, aiming, as it should, to raise awareness of women’s writing in languages other than English while promoting cultural diversity in publishing. For further information about taking part, please head to the official WIT website.

* 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:

Book of the month: Kate Roberts – “Retranslated into English by Katie Gramich in 2012, Kate Roberts’s 1936 novel Feet in Chains is [an] acknowledged […] masterpiece,” writes Ann Morgan from A Year of Reading the World. Set in “the hills of Snowdonia” and spanning a 40-year period in the lives of “the Gruffydd family of Fridd Felen,” this historical novel “reveals the economic and social injustices” of the time, “leading many of the local quarrymen and their families to be crushed […] by forces beyond their control.” The “reticence and understatement in the writing is extraordinarily powerful,” says Ann, yet it “is not a relentlessly depressing novel” and contains much humour. With “language as a central theme,” Roberts’s “story feels true” – indeed, to this reviewer (the “grandchild of a bilingual Welsh speaker”), it was almost, she says, “like coming home.”

* Irresistible Items *

Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting/x-ing (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:


NPR: Some books are made for summer. NPR staffers share their all-time favorites – NPR staffers were invited to share their all-time favourite summer reads, resulting in an interesting selection of titles – including recommendations for mysteries, memoirs, essays and romance. 

Brisbane Times: Meet the Australian women who wrote World War One poetry – from home – “Why don’t we know more about the Australian women who defied the image of the soldier-poets of the conflict?” wonders Jane Sullivan.

Port: Trouble Abroad – “Murder, mystery, fantasy – [Matthew Turner explores] the links between thrillers and holidays.”

The New Statesman: Simone de Beauvoir and the art of loss – “Sixty years ago, the French writer’s unflinching memoir of her mother’s death tested the limits of her existentialism,” says Ali Smith.

Prospect: Amid our generic high streets, one bookshop offers a refuge – “With its toppling book towers and rubble bags full of sheet music, Archive Books in central London is a rare treasure trove of hidden gems,” says Alan Rusbridger. “But for how much longer?” he wonders.

Lapham’s Quarterly: One Can Scarcely Help Clarifying Him – Michael R. Katz on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

Pop Matters: Margaret Atwood’s ‘Old Babes in the Wood’ Fears Nothing – Eleni Vlahiotis discovers Margaret Atwood’s Old Babes in the Woods “brims with biting humor, precise detail, and incisive observations about life and aging.”

BBC India: Oppenheimer: How he was influenced by the Bhagavad Gita – “Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s sweeping new biographical thriller about the ‘father of the atomic bomb’, has opened to a glowing reception around the world. In India, it’s been a hit too but some have protested against a scene depicting the scientist reading the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism’s holiest books, after sex,” reports Soutik Biswas.

Caught by the River: Blades of light – “As the worldwide spread of avian influenza continues, Amy Liptrot finds havoc and hope at Long Nanny Shorebird Breeding Site – the largest arctic tern colony on mainland Britain.”

The Atlantic: Can Nature Lie? – “The lying that we humans do requires a more sophisticated kind of cognition than a bird, flower, or fungus can muster,” writes Robin Marantz Henig in his review of Lixing Sun’s The Liars of Nature and the Nature of Liars: Cheating and Deception in the Living World. 

LARB: Translation and the Terebinth: On Translating Meir Shalev – “Joanna Chen writes about the pleasures of translating work by the late Israeli writer Meir Shalev,” author of My Wild Garden: Notes from a Writer’s Eden.

The Critic: Don’t be a robot! Think for yourself! – “Britain has a fine tradition of autodidacticism, so why not forget university and pick up a book?” suggests Capel Lofft.

Metropolis: Fresh Ink: Debut English Translations of Chuya Nakahara’s Japanese Literature – Eric Margolis introduces a “Japanese modernist master, captured in translation.”

Lux: Behold! The Revolutionary Dreamer – Sarah Thankam Masters on the Canadian poet, novelist, essayist and documentarian Dionne Brand’s “extraordinary opus, from Communist Grenada to an abolitionist future.”

Esquire: The Life, Death—And Afterlife—of Literary Fiction – “In the golden age of magazines, short stories reigned supreme. Has the digital revolution killed their cultural relevance?” asks Will Blythe.

The Edinburgh Reporter: James Tait Black Prizes – 2023 winners announced – A reimagining of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield and a memoir about the New York literary scene of the ‘70s and ‘80s have won the UK’s oldest literary prizes.

The White Review: Cosy Violence – The 22-year-old Australian narrator of Mrs. S, K Patrick’s “sensuous, subversive debut novel” is, says Leon Craig, “a long way from home.”

LA Times: The untold story of California’s most iconic outdoor bookshop – A fixture on lists like ‘The Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World,’ the Ojai landmark was inspired by the founder’s travels far from home. 30 More SFF Titles to Look Forward to in 2023 – Christina Orlando with a selection of forthcoming science fiction and fantasy titles.

The Lamp: Self-begot, Self-rais’d – William Giraldi on “Cormac McCarthy and the anxiety of influence.”

Merip: ‘Undesirables’ and the Mediterranean Graphic Novel – Aomar Boum on tracing the holocaust to North Africa with Nadjib Berber via their new graphic novel, Undesirables.

The Guardian: Authors call for AI companies to stop using their work without consent – “Margaret Atwood, Viet Thanh Nguyen and 8,000 others have signed an open letter asking that permission is obtained and compensation given when a writer’s work is used by AI.”

Literary Hub: How a Patchwork of Conflicting Narratives Created Contemporary Eastern Europe – “Jacob Mikanowski explores the fraught construction of post-communist historical memory.”

The Walrus: The Existential Crisis of Writing for Free – Tajja Isen poses the question: “Should writing be treated as a strictly professionalized enterprise, or is ‘party in a graveyard’ more the vibe?”

Africa is a Country: The historical archive of HIV – Lizzy Attree finds “Kayo Chingonyi’s latest poetry collection [A Blood Condition] is a powerful meditation on the cycle of infection, death, and mourning wrought by HIV.”

Boston Review: Who Is History For? – David Waldstreicher discovers “what happens when radical historians write for the public.”

Publishers Weekly: Disabled Authors Deserve, and Demand, More – The Asian American author and activist Alice Wong “argues that disability ‘representation’ is just one part of a larger mission, and while publishing disabled narratives is important, so too is making space for disabled publishing professionals.”

The Nation: Without a Map – David Schurman Wallace looks at why an artist obsessed with interiority and language became a literary pariah.

New Welsh Review: Drift by Caryl Lewis – “Fans of magical realism, folklore and bittersweet love affairs will relish the surreal experience of Caryl Lewis’ English-language debut,” Drift, writes TK Quentin.

Elle: Why Can’t I Stop Reading Birth Stories? – “In her new book, Birth Control: The Insidious Power of Men Over Motherhood, journalist Allison Yarrow unpacks how medical care and misogyny have made childbirth treacherous—and why giving birth shouldn’t mean giving up control.”

The Japan News: Award-Winning Novelist Seiichi Morimura Dies at 90 – The renowned Japanese mystery writer Seiichi Morimura, whose non-fiction trilogy The Devil’s Gluttony exposed human medical experiments conducted by a clandestine Japanese army unit during World War II, has died.

Haaretz: What Hebrew Literature Translators Think of Israel and Its Writers – Ronen Tal reveals, “14 translators of Hebrew literature gathered this month in Israel to translate new projects together, discuss the future of their craft and talk about losing money for the love of words.”

Wired: Why Generative AI Won’t Disrupt Books – “Every new technology from the internet to virtual reality has tried to upend book culture. There’s a reason they’ve all failed—and always will,” insists Elizabeth Minkel.

Arts Hub: Magazine review: Meanjin Winter 2023, edited by Esther Anatolitis – “The intensity of this edition creates a real sense of urgency in the reader,” says Erich Mayer of the latest edition of a popular Australian literary magazine.

Egyptian Streets: Beyond Fuṣḥā: The Pioneers of Egypt’s Dialect Literature – While living as an Egyptian in Europe, Farah Aly frequently encounters “an astonishing array of misinformed beliefs about Egypt’s history.” Here he discusses writers using “native regional Egyptian dialects” in their work.

Air Mail: The Cult Around the Corner – “For nearly 30 years, a fringe psychologist exerted total control over the lives of his followers. His not-so-secret headquarters? A town house on Manhattan’s Upper West Side,” reveals Daphne Merkin.

Global Times: China’s first magazine-themed store launched in Shanghai – “China’s first magazine-themed store was launched at a park in downtown Shanghai in July,” reports Feng Yu.



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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60 replies

  1. What wonderful personal news. All the best to you both and your two mums! And thank you as always for all the wonderful links and the support you give to so many. Adds a great boost to Saturday mornings.

  2. Many congratulations to you both, Paula. Given that Moomin theme, I’m very much hoping you’ll share a photo with us!

  3. Paula, what wonderful news! Congratulations to you and your partner as you celebrate your love story next year-sending you best wishes and all the happiness in the world!

  4. Congratulations – and what a wonderful idea to have a Moomin-themed wedding! Sounds like my dream!

  5. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! That’s wonderful news!

  6. Congratulations!
    I always read pieces like this week’s “The Existential Crisis of Writing for Free” and think about the fact that we book bloggers are writing for free.

  7. Many congratulations to you both Paula. Such lovely news.

  8. That’s wonderful news, Paula. Many congratulations and thanks for sharing it with us. I love the Moomins and think it’s a lovely theme to have.

  9. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! And yay, Moomins! <3

  10. Llongyfarchiadau to you both, Paula, if that’s not too soon a wish for a date yet to arrive! Such heart-warming news. 😊

  11. Oh, Paula! Wishing you and D the very, very best. This is excellent news.

  12. Thank you for sharing your celebration with us! It’s so nice to hear some GOOD news.

  13. Congratulations on the wedding! Wishing you and your partner many more years of happiness!

  14. Congratulations to you and your partner on your upcoming wedding, Paula! 🙂

  15. Congratulations to you both, Paula – a Moomin themed wedding sounds just perfect!!!

  16. Thanks for another fabulous round up Paula. And a HUGE congratulations to you and D. That’s lovely news and I will be thinking about Moomin-themed weddings all day now 🙂
    (I hope there will be photos!)

  17. What lovely news Paula. Enjoy the planning (and could you not with a Moomin theme!).

  18. Congratulations, Paula. Best wishes to you and your partner!

  19. After that sombre and ever-apt opening quote from Asimov, I was not expecting such spectacularly happy news. Llongyfarchiadau! At least the wisdom of society has caught up enough for you to be not just together, and legally together but together in the way of marriage too. It all seems so obvious that it should be like this but what a difference those decades have made. Am looking forward to pictures of a Moomin-themed wedding and hope it is not too soon to wish you both many more happy years.

    • Very true, Maria, there are plenty of positives to take from changes in society – it just doesn’t always feel that way. Thank you so much for your lovely comments.🤗 I think most of our friends and family already think of us as being an ‘old married couple’ but that hasn’t stopped them from badgering us to tie the knot and have a rollocking great shindig (they were really annoyed to miss out last time). Although I’m far from being a party animal, twenty years on from our CP seemed like as good a time as any – plus we thought everyone could do with cheering up. I’ll provide regular Moomin updates as plans progress! 😂

      • I like the idea of them all wanting a rollicking great shindig. Hope that means the guests will all embrace the Moomin theme! Have fun organising. It sounds like it will be a wonderful celebration!

      • Do you know what, Maria? I think I’m going to call our ‘do’ a moomindig. That sounds much more fun than a wedding!🎈

  20. What lovely, happy news! Congratulations, Paula and the idea of a Moomin themed wedding made me smile too. I think you’re right, the bookish community is generally speaking a kind one.

  21. How wonderful, Paula! Everyone loves a wedding! I am smiling so big at the thought of you and D amid a Moomin setting ❤ Now I’d better start reading your links… 🙂 Gretchen.

    • Thank you, Gretchen.🤗 I’m so pleased our news put a smile on your face – that was my intention. I’m amazed D has given me free rein over the Moomin plans – but I intend to make the most of it! 😂

  22. A Moomin-themed wedding, wohoo!!! Congratulations, Paula!!! 🎉🥳🎉

  23. Congratulations, and how lovely all round – not least *Moomin themed* is so ooooh! 🙂 🙂

  24. Aww! What delightful personal news, Paula. I would like to wish both, and your moms, the very best!
    Once again, thank you for all the wonderful links and the assistance you provide to so many bloggers and writers.

  25. I’m pretty sure a Moomin-themed wedding is the greatest thing I have ever heard! Massive congratulations to you both Paula and wishing you every continued happiness.

  26. Congratulations on your wedding plans, how absolutely lovely! I waited to get married until there was marriage equality, and then was really cross that the rainbow flags in the city centre square had been taken in by the time we got hitched! I’m doing WIT month as have a grand total of TWO books, most years I find I have none, so that’s quite exciting.

  27. I’m so sorry Paula that I didn’t see this before, but only after seeing Brona’s post. I think I have finally got to the end of a demanding few years and hope to read your wonderful posts more regularly again in future. (We sold our house on the weekend – so, after Mum’s death, Dad’s death, and then downsizing, I am coming up for air!)

    But, this is not about me. I just want to congratulate you both. I know you have been through some tough times, and I bet there have been far more we know nothing about, so this is wonderful. How lovely for your Mums too.

    • There’s absolutely no need to apologise, Sue. I knew about your mum but not your dad – I’m so sorry to hear that. Anyhow, I hope a fresh start in a new home helps a little. 🤗

      Thank you for your kind words. Both mums struggle a bit now but are looking forward to the wedding. 😃


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