An end of week recap
“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
– Agatha Christie (born 15th September 1890)
On this occasion, my excuse for going AWOL last week was my partner’s birthday. However, I will do my utmost today to make it up to you.
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.
* Books from a Land Down Under? *
“It’s that time of year again!” says Bronwyn of This Reading Life (aka Brona’s Books), in Antipodean anticipation of Aus Reading Month 2023. Throughout October and into November, you are invited to “scour your TBR shelves” for Australian titles, read and review as many of these books as you wish and share critiques and other features about your reading experience with fellow bloggers. Brona has plenty of suggestions for you on her Australian Novellas and Australian Essays pages. She also intends to add content to “the Australiana tab on [her] menu bar, which will feature authors and books from each state and territory.” A “Masterpost” will appear on the 1st of the month but, in the meantime, please hop over to Anticipating AusReading Month for all the latest information relating to this popular annual event.
* November Means Atwood *
“From November 1, 2023 through November 30, 2023 I’ll be reading Margaret Atwood, and you’re invited to join,” says Marcie from Buried in Print. This, the sixth Margaret Atwood Reading Month (or MARM as it is fondly known), which incorporates the Canadian author’s 84th birthday on the 18th, will once again focus on celebrating her work by reading and writing about her fiction, essays, poems, biographies, graphic novels, children’s books, films and TV programmes. “Are you ready for MARM2023?” asks Marcie. If you answer in the affirmative, I suggest you peruse November 2023 #MARM Margaret Atwood Reading Month Announcement for all you need to know about taking part.
* Journey to the Outer Reaches of Sci-Fi Month *
A much-relished reading challenge with devotees of speculative fiction returns in November for “another month of celebrating the hopes and fears for our possible futures,” says Imyril of There’s Always Room For One More. She invites fellow fans of the genre to join her in celebrating “all things science fictional across blogs and social media” by sharing thoughts on “reading, watching, listening, playing through and talking about tales of new worlds and uncanny timelines, human endeavour and alien mysteries, dystopia and apocalypse…” There are daily prompts, a giveaway and a “big announcement” in the offing. To read the guidelines and perhaps sign up for this thrilling “30-day mission,” please head to Blasting off: SciFiMonth 2023. New crew members are welcome to “jump aboard” any time.
* 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:
The Kathmandu Post: Nepali literature is progressing, albeit slowly – “Richa Bhattarai talks [to Manushree Mahat] about the reading culture in Nepal and the growing representation of all sections of the society in its literary scene over the years.”
4Columns: Summer Swan Song: The Road-Trip Reading List – “Gone ramblin’,” 4Cs “final summer missive maps a route through works inspired by an ethos of my way and the highway.”
The Guardian: Edith Grossman, acclaimed translator, dies at 87 – “Her translation of Don Quixote was described as ‘indisputably definitive’, and she received a host of accolades including the Order of Civil Merit awarded by the King of Spain,” recalls Lucy Knight.
Scroll.in: How a publisher and a foundation are furthering translations between India’s languages – Sanchit Toor finds a “partnership between Zubaan publishers and the Prabha Khaitan Foundation is showing the way.”
Air Mail: The Longest Day – In an exclusive excerpt from The Times, Adam Nagourney’s forthcoming history of The New York Times, the reporter reveals how “9/11 tested the paper’s newsroom” and fuelled a “wildly successful transition online.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: Sydney’s free spirited Bohemian – the irrepressible Bee Miles – Simon Caterson declares Rose Ellis’s Bee Miles: Australia’s Famous Bohemian Rebel, And The Untold Story Behind The Legend “a superb biography of a unique character whose spirit was never dampened.”
Qantara.de: Big Brother is watching you – “In May 2023, Algerian author Said Khatibi won the prestigious Sheikh Zayed Award in the young author category for his historical crime novel Nihayat al-Sahra – in English, ‘the End of the Sahara’. Claudia Mende caught up with Khatibi in Abu Dhabi for Qantara.de.”
The Art Newspaper: Fears grow for Georgian museum created to salute purged writers after director sacked – “The Museum of Repressed Writers in Tbilisi was created to remember the creatives who were silenced by the Soviet Union. But, after months of political tension, the future of the museum hangs in the balance,” reports Maya Jaggi.
Faber: Standing at the Gallows: Metafiction, True Crime and Writing Violence – “Is it possible to write – or read – about true crime and violence without exploiting its victims? Writer Katie Goh explores the wave of books using metafictional approaches to complicate a controversial genre.”
Metropolis: Cirrocumulus Clouds – Eric Margolis on the “English-language debut of Kenji Miyazawa’s story.”
Publishers Weekly: 2023 National Book Award Longlists Announced – Sophia Stewart continues unveiling this year’s National Book Award longlists with the newly announced nominees for poetry and translated literature.
Literary Hub: How Obscenity Laws Nearly Stopped Nabokov’s Lolita from Being Published – “Thomas Harding on the legendary editor George Weidenfeld, literary smuggling, and morality in fiction.”
Slate: Two Paths for the Novelist – “Zadie Smith burst onto the scene in 2000. Why did her later novels falter—and how did she get her mojo back?” asks Laura Miller.
BBC Culture: Why John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is the ultimate spy novel – “As it turns 60, Adam Scovell celebrates the gritty power of this tale of a disillusioned British agent who’s the opposite of James Bond, which was rooted in Le Carré’s own experiences in espionage.”
Poetry Foundation: Not Words Alone – In her essay, Professor Esther Allen writes: “Stories and Poems of a Class Struggle, by the Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton, remains a tender but fiery call for revolution.”
LARB: Zeal, Wit, and Fury: The Queer Black Modernism of Claude McKay – Gary Edward Holcomb considers the suppressed legacy of Claude McKay’s two ‘lost’ novels.
Vinduet: The Function of Criticism at the Present Time – Merve Emre shares her Vinduet Lecture, which was held at Gyldendal Norsk Forlag in Oslo earlier this month.
Literary Review: Secrets of Nabokov’s Teapot – From 1975 to 1990, French television ran Apostrophes – an hour-long book programme on a major national channel – the likes of which is almost unthinkable nowadays. One of its earliest and most esteemed guests was Vladimir Nabokov, who agreed to be interviewed on one very specific condition.
Caught by the River: Free Range: Island Shores – Author Amy Liptrot and her children “swap West Yorkshire’s gritstone and green for Orkney’s sky and sea.”
CBC: 38 writers from across Canada make the 2023 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist – “The winner will receive $6,000, a writing residency and have their work published on CBC Books.”
LARB: Prison Left Me Laughing: A Conversation with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – Remo Verdickt and Emiel Roothooft talk with Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o about his new book, The Language of Languages.
NLR Sidecar: Under Western Eyes – The Czech writer, Milan Kundera, who recently died at the age of 94, offered “a distinctive, unorthodox and unassailably authoritative approach to novelistic form, literary history and the sanctity of private life.” He also, suggests Leo Robson, took liberties and granted himself freedoms “from responsibility and rigour, from his obligations to coherence and even reality.”
Buenos Aires Herald: Charco Press: A love of Latin American literature across the pond – “Based in Edinburgh, the independent publisher translates some of the region’s most vital contemporary authors,” says Agustín Mango.
Bookforum: Shocks to the System – Christian Lorentzen on “Don DeLillo’s novels of the Cold War and its aftermath.”
Harper’s Bazaar: Eight Authors on How It Feels to Have Their Books Banned – “The writers of America’s most frequently banned books talk about the threat to creativity and democracy.”
The Observer: Beasts of England by Adam Biles review – timely successor to Animal Farm – “Set in a petting zoo,” Lucy Popescu describes Beasts of England as a “political fable for post-Brexit times [complete with] a stark portrait of an isolated, bankrupted community.”
The Paris Review: Looking for Virginia Woolf’s Diaries – “It is possible,” says Geoff Dyer, “to buy almost any book on the internet, however long it’s been out of print. But doing that,” he feels, “robs life of one of the things that gives it purpose.”
Stadt Wien: Tribute to Elfriede Jelinek – The Austrian playwright and novelist, Elfriede Jelinek, has been presented with an honorary citizenship by the mayor of Vienna.
The Irish Times: My great-grandmother Sissy is a figment of my imagination but I know she existed – “There’s nothing left of her, only the history of her context and us, now. Becoming acquainted with her through a reading of the psychiatric history of Ireland is jarring,” says Molly Hennigan.
The Nation: Kate Zambreno’s Lessons in Looking – “A conversation [with Larissa Pham] about how the pandemic changed our relationship to the natural world, distrusting beauty, the challenges of writing about climate change, and her new book, The Light Room.”
UNESCO: 2023 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes reward six innovative programmes – “UNESCO has awarded its 2023 International Literacy Prizes to six outstanding literacy programmes from Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Finland, Pakistan, South Africa, and Uganda, based on the recommendations of an international jury.”
Brisbane Times: What to read next: A sinister psychothriller and an epiphany in a park – Lucy Sussex and Fiona Capp cast their eyes over recent fiction and non-fiction releases.
Dazed: Is BookTok sucking the joy out of reading? – “Instead of encouraging people to read what they want, when they want, BookTok is increasingly pressuring users to treat reading like a competitive sport,” argues Jess Bacon.
The New York Review: Poems to Wake the Corpses – Anahid Nersessian finds “Joyce Mansour, the Syrian-Jewish writer whom André Breton called ‘the greatest poet of our time,’ is the latest female member of the Surrealist circle to be reintroduced to the public.”
BBC Africa: Nuzo Onoh – the Queen of African horror who is terrified of ghosts – “Known to her fans as the ‘Queen of African Horror’, British-Nigerian author Nuzo Onoh says her prestigious literary prize is a signal that African folk horror has finally become an internationally recognised genre.”
CrimeReads: Phonies: J.D. Salinger and Wielding Copyright as Self-Protection – “Salinger spent the second half of his career fighting for authors’ right to privacy.” Olivia Rutigliano questions if it did any good.
ABC News: Argentina shuts down a publisher that sold books praising the Nazis. One person has been arrested – “Argentina’s Federal Police have shut down a publisher that sold books that praised Nazi ideology, seized hundreds of texts and arrested one person as part of what authorities characterized as a ‘historic seizure’ of Nazi propaganda.”
The Conversation: How linguists are unlocking the meanings of Shakespeare’s words using numbers – “Corpus linguistics is a branch of linguistics which uses computers to explore the use of words in huge collections of language. It can spot nuances that might be overlooked by linguists working manually, or large patterns that a lifetime of studying may not reveal.”
Earth Island Journal: Captain Joy’s Last Voyage – “What a whaling captain’s logbook can teach us about sperm whales and our oceans.”
Wired: The Battle Over Books3 Could Change AI Forever – “Copyright activists are on a mission to wipe a popular generative AI training set from the internet. Success could alter the industry—and who controls it.”
Vancouver Sun: A year after Vancouver Public Library eliminated fines, here’s how many books are now overdue – “Waiving late fees represents hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in lost revenue, but library officials say this story has a happy ending,” finds Dan Fumano.
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