Matthew Feldman, Shelley King, Gordon Thomas, Sharon Wheeler and Wendy Zeldin...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 22, 2013

Matthew Feldman, reader in contemporary history, Teesside University, is reading Dan Stone’s The Holocaust, Fascism and Memory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). “A second, superlative collection of republished essays by a young master of intellectual history. Included are sections on Holocaust historiography, genocide and memory, and intellectual anti-fascism and fascism (as the case of Rolf Gardiner shows, there were a few supporters of the last in Britain). The distinctions on big subjects are impressively lapidary, while the clear writing makes this a joy to read, despite the gut-wrenching subject matter.”

Both Hands by Sandra Campbell

Shelley King is head of the department of English, Queen’s University, Canada. “I am currently delighting in Sandra Campbell’s Both Hands: A Life of Lorne Pierce of Ryerson Press [McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013]. This biography explores the life of one of the architects of Canadian literature. As an editor at Ryerson from 1920 to 1960, Pierce nurtured the budding discipline in terms of both artists and critics, and in the process assembled a fine collection of literary Canadiana that he and his wife Edith bequeathed to Queen’s. That it dishes the dirt on the early days of my own department is, of course, an added bonus.”

The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka

Gordon Thomas, financial support officer, University of Nottingham, is reading Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Legend of Pradeep Mathew: A Novel (Graywolf, 2012). “Originally published as Chinaman, this is one man’s quest to find Pradeep Mathew, an obscure Sri Lankan cricketer, flawed genius and perhaps the world’s best bowler. However, there’s far more to this book than sport and Karunatilaka’s debut beautifully portrays different relationships: between rivals, best friends, husband and wife, father and son. Sprawling and at times funny, prosaic and dark. Just like life. Just like cricket.”

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Atlantic Books, 2012). “Clay Jannon loses his job as web designer for a bagel company and ends up taking the night shift in an open-all-hours bookshop. Except the strange customers never seem to buy any books. In the wrong hands, this could have been an overload of twee whimsy. Instead, it’s oodles of fun. Sloan’s affection for both traditional books and new media leaps off every page.”

Memory, Violence, Queues by Eva Shan Chou

Wendy Zeldin, senior legal research analyst, Library of Congress, Washington DC, is reading Eva Shan Chou’s Memory, Violence, Queues: Lu Xun Interprets China (Association for Asian Studies, 2012). “An elegant, erudite explication of the early 20th-century literary icon and of his key works, deftly plaiting the strands of his life, times, fiction, essays and poetry. The keen analysis, wealth of detail and forceful narrative drive, punctuated by a treasure trove of contemporary illustrations, make for a book to be savoured.”

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