Winding Up the Week #346

An end of week recap

The book itself is a curious artefact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.”
 Ursula K. Le Guin

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/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: The Best Debut Novels Out This September – “The CrimeReads editors select the best debut novels in crime, mystery, and thrillers” – including titles from John Manuel Arias, Anise Vance, Laura Picklesimer and others. 

BBC Latin America: Pablo Neruda: Chilean poet’s death still shrouded in mystery – “Half a century after he died and 12 years after allegations first surfaced that he was murdered on the orders of the dictatorship of Gen Augusto Pinochet, the death of Chile’s most famous poet, Pablo Neruda, remains shrouded in mystery,” finds Gideon Long.

The Marginalian: Octavia Butler’s Advice on Writing – Octavia Butler once “set out to write a memoir,” but found “it felt too much like stripping in public,” so abandoned it. Here, Maria Popova reviews a collection of the late science fiction author’s “autobiographical reflections,” Octavia E. Butler: The Last Interview and Other Conversations.

The Critic: The death of the literary feud – “When writers become fighters.”

Esquire: Karl Ove Knausgaard: The Man, The Myth, The Legend – “The renowned author talks [to Lynn Steger Strong] about fiction, fame, fatherhood, the elasticity of time, the hell of immortality, and much, much more.”

EL PAÍS: Han Kang, the star author of South Korean literature, returns: ‘I stopped writing for a year and forgot how to do it’ – “The writer, after the success of The Vegetarian, returns with Greek Lessons, a novel about how, even amidst silence, language can help fight against isolation.”

The Cardiff Review: New Canadian Writers: Idman Nur Omar – “Idman Nur Omar is the debut author of The Private Apartments, a collection of moving, insightful, linked stories about the determination of Somali immigrants’,” says Jamie Gillingham.

The New York Review: Mother Russia – “In Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s latest novel, Kidnapped, Soviet bureaucracy is made all the messier by maternal desperation,” writes Jennifer Wilson.

Index on Censorship: All lose out when books are banned – “We should be celebrating books that seek to challenge our world view, not banning them,” says Ruth Anderson.

AP: Novelist Murakami hosts Japanese ghost story reading ahead of Nobel Prize announcements – “Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami hosted a ghost story reading event in Tokyo amid growing attention before the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize in literature,” reports Mari Yamaguchi.

Slate: She Reeled Us In With The Odyssey. Now: The Hard Stuff. – “Once, The Iliad was the first Homer students read. Are we ready to love it again?” asks Johanna Hanink.

Brisbane Times: Poet’s moving and lyrical debut novel celebrates resilience – Sara M. Saleh’s first novel, Songs for the Dead and Living, is about Palestinians forced to leave their homeland, eventually finding refuge in Australia. Five Enduring Reasons to Love the Mass Market Paperback – James Davis Nicoll has “rediscovered [his] love of physical media, in particular books.” Here he laments the passing of “the glory days of mass market paperbacks.”

Literary Hub: We Are Not Alone: 50 Years of Ms. Magazine – “Gloria Steinem on the making of America’s first feminist publication.”

Open: Jamyang Norbu: Memory Keeper – “Jamyang Norbu’s new book is part memoir and part history of modern Tibet,” explains Lhendup G Bhutia. “The former guerrilla speaks about how he got swept into the resistance movement, offending the Dalai Lama, and the challenges of telling the truth.”

Harper’s Magazine: All the Images Will Disappear – Tobi Haslett on French Nobel Prize-winning “Annie Ernaux’s spectacular impersonality.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education: In Defense of the Beleaguered Academic Book Review – “The genre is uncompensated and unrewarded.” Carolyn Eastman feels “that should change.”

Latin American Literature Today: The Alchemy of Verse: the Work and Poetics of Carlos Germán Belli – Carlos Germán Belli is currently “the most significant living poet in Hispano-American literature,” says Inmaculada Lergo.

The Public Domain Review: Free Speech and Bad Meats: The Domestic Labour of Reading in Milton’s Areopagitica – “Does a healthy intellectual culture resemble a battlefield or a kitchen? Revisiting Milton’s Areopagitica, a tract often championed by today’s free speech absolutists, Katie Kadue finds a debt to the work of early modern housewives.”

The Cundill History Prize: Discover the 2023 shortlist – McGill University in Montreal has announced the shortlist for this year’s Cundill History Prize.

Air Mail: Origin Story – Magdalene Taylor reviews Cat Bohannon’s new book, Eve, which explores how the female body drove 200 million years of human evolution and debunks long-held myths about how women’s bodies work.

New Scientist: Having books in your Zoom background makes you seem more trustworthy – “People come across as being more trustworthy and competent on Zoom calls if they have plants or books in the background.”

Asian Review of Books: “The Two-Tailed Snake” by Nod Ghosh – Susan Blumberg-Kason shares a few thoughts on Nod Ghosh’s novel The Two-Tailed Snake – set in North-east India in 1945.

BBC Wales: Dylan Thomas: Vale of Aeron pub to get £300k for renovation – “A pub Dylan Thomas once drank in is to receive a £300,000 grant to pay for renovations.”

The Wall Street Journal: ‘Amos Oz’ Review: Israel’s Narrator – Benjamin Balint looks at “two books [tracing] the writer’s life along with his political and literary legacy.”

The Yale Review: In the Shallows – Why, asks Becca Rothfeld, “do public intellectuals condescend to their readers?”

China Daily: Winners recognized at Baihua Literature Awards – The winners of the biennial Baihua Literature Awards have been revealed.

Lapham’s Quarterly: That Fine-Sounding Language – Abigail Williams on “misunderstanding Greek and Latin in eighteenth-century Britain.” The Moon Shining Everywhere – In this short piece, Fukasawa Noriko explains why, “in much prized classical literature, the moon shines its light on everyone.”

The Nation: Why You Can’t Buy Lydia Davis’s New Book on Amazon – “Our Strangers is more than a beguiling collection of short fiction: It represents a stand against what might be killing the book industry.”

The Sydney Morning Herald: ‘The shock was so deep’: Novelist Charlotte Wood on the experience that changed everything – The Australian author had just finished her new novel about a cloistered religious community when she found her own world stripped back to the basics.

The Walrus: The Two Moments That Changed Alicia Elliott’s Life – The [Canadian] author talks about her new novel, And Then She Fell, and the experiences she shares with her protagonist.”

The Guardian: The White Review literary magazine ceases publishing – “A statement cited increased costs and removal of UK state funding as the magazine, which featured writers including Paul Murray, Caleb Azumah Nelson and Sally Rooney, is to consider its future.”

Brittle Paper: The Debut Novel Zadie Smith Wants Everyone to Read: Blessings by Chukwuebuka Ibeh – Chukwuebuka Ibeh’s debut novel, Blessings, is “a searing debut novel about a young gay man’s coming-of-age in Nigeria,” says Kuhelika Ghosh.

United Nations: International Translation Day 30 September – Today the world celebrates International Translation Day!

New Lines Magazine: Ukrainians Eschew Russian But One of Their Bestselling Authors Embraces It – Olivia Snaije speaks to Andrey Kurkov and looks at “how war and power can usurp language and the many ways that writers push back.”

Aeon: Vergil’s secret message – “Long derided as mere coincidences, acrostics in ancient poetry are finally being taken seriously – with astonishing results,” reveals Julia Hejduk.

Rest of World: Why Silicon Valley’s biggest AI developers are hiring poets – According to Andrew Deck: “Training data companies are grabbing writers of fiction, drama, poetry, and also general humanities experts to improve AI creative writing.”

The Korea Herald: Global publishers’ take on Korean literature – “US, UK publishers seek next Korean literary gems, emphasize vital role of translators,” reports Hwang Dong-hee.

Forward: What the Jewish author behind one of America’s most banned books has to say about censorship today – “David Levithan is no stranger to banned books,” says Irene Katz Connelly. His “early-2000s novels about gay teens […] landed him on the American Library Association’s top annual list of books most often targeted for censorship.”

Literary Mama: Goodnight Noises Everywhere – “My son may have been sleeping through the night, but this milestone had not brought relief. I soon realized that motherhood had birthed in me a fear of rest,” writes Anna Rollins in this piece about the American writer of children’s books, Margaret Wise Brown.

Vulture: At Least There Isn’t Crowdwork with a Book – Jesse David Fox discusses the differences between writing for the stage and the page with three stand-up comedians.

Dirt: Love and Lattes: How the Coffee Shop AU feeds romance. – “Alexandra Lange on the fantasy of ordinary reality in fanfiction.”

The Hollywood Reporter: Russell Brand Book Publishing Paused at Pan Macmillan Following Allegations – Alex Ritman reports: “The comedian and host — accused of sexual assault in a major investigation — had a book due to be published this December.”

Better Homes & Gardens: Go ‘Goblin Mode’ This Fall for the Perfect Autumnal Aesthetic – “McKayla Coyle’s Goblin Mode is the in-depth guide to all things goblincore—an imaginative, cozy lifestyle that can be adopted by anyone, anywhere,” says Abby Wilson.



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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15 replies

  1. Delighted to see Zadie Smith championing Blessings. It’s such a beautiful, poignant novel.

  2. I love that opening quote Paula! Happy weekend 🙂

  3. Loved this week quote too, like Madame Bibi. Knausgard seems to be popping up everywhere I look these days! Nice to see a book in your links this week (Kidnapped) which is already on my TBR for a change 🙂 Great selection as always!

  4. Thanks Paula – another bumper collection to explore! We have the #1962 Club coming up from 16-22 October 2023 if that’s something you’d like to include in a future round-up!

  5. I read a good piece about Eve in the Guardian today – I have a copy from NetGalley ready to go and am really looking forward to it.

    Regarding Mr Brand, I don’t know who does his ghost writing now but I know who did his first couple of books and he never acknowledged he had that done for him, so I’ve always been suspicious of him!!

    • That book looks fascinating. I will be very interested to read your review, Liz. 😊

      Ah, a bit of insider info there. I was never a fan of Mr Brand and often commented to others that I didn’t ‘get’ his humour. You were obviously right to be suspicious.

  6. Love the opening quote. It is particularly striking to me at the moment to see her call the book a ‘device’. Also – among the other treasures – I note the one about a pub Dylan Thomas used to drink in. I wonder if anyone has written ‘The Drinking Haunts of Dylan Thomas’ – quite an interesting pub crawl that would be. I’ve been in the Black Lion in Newquay, Ceredigion, a few times so that’s a start!

    • Glad you like the quote, Maria. 😊

      Funnily enough there is a book called Dylan Thomas – The Pubs, of which I was vaguely aware. I looked it up and it is described as “a pictorial tour of some of the pubs Dylan Thomas attended in Swansea, west Wales, Oxford, London and the USA.” It is written by Jeff Towns and was published by Y Lolfa in 2014. 🍺🥃🍾

      • Ah I thought someone might have done this! Thanks very much. I’ve seen a few pubs with a ‘Dylan Thomas drank here’ plaque. I also read something about DT’s time in Newquay including the incident of an angry neighbour shooting up their rented bungalow. Not sure where I got that from!

  7. Always happy to see a quote from one of my favorite writers! I can see many interesting links to explore here over the coming week – thank you!

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