An end of week recap
“We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in it and cover it up.”
– Ray Bradbury
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.
* No Longer Doing Dewey *
Many thanks to Brona of This Reading Life for drawing my attention to a sad announcement at Doing Dewey. She tells me several bloggers were wondering why there had been no mention of the always-popular Nonfiction November reading challenge taking place this year, so she went to investigate and found a Winding Down Doing Dewey post dated 13th September. It seems that event organizer, Katie, is currently taking “a long hiatus” from her blog of 12 years, after finding herself in something of a “reading slump.” She hopes to rediscover her reading mojo, but in the meantime, there is an opportunity for anyone with a hankering to host #NonFicNov to “reach out” and express an interest in taking over the reins. If this piques your interest, you can find contact details at the above link.
* Irresistible Items *
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting/x-ing (soon, perhaps m-ing or bsky-ing) a few favourite finds (or adding them to my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, there follows a selection of interesting snippets:
Mid-Day: Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest announces Literary Awards Longlists for 2023 – “The categories for the longlist of Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2023 include Fiction and Non-Fiction Book of The Year, Best Fiction and Non-Fiction First Book, and Business Book of the Year.”
Financial Times: The best books to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – “FT specialists recommend the most insightful reads on an issue with roots deep in the early 20th century.”
Jewish Book Council: War Report – “This piece is one of an ongoing series that [the Jewish Book Council] will be sharing in the coming days from Israeli authors, based in Israel and abroad,” says Jonathan Dunsky.
Guernica: When Horror Is the Truth-teller – “It is hard, in the era of the AR-15, to fear a vampire,” says Alexander Chee.
The Yale Review: Lorraine Hansberry’s Queer Archive – In her essay on Lorraine Hansberry, Alec Pollak makes the case that although the “playwright’s lesbian fiction has gone largely unexamined […] she wanted you to read it.”
Literary Hub: Domestic Yet Universal: Rumaan Alam on Helen Garner’s The Children’s Bach – First published in 1984, The Children’s Bach, a critically acclaimed novella by Australian writer Helen Garner is now being reissued with a foreword by Rumaan Alam.
The Walrus: Margaret Atwood Reviews a “Margaret Atwood” Story by AI – “Plus,” says Margaret, “a poem that a chatbot took ten seconds to write.”
The Moscow Times: In ‘Memory Makers’ Author Jade McGlynn Investigates the Politics of the Russian Past – An interview with war studies researcher, Jade McGlynn, author of Memory Makers, a book examining how the past is used, misused and recreated in Russia to forge a new future.
The New Yorker: Terry Bisson’s History of the Future – “For more than two decades, one of pulp sci-fi’s masters has delivered headlines from a time line defined by the absurd,” says Margret Grebowicz.
Oxford Review of Books: Sharing Space: The House on Via Gemito – “Both [Domenico] Starnone and Ferrante are interested in our imperfect understanding of others,” writes Sarah Moorhouse in her review of The House on Via Gemito, which is finally available in English.
Open Book: Scotiabank Giller Prize Reveals Shortlist of Heavy Hitters for 30th Anniversary – The Scotiabank Giller Prize, which is given annually to a Canadian author of a novel or short story collection published in English, has revealed the 2023 shortlist.
One World: Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi receives Nobel Peace Prize – The imprisoned human rights activist and author of White Torture: Interviews with Iranian Women Prisoners, Narges Mohammad, has won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nation Cymru: Author Kathy Briggs on her second novel: a universal tale of resilience and second chances – “Author Kathy Biggs talks to Honno Editor Gemma June Howell about her [magical realist] novel Scrap and her journey as a successful fledgling author.”
Matt Alt’s Pure Invention: An interview with Alfred Birnbaum – In the latest dispatch from the “front lines of Japanese pop culture,” Matt Alt interviews the translator of Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase and others.
Lit Reactor: LitReactor: The End of An Era – Joshua Chaplinsky announces that as of the new year, LitReactor will be closing its doors.
Vanity Fair: Daniel Clowes on His Most Personal Work Yet – “‘I just wanted to put everything I had into this one book in a way that I never have,’ the beloved cartoonist behind Ghost World tells [Bryan Hood] of his new graphic novel, Monica.”
Literary Review: Lava Louts – Seamus Perry reviews Volcanic: Vesuvius in the Age of Revolutions by John Brewer – a study of the infamous volcano with its origins in the discovery “of a tatty visitors’ book which once belonged to the hermitage of San Salvatore on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.”
The Arab News: No Funeral For Nazia: Taha Kehar’s new novel is set during an unconventional grieving party – With the central character dead, readers of No Funeral For Nazia (described here as a “hypnotic tale about death and ritual”) are left to put the puzzle pieces of her life together through the perspectives of her loved-ones.
The Public Domain Review: Marked by Stars: Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy – “Reading Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s [16th century] encyclopaedic study of magic [Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy] is,” says Anthony Grafton, “like stumbling into a vast cabinet of curiosities, where toad bones boil water, witches transmit misery through optical darts, and numbers, arranged correctly, can harness the planets’ powers.”
JSTOR Daily: Should Readers Trust “Inaccuracy” in Memoirs about Genocide? – “To what extent do errors undermine life writing? The question is an urgent one when that writing is testimony to the genocidal actions of the Khmer Rouge.”
The Guardian: Music, history and courageous journalism: Baillie Gifford prize shortlist announced – “Judges praise the final six ‘exquisite and ambitious’ works in contention for the £50,000 award for nonfiction.”
BBC US & Canada: Louise Glück, poet and Nobel laureate, dies at 80 – “Acclaimed American poet and Nobel laureate in literature Louise Glück has died at the age of 80,” reports Max Matza.
EL PAÍS: Byung-Chul Han, the philosopher who lives life backwards: ‘We believe we’re free, but we’re the sexual organs of capital’ – Joseba Elolamet “met with the famous thinker in Berlin. Known for his short sentences, the author of The Burnout Society works at night and sleeps during the day.”
Block Club Chicago: As Bomb Threats Reach Libraries, Chicago Public Library Must Do More To Protect Workers, Advocates Say – “Last year saw a record number of efforts to ban books — and city and suburban libraries have seen threats in recent weeks. Chicago Public Library employees said administration didn’t do enough to inform staff,” reports Lindsay Eanet.
The New European: How fascism grows: a chilling warning from history – “A new translation of [An Ordinary Youth by Walter Kempowskia,] a novel on the rise of Nazism, holds lessons for our current populist age,” writes Charlie Connelly.
Arrowsmith Press: Transforming Trauma Through Writing – Laima Vince’s creative writing workshop at the Ukrainian Center in Vilnius, Lithuania, gave Ukrainian refugees permission to feel their emotions again.
Brittle Paper: Motswana Writer Keabetswe Molotsi Wins the 2023 Kendeka Prize for African Literature – Keabetswe Molotsi from Botswana has just been declared the winner of the 2023 Kendeka Prize for African Literature for her story, Matlhalerwa, reports Kuhelika Ghosh.
The Conversation: Guide to the classics: Ruth Park’s Harp in the South is a story about Aboriginal Country – “The Harp in the South (1948) is a classic of Australian fiction,” says Monique Rooney in this in-depth look at Ruth Park’s much-loved novel.
The Times: Jacques Testard: meet the man behind Fitzcarraldo, Britain’s coolest indie publisher – “He’s won the hearts of trendy young creatives (and just scooped his fourth Nobel Prize). What’s his secret?”
Publishers Weekly: The Forest Fires of Greece Wreathe Christy Lefteri’s Latest Novel – In her new novel, The Book of Fire, Christy Lefteri explores climate change, trauma and the meaning of home.
The Age: Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy faces prosecution in India – Arundhati Roy faces prosecution under laws relating to promoting enmity, over a speech she gave 13 years ago about the Kashmir region.
Ploughshares: A Joint Interview with Brenda Miller and Julie Marie Wade – The eleven essays that make up Miller and Wade’s collection, Telephone: Essays in Two Voices, emerged, says Kaitlyn Teer, “through an email correspondence the two writers exchanged over the course of four years—an associative, improvisational game of call-and-response that played out in their inboxes.”
The Nation: What Was Literary Fiction? – Dan Sinykin discusses what he describes as: “The strangely short history of a publishing niche.”
Euronews: France makes Amazon charge €3 delivery fees to protect indie bookstores – “Amazon’s fast and cheap delivery model is under fire as France tries to protect independent bookstores with a minimum delivery fee on books bought online.”
Tablet: The Chained Reader – David Samuels explains why he is firmly of the belief that “the logic of machines makes us less human.”
The Seattle Times: A Hong Kong man gets 4 months in prison for importing children’s books deemed to be seditious – Kurt Leung, a 38-year-old clerk from Hong Kong, was sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty to importing 18 children’s books from the UK featuring wolves and sheep.
The Hollywood Reporter: The 100 Greatest Film Books of All Time – “THR’s list of must-read tomes — determined by a jury of more than 300 Hollywood heavyweights including Steven Spielberg, David Zaslav, Liza Minnelli and Ava DuVernay — proves there’s one topic the supposedly reading-averse industry can’t get enough of: itself,” writes Scott Feinberg.
Letters from Suzanne: A Conversation with Philippa Perry. Author, Artist, Agony Aunt – Suzanne Moore says she is “lucky enough to count Philippa Perry as a good friend.” Here she interviews her about “her new book, The Book You Want Everyone You Love* To Read *(and maybe a few you don’t).”
Vulture: Sex Between the Pages at The New Yorker Festival – “I used to know that [sex scenes] were good if I turned myself on while I was writing them. … now that doesn’t happen as much.” Brandon Sanchez discovers the literary crowd in New York want books to be much sexier.
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