An end of week recap
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
– Anais Nin
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.
* Which Week Is Coming? *
Over at Lizzie Ross’s blog, you will find an early warning for Witch Week 2023. Once again, she and Chris Lovegrove will host the event, which runs from 30th October to 6th November, with this year’s theme being Cryptozoo, focusing on “fantastical beings from all over the world.” The book selected for their highly anticipated read-along is The Changeling, Victor LaValle’s 2017 horror-fantasy in which an antiquarian book dealer seeks his missing wife in an enchanted land. Our present-day (and thankfully benign) witchfinders also tickle our terrorbuds with the promise of “Cryptids, horrible monsters, mythological beasts” and a “big surprise,” which they dare not reveal. “Don’t be fooled by the ‘dog days of summer’ (or their equivalent in the Southern Hemisphere),” says Lizzie, “Halloween will be here before you know it.” And so, I would ask you to charge up your environmentally friendly brooms and seek out It might seem early, but … where you can hang with the coven.
* Moomins on the Horizon *
Following an exciting announcement in WUTW #340, fresh details have emerged regarding a rather wonderful bookish event happening next year. I can now divulge that Moomin Week is scheduled to take place from 26th August to 1st September 2024. Additionally, Moomin mistress of ceremonies, Mallika Ramachandran, has designated Chris Lovegrove her official Moominmate (i.e., co-host), and to top it all off, I can show you a rather splendid graphic (eyes right) created by Mallika to promote the celebration. I therefore suggest you Moominmosey over to Announcing #MoominWeek: 26 August to 1st September 2024 for all the gen. I was going to say ‘Moomingen’ but decided it may be taking things a tad too far.
* 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:
Literary Review of Canada: Tragedy Two Ways – Connor Harrison reviews two “debuts from Brooke Lockyer and Chelsea Wakelyn.”
BBC Wiltshire: Stamps celebrate Terry Pratchett’s Discworld saga – “A set of stamps celebrating the 40th anniversary of Sir Terry Pratchett’s first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic,” came out on 10th August.
Spiked: The smear campaign against JK Rowling – “Now a museum in Seattle has joined in the witch hunt against the Harry Potter author,” says actor James Dreyfus.
Scroll.in: In Sanskrit plays, paradise is always lost, but the attempt to regain it never ends – “Why would anyone read Sanskrit literature today? Writer Shashi Deshpande explores how we read these ancient plays now.”
The New York Review: Deprivation Exercises – Ed Park finds “Ágota Kristóf fled her native Hungary just after the uprising of 1956 and spent the rest of her life in Switzerland, writing in French. But ‘all my books are about Hungary,’ she said a dozen years before her death.”
GQ: Granta said I was one of the futures of British novel writing. It didn’t feel like that – “Derek Owusu was on Granta’s Best Young British Novelists list, a prestigious accolade most fiction writers can only dream of. But the fallout left him feeling jaded and self-conscious.”
Public Books: Difficult Empathies – Says Feroz Rather: “What would a successful war novel look like? This question concealed a deeper question I had: What would a truthful Kashmir novel look like?”
Sydney Review of Books: Migratory Flights – As part of The Commute: Essays about getting around, the Bosnian-Australian writer Dženana Vucic riffs on ‘Living Between.’
Publishers Weekly: Marjane Satrapi Is Done with Comics, But Never Art or the Revolution – The Iranian French author of Persepolis, which celebrates its 20th anniversary with a new edition from Pantheon, discusses her shift from comics to film, the banning of books in America and her pride in Iran’s young revolutionaries.
The Guardian: Ned Beauman wins Arthur C Clarke award for ‘bleakly funny’ novel – “The prize for the year’s best science fiction novel was given to Venomous Lumpsucker, a satire which addresses ‘humanity’s shortsighted self-interest.’”
Faber: Reading List: Women in Translation – As we all know, “August marks Women in Translation month, dedicated to amplifying women writers and translators across the globe. [The people at Faber have] brought together a selection of works in translation by women or translated by women.”
Literary Hub: “Woman, Jew, Intellectual:” How the Nazi State Saw Hannah Arendt – In this excerpt from The Visionaries: Arendt, Beauvoir, Rand, Weil, and the Power of Philosophy in Dark Times by Wolfram Eilenberger (translated by Shaun Whiteside), the author reflects on “the social construction of the self under totalitarianism.”
Mail Online: Meet literature’s new cover star – “Coralie Bickford-Smith’s beautiful, illustrated wraps for Penguin’s Clothbound Classics are making hardbacks hip again – and inspiring the next generation of book lovers,” finds Maddy Fletcher.
Psyche: Do you think more clearly when reading or when listening? – “How we take in information has a remarkably significant effect on how intuitive or analytical we are in thinking about it,” says Janet Geipel.
Counter Craft: The Clarifying Cut – Lincoln Michel shares his writerly thoughts on “forcing yourself to revise with arbitrary wordcounts.”
AP News: Fiction writers fear the rise of AI, but also see it as a story to tell – Hillel Italie looks at the crop of new fiction grappling with issues of AI.
The Irish News: Arts Q&A: Author Neil Hegarty on Derry Girls, his favourite Brontë sister and why we shouldn’t hoard books – Jenny Lee puts Derry author Neil Hegarty on the spot about what really matters to him.
Tor.com: Five Fascinating Retellings of Norse Mythology – Rowdy Geirsson delves deep into the mythological world with five Viking novels “worth your attention.”
BBC Europe: Belarus declares 19th Century nationalist poems ‘extremist’ – “Two Belarusian poems from the 19th Century have been declared ‘extremist’, in a sign of an expanding crackdown on criticism of the authorities,” reports Robert Greenall.
China Daily: Mao Dun Literature Prize winners cover a wide range of topics – The Mao Dun Literature Prize, which is awarded every four years to five Chinese novels, has named this year’s winners.
The New Times: Rwandan man who’s read 2000 books on the power of reading – Joan Mbabazi on “a fervent [Rwandan] reader who has read over 2,000 books in the past 15 years.”
The Guardian: ‘Somehow I failed to clock her magnificence’: was the world’s first literary hero a woman? – “For centuries, Gilgamesh has been thought of as the world’s oldest literary hero – but does that title rightfully belong to the ancient goddess Inanna?” wonders Emily H Wilson, author of Inanna, a retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh and other ancient Sumerian myths.
Time Out: This 226-year-old London bookshop is now a viral hit on TikTok – “Gen Z fans are apparently going there to re-create scenes from a fantasy novel” – namely, Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments – finds India Lawrence.
The Rumpus: In Ardent Defense of Intellect: Susan Sontag’s On Women – “Sontag parses out how women were—and are—patronized, idolized, romanced, and discarded based on proximity to their perceived expiration date, whereas men age without the same discrimination,” writes Damara Atrigol Pratt in her review of On Women, a collection of essays from the 1970s.
The Baffler: A Doll’s House – Jamie Hood on “Rachel Ingalls’s unhappy homemakers.”
Artnet: A Group of German Students Have Deciphered a Mysterious Ancient Kushan Script, Revealing a Newly Classified Language – “The researchers have proposed the name Eteo-Tocharian for the new language.”
Vanity Fair: When Naomi Klein Realized People Regularly Confused Her With Naomi Wolf, She Went Down a Rabbit Hole – “In this exclusive excerpt from her new book, Doppelganger, the Shock Doctrine author takes on the Beauty Myth author, whose COVID conspiracism has further muddied the Naomi waters.”
And Other Stories: And Other Stories’ Series Design Revealed: Putting Words First – A publisher specialising in contemporary writing, including many translations, has revealed a new cover design for almost all its future titles – the “concept [they say, is] simple: it’s the words that matter.”
Lapham’s Quarterly: A Repugnance to Autobiography – “George Eliot and her partner George Henry Lewes consider what an author leaves behind besides her books.”
The Age: Madame Cezanne steps out of the paintings to tell her hidden story – Australian author Angela O’Keeffe follows up her novel about Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles by giving voice to Hortense Fiquet Cezanne, the wife of the great impressionist painter.
Time: It’s Not Time to Give Up on Shakespeare—Yet – “Is it Shakespeare or simply his era that offends,” asks Farah Karim-Cooper.
Asian Review of Books: “Bugis Nights” by Chris Stowers – “Chris Stowers considers the 1980s to have been the golden age of travel and Bugis Nights describes two trips of his during that decade,” writes Frank Beyer.
LARB: Trapped in a Cage of Loneliness: On Gerda Blees’s “We Are Light” – Cory Oldweiler reviews the new translation of Dutch author Gerda Blees’s debut novel We Are Light.
The Conversation: Telling stories of our climate futures is essential to thinking through the net-zero choices of today – Matthew Hoffmann has reached the conclusion that the power of storytelling to help inform our decisions is underappreciated and of vital importance in envisioning a better future.
Air Mail: Better Fish to Fry – In this essay, Karen Pinchin, author of Kings of Their Own Ocean, gives a glimpse of the daily bluefin-tuna auctions at Toyosu, a large and lucrative Tokyo fish market where Japanese chefs find the best catches.
Harper’s Magazine: Come as You Are – Adam Kirsch on “Zadie Smith and the Gen X novel.”
Print: Typotheque’s Peter Bil’ak on How Font Foundries Can Keep Centuries-Old Languages Alive – Angela Riechers speaks to the Dutch multidisciplinary designer about his foundry’s 30 new Georgian fonts, dying alphabets and how typographers can fight the homogenizing tide of globalization.
The Public Domain Review: Travelling Tales Kalīlah wa-Dimnah and the Animal Fable – “Influencing numerous later animal tales told around the world, the 8th-century Arabic fables of Ibn al-Muqaffa’s Kalīlah wa-Dimnah also inspired a rich visual tradition of illustration […]. Marina Warner [who wrote the foreword to Kalīlah and Dimnah: Fables of Virtue and Vice] follows these stories as they wander and change across time and place.”
Quill & Quire: Beyond the cover – Andrew Woodrow-Butcher on the “Canadian team bringing more manga to English readers.”
The New Statesman: Jordan Peterson’s rules for selective quotation – “A paperback edition of Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life made the best of its mixed reviews – and not all critics are happy.”
Russia Beyond: What did leading Russian writers think of Shakespeare? – Alexandra Guzeva discovers the “works of England’s greatest playwright were a major influence on Russian culture” with “the character of Hamlet alone [leading] to the emergence of a whole new direction in Russian literature.”
Open Secrets: Beyond the Embargo: Keeping the BTS Book a Secret – “It was the biggest translation project of my translator life, and I had to keep it under wraps,” says Anton Hur.
Inside Higher Ed: World-Wide Weird – “Scott McLemee looks ahead to some ‘promisingly weird’ books from university presses due out this fall.”
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