An end of week recap
“I’ll have to calm down a bit. Or else I’ll burst with happiness.”
– Tove Jansson (Moominsummer Madness)
It probably didn’t escape your notice last Saturday that I had a sneaky breather from my weekly link truffle – the excuse on this occasion being it was my birthday on 6th August, and I had a houseful of guests. I had a thoroughly jolly time with good friends, but I return now to the wind (to rhyme with ‘find’).
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.
* A Bloomin’ Moomin Event Loomin’ *
I can’t tell you how delighted I am to announce a very special forthcoming event. The prolific book reviewer Mallika Ramachandran of Literary Potpourri (ably assisted by the equally dynamic Chris Lovegrove of Calmgrove) is planning a one-off Moomin Week in 2024 in honour of my forthcoming wedding (see WUTW #339). I am so thrilled – not to mention touched – that she and the wider Moomin-adoring community would pay my partner and I such a compliment. I therefore point you in the direction of her recent post, July 2023 Reading Wrap Up and #MoominWeek, and humbly request you share your suggestions with her about this happy happening.
Speaking of matters Moominesque, Chris posted a super piece on The Memoirs of Moominpappa (originally translated into English as The Exploits of Moominpappa, Described by Himself, Set Down and Illustrated by Tove Jansson) for the ongoing Tove Trove project and to “coincide with the birthday of Tove Jansson” on 9th August. I highly recommend you head over at once to A Moomin memoir for his fascinating take on a “friendly troll’s exploits.”
* 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:
CrimeReads: Quo Vadis, Indian Noir? – “RV Raman on the past, present, and future of crime fiction in India.”
Lapham’s Quarterly: Man of the People – Story Ponvert on “the history and context of Aleksandr Afanasev’s obscene Russian folktales.”
Literary Hub: How Scientific and Technological Breakthroughs Created a New Kind of Fiction – “Joshua Glenn chronicles the development of Sci-Fi in the early 20th century.”
Times of Malta: Malta to get a museum of literature in Valletta – Fiona Galea Debono reports that the museum on Old Bakery Street “is scheduled to open its doors to the public in 2025.”
Publishers Weekly: Two Lines Press Pushes Translation’s Boundaries – Sophia Stewart discovers “the San Francisco–based publishing imprint of the Center for the Art of Translation (CAT)” is exceptionally active at present promoting “new international authors to Anglophone readers.”
Foreign Policy: Reading ‘Lolita’? Not in Tehran. – Kourosh Ziabari analysis exposes the ways in which “Iran’s vibrant tradition of literature translation is becoming collateral damage in the Raisi regime’s retrograde cultural agenda.”
BBC Culture: The Hours at 25: The book that changed how we see Virginia Woolf – “Later made into an Oscar-winning film, Michael Cunningham’s 1998 novel about the literary icon makes no pretence to know the ‘real’ her – and that’s what makes it so true to her spirit, writes Lillian Crawford.”
TLS: A world beyond – Joyce Carol Oates finds “suburban life meets the fantastic in Rachel Ingalls’s fiction.”
The Bookseller: A rebellious writer – “Forget Twitter, turn down dinner… an older author explains how he’s still getting better, decades on.”
The New York Review: Africa, the Center of History – “In Born in Blackness, Howard French works to counteract the ‘symphony of erasure’ that has obscured and denied Africa’s contributions to the contemporary world,” writes Adom Getachew.
Air Mail: Bears in Mind – In this essay, Canadian journalist Gloria Dickie, author of Eight Bears – a book about the last remaining bear species – homes in on studies that prove grizzlies and pandas are among the planet’s most intelligent animals.
Words Without Borders: Femicider: We Can Only Fight against What We Can Name – “Cristina Rivera Garza, the author of Liliana’s Invincible Summer, speaks to the power of language in naming and fighting violence against women.”
The Critic: The elegant extremist – John Self observes: “Ian McEwan has always tempered his shocking stories with polished prose.”
Aeon: The great libraries of Rome – “Passersby could wander at will into grand public libraries in imperial Rome. Could they trust what they found inside?” wonders Fabio Fernandes.
Arts Hub: Iconoclastic and empowered: the new wave of Middle Eastern Australian women writers – “MENA women writers are gaining momentum in major literary prizes and across the nation’s bookstores, but is this movement iconoclastic?” asks Leila Lois.
BBC Africa: Edinburgh Fringe: The Life and Times of Michael K, a South African puppet play – Penny Dale reports: “World-renowned South African puppeteer Adrian Kohler has realised a 30-year-long ambition to make a novel by Nobel laureate JM Coetzee into a puppet play.”
Nippon.com: “Writing Fiction in the Time of Pandemic and War”: Murakami Haruki Discusses His New Novel at Wellesley – “Murakami Haruki’s [so far untranslated] The City and Its Uncertain Walls has been a bestseller since it hit Japanese bookstores in April. Useful hints on possible interpretations of the deeper message behind the novelist’s distinctive fictional world come from a talk he gave recently at Wellesley College in the United States.”
The Irish Times: Laura Lippman: ‘Crime fiction is an outstanding vehicle for social commentary’ – “The American writer on her new novel Prom Mom and being inspired by real-life stories.”
PEN America: Booklash: Literary Freedom, Online Outrage, and the Language of Harm – A report on ‘toxic literary culture’ and avoiding ‘self-censorship’ via cancelling books.
The Booker Prizes: ‘Original and thrilling’ Booker Prize 2023 longlist announced – “The 2023 longlist for the Booker Prize – the world’s most influential prize for a single work of fiction” – has been revealed.
Eurozine: ‘I’ll be the first Roma woman to write sci-fi’ – Maria Siváková discusses “the revival in Romani literature.”
Book Riot: The Best New Korean Literature in Translation – Pierce Alquist has been “especially impressed” with recent Korean books in translation. Here she shares a few of her favourites.
Slate: A Novel That Strives to Engage the World on Every Single Page – “Paul Murray’s The Bee Sting calls attention to the here and now,” says Dan Kois.
China Daily: Grassroots literature promoted – “The China Writers Association has been promoting literature works that feature depictions of grassroots life, the achievements of poverty alleviation and prospects of rural vitalization.”
The Washington Post: ‘The Marriage Question’ looks at George Eliot through her long-lasting love – Becca Rothfeld discovers that “Clare Carlisle’s book is about the brilliant novelist’s long relationship with the married writer George Henry Lewes.”
Foreign Affairs: Foreign Affairs Recommends: Books on Ukraine – “From the imperatives of modern military strategists to the campaigns of ancient warlords, these books help explain the origins of the conflict in Ukraine.”
Arab News: Saudi commission initiative aims to make literature ‘more accessible’ – Saudi Arabia’s Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission announces its Books for Everyone initiative will “promote reading in society.”
Franceinfo: Writer Philippe Curval, one of the pioneers of science fiction in France, has died at the age of 93 – “This prolific author, who left about forty novels and a hundred short stories, wrote in 1976 This Dear Humanity, his best known work.”
The Baffler: Empty Suits – Bailey Trela on “Javier Marías’s spy fiction.”
The Straits Times: Local authors go global, but Singapore publishers worry – The Singaporean novel is very much “in vogue” at present, says Clement Yong – indeed, there has been “a drastic change” in how its authors are being received overseas.
Fodor’s Travel: The World’s 12 Best Literary Festivals – “Whether you’re an author, a reader, or an aspiring writer,” says Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey, “these events are all about celebrating the written word.”
Times of Israel: Author Alex Epstein crafts tiny books to fit his micro stories – Jessica Steinberg discovers a novelist who “specializes in very short stories […] and designs his own miniature tomes for them.”
Electric Literature: 7 Books That Use Fairy Tales to Reveal the Strangeness of the Real World – “Rebekah Bergman, author of The Museum of Human History, on how a fairy tale can subvert what we take for granted as normal.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: I’m a bit of a Luddite and I lost 50 pages of the book: Patrick deWitt – “The Canadian novelist lost a large chunk of his new novel when he was last in Australia. It turned out to be a blessing,” says Jason Steger.
JSTOR Daily: When Lord Byron Tried to Buy a Twelve-Year-Old Girl – “The English poet fell in love with Teresa Makri while he was traveling in Greece and subsequently tried to purchase her from her mother,” reveals Emily Zarevich.
The Guardian: ‘A smorgasbord of unlikability’: the authors helping ‘sad girl lit’ grow up – “In this post-Fleabag world, publishing has become obsessed with the inner turmoils of messy millennials – but isn’t it time they pulled themselves together?” says Sarah Manavis. “Meet the novelists subverting the cliches.”
Bon Appétit: I’d Avoided Apples My Whole Life. At the Foot of Mount Sinai, I Realized Why – “‘Like an Old Testament Eve, I’d ignored the portents until they caught up with me here,’ writes poet Rita Dove.”
The Millions: Why Read John Milton? – You should read John Milton because he will “take your f-ing head off,” declares Ed Simon.
Smithsonian Magazine: A Brief History of the Letter ‘X,’ From Algebra to X-Mas to Elon Musk – Peter Schumer “explores how “x” came to stand in for an unknown quantity.”
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