An end of week recap
“It is a lovely oddity of human nature that a person is more inclined to interrupt two people in conversation than one person alone with a book.”
– Amor Towles (born 24th October 1964)
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.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I am going to share with you one of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere. There are so many talented writers posting high-quality book features and reviews, it was difficult to pick only this one – which was published over the last week or so:
Women in a Dystopian World: Seven Stellar Books – In recent weeks I have greatly enjoyed Radz Pandit’s female-themed posts at Radhika’s Reading Retreat. So far, Sisters in Literature and Female Friendship in Literature have featured – now it is the turn of Women in a Dystopian World, in which she focuses on “dystopian literature featuring women in either central or secondary roles, and written by women” – including several lesser-known titles. The subjects range from environmental catastrophe and a devastating pandemic to entrapment and memory loss, with each book discussed briefly before you are given the option to follow a link to a more in-depth review. Thus, we journey from the familiar terrain of Margaret Atwood’s phenomenally successful The Handmaid’s Tale to Rita Indiana’s chillingly named Tentacle, pausing along the way to discover Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall and Anna Kavan’s Ice. All told, Radz’s list is a wonderfully eclectic bag of speculative fiction suggestions, which should be especially useful if you are participating in SciFiMonth 2023 in November.
* Irresistible Items *
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting/x-ing (soon, perhaps tooting 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:
The 19th: Latinx authors are renowned in sci-fi and fantasy. Why aren’t more of their books being published? – For Hispanic Heritage Month, Jasmine Mithani talks to Romina Garber about the dearth of Latin American speculative fiction writers and her fantasy novel, Lobizona.
The New European: The other side of Moominvalley – “There was much more to Tove Jansson than the troll family that made her famous,” says Christian House.
The Guardian: Literary magazines can be life-changing – but they need more support – “The UK’s literary magazine scene is crumbling due to rising print costs. But I’ll keep printing my own magazine, which gives writers of colour a voice, for as long as I can,” vows Amy Mae Baxter – the founder and editor of Bad Form.
LARB: An Intimate Record of a Love: On David Wojnarowicz’s “Dear Jean Pierre” – Conor Williams reviews the new collection of David Wojnarowicz’s correspondence, Dear Jean Pierre.
Scroll.in: An archive project is creating a database of Indian cities in fiction – and you can contribute to it – Rush Mukherjee is intrigued to discover “Divya Ravindranath and Apoorva Saini have set up the online archive Cities in Fiction to record how fictional narratives construct spaces in South Asia.”
The Conversation: Death, grief and survival: two new Australian novels reinvent the elegy for an age of climate catastrophe – Brigid Magner finds the latest books by Gretchen Shirm and Briony Doyle are preoccupied with the aftermaths of recent deaths.
The Atlantic: Only Wes Anderson Could Have Adapted Roald Dahl This Way – “The director’s renditions of the famed author’s short stories ask us to think actively—even skeptically—about what we’re seeing,” says Sophie Gilbert.
Words Without Borders: A World beyond Our Reach: Isolation and Aspiration in Krisztina Tóth’s “Barcode” – “‘Barcode is animated by ideas of division, categorization, restriction, and isolation—none as emblematic as the lines that symbolize the imagined differences between the lived reality behind the Iron Curtain and the perception of prosperity in the West,’ writes critic Cory Oldweiler” of the Hungarian writer, poet and translator’s short story collection.
The Millions: ‘Mobility’ Is a New Kind of Climate-Change Novel – “Mobility is both a classically-proportioned novel of social climbing, as well as a harsh interrogation of the logic of our petroleum society,” writes James Chapin in his review of Lydia Kiesling’s “powerful work of ‘climate fiction’”.
Penguin: The Ultimate Black History Month reading list – “Thirty-five of the best books by Black authors, from Angela Davis to Ibram X. Kendi, James Baldwin to Bernardine Evaristo.”
Cercador Prize: The 2023 Cercador Prize Finalists – “The Cercador Prize recognizes works of literary translation as selected by a committee of independent booksellers. [Its] inaugural finalists feature translations from Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Indonesian, Chinese, Danish, Norwegian, and French with a total of eight publishers represented across ten titles.”
Open Book: Getting to Know Debut novel about friendship, love and rebuilding after grief announces a new writer to watch, the Newfoundland Author Whose Debut Novel is Destined to Become a Toronto Classic – In Aley Waterman’s debut novel Mudflowers, a woman finds love in the aftermath of her mother’s passing.
The New Voice of Ukraine: Ukrainians are reading significantly more during war – and Russian-language books are disappearing – “One spinoff of spending time in bomb shelters or blackouts could be that Ukrainians are reading more.”
Antigone: The Last of the Greek Aoidoi: Jan Křesadlo Astronautilia – Ben Broadbent on Astronautilia, a “sci-fi epic in Homeric Greek” written in 1994 by the Czech anti-communist and prize-winning novelist Jan Křesadlo.
Morning Star: A prophet, but not in his own land – “Jenny Farrell interviews Paul O’Brien, the first biographer to explore politically [in his book Seán O’Casey: Political activist and writer] the extraordinary impact of Ireland’s greatest working-class playwright.”
JSTOR Daily: Sylvia Plath’s Fascination with Bees – “The social organization of the apiary gave Sylvia Plath a tool for examining her aesthetic self, even as her personal world slipped into disarray,” writes Emily Zarevich.
WSJ: A Library of One’s Own – “Discover the special places two New York luminaries visit to unlock inspiration.”
Minor Literature[s]: “My books are a product of a community experience”: An interview with Claudia Hernandez – Mauro Javier Cárdenas talks to Claudia Hernández, the highly acclaimed Guatemalan author of five short-story collections and two novels.
TNS: ‘Almost all my stories are based on real-life characters’ – “A conversation with novelist, short story writer, poet and lyricist Asad Mohammad Khan.”
Literary Hub: Men Who Don’t Know Women: On Unlearning the Lessons of “Dick Lit” – “Molly McGhee on David Foster Wallace, violence, and writing her own [sci-fi] novel,” Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind.
Inside Higher Ed: Gettysburg College Shutters Acclaimed Literary Journal – “Administrators say The Gettysburg Review does not fit the college’s new curriculum, which focuses on student experiences. Staff—and former interns—disagree,” reports Johanna Alonso.
Faber: What to Read This Autumn, 2023 – This diverse selection of books is brought to you by Faber staff from across a range of teams.
Asia Society: China Books Review Launch – An event was held in New York on 12th October to celebrate the launch of the new online publication, China Books Review.
LARB: Protomodernist Love Triangle: On Carolyn Dever’s “Chains of Love and Beauty” – “Evangeline Riddiford Graham reviews Carolyn Dever’s Chains of Love and Beauty: The Diary of Michael Field” – the diary of two romantically involved Victorian ladies who published poetry under the pseudonym of ‘Michael Field’.
Atlas Obscura: The 10th-Century Master Chef Who Wrote Food Poetry – Fehmida Zakeer reflects on the works of Kushajim, a 10th-century Arabic polymath, poet and master chef whose “verses offer a glimpse into the good life during the Islamic Golden Age.”
Brisbane Times: What if the British were sent packing? Writer dares to rethink history – “Jane Harrison decided to tell the story of First Contact from an Indigenous point of view. It was the start of something big,” says Jason Steger.
Hazlitt: ‘Stories of Haunted Houses’: An Interview with Rachel Aviv – “The author of Strangers to Ourselves on finding new ways to understand mental illness.”
DW: Salman Rushdie: ‘Writers have no armies’ – “After surviving a brutal knife attack, the Indian-British author is [making a rare appearance] at the Frankfurt Book Fair. [Stefan Dege] met him to discuss his new work.”
The Standard: The Glutton review: This story of a man who could eat anything (even a child) is exquisitely told – A. K. Blakemore’s subversive historical novel, The Glutton, is, says Fiona Roberts-Moore, “the true story” of an 18th-century French peasant “who consumed an appalling catalogue of the edible and inedible as his country consumed itself in revolution.”
The Paris Review: What Lies Beyond the Red Earth? – Nigerian British writer Michael Salu discusses his book Red Earth – “a warm and uncompromising look at pain, Christianity, the arts economy of ‘black as bling’, AI, virtual worldings [and] hardened realities” – from which this essay is adapted.
Reader’s Digest: I’m a Librarian, and These Are the 20 Best Drama Books I’ve Ever Read – “From romantic dramas and family sagas to dramatic thrillers and historical epics, these are [Rachel Stroller’s] recommended drama books [she says] you won’t be able to put down.”
Open Country Mag: “You Have to Celebrate Writers While They’re Alive”: Labone Dialogues Is the Year’s Big Event in African Literature – “Headlined by a quartet of feted veteran voices in Wole Soyinka, Aminatta Forna, Jennifer Makumbi, and Chris Abani, NYU Accra’s 30-author symposium [was] a convergence of inspiration. ‘We have to tell our own story,’ said convener and school director Chike Frankie Edozien.”
Scroll.in: In art historian BN Goswamy’s new book, we learn how cats were loved and cherished in Islam – “An excerpt from The Indian Cat: Stories, Paintings, Poetry, and Proverbs, by B.N. Goswamy.”
The Japan Times: Banana Yoshimoto’s new book is a sickly sweet fantasy – In The Premonition, a 1988 novel recently released in English, “the characters exist in a dream-like state of sweetness and steer clear of examining complex questions,” says Thu-Huong Ha.
BBC Northern Ireland: Book Week: Could you get through 180 books in a year? – “How many books can you get through in a year?” asks Eimear Flanagan. “Probably not as many as [school librarian] Michelle Morgan, who said she has to read ‘between 150 and 180 – twice’.”
DW: Drago Jancar puts Slovenia on the literary map – “One of Slovenia’s best-known writers outside his homeland, Drago Jancar is a guest at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. [Sabine Kieselbach] spoke to the author about his new novel, and an unresolved past.”
My Modern Met: New ‘The Little Prince’ Sculpture is Unveiled in New York in Celebration of the Book’s 80th Anniversary – On the 80th anniversary of the publication of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, the book’s protagonist arrived on the streets of New York City.
Polygon: The comics industry has left creators to drown, so some are building lifeboats – Rosie Knight on “cooperatives, basic income, and solidarity in the wake of #ComicsBrokeMe.”
Futurism: Facebook’s AI-Powered Jane Austen Is Already Overrun by Spam – “And why is she blonde!?”
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