When I started winstonsdad a little under five years ago it was a journey for me of discovery .I had read a lot translation over the years but had maybe not travelled enough in my reading or been faring enough ,so I set forth on the first few years trying to challenge myself and have read loads of books from lots of countries but this last while I’ve struggled with ways to give back to the community of translation but I often feel outsider still , then I’ve discovered what is he pint of this ok my job is to get new folks discovering what’s point in preaching to folks that already know the secret of fiction in translation and the secret is there is no secret really don’t let them tell you there is now it’s the same as everything there is books out there in translation for every one so if it’s a name or a feeling of being alien I. The world you are reading don’t feel that it’s not like that . My ethos is too gently push folks in the direction of translation I have said this before in an earlier post .I’m always full of ideas and will be trying to put some of them into place another reading week later in year for Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one for sure I want to do get people to see more than the two most famous books but even if it is just reading them it small steps .2015 is a way away but I really want to push a year of translation and know folks are very keen on this and will be starting work behind the scenes up too 2015 .Another big project is reorganising all my reviews into categories so stories about war ,families , villages , towns , love ,struggle , issues and alternate worlds (ie magic realism, oulipo ,surrealism or books that just don’t fit a niche so easy ) .I want my blog twitter feed be a friendly helpful place for the reader wanting to challenge or discover the world of translation .A place of discovery where I transfer the seed of my passion to all to grow their own passion .anyone with suggestions idea , willing to help contribute is welcome as I am wanting the blog to grow from 2015 onwards to something bigger for all .
15 Apr 2014 12 Comments
09 Apr 2014 29 Comments
Well I’ve been off work sick the last few days hence no iffp shortlist and no reviews .I just can’t face writing a long post at moment .Much is same with books I was reading a Clarice Lispector my darling Amanda had brought me for my birthday but am struggling to find the concentration to get fully into it so luckily I was sent Maigret four and five by someone at penguin and have started number four as it’s not very taxing to read and is like a comfy slipper after read the first three in the series already this year .I tend to do this when not well or if going to hospital with Amanda I always read a Waugh book as his gentle at times satire lifts my mood .Do you have any such habits when you are feeling off colour ?
07 Apr 2014 23 Comments
Tomorrow see’s the official independent foreign fiction short-list comes out .So we decide to announce ours today as with last year we choose to read as many if not all the 15 long listed books from the 2014 list and we have reviewed them my fellow jurors David ,Tony reading ,Tony messy ,Jacqui (who has been guesting on all or blogs ) and Bellezza .SO we have read ,given scores and dissected this years long list.We have yet again made a short-list of our own from the 15 books on the list just to show the strength of the list and how it can be viewed by different readers .Its been a journey from Japan ,china ,Iraq ,Germany ,Spain among the few stops .We tackled connect story collections ,memories of Russian youth ,a family waiting for a husband to return ,a son following his fathers footsteps and a stories around the ten commandments .SO after all that we look at the book ,the translation and the long lasting nature of the book for the first time it is hard thing to say but we can try and sense if a book will hang around or just disappear from view .so with out further a do I present the shadow IFFP SHORTLIST ,we will choose our winner from these six books .
The infatuations by Javier Marias .
A women’s journey with a couple she see’s evry day at a cafe ,it shows the difference in what we view and what is real .
Brief loves that live forever by Andrei Makine
A russian youth partly remembered in a collection of short stories ,touching in points .
The Sorrow of angels by Jon Kalman Stefansson
An eerie tale of 19th century Iceland where reality and myth seem to cross .My review this week
The Mussel feast by Birgit Vanderbeke
A wonderful insight into an east german family as the wall is falling .But where is the father ?
A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Part two of the Epic my struggle we see Karl in the book struggling with the early years of fatherhood .
The Corpse washer by Sinan Antoon
A son tries to escape his father’s life with art but the war in Iraq and his mother being ill draw him back to being a corpse washer .
Well that is our list ,you will have to wait to tomorrow to see what matches up with the Official Iffp list .
Which of these six have you read ?
06 Apr 2014 5 Comments
I don’t often do a song for sunday as other bloggers do but as I’m rather tired today I decide to share an all time Earworm ,that I sing (well more improvise lyrics for and have done for at least the last 15 years since first hearing it on snub tv I think in mid 90′s any way the song is by Wolfgang press and is called cut the tree ,a song that I think once you hear stays with you .
05 Apr 2014 10 Comments
Nagasaki by Éric Faye
Original title – Nagasaki
Translator – Emily Boyce
Source -Review Copy
Be warned I have had to give away a major part of the plot to review this fully .
Éric Faye is a French writer he studied at Lille university in Journalism after that he worked for Reuters the news agency ,before in 1991 deciding to become a writer ,his early books deal with writer like Ismail Kadare and fictional meetings with these writers .This book was his 22nd book and won the prestigious grand novel prize of the French academy .
That day , I was feeling a little under the weather , so I came home earlier than usual .It must have been before five when the tram dropped me in my road with a shopping bag over each arm .I rarely get back so early during the week , as I went inside I felt almost as if I was trespassing .That’s putting it a bit strongly, and yet …
Shimura feels something is odd on the second page .
Now when this book dropped on the doorstep ,I imagined it being a book about the second world war ,of course with the title Nagasaki .But no it is set in the modern city of Nagasaki ,what Éric Faye has done is taken a news story ,this one had passed me by at the time .Anyway the story follows a Japanese man Shimura he is an office worker ,so as is the case in Japan he spends long hours working .But at home he has started noticing things ,just little things a jug of juice seems to have less in and then other bits vanish .So he decides to mark bits and yes things are disappearing ,so the next step he does is to set a webcam up and whilst at work he checks this webcam placed in the kitchen at his house and sees an older women in his kitchen .Naturally he contacts the police and the women is arrest ,the second part of the book we find out how this women end up in his house ,her tale of woe and being left homeless and without any one is heart wrenching and the way she found this house saw he was out most of the day so they shared the space without knowing they were sharing the space for actually a year before he gathered she was there .Both exit this event and situation changed .
My stowaway was fifty-eight ,I read ,two years older than me ,I had thought her a bit younger when she appeared on my screen .As for her surname , it was common as mine .She had been unemployed for a long time ; so long , in fact ,that she was no longer entitled to state benefits.
The woman is a sorry case really .
I found this reportage style fiction amazingly fresh , Éric Faye has taken a small news story and turned into a human story about the people and the emotions behind the headlines .I was reminded of the Korean novel Please look after mother ,both show how even in these ultra modern cities there are people who get left behind that fall through the cracks ,that just can’t cope with the modern world or as in the case get broken by the world they live in .It is one of those books that for days after you put it down you are thinking how did he miss someone living there for a year ? What drives someone to hide in a house ? For me this would be a great choice for a book club it short so every one should read it ,but it has so much to discuss after you read it and to wonder what you would have done in the situations .I would love to see this turned into a two person show with Shimura and the women .
Have you read a novel based on a real life news event ?
04 Apr 2014 8 Comments
Look who’s back by Timur Vermes
Original title – Er ist wieder da
Translator – Jamie Bulloch
Source – Review copies
There are times a book published elsewhere in the world gets noticed before it is even translated this is one such book it cause a storm when it was published in Germany ,and me with my finger just on the pulse really hoped it had a uk publisher pick it up so when those lovely folks at Maclehose said they had brought the rights and the rising star of translation from German Jamie Bulloch had been given the task of translating the book I knew it was going be great .Timur Vermes was born in Nuremberg to a German mother and Hungarian father he has written for various paper in German and also ghost-written a couple of books .This is his first novel .
The boys gathered around me , but kept a certain distance .After affording me a cursory inspection , the tallest of the youths , clearly the troop leader ,said :
“You alright ,boss ?”
Despite my apprehension ,I could not help noticing that the Nazi salute was missing altogether .I acknowledge that his casual form of address , mixing up “Boss” and “Führer “
Just after he wakes up and talks to a group of boys he still thinks it is 1940 something .
Well to the book Look who’s back ,now from the cover on the top you may already have a clue what the book is about .We meet Hitler but not in 1940′s German no he has woken up in the middle of Berlin in 2011 .Now he has to adjust to modern Germany .At first people see him as a bloke dressed as Hitler maybe from a party the night before,as Hitler slowly gathers that he has been brought forward sixty plus year his beloved fatherland as he sees it now is in a state of trouble .So he decide to try to regain power but as he thinks he is starting to be taken seriously .People actually think he is a very clever satire act ,but as it unfolds they laugh but the laughter stops with the more he says .As he become a star on You tube with his rants and views .Bur what do the modern extreme right make of him ? Will he ever accept a German run by a women ?
My supporters were fewer in number than ever before .And,mein Gott , there had been times in the past when they were in terribly short supply .I have a clear recollection of that occasion back in 1919 when I paid my first visit to what was still then the German worker’s party : seven people were present .
He starts small again in the present but remembers the past .
Loook who’s back is part of the continuing German looking back at the war years and figures involved in the war years ,this started a couple of decades ago with films like Europa ,europa ( a film following a Young Jewish boy who joins the Hitler youth to avoid the death camps ) ,Stalingrad ( a group of German soldiers get cut off from the troop and stuck in the deep Russian winter ) then of course Downfall .Now Timur has tackled modern German as viewed through the eyes of the past and how often have we wondered what the leaders of the past would make of the present .What would Churchill make of modern Britain is one thing I wondered ? Also the part I like is how Hitler is now viewed as a figure of fun by the modern German public what was once his true power the rant speech is now just surreal to a modern German public .It also shows how we view people in Modern media his rise now is because he is viewed as a clever satire ,but isn’t ,but people just think he is pulling the wool over their eyes .Vermes has tackle something that at times is still at the heart of modern Germany ,how did the past happen and could it happen again ? Jamie also really caught that voice of Hitler well .
Do you have a favourite satirical novel ?
02 Apr 2014 2 Comments
The Iraqi Christ by Hassam Blasim
Iraqi fiction (Short stories )
Translator – Jonathan Wright
Source – Personnel copy brought on Kindle
Well to another short story collection from this years IFFP longlist .Also the second Iraqi title from this years list .Hassam Blasim is some what of radical figure in Arabic fiction as the stories he writes are Genre bending to say the least .Hassam Blasim Fled Iraq in 2004 when he had made a documentary film about the Kurdish area of Northern Iraq ,since then he lived in Finland originally a film-maker he has since made four more films for a Finnish film company .He also start writing at the same time ,this is his second collection to be published the first the madman of freedom square ,mad the Iffp longlist four years ago .
We were meant to camp in an old girls’ school and some of the soldiers decided the best place to spend the night was the school’s air-raid shelter. Daniel the Christian picked up his blanket and other bedding and headed out into the open courtyard. ‘Of course, Chewgum Christ is crazy,’ remarked one of the soldiers, a man as tall as a palm tree, his mouth stuffed with dry bread.
The opening of the title story of the collection The Iraqi Christ .
I said Hassam was a radical figure ,it is more his style of writing in this collection we move from the Iraq was in the title story Iraqi christ ,we meet Daniel the gum chewing soldier as he fights in the war He is one of the few christian fighting alongside his comrades .Elsewhere we travel into the utterly surreal in a story like dung beetle a man or is it a man talking to a doctor in Finland but his is from Iraqi ,as he spouts out to the doctor .Drama post war in the Green zone living in the post war Iraq with the westerners .More traditional sounding stories like A thousand and One Knives ,an obvious play on the most famous Arabic story One thousand and one Nights .Elsewhere a crossword setter is driven to the edge as he is haunted or more possessed by one of the victims of a bomb he narrowly missed .
Doctor, I can identify my feeling at that moment as a desire to kiss, to stand in front of the station gate like the people who give out free newspapers and adverts, to stand in the way of people in a hurry and to stop them to kiss their hands, their shoes, their knees, their bags. And if they allowed me to bare their arses for a few minutes, to kiss them too. Excuse me, madam, can I kiss the sleeve of your coat? Please, sir, accept from me this kiss on your necktie. Kisses for free; sad, sincere kisses. And very often, doctor, I don’t just want to kiss people, I want to kiss the vestiges they leave on the pavements: kisses for cigarette butts, for a key that an old woman lost, for the beer bottles the drunks left behind last night, for the numbers on discarded receipts; kisses that combine the maternal instinct with lust, as day and night are combined in my head.
A passage from my favourite story in the collection the dun beetle .
I read Tony’s review the other day he compared some of these stories to the Magic realism of Marquez ,he has touches of that ,for me other writers leap to mind my favourite story in the collection was the dung Beetle ,which for me had huge echoes of classic mittel European short stories .There are other bar room stories a man returns from the bar to find a wolf in his room then it is gone when awakes ,this could come from the pen of the grand masters of short fiction Italo Calvino or Borges .The collection shows a writer that obviously loves short stories and loves playing with the form as a writer himself .I felt this is a collection of a writer that has big things to come in the future ,the stories in this one vary from sublime to surreal but maybe jar to much of the collection in comparison to the other collections on this years IFFP longlist .I will be reading his next collection for sure as I can just see Hassam Blasim getting better over time as he works through his obvious love of short stories and writers of short stories as he develops his own twists and style even more .
Have you read Hassam Blasim ?
01 Apr 2014 6 Comments
Talking to ourselves by Andrés Neuman
Original title – Hablar Solos
Translator – Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia
Source – Review Copy
Well I was so pleased to be sent Andrés second book to be translated into English as his first book Traveller of the century was one of my favourite books of 2012 .Andrés is one of the biggest stars of Spanish language fiction ,he has won a lot of the big prize from the Spanish-speaking world and was also on the IFFP last year .
The I start to sing , and my mouth gets bigger .It makes Dad laugh to see how happy I am .But Mum doesn’t laugh .
I’d been pestering them about it now for ages .Every summer .They always said the same thing .When you’re older .I hate it when they say that .I picture a long line of kids with me at the end .This time they argued ,not out loud .
I feel this captures the whole picture of what each is telling them selves in this novel .
Talking to ourselves is a novel made up of a trio of voices ,a family the father Mario is dying of cancer and want to take a road trip with his son Lito .Left behind trying to fathom out what is happening to her husband is Elena .Now Mario and Lito are on the road with Pedro their truck father and son ,Lito is so excited as he has want to see the places he has heard of over the years but til now he hasn’t be able to see that said his father wants this trip with Pedro to be his sons memory of him .Now at home the mother of the family is seeking solace in the arms of first book and then the doctor that has been treating her husband ,as she worries how it will all end .
I was going to say he drives me wild .But besides being cheesy that would be in accurate .It’s more like ,with Ezequiel as a pretext ,through his body ,I had allowed myself to go wild .His healthy young body ,Distant from death .
As I write this I Despise myself ,but sometimes Mario’s body disgusts me .Touching it is as difficult for me as it is for him to look in the mirror .
Elena struggles with her husband’s Illness
Now I described this book on twitter as a bit like the blind men describing an elephant proverb as the three narratives describe different thing ,like the proverb Lito story is a road trip with his dad ,he hasn’t noticed how ill his dad is .Mario journey is to make his young son remember him and Elena is to find solace .But like the proverb each is seeing something different in the present their own spin .At heart of this is how families deal with their tough times how often do we shield those nearest us from the truth ? How often like Elena in times of trouble do we seek Solace in the wrong places ? And like Lito as a kid how often do you miss or just not see the bigger picture ? I also said on twitter each narrative is the person holding a mirror to their soul ,rather like Borges each is finding their soul whether on the road or in the books they are reading ( There is a list of the books mention in the book at the back of the novel ) .I am a huge fan of Andrés (I have met him and found him one of the warmest and approachable writers I have ever meet ) ,Did I want another Traveller of .. ,no I have always found the writers I love, are like this book take different journeys on every book they writer .It takes real courage to make every book different from the one before ,I feel this is what Bolano also saw in Andrés when he made his famous quote of the 21st century belonging to him and his blood brothers .Andrés has tackled cancer and dying in a family with out drifting into overly sentimental tones and given the family as a whole real voices of what real people would do in this situation .
Have you read any of his books yet ?
27 Mar 2014 4 Comments
Exposure by Sayed Kashua
Original Title - גוף שני יחיד
Translator – Mitch Ginsburg
Source – Personnel copy brought on kindle
Sayed Kashua is a well-known figure in Israeli ,he publishes a regular column in an Israeli newspaper .He is also the writer behind the hit comedy show Arab Labour which has been a runaway success in Israel .Exposure is his fourth book .I’ve found a clip of the title actually full episodes are available on you tube it is a sitcom following Arabs and Israelis living together .
He looked at his watch and saw that the store would be closing in ten minutes. He already knew which book he was going to buy: he had seen it reviewed in that week’s
paper, had spotted it on the shelf, and knew that after a quick walk through the classics he would return to it. As he browsed, The Kreutzer Sonata caught his eye and he remembered that his wife had asked him once, as the resident expert on books, whether he’d ever read the novella by Tolstoy. The lawyer had been surprised by her sudden interest in books and she explained that The Kreutzer Sonata came up in class whenever her professor discussed Freud. He pulled the book off the shelf and walked over to the new-books section, where he picked up Haruki Murakami’s most recent novel. “I’d like this one gift wrapped, please,” he said, handing Meirav the used copy of The Kreutzer Sonata, adding, “my wife’s studying psychology and she’s been nagging me forever to get her this book.”
The lawyer buys the book in question .
Well the show is a good starting point for the book although the book isn’t comic ,but touches a lot of the same ground and the is identity in Israeli from both side Arab and Jewish .The book is formed of two stories that unfold side by side the first is the story of an Arab lawyer .but he is a high-flying lawyer trying to escape from his Arab background and get accepted in the mainstream Jewish life as a lawyer . The lawyer by chance finds a copy of Kreutzer sonata by Tolstoy a book that his wife recommend to him to read in this second-hand book he discovers a letter in Arabic that appears to have been written by her wife to the books previous owner of the book. the previous Yonatan is the link to the second story ,but back to the first he of course now want s to find out from his wife who this was and why she wrote the letter .The second story is about a young Arab man Amir struggling to get work ,then finds himself working as a carer at night looking after a young Israeli who is called Yonatan ,Amir starts to look into this young man’s life his likes and dislikes .Takes things like his camera and then decides he could become Yonatan ,so is he the one in the first story ?
Well the book is as Tony put it is very easy read and it is but it tackles a lot of subjects close to the heart of Israeli and to some one like Sayed as he is an Arab Israeli that is their place in modern Israeli ? How close can they come to be a full part of Israeli life without taking Amir’s path and stealing an identity or the Lawyer (we never get told his name ) where he has really sold his soul to be where he was and of course the first story on its line of marital betrayal , jealousy could be a spin on the Tolstoy story which Thou I’ve not read it is about a marriage ,a wife’s betrayal and the husband in that book kills his wife .(an aside to this is I had said I will get this book by Tolstoy next time I see it and low and behold last week I brought a second-hand copy a little bit of a deja vu moment .) .I feel this is very much an IFFP book as it tackles issues but also is one that serves well as a book group book with many points to dive off from about it .This was the third book by Kashua to be translated to English another book apart from this one had been on the longlist for the IFFP .
Have you read him
24 Mar 2014 6 Comments
A French Novel by Frédéric Beigbeder
Original title Un roman français,
Translator – Frank Wynne
Source – From Translator
I have reviewed Beigbeder before I reviewed his book about 9/11 windows on the world ,so when Frank sent me this after I mentioned it on my IFFP longlist post as I thought it would be one that would in fact should make the cut .Beigbeder is somewhat of a character ,he was arrest in 2008 on the night his older brother ( a successful and well-known french businessman ) was made a member of the French la legion d’honneur ,this book follows that arrest in a brilliant piece of Autofiction about his childhood viewed from the cell on that night .Beigbeder is also working with VW on a new car .He is dating a 18-year-old Russian ,if only our writers were so interesting as him .
My only hope ,as I embark on this diving expedition , is that writing can rekindle memory , literature remembers what we have forgotten :to write is to read within oneself .Writing reawaken memory ;it is possible to write as one might exhume a body .
I loved this how true this is what great writers do .
So I’ve set the scene we meet a writer called Frédéric Beigbeder on the night his brother is honoured and he is there getting drunk ,when later that evening he is arrest for sniffing cocaine and ends up in a Paris cell .He begins to think what brought him to this point and he feels he can’t remember his childhood but as the night wears on he remember his younger years and the France of his youth from the music ,shows to his parents their lives .He also recalls his parents past Their parents the writers Grandparents that he never meet but had effects on both his parents and like a newtons cradle had an effect on him and his brother .What is painted is a childhood that is full of the 70′s fance ,his parents get divorced and both meet new partners in his father’s case many new partners .His brother Charles a rival and at times friend ,he notes early on that his own father hadn’t spoken to his own brother for years and wonder how this effect their relationship .You grasp that he is trying to discover himself in this French police cell .
The only names from my childhood I remember are those of the girls I loved and who never had the faintest idea : Marie-Aline Dehaussy , the Mirailh sisters , Clarence Jacquard ,Cecile Favreau ,Claire Guionnet ,Michele Luthala ,Beatrice Kahn ,Agathe Oliver ,Axelle Batonnier …I think most of them dated my brother ,but peroids and places get mixed up ..
I loved he remember the girls more than the boys in his childhood .
Well as you see the title of this book is suited it is very much a French novel .Although Autofiction isn’t a French invention it has flourished in France and here Beigbeder has shown how you can make your own childhood into a novel ,what do we remember of our childhood ? , for me it glimpses at time the shuttle launch whilst staying with my dad at my aunties house ,my brother biting his tongue run on top of an old fire engine on a family holiday ,dungeons and dragons on tv and my friend Steve loving the show ,spangle sweets .Could I stitch these into a novel ,well no. But here is what Beigbeder has done .I’m a few years younger than him but touchstones in this book,TV shows music ,running his hands through his father’s music collection and even his parents divorce are all events I could connect to my own life .I also felt he caught the France of the time ,this is the time Citroen DS, ,Pompideu and then later Mitterrand. A huge change in France post 1968 which Beigbeder grew up in the nearest book in english I have read would be something like Black swan green by David Mitchell .I still don’t know how it missed IFFP longlist for me it is a novel by one of the best living French writers .
Have you read Beigbeder ?