An end of week recap
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
– Philip Pullman
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.
* Get Bookish with Banville in ‘24 *
Together with Kim Forrester of Reading Matters, Cathy Brown from 746 Books is preparing for the January launch of A Year With John Banville! – a readalong involving a different book every month by the multi award-winning master stylist of English. Most widely famed as an Irish novelist and short story writer (though, also an adapter of dramas and a screenwriter), and described by some critics as an ‘heir to Proust, via Nabokov’, the Wexford-born author has penned seventeen novels since his 1970 debut, including three trilogies. The ladies are “really excited to be hosting” this literary jolly and hope you will join them in reading and reviewing a selection of suggested titles from their list (or indeed, any of his works). Please head over to Announcing A Year With John Banville for 2024! to see what Cathy and Kim have in store for fellow Banvilleites, and please be sure to “use the hashtag #johnbanville2024” when discussing the event on social media.
* 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 Japan Times: ‘Godzilla’ novellas expand on infamous monster’s origins – “Shigeru Kayama’s entertaining and informative stories delve deep into the underlying pacifist beliefs of the entire ‘Godzilla’ franchise,” says Kris Kosaka.
The MIT Press: Chekhov and Memory – Abby Smith Rumsey discovers “Anton Chekhov’s stories are a testament to the way memory can illuminate the path to understanding and endow a life with meaning.”
Faber: T. S. Eliot: Photos on the Wall – Faber’s former archivist, Robert Brown, takes a close look at the iconic photos that made it onto T. S. Eliot’s office wall.
Publishers Weekly: Does the Booker Have an Autism Problem? – “The Booker Prize seems to have an inclination toward championing an autistic stereotype so worn, it’s ragged and full of holes,” says Aisling Walsh.
Arts Hub: Book review: The In-Between, Christos Tsiolkas – According to Arjun Rajkhowa, Australian author “Christos Tsiolkas’ new novel is a tender and poignant tale about a later-life romance between two men.”
The British Academy: ‘Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire’ by Nandini Das wins the £25,000 British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2023 – Nandini Das has won the British Academy Book Prize for Courting India, her groundbreaking history of the British arriving in India in the early seventeenth century.
Literary Hub: Everything You Need to Know About Groundbreaking [Lesbian] Feminist Science Fiction Writer Joanna Russ – “Jon Michaud talks to Nicole Rudick about ‘One of the Fiercest Critics Ever to Write About Science Fiction.’”
Air Mail: Murder, They Wrote – Don’t miss this month’s best mystery books, including J. K. Rowling’s seventh Cormoran Strike novel, a new thriller from Gilly Macmillan and John Grisham’s sequel to his 90s hit The Firm.
Morning Star: Father of the paperback – In his review of Aldus Manutius: The Invention of the Publisher by Oren Margolis, Gavin O’Toole “marvels at the achievement of a Renaissance publisher of popular portable books and the reforming agenda that drove him.”
Ploughshares: The Joy of Reading Slowly – “I have become a far better reader over the last year and a half because of learning how to read more slowly. Perhaps most importantly, though, I once again love to read,” says Laura Spence-Ash.
Popsugar: 73 New Historical Fiction Books Hitting Shelves This Year – Amanda Prahl with her choice of 75 new historical fiction titles.
BBC London: Charles Dickens: Hunt for book containing Wilkie Collins’s acid remarks – “From the time they first met while acting in a play, the Victorian novelists Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins were apparently the best of friends. However, the records of a book which has been missing for more than a century reveal there was more to their relationship than met the eye,” reveals Tim Stokes.
NPR: Her writing was admired by Hemingway. Then her books — and body — disappeared – In this, the third story in The Unmarked Graveyard: Stories from Hart Island series, Mycah Hazel uncovers the story of Dawn Powell, “a generational talent of New York [who] was buried in its heart, but [is now] lost to the world and those who knew her.”
Radio Prague International: A great Indian writer and his forgotten connection to Czechoslovakia – Few people know that Ashutosh Bhardwaj, one of the most influential post-war Indian writers, spent almost ten years in Prague.
Shondaland: K-Ming Chang’s ‘Organ Meats’ Is Her Most Ambitious and Enchanting Book Yet – Sarah Neilson discusses the critically acclaimed author’s “dreamy new novel” about female companionship and loyalty.
Sunday Times ZA: Here are the winners of the 2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards in partnership with Exclusive Books – “Bulelwa Mabasa and CA Davids were announced winners of the 2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards,” reveals Mila De Villiers.
Nippon.com: Donald Keene: The Value of Reading Classics in Modern Translations – “Japanese Classics Day celebrates the country’s classic literature on November 1 each year,” says Janine Beichman. Here she shares an unpublished speech by Donald Keene on ‘The Japanese Classics’.
The Atlantic: Do You Have Free Will? – Kieran Setiya finds “a new book by Robert Sapolsky argues that we’re not in control of or responsible for the decisions we make.”
Bomb: Louis Bury Interviewed by Michael Leong – A critic who writes about art and climate change, Louis Bury talks here about “using writing constraints to range widely.”
The Markaz Review: The Markaz Book Club – “The Markaz Review Book Club, moderated by Jordanian bookworm (and editor/translator) Rana Asfour, meets online every month to discuss the latest title.”
The New York Times: ‘I Feel a Human Deterioration’ – “The Israeli writer Etgar Keret has spent the last few weeks trying to make sense of the violence and loss around him. So far, he can’t.”
Taipei Times: SHU to close its Chinese Literature Department – “Shih Hsin University said the decision was due to [Taiwan’s] declining birthrate, fewer students enrolling in school and changing industry trends.”
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Weird Tales’ Review: Ghoulishness, a Literary View – John J. Miller on a “pulp magazine that specialized in ‘gooseflesh fiction’ published Robert E. Howard, Ray Bradbury—and the future Tennessee Williams.”
The Millions: Marie Darrieussecq Plumbs the Depths of ‘Sleepless’ Nights – Marek Makowski scrutinises French writer Marie Darrieussecq’s Sleepless, an examination of the cultural and psychic sources of insomnia.
The Dial: Reporting from Exile – “Journalists forced out of their home countries reflect on how displacement has affected their work.”
The New Yorker: Jeanette Winterson Has No Idea What Happens Next – “The author and former enfant terrible on life after death, breaking the rules, and forging a self through fiction.”
Canada Council for the Arts: The Canada Council for the Arts Reveals the 2023 Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalists – “The 70 GGBooks of 2023.”
The Monthly: Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘The In-Between’ – According to Sean O’Beirne, “the latest from the acclaimed Australian author throws scorn at those who claim virtue and the complete control of their desires.”
Prospect: 21st-century bard – “Many of this year’s multitude of books about Shakespeare—published to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the First Folio—grapple with his meaning and relevance now,” writes Rhodri Lewis.
The Nation: Dissolve Into Nothing – E. Tammy Kim on the “enigmatic science fiction of Djuna.”
Nation Cymru: Review: Cymru & I – Jon Gower shares a few thoughts on Cymru & I, a collection of essays in which nine new writers look at what Wales means to them as people from backgrounds previously largely under-represented.
The Conversation: Jewish women’s illustrated memoirs of the Holocaust cover matrilineal relationships – Ruth Panofsky discovers that memoirs about the Holocaust by women emphasize women’s embodied, gendered experiences and show their intelligence, agency and resolve in the face of Nazi persecution.
The Guardian: British Library celebrates the surging popularity of fantasy fiction – “Authors’ sketches, early editions and movie props all feature in a new exhibition exploring the long history of the genre,” finds Ella Creamer.
The Paris Review: Recognizing the Stranger – “Palestinianism was for Said a condition of chronic exile, exile as agony but also as ethical position,” said Isabella Hammad in a recent lecture delivered only nine days before Hamas launched its surprise attack on Israel.
Harper’s Bazzar: Fran Lebowitz Wants You to Thank Your Librarian – “The legendary writer and social commentator discusses book bans, the farce of modern American politics, and how she navigates aging (‘It’s better than the alternative’),” writes Abigail Glasgow.
Commonplace: Have you Seen Me?: Missing Works of Nineteenth-Century American Literature – “Knowing what is missing is an important first step,” says Zachary Turpin.
The Denver Gazette: How Tattered Cover plans to survive – The “Tattered Cover [bookstore] is NOT going out of business!” reports Jessica Gibbs.
BBC Future: The surprisingly subtle ways Microsoft Word has changed how we use language – As Microsoft Word turns 40, [Victoria Woollaston examines] the role the software has played in four decades of language and communication evolution.
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