Susan Bassnett, Clare Debenham, Richard Howells, Sandra Leaton Gray and Sharon Wheeler...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

February 5, 2015

Susan Bassnett, professor of comparative literature, University of Warwick, is reading Michela Murgia’s Accabadora (MacLehose Press, 2011). “This extraordinary book, beautiful in the original Italian, is here brought to English readers by Silvester Mazzarella’s translation. Set in a remote Sardinian village in the 1950s, it concerns a girl learning unexpected lessons about death, life, motherhood and tradition from her adoptive mother, the accabadora, or midwife to the dying. One of the best books I’ve read in ages.”

Book review: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, by Amanda Foreman

Clare Debenham, tutor in the politics department, University of Manchester, is reading Amanda Foreman’s Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (HarperCollins, 1999). “This award-winning book captures more fully than the subsequent film that was based on it the subtlety of this fashionable, wealthy, politicised aristocrat. Georgiana had an affair with Charles Grey, the Whigs’ leader, which resulted in the birth of a daughter whom she was forced by her husband to give up. The affair was an open secret, but, unlike today, it did not affect Grey’s career: he became prime minister.”

Book review: Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art, by Arthur I. Miller

Richard Howells, reader in culture, media and creative industries, King’s College London, is reading Arthur I. Miller’s Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art (W. W. Norton, 2014). “Miller’s latest follows on from his Pulitzer Prize-nominated Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time and the Beauty that Causes Havoc. While the earlier book made theoretical connections between art and science, this one looks at practical collaborations between these seemingly disparate worlds and argues for a third culture in addition to C. P. Snow’s original two. This ‘artsci’, argues Miller, is the new avant-garde. Watch this fractal space!”

Book review: Les Blondes, Tome 17: Vous Voulez ma Photo?!, by Gaby, Dzack and Yoann Guillo

Sandra Leaton Gray, senior lecturer in education, UCL Institute of Education, is reading Gaby, Dzack and Yoann Guillo’s Les Blondes, Tome 17: Vous Voulez ma Photo?! (Soleil Productions, 2012). “This was in my Christmas stocking, and I am reading it on the basis that it is the least onerous way of improving my French I can think of at the moment. Let it be known that I am officially happy to be insulted by French cartoonists, in this case on the basis of my hair colour. In fact, I’m delighted they bothered.”

Book review: Night Games: Sex, Power and a Journey into the Dark Heart of Sport, by Anna Krien

Sharon Wheeler, visiting lecturer in journalism, Birmingham City University, is reading Anna Krien’s Night Games: Sex, Power and a Journey into the Dark Heart of Sport (Yellow Jersey, 2014). “Some books are horribly prescient, and this is one such, given the ongoing row over whether the footballer Ched Evans should return to the English game after a rape conviction. Krien is an Aussie journalist and her book, with an Australian Rules court case at its heart, delves into the sordid and sexist world of locker-room culture. A depressing but essential read.”

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