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

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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 

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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

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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

What’s going on in the world of translation !

Well it’s been a while since I round-up some Gems and news I’ve come across in the world of translation .So after a week away from the blog it seemed a nice way to ease myself back into the old routine .First of is one of two new publishers that have crossed my path in recent times A publishing house called Deep Vellum ,set in Texas ,they have three title coming soon I believe ,the first is a collection of short stories from Mikhail Shishkin ,I shall be reviewing The light and the dark by him soon and from that could see his short stories being quite tasty pieces ,Sergio Pitol the Mexican writer and translator is the second writer ,he has won the prestigious Cervantes prize in the past .Lastly they are publishing A member of the Oulipo group of writers Anne Garreta ,she was first member  to be  born and chosen to join the group after it was founded ,She has won the Prix Médicis in 2002 for her book not a day

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Next up is a remind I think but their first book is due very soon and it is the New York based New vessel Press the first book is The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra by Pedro Mairal a man who was a mute spend six decades paint the history of his village on the shores facing Uruguay ,when his sons die they find these scrolls .This reminds me rather of the story of the outsider art of the American Henry Darger who spent year writing an epic saga called the Vivian girls .The book is due out as an Ebook on the 15th July one for the Dairy I think !!.

This week saws the winner of the Oxford Weidenfield Translation prize announced -

Tess Lewis for Lukas Bärfuss, One Hundred Days (Granta)
Louise B. Popkin for Mario Benedetti, Witness (White Pine Press)
Sam Taylor for Laurent Binet, HHhH (Harvill Secker)
Frank Wynne for Alonso Cueto, The Blue Hour (Heinemann)
Philip Boehm for Herta Müller, The Hunger Angel (Portobello)
Mike Mitchell for Jean-Pierre Ohl, The Lairds of Cromarty (Dedalus)

hunger angel

The winner  was The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller  here is my Review  .I may also draw your attention to another book from the shortlist  ,here is My review of The Blue Hour ,A book overlooked I feel as it is better than the more well-known Red April also set in Peru .

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Also a reminder for the forthcoming Thomas Bernhard week .I have a specially commissioned  piece this Thursday that I have been lucky to get from another writer about his love of Thomas Bernhard .

London day Old friends and new IFFP 2013

Well I got up early on Monday to catch the 8:59 train to London ,strange as I sat on the platform reading Skylark by Dezső Kosztolányi which saw the heroine of the novel Skylark go on a journey via train .So I left Chesterfield and just over two hours later and only Ten minutes late I arrived .To meet my old friend simon from the blog Inside books ,we had a great couple of hours having a coffee in Welcome institute talking books ,marathons and family .We then head to central London Simon back to work ,myself off to meet Susan the owner publisher of Istros books ,I’ve reviewed a number of books in the last couple of years from this new publisher and was really keen to meet Susan .we chatted books ,blogging ,book prizes .I also got the in side track on a great book from Bulgaria that they are hoping to publish in 2014 ,if you like the wit in the book by Deyan Enev I read a couple of years ago this one is in the same vein it seems .

Next stop was my favourite bookshop in London the London review bookshop  ,well only one  I’ve been to next time I hope to make it to a couple more bookshops .I had arrange to meet Henry ,he was one of the first book pr to follow me and has been at different publisher and is now at One world I was told about there forthcoming books ,they don’t do much in translation but have some very interesting sound Persian books coming out in the next year .I did buy three books as three is my limit be quite easy to break this in the LRB it has a wonderful selection of translations from around the world it would be very easy to get Carried away anyway I picked up these gems .

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Cosmos and Pornografia by Witold Gombrowicz

Ever since I read the diaries by him I’ve been want to read more of his works ,so this double collection is a perfect choice ,I will save one of these two for Polish lit month .

an episode in the life of a landscape painter

An episode in the life of a landscape painter by Cesar Aira

I have had Cesar aira on my list of people I need to read for a while so there where a number at LRB ,I choose this as I had seen a couple of positive reviews for this one .The story is that of a painter in 19th century Argentina inspired by Humboldt he paint the scenery .

istanbul was a fairy tale

Istanbul   was a fairy tale by Mario Levi

Heard this was coming out last year but yet to see a review and Epic Turkish novel about being Jewish in Istanbul over three generations and the middle of the 20th century .

Then after some refreshment I head to RIBA the home of the IFFP prize night ,I enter was amazed to see Andres Neuman chatting with Nikesh from booktrust so I entered the main room and saw Katharine from Maclehose she introduced me to  Daša Drndić  the Croatian writer ,I had earlier been talking to Susan from Istros about Daša Drndić ,she had told me the Croat version of Trieste has the list of Italian Jews killed during world war two printed on pages that can be taken out ,so when she passed it round Jewish book week and people removed pages this made the book unstable ,this Daša Drndić says shows how unstable society is when we lost all these people .Anyway we spoke on the nature of literature ,how some books we both like Nadas and Krasznahorkai missed the cut off for shortlist ,does this mean us, English readers maybe aren’t use to such complex themes and subject matters .Then I spoke to Frank Wynne I’ve meet Frank the previous two years and he was a judge this year ,knowing he could say nothing I only asked how many times he had read short-list he said four to six times and he had read most in translation and their original language .Then I meet Joanna the publisher of Stork Press ,some one I have spoken a lot with on twitter and via emails ,she is a lovely person and we spoke about books ,how we could raise the profile of her books and books in translation (any ideas welcome I will pass them on to her ) Then we gathered to her the announcement .The head of booktrust spoke about the wonderful Reader project and how it had got people who wouldn’t normally read books in translation involved ,they had chosen  Trieste as their winner .Next came Boyd the chair of the judges he highlight the merits from all the judges on the different books ,then mention the judges had want to mention on book not the winner but a book that deserved merit ,the book was Andres Neuman Traveller of the century ,great choice couldn’t agree more a wonderful book ,that shows what I love about books in translation ,inventive ,challenging ,pushing the boundaries and rather unlike anything in English .So on to the winner ………. The detour by Gerbrand Bakker ,we all clapped and Gerbrand and his translator David Colmer went and accepted the prize . her is Gerbrand and David  winning the prize .

IMG_1029    Here is a recent interview I did with him .Then we returned to the party ,I got to chat to Christopher Maclehose about blogging ,he feels we should have some reward for our efforts ,the fact we are filling the ap from old print media book reviews .Then I got a huge hug and great chat with Andres Neuman ,whom I have spoken with on twitter ,I was amazed he knew me ,he told me he has two more books in the pipeline to reach us in English ,a collection of short stories and another novel .The I head of with Joanna , Susan ,Danielle from Europa ,Simon from Peter Owen ,someone from Telegram to a local pub for a drink ,then a dash for the train and back to my everyday life .But I do have a wonderful project to work on thanks to Susan and made some great new friends and meet some great old ones ,also meet Mark Thwaite a fellow blogger and net guy for Quercus /maclehose ,Stuart Evers ,Nikesh ,Alan Bowden a feloow blogger .

The President,s hat by Antoine Laurain

presidents-hat

The president’s hat by Antoine Laurain

French literature

Original title – Le chapeau de Mitterrand

Translator Gallic books (the four main characters stories were translated by three translators )

Source – review copy

Antoine Laurain is a Parisian born writer ,he has won a number of prizes and has written four novels .The president’s hat is his first book to be translated into English .

I am dining next to the president of the republic ,Daniel kept repeating to himself ,trying to convince himself that , irrational as it seem ,it was really happening to him .He barely noticed the taste of his first oyster ,so preoccupied was he by his new neighbours .

Daniel is eating when Mitterrand comes into the Brassiere he is in

Well this is a strange one I had picked this up a week earlier in the bookshop when it came out attracted by the cover and also the story as it was set during the eighties .So when I got chance to review it from Gallic books I jumped at the chance .The book follows a hat ,the hat happens to belong too President Mitterrand .The hat goes on an adventure after being left behind by the president in a Parisian restaurant and being picked up by Daniel Mercier ,this dull officer worker is in two minds to take the hat and when he does the hat seems to have some magic effect on him giving him a new air of confidence ,he subsequently loses the hat it then passes through Fanny ,Pierre and Bernhard all are touched or change when the hat comes into their lives .Meanwhile Daniel is trying to regain the hat and regain its powers as he sees it .What is Mitterrand doing about his lost hat ? why didn’t he go back  for it .

The black felt brim acted like a visor ,compressing the space around her and marking out a distinct horizon .In Batigonelles ,a man did a double take as he passed her .What kind of image was she projecting ,walking along in the moonlight in her denim mini-skirt ,high heels ,silver jacket and black hat ?

Fanny finds the hat after Daniel she is a 80′s hip girl in her own words

This book isn’t high French lit ,but it is fun lighter reader  .For me its from that part of the French psyche that produces films like Amelie ,which this book really remind me of that fuzzy warmness I got form that film ,That light-hearted Gallic humour  of misadventures  ,Like the box that Amelie finds the hat is a framing devices and a talisman to all the come in contact with and in some way changes everyone’s life  .In the back of the book is an interview with Antoine Laurain where he said he came up with the idea after losing his own hat and imagining after he had returned to the restaurant and their was no sighting that it had fallen into the hands of a beautiful women .Her choose the 1980′s as he want to go back to a simple period of French life ,Nick Lezard in his Guardian review talks of a new sub genre of  ” pre mobile phone literature” ,I agree in part but part of me thinks that anyone of a certain age in both UK and France looks back at the 80′s as a golden age in a way the last time before the world started to speed up due to so much information and internet . When people still read papers ,houses still had  phones or minitel in Frances case .Even our news seemed different we know who Mitterrand was we saw him on our tv on the news regularly as the world has sped up the last twenty years or viewing of the news has changed so we know less about our French neighbours current leader than we did in the 80′s which is a shame .This book is a fast read I finished it in a little over a night and it was a book that when I put it finally down I was smiling and a little upset that it had finished as I loved the world I had been in between the covers .

Have you read the book ?

Best of the world under 40 in English translation

Best writers under 40 2013 list

~(not British but from round the world )

Well as one would expect the chance of the best of British under forty list coming out today from Granta in the new magazine has been eagerly awaited and discussed .So I decide I try to do a list of writers from round the world that have been published or shortly due to be published in English.This is actually quite a task ,because usually you have to be a acclaimed or won a prize to catch the eye of a editor commissioning  translations ,this means the writers I consider newish to use in english say Santiago Gamboa ,Christoph Simon or Mickhail Shishkin all fall out side the under forty classification .But in the end I have found some wonderful writers from round the world myself and a few suggested by Tony as well .

Winstonsdad rest of the world best writer under 40

faces in the crowd

Valeria Luiselli

reviewed he début in English Faces in the crowd and have read a follow-up collection of non fiction pieces sidewalks ,she is my new writer crush for sure she loves wandering round like myself .She is definitely one to watch .An interview with her 

traveller of the century

Andres Neuman

well short-listed for both  the IFFP and BTBA this year with this novel .Is one thing but the other he is actually considered a great short story writer as well ,we have a lot to come from Andres here is my review and Gary’s interview with him.

pron

Patrico Pron

I first mention Pron when he was one of the writers and other stories was working with in the first year .but he was taken up by Faber who are publishing his first novel in English later this year -”my fathers ghost is climbing in the rain “a writer returns home as  his father is dying .here is a piece he wrote for paris review .

7ways

 

Matias Nespolo

He is a another talented Argentinian writer ,his book Seven ways to kill a cat was translated by the wonderful Frank Wynne .Here is a piece from Granta about him 

Daniel Kehlmann measuring the world

Daniel Kehlman

Now this is one that shocked me I have yet to read him but his books been on my radar for a good while and shocked he was eligible ,here is a piece he wrote praising  his translator Carol brown Janeway .

how the soldier repairs the gramophone

Sasa Stansic

Is one of the new breed of German writer to have come to Germany from Eastern Europe in his case Bosnia and start writing in German .Both Rob and Lisa loved this book ,Here is an interview with him from rumpus

Juli Zeh dark matter

Juli Zeh

Juli is another German writer I had on my radar for a while she is among a group of talented female German writers Judith Herrmann and Jenny erphenbeck being other they both just fell outside the under 40 ,here is a review and interview with her tanslator  from Lizzie

Helene-Hegemann

Helene Hegemann

Now this is a controversial choice as by this piece in the new york times shows  ,I did like the book it has a strange arc and is quite unique and she is so young here is my review of Axoltl roadkill.

HATE A ROMANCE

Tristan Garcia

I think we all admired the style and subject of  hate a romance on last year IFFP prize ,Tristan is not just a writer but also a philosopher as this piece shows and here is a review of hate from my blog .

hhhh laurent binet

Laurent Binet

Well he missed our IFFP shortlist but this début from him HHhH has set people talking about what makes a novel and also set many heads turning with its stunning cover .here is my review and interview from the new statesman

beauty and the inferno

Roberto Saviano

Yes he is under 40  ,I know Gomorrah his debut has been round for quite a long time ,the best non fiction writer from Italy at the moment here is my review of beauty and the inferno from last year ,and an interview from huff post .

superman is an arab

Joumana Hadda

A lebanese poet and writer I first read about online via arablit via this profile  I think ,but n=known for poems and essays on the arab experience I hope to review her soon rather than later .oh and she is just over 40 but want to add a female arabic writer .

Dreams from the endz.326x500

Faiza Guene

Another young writer of French Algerian origin she has had two books translated so far to English ,I hope to read her later this year as she has been on wishlist for a good while .she writes about growing up poor in paris her is a piece from the guardian about her 

the tobacco keeper

Ali Bader

Another writer I had on radar since I read a piece on the wonderful Arab lit again(if you’re not following this blog you are missing the chance to find the Arab lit world opened up ).two of his books have been translated in to English .The last was published in 2011 .

risa wataya

Risa Watya

IS a female Japanese writer ,she has women the Kenzaburo Oe prize with her most recent book isn’t it a pity ,which will be coming to us in English soon .I ll thank Tony for this one I not to sure but a nice piece from the official j lit site her about her 

auto fiction

Hitomi Kanehera

A high school drop out  from Japan published her first book age 21 ,best known for Autofiction which I have had from library but never got to ,this is another from Tony .a profile from a few years ago that isn’t behind paywall of ny times .

The-White-Trail

FFlur Dafydd

A Welsh language writer and singer ,she is best known for a piece for the Seren collection of tales from Mabinogion series from the famous Welsh myth  her is a profile of her from Seren .Thanks again to Tony for this one .

Well there you go I given you a few alternatives from Wales to Japan ,from Algeria to Argentina also I link to three list .

Granta spanish writers list 

Granta best brazilian link

Beirut 39

Though some of these writers haven’t had a full novel published in English it is worth noting them for the future .

 

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