Bookish Bits and Nuggets: A Comic Norwegian Novel, NYRB Classics, Booker Gossip, & Fairy Tales

I addicted to Amazon Crossing, Amazon’s imprint for literature in translation. I recently inhaled a hilarious Norwegian novel, The Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter, by J. S. Drangsholt. Think Nick Hornby crossed with Alison Pearson, infused with a generous shot of academic satire, and you’ve got it.

The narrator, Ingrid Winter, is a harried English professor whose students accuse her of “mindfucking” (Moral:  Never talk about Lacan to undergraduates); a frazzled mother of three who is always the last one to pick up her pre-schooler; and so in love with her dream house that she commits funds they don’t have in a bidding war –and wins!  Can things get worse, and even wittier?  When the head of the department sends Ingrid to a meeting in Russia with two unlikable colleagues, you will laugh hard.  This is light and so much fun.  And I am now reading the sequel.  I wish there were more in the series!

The NYRB Classics Book Club selection of the month is Natalia Ginzburg’s Valentino and Sagittarius,  two “tales of love, hope, and delusion…”, the book jacket says.   I loved her novel Family Lexicon and can’t wait to read this.  I’ve noted it in my Planner, along with about sixty other things to do this month.  Will reading win?

This is the book on the shortlist I want to read.

The headline for a big story in The Guardian is: “Most diverse Booker prize shortlist ever as Hilary Mantel misses out.” Oh, dear:  we personally enjoy the glamour of the stars,  and I would have been satisfied if Hilary Mantel, Colum McCann, or  Anne Tyler had made the list. Four out of six on the shortlist are “people of color,” The Guardian tells us.   And five out of the six are available at the library.  That’s a first.

The one I want to read: Uganda writer Tsitsi Dangarembga’s This Mournable Body, a sequel to Nervous Conditions, a charming coming-of-age novel about a girl’s struggle to get an education. I reviewed a small-press edition of Nervous Conditions in the ’90s for a now defunct book journal.  (There used to be so many book journals in another time!)

I am a fan of retold fairy tales, and a Book Riot article introduced us to a list of “9 Under-the-Radar Fairytale and Folktale Retellings.” The only one I’ve read is Theodora Goss, the author of  The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and its sequels.  Book Riot recommends Goss’s Snow White Learns Witchcraft.  Good title.

I am too fond of bookish gossip…  but do you have any?  I hope you’re “hunkering down,” as Dr. Anthony Fauci says, with lots of good books.

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