Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla

meatspace

Meat space by Nikesh Shukla

British fiction

Source – review copy

The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Read more at

Now I don’t read many British writers ,but when the chance came round to review the second novel by Nikesh ,I jumped at the chance as I really enjoyed his first novel Coconut Unlimited I reviewed it .So I must first say I have met Nikesh on a couple of occasions before I review the book .

The first and last thing I do everyday is see what strangers are saying about me .

I pull the laptop closer from the other side of the bed and press refresh on my inboxes .I have a google calendar alert that tells me I have no events scheduled today ,an assortment of twitter and Facebook notifications ,alerting me to 7 new followers ,a favourite tweet thanking someone for liking my book ,an invite to an event I’ll never go to ,spam for play and guardian jobs .#

The opening lines of Meat space

Meatspace is a term in the internet world for the real world .The story is the tale of a few months in the life of Kitab Baisubramanym ,he is a guy whom life is at that point where it’s about to implode or explode .His long-term girlfriend has left him ,he has just lost a job for writing a book on the firms time .So he has come to live with his brother Aziz  .He has alll this time on his hands and being a modern man he has descend into the rabbit hole of the internet and ends up doing the think many of use has done and search for a doppelgänger the  namesake  online and in his case he finds one chap in the US that shares his name and the next thing he knows is this chap turns up at his door and this leads Kitab into a world of madness both online and offline as this doppelgänger is a little of  the rails .As they descend into a world of swingers and sex .

History :

The perfect CV – Google 

kitab Balasubramanyam – Facebook 

Hayley Bankcroft – Google images 

[104} – twitter 

The start of each chapter starts with the search history of Kitab .

Now I am a later come to the tech age I didn’t get my first laptop til seven years ago and ever since have felt like I’ve been playing catch up or at least get it ,I still don’t fully get the net but everyday seems more as thou I do .Now that said Nikesh is a child of the net this book is what it is like to live and breathe the net to tweet ,tumblr ,Facebook and get it .Kitab is the Everyman of the net ,but he hit that rabbit hole like in Alice he pressed the return button on something he shouldn’t have .The wit and realism drips of the page ,Nikesh is one of the funniest writers I’ve read in recent years .Now I was remind the time I read Fever pitch for me Nikesh has done for the net here in this book the same as Nick Hornby did for football and that is put on paper the Everyman experience of something .SO if you love the net and want be laughing and crying at times ,this is the book you need to read ,Nikesh missed the costa  with coconut unlimited ,but this should be a prize winner ,if there is any justice out there ,daring new and funny .The book comes out 3 july .

Chewing gum by Mansour Bushnaf

ChewingGum

Chewing gum by Mansour Bushnaf

Libyan fiction

Source review copy

“No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore via goodreads

 

Mansour Bushnaf is a well-known figure in Libya ,this is his first book in English ,he has been writing since the 1970’s ,his writing end up with him spending ten years in jail during the Gaddafi regime , apart from novels he is also a well-known playwright .Here he is on the bbc talking about the lack of reading and books in Libya due to the recent regime .It is also the first of a new venture in publishing from Darf publishing , a name connected with publishing Arabic literature since the 50’s .

At this point in the story , Mukhtar finds himself face to face with the statue which become central to his life and our story

Just after Fatima left him .

Chewing Gum is actually a very unique book one that  I’m pleased to have been sent it has an unusual narrative style as it is told in little vignettes .At the heart is the story of a man Mukhtar  , he has seen the love of his life walk away from he was Fatima walk away  and we see how their lives twist and turns in the ten years after this as they are from different places ..The other thread of the story is a crazy craze for chewing gum that arrived in Libya in the 80’s as they started to import it from first turkey ,but as the book moves on you see it come from other places as the connections of Libya with the world changes  over time .Then there is a statue from the time Italy ran the country  that also is symbolic of past events and also the present day .All of this takes place in one part of town ,so what you see is a cross-section of the country in one small place .

The gum , in brief , became , everyone’s obsession.But the actual enjoyable act of mastication remained a privilege of the few one of which ,without doubt ,was our heroine .

Fatima caught up in the gum craze that swept Libya

This is one of those books that long after you’ve put it down you think did that represent this .Now it is a story of lost love ,a man pining at one point Mukhtar is compared to the statue having stood or appeared to have stood in the same place looking down the street at the way Fatima left .Now you could see that as the lifetime of Libya and the years stood like a statue being the years under Gaddafi ? Now the chewing gum is a motif for the outside world and how it connected  to Libya over the time ,but also like the Statue, the act of  chewing gum is also a way of passing time ,also like Gum it  loses its taste maybe Libyans lost the taste of the regime long before they overthrew it or in the gums case throw it a way .What Bushnaf has tried to do is use the gum craze and get people involved academics ,the regime ,shopkeepers and use all these to explain the times .As I said this is a book that you have to read to get it is one that just doesn’t fit easily into a box ,it isn’t like another book from Arabic I’ve read (I am under the belief it is written in English will be translated back to arabic by the writer at a later date ) .Also I do love the simple retro styling of the cover .

The Truth about the Harry Quebert affair by Joël Dicker

the truth about the Harry Qubert affair

The truth about the Harry Quebert affair by Joël Dicker

Swiss fiction

Orginal title La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert

Translator – Sam Taylor

Source – review copy

It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita via goodreads

 

Well in the UK ,you bound to have seen this about it has been really pushed by Waterstones book shop here , which is good to see so often translated fiction doesn’t get the front windows or main tables in book shops .So to Joël Dicker ,he is Swiss writer ,he was born and schooled in Geneva ,he went to Paris to study for a year after school ,then returned and completed a degree in law in Switzerland ,he has always written this his first book has been a runaway success in Europe .it won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens Grand Prix du Roman de l’Academie Francaise prizes .

“He wrote that book for that girl , Marcus .For a fifteen-year-old girl .I can’t leave the plaque there .That’ not love – it’s disgusting .”

“I think it’s more complicated than that ,” I said .

“And I think you should keep your nose out of this , Marcus .You should go back to New York and stay far away from all this “

Marcus is told to leave the Harry Quebert affair alone .

 

So what is the book about ,well it is told in two main time lines the first is in the summer of 1975 ,when the character of the title Harry Quebert is spending the summer in Somerset in New Hampshire ,finishing a book which he feels will cement his places as one of the best writers around  his book the origins of evil is maybe more than it first seemed .During this  time he befriends a young girl Nola Kellergran .Now she disappears at the end of this summer this brings us to the other timeline .For 33 years ,later her body is discovered in the yard of the house Harry Quebert was staying in that summer and she is holding a copy of Harry Quebert manuscript.This is where we meet Marcus Goldman ,now he  is a writer just starting his journey as a writer and was taught by Harry Quebrt so he decides to go to Somerset and find pout what really happened and prove that the man he knew so well isn’t the killer and get him free as Harry Quebert now sits in Jail .Along the way the Life of Nola Kellerman isn’t as simple or clean as it once seems as Marcus uncovers more and more about the men she was involved with that summer and what she was really doing .Does he find the killer ,does Harry walk free and what about the two books Harry’s and Marcus’s about Harry’s case ?

The masterpiece I had so desperately wanted to write …. Harry had written it .He had sat at a table in a diner and written words of absolute genius , wonderful sentences that had moved the whole country ,taking care to hide within his work the story of his love affair with Nola Kellergran

The Origins of Evil was Harry’s masterpiece and the book he was writing that summer .

Now this book is great for a début but you do feel after finishing it a good edit and maybe a few changes would have moved it into that instant classic band .But that said it is a wonderful Homage to all things America now Maclehose have gone with a Hopper painting for the cover here and yes this is the america of Hopper and Rockwell .What Joël Dicker has done is taken parts of recent American culture and mixed them so we have part of Twin peaks Nola Kellergran is rather like Laura Palmer in that the more the book unfolds like in the tv show twin peaks the more we gather she isn’t what she first seemed .Part Stephen King that New England and the small town of Somerset could have walked out of a king novel .Part Cold Case drama now I could pick one shpow out but there is a number of shows and books about Cold crime case solving Marcus Goldman is the classic writer turned detective .Part Lolita how many men were attracted to this young women ? Now this book also struck me as part written for a film or tv series ,now that isn’t a bad thing is it ,I mean stephen King has done it for years ,so keep your eyes out for a version of this for a film ,I would love to see a great director get this book in the hands of the likes of David Lynch or Wim Wenders it would really bring out  the darker side of the book out .So I look forward to seeing what Joël Dicker does next ?

Charlie Chaplin’s Last Dance by Fabio Stassi

charlie chaplin's last dance

Charlie Chaplin’s Last Dance by Fabio Stassi

Italian fiction

Original title – L’ultimo ballo di Charlot

Translator – STephen Twilley

Source – review copy

Men fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.

Francis bacon

Fabio Stassi is a Rome born Italian writer ,that grew up in Scilly .He start writing whilst working in Rome in oriental studies ,he would write every day on his trip to work .He has so far written six book ,this Charlie Chaplin’s last dance is the first to be translated to English .The book its self won the prestigious Italian book prizes Premio campiello , prize Cielo D’Alcamo,  Award Alassio Hundred Books and Premio Leonardo Sciascia Caves Racalmare .

Death : enough,it’s getting late.

Man : Wait ,not yet .I’ll .. I’ll make you laugh ,it’s the

only thing I know how to do

Death : No one has ever made me laugh ,

Man : I will .I’m sure of it watch this .

Charlie gets a glimmer of hope from death as he has never laughed before .

The plot of Charlie Chaplin’s last dance is really in the title of the book ,we meet Charlie Chaplin  at the time is probably the most famous person alive on christmas eve 1971 , he is 82 years old but a father very ,late in his life and he gets a visit from Death his time is up .Charlie has been waiting thou he was told this would happen in 1910 by a fortune-teller so is ready to face death .But no Charlie wants ,more time so they strike up a bargain ,death will give him an extra year if He Charlie the greats comic of his age can make him death laugh .So Charlie manages after a few times ,so he has another year and so this carries on as death keeps to the same bargain if Charlie can keep him laughing on christmas eve every year .In-between Charlie starts to write down his history and life for his son to read when he grows up .From his humble beginnings in London on the Vaudeville stage ,to his earliest  days in America struggling to get by .To the big breakthrough in Hollywood in the silent film era , then his marriages  the decline of his career and his final years

                              Corsier-sur-Vevey 24 December 1977

Dear Christopher James ,

This evening will mark my eighty-eighth Christmas .Once again ,I will spend it with my family , and the story I am about to tell is my gift to you .I know that I owe you a debt I cannot settle .You’re my last child barely fifteen years old , conceived when I was more than seventy you will grow up without me .So now I need to hurry , to pass this on to you , before the news of my demise sparks a global uproar .

Charlie tells his life in a letter to his son .

Fabio Stassi has cleverly mix his childhood love of Charlie Chaplin ,he says in the back of the book since he was a boy and first read Chaplin’s autobiography ,he has reread it through out his life .He has taken the bones of that book and chucked in a mixer with Ingmar Bergman’s  Seventh seal and may I say the humour of Death from the teen comedy Bill and Ted’s bogus journey which of course saw death have a sense of humour and also play a mean double bass (although he doesn’t in this book ). Then he came up with a witty take on a man trying to avoid dying and looking back on his life .Also we see Charlie Chaplin match in his reason for wanting to live on ,in  what is  said in this article about the top five regrets of the dying .This is a fun book ,by a writer I hope gets more of his books translated if they are as fun as this one .

Nagasaki by Éric Faye

nagasaki Éric Faye

Nagasaki by Éric Faye

French fiction

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 ?

 

The FENCER /l’ESCRIMEUR by Ayala R

thefencer_cover_small

The fencer L’escrimeur by Ayala R

US fiction

Source – review copy

I was caught by the description of this book and by the writers bio ,when I was sent email about the book ,plus must admit always been beguiled by Fencing as a sport .Ayala R Finished studying at Stanford in the US ,then moved to the Europe he has lived in six different countries and speaks four languages .He was a competitive fencer and a tango Argentina dancer ,he currently lives in Vienna .

Every time Francis put on his mask ,it stopped being a sport to him and turned into something real :as real as it had been at the time when people used to demand satisfaction after witnessing their honour and pride compromised and thus blood needed to flow in order for offence to be washed away .

From the first match of the championship .

The fencer follows the story of Francis A man at the top of his sport fencing .He is competing in the world championship as the book opens the book unfolds on three levels the first is a progression through the rounds of the championship describing each match how Francis manage to win the moves used and opponent ,the second strand we meet Francis the man outside fencing in the present he is a man who has everything in some ways has nothing .We discover how he got to this point in his life in the third strand of narrative and that is the one of him and his brother growing up an overbearing father the sort that wants his child to be the best at the sport and thwarts his other dreams along the way as he loves playing the piano and would have loved to be a pianist .Add to this Francis has a brother whom like his self fell under his fathers huge desire for a champion in fencing and the honour that would come with that but unlike Francis his brother Germain stayed with the father not like Francis that broke loose but maybe as we see in the present maybe to long .

Francis and his brother had just been children when their father had decided that they were to learn the discipline of fencing .That was also the time when he had a fencing hall built inside the mansion because ,for him ,no fencing club in the region was good enough for his own flesh and blood .

How his journey began along side his brother as his fathers search for them to win “the big one”

I loved the novel Between clay and dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi a novel about wrestling but also tackles similar ground to this book about the struggle to get ahead in a sport but also the fallout from such achievements can bring to the people like Francis involved in the sport .We also encounter father son relationships and sibling relationships ,what we do to make our fathers proud ,but what happens when we feel we fall short of the high bar some fathers can but on their sons .We see also the love and rivalry between  brothers which can ultimately drive one to the edge .Then there is the man himself there is often a feel to excel in one area of life or as a person can lead to a loss in another area of a person’s life and Francis is a perfect example of this .Ayala as a former fencer himself he captures the matches through the book so well you feel the adrenalin rush of each round ,the skill ,moves ,tactics and what it feels like to win a fencing match .It made me want to put on a fencing mask and have a go .All set along the background of the cities of Europe .The book has it’s own website here 

Do you have a favourite sport linked book ?

That was the month that was February 2014

Well after a bright start in January to my blogging year my blog went of the rails slightly last month ,but I had Amanda in hospital thankfully she is ok now and near the end of the month I have used the last of my holidays for 2013/4 so have actually just done not a lot and recharged my batteries but now start to wind back up with the Iffp longlist out in a little under a week I need to review and catch up on books I may have to read for that .but last month I managed to read 11 books and reviewed 8 books also had Pushkin press fortnight which I loved the fact so many people joined in celebrating a publisher I love .I also had a great interview with Hélène Gestern q& a .Also added the Blogging meet up in June in Sheffield 

Joanna-Jodełka-Polychrome-Cover-216x331

Polychrome by Joanna Jodełka poland
Oliver VII by Antal Szarb
Every promise by Andrea Bajani Italy
Journey into the past by Stefan Zweig austria
the break by Pietro Grossi Italy
Amok and other stories by Stefan Zweig Austria
Death in Pont-Aven by Jean-Luc Bannalec france
The late Monsieur Gallet by Georges Simenon Belgium
A french novel by Frederic Beigbeder france
Pigs foot by Carlos Acosta Cuba
Dead star by Alavro Bisama Chile

I ve already read two great books in march and am looking forward to reading the new Andres Neuman novel and doing Shadow Iffp post .What are your plans for March ?

Beneath the Darkening sky by Majok Tulba

beneath the darkening sky

Beneath the darkening sky by Majok

Australian / Sudanese fiction

Source Review Copy

Beneath the darkening sky was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize .Majok Tulba grew up in Southern Sudan as he says on his website his village was by the waters of the White Nile .When he was nine soldiers from the Sudanese Armed Forces came to his village looking for recruits ,Majok was as it happens an Inch shorter than an AK-47 stood up which was the mark they used to measure up child solders ,he finally fled Sudan aged 16 got a Visa and settled in Australia .He is married with children now and writes and runs a charity and likes to highlight the plight of people in his homeland .I would say have a look at his personnel website which is rather good for a writers site

I think about my last sight of home .Mama and the younger ones clinging to her skirts .Her teeth were chattering .She wasn’t whimpering or crying,she was just trembling with her mouth half-opened and her eyes staring into emptiness of space ,and then she turned and stared into my eyes

Obinna last sight of his home and Mama

 

Now what would happened if the Nine year old Majok was actually a couple of inches taller when the solders came to his town .Well that is the basis of Beneath the darkening sky ,Obinna is a happy nine-year old when the book opens dreaming of entering primary 6 at school .When his village is over run by soldiers ,They cause damage in the village ,also kill a number of people , then start looking for who to take and its Obinna and his older brother Akot ,This leads the two boys into a dark world were one goes one way and another another Obinna ends up being called Baboons arse  .The story follows the brothers as they struggle to cope with the violent life of the solders ,rank and respect is gained by how many people they killed ,how many women they’ve raped this is a brutal world .How will it turn out ?

From the first ,we had to learn revolution songs , but our morning runs included a different kind of song – not about the revolution and the glorious new world .

A farmer’s daughter tried to run from me 

So I shot her once ,right in the knee

I dragged her into the long grass 

And then I F****d her pretty ass

The violent nature of the solders and their world even makes it into their songs .

Well short and sweet description ,I want you to read this one .As many of you that read the blog will know I usually wait a few weeks before reviewing a book to let it settle  in my mind ,but this book is one , that just needed me to jump ,up and shout about it to you all .But be aware this is a book about a violent world and thankfully Majok has chosen not to sugar coat the pill here ,no a couple of times I almost throw the book away out of sheer horror at what I was reading ,  but then Majok  is a wonderful compelling storytelling writing didn’t make me .I hate the term Page turner because it is such a cliché ,but I  did finish  this book in two sittings . This book does more than news pictures can do ,it brings you down on the ground as we see this horrific world through the eyes of a sacred nine-year old .Majok Tulba is a writer to watch .A heartbreaking insight into the dark side of the Sudan conflict .

New Novella from Nikesh

Untitled document.docx

The Time Machine’ by Nikesh Shukla Galley Beggar Press Released: 16 August 2013 E-book: e-pub, mobi, pdf £1
We grew up in households where food was important. We grew up in households where the kitchen was the centre of our universes. The main family thoroughfare happened in our kitchens.
‘The Time Machine’ is a new novella about food and grief by award-winning author Nikesh Shukla.
It documents Ashok’s attempts to cook food like mum used to make in the wake of her death. If he succeeds, his time machine will have worked and he’ll be transported back to a time when the family home was alive with the sounds of cricket, the smell of food and the presence of his mother. The story is a tender, funny ode to home-cooked Gujarati cooking (‘not tandoori or balti, are you rogan joshing me?’), peppered with family recipes and outdated wisdom from over- bearing aunties.
25p from each sale of ‘The Time Machine’ will be donated to Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
The novella deals with the universal themes of food, memory and grief. About losing a parent before you have the chance to learn everything you need to from them. About finding home.
Shukla said of the novella: ‘I lost my mum to cancer in 2010, the week my first novel came out. It’s been hard to write about anything else, think about anything else, cook anything else other than the dishes that make the world smell like a world she’s alive in. I wanted to write some sort of mawkish tribute to her legacy, which is food. She was the best cook in the world. I’ll never taste anything approaching her food again. It wasn’t about technical expertise, measurements and outlandish recipes – it was about the soul, about practice and about love. I’ve decided to give all my earnings from this piece of work to Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation to help raise awareness of this all-too common condition.’
Sam Jordison, from Galley Beggar Press, said: ‘I always knew Nikesh could write: and write damn well. That’s why I was so keen to get him involved in The Singles Club. What I didn’t know was that he’d make me want to cry too. This story is just lovely. It’s touching, funny and full of nostalgia, but never at all mawkish. It’s delicate and beautifully flavoured. And I kind of want tomake more food jokes here, but that would be out of keeping with a story that so cleverly avoids cliché and the obvious line. Let’s just stick to saying that it’s wonderful.’
Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: ‘Buy this book. Not only will you enjoy a heart-warming story, you will also be supporting us in our mission to give help and hope to everyone affected by lung cancer – the UK’s biggest cancer killer. All the money raised will go towards vital lung cancer research and providing support to patients and their families.’
Nikesh Shukla’s bio
Nikesh Shukla is a writer of fiction and television. His debut novel, Coconut Unlimited was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011. In 2011, Nikesh co-wrote a non-fiction essay about the riots with Kieran Yates called Generation Vexed: What the Riots Don’t Tell Us About Our Nation’s Youth. In 2008, he and film- maker Videowallah won the Satyajit Ray Foundation Best Short Film Award for ‘The Great Identity Swindle’.
His short stories have been featured in the following places: Best British Short Stories 2013, Five Dials, The Moth Magazine, Pen Pusher, The Sunday Times, Book Slam, BBC Radio 4, First City Magazine and Teller Magazine. He has written for the Guardian, Esquire and BBC 2. He has, in the past, been writer in residence for BBC Asian Network and Royal Festival Hall. His Channel 4 Comedy Lab Kabadasses aired on E4 and Channel 4 in 2011 and starred Shazad Latif, Jack Doolan and Josie Long. He hosts The Subaltern podcast, the anti-panel discussion featuring conversations with writers about writing. Guests have included Zadie Smith, Junot Diaz, Teju Cole, James Salter, George Saunders.
Galley Beggar Press
Galley Beggar Press is a new publishing company based in Norwich founded by Henry Layte, Eloise Millar and Sam Jordison.
First conceived in 2011, Galley Beggar Press is a company specifically set-up to act as a sponsor to writers who have struggled to either find or retain a publisher, and (most importantly) whose writing shows great ambition and literary merit. Our primary questions are not who someone is, or whether something is going to make it into the supermarkets. Rather, it’s whether this is an author we want, a novel we love. If the answer is yes on both counts – then, no matter how challenging a read the book is (or how obscure the author), we will set about bringing it to the widest possible public. .
Really, at Galley Beggar Press, it’s this simple: we want to produce beautiful books, and we want to be governed by the quality and verve of the writing we publish. We have faith in writers,we have faith in readers – and if we feel strongly enough about a book to want to share it, we hope and trust that others will want to read it.
Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is a registered charity in the United Kingdom which aims to provide help and hope to people affected by lung cancer. Founded in Liverpool in 1990, it is the only UK charity to focus solely on lung cancer care. The charity has a dual focus – saving lives and supporting people affected by lung cancer. It funds lung cancer research, supports the prevention of lung cancer by encouraging and helping people to avoid or quit smoking, and raises general awareness of lung cancer and its symptoms. It also supports lung cancer patients by running support groups, providing information to the NHS, and other measures.
I’ve just copied the press release from Nikesh it’s a worthy cause and a great chance to read a book from a great young writer

The Parrots by Flippo Bologna

parrots Flippo BolognaThe Parrots by Flippo Bologna

Italian fiction

Translator – Howard Curtis

Original title I pappagalli

Source – review copy

Well as I said when I review my prizes by Thomas Bernhard it was strange to have another book I read at same time about Lit Prize .Flippo Bologona Second book the parrots to be  translated to English is the Book in question .Flippo Bologna has written two novels and a number of screenplays his début novel also published by Pushkin How I lost the war won the strega prize ,he has also won a foreign press golden globe for his screen play for the film the world is yours .

Don’t be deceived by the fact that he’s in his pants and T-shirt on a terrace in Rome on this bright spring Day .The young man is a writer ,a writer at the beginning of his career ,so he won’t be offended if we call him the beginner(it’s what everyone calls him anyway ) That’s what he is because he has written and published just one novel ,but one that hits the bullseye .

Sound familar hey !!

The Parrots is a satire on the Lit prize process for three writers ,we never know there names the are simply known as the beginner ,the writer and the old master they have each a book up for the big prize .We follow there lives from the day the short-list is announced to three months earlier, then a month before  ,week  before,  the day before  and on the day the prize is given.we also get a post-mortem four months after when the dust has settled and that last shock in the book has fully sunken in .The three embody different stages of a successful writers career ,so we meet The Beginner ,he has let the fact he is up for the prize go to his head ,The Writer he is successful as a writer, but his personnel life is a real mess at the moment ,then there is The Master ,this guy is in the twilight of his career and is revered by people .Then add into the mix , a mysterious Black parrot ,a death ,wives ,girlfriends and publishing folk .We have a wonderfully comic mix .The publisher on twitter compared him to Amis ,it so long since I ve read Amis a writer whose best years have been and gone for me  ,so I wouldn’t compare him to Amis as this is only his second novel and it is hard to say how Bologna will grow as a novel writer ,as he seems to also have a great screenwriter career as well ,for me  this is a good satire on arts Culture and how it can effect perfectly ordinary people .

Let’s be clear about this .The small publishing company that issued The Master’s books was a fully fledged publisher with a back catalogue that brought out at least ten to fifteen titles a year .

I thought this sounded familar those one great writers that move to smaller unknown presses .

I start to think about the terms of these writers are given then wondered is this maybe the same writer competing as thou they are three different people ? when is a writer is at his best ?  when you’re the master is everything you write good ? when can your own life be taken over your actual writing life ? These were all questions I ask ,I imagine writers in each of the places the beginner well there are a lot young writers that seem a bit full of it! ,if you know what I mean .Given we live in a celeb obsessed age our poor English writers aren’t celebs much to my dismay as sure they are much more interesting than our current crop of celebs .The master is a writer I imagine with the cover baring”his best since ….” and a book that was written decades ago is mention but there is always hope .Another think I was reminded of is the classic Italian painting by Giorgione called the three philosophers that featuring  a trio of men one young one middle-aged ,this was painted in 1509 and similar pictures to this  crop up after this one with the three ages of man as a theme  .

Do you like novels about writers

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