Winding Up the Week #352

An end of week recap

What the world of tomorrow will be like is greatly dependent on the power of imagination in those who are learning to read today.”
 Astrid Lindgren (born 14th November 1907)

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.

* From Hercule to Hobbit in a Year! *

Following a splendid 1962 centred event, co-hosts Karen Langley and Simon Thomas return next April with the 1937 Club. “It looks like a year with some marvellous choices,” says Kaggsy, and indeed, it is brim-full of first-rate reading materials from a period in history when the poet Rex Ingamells initiated the Jindyworobak Movement in Australian literature, the National Library of Iran was inaugurated in Tehran and the science fiction magazine Tales of Wonder first appeared. You need look no further than Wikipedia to discover that newly published books from writers of this era included (but certainly weren’t limited to) Ernest Hemingway, Isak Dinesen, Lawrence Durrell, Gladys Mitchell, Bruno Schulz, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Zora Neale Hurston, J. R. R. Tolkien – and yes, you guessed it, our old favourite Agatha Christie with several sleuthing mysteries. So, be sure to keep your diaries free between the 15th and 21st April 2024, leaving you “six months to get planning!”

* 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 Drift: Can the Sireniform Speak? – Sophie Lewis on “devolving with The Little Mermaid.” 

ABC News: Trent Dalton draws on own trauma in new novel Lola in the Mirror, which highlights Brisbane homelessness – The bestselling author of Boy Swallows Universe returns with Lola in the Mirror, “a sweeping love story infused with magical realism set against Brisbane’s gritty underbelly,” reports Nicola Heath for The Bookshelf. 

EL PAÍS: Wild gentrification, undercurrents and sex work: This is the new literature of Berlin – “From Kirsty Bell to Vincenzo Latronico, several foreign authors are reflecting the changing identity of the German capital, a city marked by the rising cost of living and the traumatic weight of history,” writes Álex Vicente.

Literary Hub: How a 17th Century Priest Invented the Russian Novel – Irina Zhorov, author of Lost Believers, muses on “old believers, faith and the vernacular.” 

The Walrus: Indigo May Have Lost the Plot – Did Canada’s only major English-language bookstore chain “sell its soul when it started [stocking] vitamins, vibrators, and $800 patio umbrellas?” wonders Nicole Dirks.

BBC Scotland: JK Rowling donates £15.3m to Edinburgh MS research centre – “JK Rowling has donated £15.3m to support research into neurological conditions at a centre named after her mother.”

Hindustan Times: Review: On the Edge edited and translated by Ruth VanitaOn the Edge: 100 Years of Hindi Fiction on Same-Sex Desire is “a collection of stories, originally written in Hindi and published between 1924 and 2022, that explores different facets of same sex desire and relationships,” reveals Chittajit Mitra.

Words Without Borders: What Fiction (Including in Translation) Can Do in Times Like Ours – “In this year’s Lancaster International Fiction Lecture from Litfest’s ‘Autumn Weekend,’ International Booker Prize-winner Georgi Gospodinov reflects on the miraculous, life-saving power of literature.”

The Guardian: Researcher uncovers a new body of work believed to be by Louisa May Alcott – “Academic suggests seven short stories, five poems and one non-fiction work were written by the Little Women author under the name EH Gould,” reports Ella Creamer.

Guernica: Our Sister Killjoy – Fungai Machirori with a “remembrance of [the late Ghanaian author, poet, playwright, politician and academic] Ama Ata Aidoo.”

Book Marks: 5 Reviews You Need to Read This Week – A “smorgasbord of sumptuous reviews” from the people at Lit Hub.

The Collector: 6 Artworks Inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s Famous Novel – “Explore artworks inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and uncover the novel’s lasting influence on visual arts.”

Literary Review: The King’s English? Forgeddabouddit! – “Does the misuse of the word ‘literally’ make your toes curl? Do the vocal tics of young ’uns set you worrying about the decline of the noble English language? You are not alone,” declares Florence Hazrat in this review of Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English by Valerie Fridland.

Arts Hub: Book review: At the Foot of the Cherry Tree by Alli Parker – Monique Choy on a “moving true story,” of Australia’s first WWII Japanese war bride, which, she says, “changed the White Australia policy.”

Esquire: Why I Love Paperbacks – “You don’t own a paperback,” says Isaac Fitzgerald, “you have it for a little while and then it moves on with its life. The best you can do,” he feels, “is help it find a good home.”

The New York Times: What I Read to My Son When the World Is on Fire – “Children’s literature, in its simplicity, brevity and empathy, can make it a singularly effective way to understand the chaos of the world,” reasons Miriam Udel.

JSTOR: Book Thieves Take the Story and Run with It – “Book theft: the books may be rare, but the crime is not,” says Ashawnta Jackson.

BBC Culture: The one thing George Orwell’s 1984 got wrong – “When the UK copyright for George Orwell’s work expired in 2021, two writers took on his towering masterpieces – 1984 and Animal Farm – and reimagined them through contemporary eyes. Dorian Lynkey finds out why.”

Air Mail: Pasolini’s Inferno – The writer, Roberto Saviano – described here as a “fellow persecuted Italian intellectual” – re-examines “the little-remembered trials and tribulations that the writer and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini withstood in the name of his art—up until the end.”

The Wall Street Journal: No, I Don’t Want to Join Your Book Club – “Tired of the rules of traditional reading groups, more people are joining rebel versions.”

Elle: Shelf Life: Sigrid Nunez – “The award-winning author of The Friend and The Vulnerables” shares her “most memorable reads” with Juliana Ukiomogbe.

DW: Pakistan: How politics spurred interest in German literature – “Due to Pakistan’s British colonial past, English literature has always been popular in the South Asian country. German writers come in second, but they made their mark for reasons more political than literary,” explains Mohammad Salman.

AAWW: The Margins: Laughing at Work/Life Balance, the Bluntness of Families, and Ourselves – Katie Yee enjoys a “conversation with Weike Wang about humor, Joan is Okay, and writing.”

The Moscow Times: Mikhail Bulgakov and the Mystery of ‘Julienne’ – Visitors to the region have always been puzzled when offered a pot of ‘julienne’. Pavel and Olga Syutkin explain.

OUP Blog: Breakthrough and disgrace: Knut Hamsun’s Hunger and Pan in retrospect – Oxford World’s Classics brings “a fresh angle from which to view the writings of Knut Hamsun” by republishing two of the Norwegian author’s works.

MERIP: Orhan Veli’s Poetry and the Struggle to Preserve Istanbul’s Green Spaces – On the Republic’s one-hundred-year anniversary, Niels Lee wonders how the Turkish poet’s work speak to Istanbul’s urban transformation?

The Conversation: How Balzac created the myth of the spinster – One need only “hear the word ‘spinster’ to conjure up the age-old stereotype” of a single, sexually inactive woman in her forties, says Loup Belliard. However, it’s hard to avoid Balzac‘s depiction of “old maids” when it comes to uncovering the chief perpetrator of this humiliating epithet.

Columbia Journalism Review: A deadly month for a press at war – Jon Allsop investigates the deaths of journalists and other media workers in Israel and Gaza since 7th October.

Brittle Paper: Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Releases Collection of Essays and Stories on the Concept of Afropantheology – The Nigerian author Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has published a collection of essays and stories with co-author Joshua Uchenna Omenga: Between Dystopias: The Road to Afropantheology – and, as its title suggests, the book “aims to coin the term ‘Afropantheology’ drawing on aspects of African mysticism,” writes Kuhelika Ghosh.

Antigone: How Would Virgil Speak in Chinese? – Wentao Zhai explains in some detail how it is possible for the poems of Virgil to be turned into Chinese poetry for the first time. 

LARB: All the Waste in the World: On Pip Adam’s “The New Animals” – James Pasley considers New Zealand author Pip Adam’s 2017 novel The New Animals.

Jacobin: Alexander Bogdanov Was One of Russia’s Great Revolutionary Thinkers and a Sci-Fi Pioneer – James D. White calls attention to Alexander Bogdanov, a Russian (and later Soviet) physician, philosopher, science fiction writer and Bolshevik revolutionary “who wrote a sci-fi novel about a socialist civilization on Mars.”

The Critic: Playing nice hasn’t worked – “Even when [Irish author Helen Joyce keeps] quiet about being cancelled, the censors don’t invite [her] back.”

Nation Cymru: Review: Griffith Davies – Arloeswr a Chymwynaswr – “Gareth Wyn Jones reviews [Griffith Davies: Arloeswr a Chymwynaswr,] an account of the life of a remarkable Welsh mathematical pioneer and benefactor.”

China Books Review: ‘I’ve Been Liberated From a Cage’ – “Murong Xuecun, formerly one of the last dissident writers left in China, is now living in exile. How does a novelist get to the point where he is one step from arrest?”

The New York Review: Up All Night – Meghan O’Gieblyn discovers Danish novelist Harald Voetmann’s “protagonists live in the distant past.” Nevertheless, they are also “prototypically modern: men of science who are intent on outrunning our primal nightmare.”

ERR: Ķempi Kārl and Aado Lintrop receive Indigenous Peoples’ Literature Award – The winners of this year’s Grand Prix Littéraire du Bénin have been revealed.

The Millions: The Epistolary Friendship of a Writer and Her Translator – Jazmina Barrera and Christina MacSweeney exchange letters on friendship, translation and their new novel Cross-Stitch.

Daily Beast: Mark Meadows’ Publisher Sues Him for Millions Over Election Lies in Book – According to journalist Mark Alfred, the former White House chief of staff admitted to telling lies in his book The Chief’s Chief about the 2020 U.S. election being “rigged” and “stolen” from Trump. His conservative publisher is none too happy.

Atlas Obscura: The ‘Crispy R’ and Why R Is the Weirdest Letter – Dan Nosowitz recalls making “a bunch of linguists listen to this social media phenomenon and tell [him what was] going on.”



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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19 replies

  1. I enjoy Balzac but I am totally up for reclaiming the word spinster 😀 Happy weekend Paula!

    • What a good idea – I’m all for reclaiming words to take the sting out of their tails (so to speak). It should be ultra cool to be a spinster! 💃🏻

      Thank you, MB. I hope your weekend is going well, too. 😺

  2. Ooh, the 1937 club looks so interesting! I will have to look into that!

  3. Oh no I’m still not over the trauma of finding out Knut Hamsen was a Nazi sympathiser (and how could I have loved his books so much!) and now Balzac is the culprit…I read them both with gusto years ago. I hope I’m still all right loving Emile Zola 😂 There was a great R4 programme about Germinal recently, a novel that hit me with tremendous force on first reading. The article about the letter R was v interesting. I scanned it for a mention of the R as heard in Wales but once again Wales is left off the map. Tell me if I missed something.🤔 Thanks for the provoking thoughts, Paula!

    • As I’m sure you know, the regular r is sort of purred in Welsh (for want of a better word). Then, of course, we have the rh but that is pronounced as if the h comes before the r. I expect you learnt all this in your Welsh classes but I’m casting my mind back to my school days, #? years ago! 🤣

      Thank you as ever, Maria, for your thoughtful comments. 😊

      • Never had formal classes, Paula, just Duolingo and my ears! It struck me that Welsh speakers of English use this R too and tend to pronounce all the letters – just as you would yn Gymraeg. Although I hear that the glottal stop is on the rise I hope it won’t become universal!

      • “Glottal stop”. Heh, heh! It sounds like some dreadful health condition. Always makes me chuckle. 🤣

  4. So happy winding up kitty is still around, and I love teddy too 😀 A rebel book club–sounds like good fun. I *totally* enjoyed this post!

  5. I loved the articles about Russia this week, the one about the priest writing what could be seen as the first Russian novel, and the one about “julienne,” which includes a delicious-sounding mushroom recipe.
    The article about reading children’s books when everyone is arguing about Israel and Gaza was a bit of balm to my soul, too.

  6. So many interesting articles this week, thank you! Balzac’s description of a spinster perfectly fits Danvers and I loved the article on rebel bookgroups. I’ve always wanted to belong to a sort of salon where everyone reads and then talks books and I’ve bookmarked 100 years of solitude for when I read it next year!!

    • Thank you, Jane. I would love to be a guest at such a book salon, too. Are they a ‘thing’ still (salons, I mean), or is it all book clubs and online chat these days? 🤔

      • I don’t know, if I had more courage I would just start one! My daughter used to read quietly around a table with her housemates at university, so I suppose that was a salon?!

  7. I have no sympathy with publishers who don’t bother to check the accuracy of what they are publishing. After all we live in a post-truth world. Also I worry about the language. I find myself saying things like ‘hundy p’ – meaning 100 percent because my ‘kids’ say it! Like, literally, dude!! 🙂 I think that might be one for me.

    • I’m with you there, Frances!

      You did make me laugh about picking up your kids’ words and expressions. It’s difficult not to when you’re bombarded ’24/7′ (the latter is always guaranteed to make me grumble)! 😅

  8. Wonderful again, Paula! My linguists lecturer will have a field day with The ‘Crispy R’ and Why R Is the Weirdest Letter’ by Dan Nosowitz. And I was overjoyed to see Trent Dalton in the mix, he’s such a nice bloke. Appalling things happening to writers and journalists overseas, I am shocked every time I read of another persecution/imprisonment/murder. Freedom to print is a very precious thing ✍ G.

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