Winston’s books of the year

Well its been a bumper year and I always find picking my books of a year hard so here we go with 12  from what I’ve read the year .of course there is many more I would have added but a dozen  seems a good number and  the dozen I chosen have challenge me in some ways and maybe pushed me as a reader .I also include a similar book this year on each book .

1.Heaven and hell / The sorrow of angels by Jon Kalman Steffanson

The first two books of a trilogy of novels that I finally got to read this year set in Iceland follow a young man’s journey through Iceland ,.Both these need two readings by myself but in the end I feel in love with Stefansson poetic vision of the world . also butterflies in November by Audur ava Olafsdottir

SOrrow of angels

2 The search warrant by Patrick Modiano

Well a quick jump in his betting before winning the Nobel prize prompt me to try the only book that was readily available at the time . A man trace a young Jewish woman’s journey during the war , but also finds intersections with his own life .Great that he won the Nobel so now we can get more of his book to read ! also The safety net By Heinrich Boll

 

 

 

 

3 Zone by Matihas Enard

Zone follows a man’s train journey through Italy as he remembers how europe fell apart and how he has in his case the secrets to this and the chance to redeem himself by selling this to the vatican also the tower by Uwe Tellkamp

zone_cover

4 The corpse washer by Sinan Antoon

A gem discovered via this years IFFP prize a young man in Iraq’s dreams shattered as he returns to his father’s career as a corpse washer during the war . also The Iraqi christ by Hassan Blasim

The Corpse Washer

5 The ingenious gentleman and poet Federico Garcia Lorca ascends into hell by Carlos Roja

Well it wins the title for the longest title this year a clever novel that follows the spanish poet Lorca through hell as he relived parts of his life .also The sermon on the fall of Rome by Jerome Ferrari

Carlos Rojas the ingenious gentleman and poet Federico Garica Lorca ascends to hell

6 Bilbao – New York – Bilbao by Kirmen Uribe

A writer think ing about his novel he is writing about growing up in a small fishing port on a flight to New york . A clever ode to a dying world of his family and their fishermen lives . also A notebook by Agota Kristoff

 

 

7 A french novel by Frederic Beigbeder

Auto fiction a story of a night after he won a prize and was arrested and then remembering the relationship he has had with his brother . also Liveforever by Andres Caciedo

a french novel

8 The false apocalypse by Fatos  Lubonja

The collapse that followed capitalism dawning in Albania is captured and told on the national and personnel level by one of the leading minds in the country . also Sworn Virgins by Elvira Drones

IMG_1977

9 The Neruda case by Roberto Ampuero

A young solider is enlist by the great Chilean poet to trace the woman in Neruda’s life to find out what happened to them a journey that takes him around the world . also twilight of the eastern gods by Ismail kadare

10 Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop -Phane

Well I am on the cover of this book quote a woman sits in  a hotel as the flotsam and jetsam of the local city sleep with her we hear her story and their stories .also The people in the photo by Helene gestern

zenith hotel cover

11 Dead lake by Hamid Ismailov

The story of a man that stayed a child after swimming a lake in the former soviet unions hinterland .Also Solar plexus by Rustam Ibragimbekov

the dead lake

12 Harraga by Boualem Sansal

Two women bought together in a house one young a modern arab woman the other dreamy and quiet a typical arab woman see the changing world of Algeria outside them .also Barbarian spring by Jonas Luscher

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Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi

beside the sea 1

Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi

French fiction

Original title – Bord de mer

Translator – Adriana Hunter

Source – review copy

I can live with the sky falling out from above
I can live with your scorn, your sourness, your smug
I can live growing old alone if push comes to shove
But I can’t live without my mother’s love

I can live flying round at an impossible pace
I can live with the bad etiquette that’s falling on this place
I can live with anything you’ve got to throw in my face
But I can’t live without my mother’s embrace

A sons love of his mother Sun kill Moon song I can’t live without my mothers love  , but what happens when a mother has despair at her sons and her life !

can it really be five-year I said to myself a couple of months ago , when I decide to revisit the first three books from Peiene press .They’ve been publishing books in translation as long as I’ve been running the blog and they have provided in that time some of the most thought-provoking books I have read .So back to the book beside the sea seems to be a favourite book from Peirene still after five-year among people who have read their books .I maybe the first time round wasn’t as grabbed as many readers were but this time I felt a greater connection to the book .

When they were both asleep it was hard for me .The talking started all on its own in my head , I hate that , thinking is a nasty piece of work .sometimes I’d rather be a dog , you can bet dogs never wonder what their place in life is or who they should follow , they just sniff the air and its all recorded , in there for ever .And they stick to it

The mother starts to think over night as her boys sleep

Beside the sea is the story of a mother and her two sons , on the surface we seeing them going on a holiday , maybe out of season but to the seaside as the three of them arrive on a bus late in the evening and find a hotel to stay in  . The mother is unnamed but her two sons are kevin and Stan , she is a single parent we are told little bits about how she had the boys and what the boys are like  at home and together how the older brother watches the younger brother and looks after him .But throughout the book this time you get a  sense all isn’t right  with the mother and the thoughts in her head .This time I read the book noticing a lot more little things that lead up to the end moment of the books ,when the mother makes a decision that will affect her and her boys for the rest of her life !

I dreamt of the sea , I remember , of Stan running towards the sea , into the sea , but not drowning, and me with no words left to call him back …  Where was Kevin ? I don’t know , I could feel him but not see him , it was like the sea was only there for Stan and two of them understood each other so well tht it couldn’t hurt him .

She pictures the boys beside and in the sea .

Now I have yet again in the summary of the book , I’ve  not mention the big event in this book because for me if someone hasn’t read the book its like when we told people who hadn’t seen the sixth sense at the cinema what had really happened to Bruce Willis .But in reread the books the clues are there through the books in the thoughts and way the mother talks about her sons .At the time of the first reading I had read a lot less French fiction but now five years on this book is easier to place in the French cannon .The way French fiction can explore emotions and actions maybe even thoughts that a writer has had and never carried out  , but where these actions and thoughts  could lead so one of the first French novels on this blog becomes the 51st French book on the blog .In my original review I mentioned Kitchen sink drama as an English equivalent of this  book , but now years on maybe this book is nearer the sort of film Ken Loach would make there is a real natural feel to the prose ,but because Olmi obviously knew what was going to happen at the end we get little bit thrown through out the story that point us when we get to the main event in the book .I also think this is a book that would have more of an impact if you are a parent yourself , I’m sure many people have felt the despair that this mother feels about her sons .

Have you read this book if not why not ?

The whales in Lake Tanganyika by Lennart Hagerfors

 

The whales in Lake tanganyika by Lennart Hagerfors

Swedish ficion

Original title – Valarna i Tanganyikasjön

Translator – Anslem Hollo

Source  – Personnel copy

 

Africa land for preachers gold
Land for everybody young and old
The place that holds for some bright future,
But for others the future tend to torture
Ma’ Africa.

What went wrong with your brains?
You kill each other you destroy human dignity
People of Africa lets stand together
And make it the land of hope!

I want to tell everybody about myself

ma africa by One giant leap featuring  The Mahotella Queens & ulal maybe captured the book a bit .Africa is a character in this book .

One of the things I love about shops like Oxfam that seem to get donate quality books is looking through the shelves and finding books that I’ve never heard off , and in this case titles that gr
.ab me .Lennart is a swedish writer , but had spent time in the Congo as a kid as his parents were missionaries .He is a literary critic as well as a writer , he has written twenty plus novels in Swedish .This looks to be the only one of his books to be translated into English in the late 1980’s , yet another Oxfam Chesterfield gem !

“My name is Stanley . Henry Morton Stanley  I am a correspondent for an american paper , the New York herald .Its manager , young James Gordon Bennett , jr has sent me out to lead an expedition into the heart of Africa .I am offering you the position of third man – you would be the third white man in the expedition .

Stanley offers Shaw the chance to join him .

The book follows Stanley’s journey through Africa( I keep saying africa as it is how it is described in the book it actually congo we are in )  to find David Livingstone .We are told the story by one of the other two white men that went with Stanley on this Quest to find Livingstone , John Shaw a drinker and ex sailor , but someone who has been in Africa a while and has let the place and people soak into him as a person and lets it still give him wonder he loves what he sees the wonders of the nature around him  , but in may ways is maybe a weak man who is in  love with world  around him .Then we see Stanley through his eyes this brash american has come to tame africa , has no time for customs or Shaw at times .This shows what is a well-known moment the meeting of  Stanley and Livingstone , through another’s eyes .But also shows the way westerns view on Africa  at the time . We follow the two men all the way to they meet Stanley .

Then Stanley got to his feet again slowly .

“Dr Livingstone . I presume “

The old wretch barked a little laugh but then looked terrified again ..

Those famous words left Livingstone bewildered it seems here .

Now in some ways part of this book can be dated , but maybe inline with the way people spoke and view the world at the time and at times the speech used by Shaw and Stanley would be very offensive now .It also shows that one event remember the meeting can be viewed differently when seen  from another’s eyes .Lennart spent time in Congo which is of course where the actual meeting took place .Shaw was on the expedition with Stanley but  had left before he found Stanley so the part of the book where he sees the meeting is imagined .What we do see is Stanley maybe a brutal strong-headed man set on finding this man .Shaw is a softer figure a broken man in many ways but one in total awe of all that surrounds him .I was reminded of books like the secret history of Costaguana , a book that also tells another tale of colonial life all bit in latin america but the is parallels in how westerns treat the native folk .Well a gem from Sweden brought second-hand a real one evening book to read but you find yourself in 1870’s Africa in the deepest jungles struggling to find a missing Scottish man .A great way to spend an evening .

Have you a favourite books set in 19th Africa ?

Harraga by Boualem Sansal

 

 

Harraga by Boualem Sansal

Algerian Fiction

Original title – Harraga

Translator – Frank Wynne

Source – review copy

Out of my Algeria
they made the prisons taller
than the schools.
They sullied the nocturnal roots
of the People,
the serious Tree
of the remote Berbérie…
They denied the certainty of our Land,
they tore apart Islam, its color,
its fantastical tribes, even the shame
that makes them live.
They denied the Vital Fire, our Flag
They exiled the humble joys of our huts
slow at the return of corn…
Blind! Blind!

Well I had hope to get this book last week as it is one I feel we all need to read .Boualem Sansal  had a government job in the  early 2000’s til he start complaining about the government , his books since then have been critical of Algeria in particular how the vast money made from Oil is being spent and in this book womans rights .Boualem Sansal still lives in Algeria as he says the his country needs artists to pave the way to peace and democracy .He has won many awards and written six novels .He is one of the strongest critics of his country’s regime .

This is how a whirlwind sweeps into your life .Nothing absolutely nothing in my past led me to suppose that one day i would open my door , open my life to such mayhem .I opened the door because that’s hat you do when someone knocks , you answer .

Lamia just after Cherifka arrives at her door and the effect she has on her life .

Harraga is the story of two women , Lamia , who up to now had lived a quiet life behind the wall of her house , just living in her own world and Cherifika a 16-year-old unmarried pregnant girl arrives in the middle of the night at Lamia ‘s door , she was sent to her by Lamia brother Sofiane .Sofiane is also the inspiration  for the title the only member of Lamia family left alive he is a Hararaga , some one trying to escape Algeria for Spain across the sea .Meanwhile the two worlds of Lamia nad Cerifka start to clash , Sherifka is having to lay low but is struggling to do this in a way she is  a new woman wanting to be equal wanting to be heard but this is dangerous for a girl with child that is unmarried could be killed for Honour .This is what Lamia is trying to do ,whilst seeing the world anew through this young girls eyes making this meek woman who maybe is an example of what woman have been in Algeria she gets stronger .As the two woman adjust to each other and the world outside .

Cherifka is bored .I’ve noticed that she’s become less voluble , less frivolous , she is brooding , preoccupied serious .I scarcely recognised her .She is like a caged bird that has forgotten how to sing , to splash in its bath , to hop and skip for joy – a joy it can scarcely remember , one too distant and to fleeting to gladden the heart .

Lamia sees how being held up in the house is affecting Cherifka , these lines remind me of the lines of Maya Angelou in a way .

This is in some ways a classic odd couple story , the pair Lamia and Cherifka in some ways to me reflect the two faces of woman in the modern Arab world Lamia has hidden herself and in her own way is a romantic living behind a wall in her own world with ghost but not really living as she has settle for the life she has .Cherifka is the modern girl wanting to live , having a boy before being married , wanting to be seen and heard in a world where woman should really be meek like Lamia .Boualem Sansal has lifted the veil on being a woman in Algeria , but not just that through Sofiane and his trying to leave Algeria he has shown the problems in the country a country rich in its own world with oil money but only for the few .Then there is the house and the city t,the house has itself been part of Algeria and its history and through these two woman is seeing another turn in the country’s history .I know Frank the translator really hopes this book gets a wider readership because its writer has a voice that needs to be heard , silenced  in his own country even here this book hasn’t really got the coverage a work of its quality and insight needs .

 

Have you a favourite book from Algeria ?

iffp library books and a couple of new nordic gems Winstons books

Well as the year ends I always tend to try to look for any books that may have slip under my radar for next year IFFP , I decide to order two from the library that had caught my eye in recent months and had both been on the IFFP before David Grossman , his latest book a mix of poetry prose and a play like dialogue  .I do wonder if this will be entered for the IFFP , but Falling out of time sees  bereaved parents looking for there lost children starting in a small village and meeting the folk that live their .The other book is by Per Petterson I refuse  a story pf two boys one lost his mother that has gone the other with his own parents , sounds a bit like he is on his usual ground but I have enjoyed his other books .

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Now the strange thing is as I order one Nordic novel and collect the Petterson than on the next two days I have two more nordic novels arrive in the post the following two days  ,it must be winter calling !

image (2)

Now the fist is The wandering Pine by Per Olov Enquist , a third person account of his own life and the strange events that have happened to him ,events such as lost days and partying .The mention of this being as elliptical as Karl Ove Knausgaard is exhaustive another remarkable sounding book from Sweden .

imageThen today this dropped through the letterbox .The winter war by Philip Teir a Finnish writer that writes in Swedish .The book follows the Paul Family the husband Max is about to turn 60 and what on the top seems a great live when under the surface is actually just about to crack open a wife he doesn’t love and kids with problems , what caught my eye on this is comparisons to Yates and Updike but with a cooler Nordic temperament mmm sounds good .Any way that some recent arrivals I’ve been offline over a week just spending time with family my mum visited , Amanda and I had a couple of days off together and just spent time together , I shall catch up on comments etc this week  .I’ll be back tomorrow with a new review of a great French translation from Algeria . Have you had any gems through your doors recently !

 

Classics in translation anyone want join in ?

Well this is a sort of feeler post to see if any one would be interested in reading a few classics in translation , I’m 300 pages into Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone and already have a  list of writers mentioned by him with in these first few hundred pages plato , Virgil, Montesquieu Plutarch to name a few , I read a bit of Homer years ago and maybe three or four other books but that is about it and reading leopardi has made me want to fill this gap and learn more about these writers that so inspired him in thoughts about history and language .So maybe a small club reading three or four of these books a year  maybe starting in the middle of next year .I’ve not look fully into availability translations etc yet . I’m hoping a number of these writers  will be easily available as Oxford classics or Penguin classics .Maybe by the end of Zibaldone I’ll do a reading list of books I want to try if any one want to come along for the ride .

Have you a favourite classic in translation ?

 

The tower by Uwe Tellkamp

 

The tower  tales from a lost country  by Uwe Tellkamp

Original title – Der turm Geschichte aus einem versunkenen land

German fiction

Translator Mike Mitchell

Source – review copy

Daniel: When the child was a child, it was the time of these questions. Why am I me, and why not you? Why am I here, and why not there? When did time begin, and where does space end? Isn’t life under the sun just a dream? Isn’t what I see, hear, and smell just the mirage of a world before the world? Does evil actually exist, and are there people who are really evil? How can it be that I, who am I, wasn’t before I was, and that sometime I, the one I am, no longer will be the one I am?

Daniel the angel from Wings of desire seems  to be fitting as it is set just at same time as this book from the other side of the wall .

Well its a nice long book for German lit month today , The tower is an epic novel that won the German book prize in 2008 .The son of the a doctor he grew up in Dresden ,was studying medicine , but he then had to spend time in the East Germany army as a tank commander just before the wall fell in East Germany , he was draft into the army after he was considered political unreliability by the east german authorities .He published his first novel in 2000 , but it wasn’t til the tower came out he found real success .The book was made into a two-part tv series in Germany that was one of the most watched show of recent years when it was on German TV .

Anne took Meno and Christian to one side “.I think we should give it to him afterwards  , when there’s just family . I don’t know a lot of guests very well ; I don’t want it made public .Agreed ?”

Richard made a short speech of thanks .His final words brought a grin from Christian and Ezzo .”gut now , colleagues and friends , eat your fill .”

At the birthday party they are careful when giving gifts that maybe be considered wrong in the eyes of the east german authorities .

The tower follows the years before the wall fell in East Germany , we shown this through one families story .The Hoffman family in the tower region of Dresden ,  the parents like the writers own work in medicine .The son Christian , wants to follow in his fathers footsteps and become a doctor , but to do that he has to do his military service in the NPA (National People’s army ) .Whilst doing this he struggles to adjust to military life , sees a comrade die , he ends up getting the blame for this and spending more time in the army and in prison .Whilst at the start we see his father turning 50 and coping with the system in east Germany and practicing medicine .Then there is Uncle Meno Christians uncle , considered a member of the elite intellectual as he had studied in Moscow , he was to become a scientist , but in the end became a writer ,he is part of the literary elite and tries to put forward the truth in the way that is allowed .As he and his fellow writers struggle to write and get published .

Meno went to Leipzig book fair every year .Philipp put him up for those days and continued to do so after Hanna and Meno had separated , for the two men felt a liking , a quiet respect , for each other , what Hanna had once called ” a kind of awkward friendship “

Meno staying with a writer friend Phillp londoner , thought to be Thomas Kuczynski according to the German  press .

Now its hard to sum up a thousand page novel .The tower had been on my radar to read since it won the German book  prize  and in English since Frisch brought it out in e-book  , but then it was also brought by Penguin which is lucky I like my ebooks but struggle to read long books on my kindle , been trying to read another thousand page german novel on it for a while , but never got that far .Anyway when this dropped through the door at the beginning of the month I was determined to read and finish it in time for German lit month .Epic is a word for this Tellkamp has tried to catch the fall of East Germany , through a thinly veiled story of his own life , From the father and working in East Germany , to Christians own story in the army ,.The uncles story of trying to be a writer in east germany .We get all this in a number of styles of writings diaries , first person narrative ,third person narrative and a lot of stream of consciousness  writing .What we get is like a collection of little piece snippets of their lives  of these family members stories brought and tied together to get the story of a country falling apart and also the inner tension of East Germany a country built on mistrust .He also used uncle Meno to discuss writing in east germany  a number of the people in his circle have since been worked out by German Journalist to be specific writers of the time .Well for me this is the best book about life in East Germany just before the wall fell , that said I not read much wolf but for the whole picture I can’t see a better book  to celebrate 25 years since the wall and east germany Fell .

Have you a favourite Epic book in translation ?

The Chef by Martin Suter

 

The Chef by Martin Suter

Swiss fiction

Original title – Der Koch

Translator – Jaime Bulloch

Source – Review copy

 

I can change the world
With my own two hands
Make it a better place
With my own two hands
Make it a kinder place
With my own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands
I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
I can clean up the earth
With my own two hands
I can reach out to you
With my own two hands

with my own two hands a love song by Jack Johnson , reminds me of what Maravan made with his own two hands source 

Well its been a quiet German lit month here on winstonsdad , I’ve chosen a bestseller from Switzerland .Martin Suter started out as a copywriter , working for one of the best known ad agencies in Basel for twenty years ,before setting up his own company .He also has a well-known coloumn in a monthly magazine in Switzerland .He got his breakthrough novel in 1997 , small world which was made into a film .The cook is his seventh novel .he spends his time between Spain and Guatemala now .

By the time  Andrea left that evening she had been initiated into the aphrodisiac secrets of milk and urad lentils , saffron and palm sugar ,almonds and sesame oil ,saffron Ghee and long peppers , cardamom and cinnamon , asparagus and liquorice ghee .

The food describe at times makes you mouth water and you Andrea discover the power food can have .

The chef  is the story of two former restaurant employees , their former restuarant was one of the best known in Zurich to the fact its chef was a well-known , but after the financial crash lead to job cuts . So  Maravan the Tamil who was the dishwasher and Andrea the beautiful waitress find themselves without a job .The pair discover that Maravan , is actually a wonder in the kitchen , he learnt to cook back in his native Sri Lanka .But the food he cooks is more than food it has almost magical powers in the love department , as the people who eat it seem to be given added sexual powers they discover this after Maravan cooks one of his meals for Andrea and she falls for him after eating the food he cooks .This leads to the idea of starting a company cooking for couples and becoming partners in the buisness  .As the business grows we start to find out a little more about Maravan’s life before he came to switzerland ,where he shouldn’t be .They also grow and some of the people he is dealing with are shady seling arms this leads them into a underworld .

“The dirty stuff “

Andrea understood immediately what he was saying , but asked “what dirty stuff “

Maravan paused .

“If someone rings and wants ,you know , sex dinners .As far as I’m concerned you can say yes “

“Oh that .All right , I’ll take that on board , anything else ?”

“Nothing.”

As soon as Maravan had hung up ,she looked for the number of the caller who had asked about the sex dinners ,she had noted it down , just in case .

They decide to move their business in a new direction using the special qualities in Maravan’s food .

Now I don’t usually read blockbuster novels in English , the books you may call airport books , but as I read just translation these days we come across these books from time to time Suter is a big star in Europe ,his books have been made into films .His novels from what I read tend to have like this one a social justice message behind them from Maravan’s own story to that of his friend from Ethiopia  , a bit of love and a bit of crime .I can’t really match it to an English writer as I say I don’t really read blockbuster novels .but that said I was reminded of the thing Stephen king does in his books and that is the sense ,Suter seems to have  an eye for this book ,possibly becoming a film .In fact the film version of this book is out in the next few weeks in German-speaking world .Entertaining quick read , that has a little bit of everything thrown into the mix , culture clash , cooking , love ,sex ,crime and murder , also a detailed description of the financial events around the world as the crash starts to happen .We also get the recipes that Maravan cooks .

Have you read a bestseller from around the world that has been translated into English ?

1000 posts not out

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I love milestones on the blog ,but also worry getting  near to them. But today sees a big one a 1000 posts have been  featured on the blog it has only taken Five years and five months to reach this point I remeber being blown away years ago when my friend Rob or robaround the books reached this point .well  for me what has changed in those fiver years well a lot really I’d struggle to get a couple of hundred words written on a book five years ago now I tend to write seven to eight hundred words on a book .I have also started the wonderful #translationthurs meme via the blog that happens every week on twitter  and has even made a cover of a book .I also started a shadow jury for the IFFP orize , which has seen me attend the prize for a number of year ,something that which out the blog I wouldn’t have done .people I have meet many wonderful people bloggers , writers ,translators and even publishers .I have in my way discovered the writer in me as I find it easier to write about things now than I  used to year ago , still not great on grammar and maybe find it hard to find the right word sometimes but it is a lot easier than it was .Confidence is another thing I have gained in myself , I feel that is the main thing that I have gained in speaking about books in translation I have been able to gain a voice in other parts of my life .I can’t wait to reach another milestone probably a thousand reviews only 499 more to go !!

Raw material by Jörg Fauser

 

Raw Material by Jörg Fauser

German literature

Original title – Rohstoff

Translator – Jamie Bulloch

Source – review copy

 

 

In Berlin, by the wall
you were five foot ten inches tall
It was very nice
candlelight and Dubonnet on ice

We were in a small cafe
you could hear the guitars play
It was very nice
it was paradise

You’re right and I’m wrong
hey babe, I’m gonna miss you now that you’re gone
One sweet day

Lou reeds Berlin maybe one best sound track songs to this book source

Jörg Fauser was a huge name in the underground literature culture of Germany when he was writing , Grew up in Frankfurt , but then he lived in squats around Europe Istanbul , Berlin and even North Africa as he tried to live life ,like the  Beat writers that he so admired .He was greatly drawn to the Beat writers of America admiring the cut up style of Willam Burroughs and also the hard-boiled crime of the likes of Hammett and Chandler , he wrote a number of crime novels that were well received at time and a have been published in English .He also tried his hand as a song writer .But this book isn’t a crime novel , no it’s the full on vision of a man as a writer at the time Fauser was a writer .His lead character is indeed an alter ego of him .

As they didn’t rake enough with their five storeys , the hotel owners had put another structure on the roof ,The view was overwhelming , as were the heat in the summer and cold in the winter .But for two marks a day we could enjoy the same panorama for which tourists would have shell out twenty or fifty times as much .And we could get ours on credit

Living cheap seeing the blue mosque from a makeshft home on a roof in a hotel in Istanbul .

As I said Raw material is the story of a writer Harry Gelb , he happens to follow the same path as fauser did in his life , living in Istanbul and then Berlin .what we see is a man who loves the beat writers and the lifestyle in the books trying to live out this lifestyle in europe living on rooftops in Istanbul writing in oilskin notebooks about his life their , then a return to Germany to the bohemian Berlin and trying to get noticed publishing Magazines .All the time ,  meeting girls drinking taking drugs .All the time writing and trying to find someone to publish his masterpiece Stamboul blues .Harry tries to get noticed but is thwarted at every turn it seems , his book is great every one says so but it is maybe to modern for the time .He also falls for many women along the way .Bur does get to meet one of his hero’s Burroughs as he tries to make it .

I was on my way – and how! I tried to explain to Burroughs that I’d been a junkie myself for four years , and in my report I also wanted to write about how one could get off the gear .Burroughs had managed it with apomorphine .Apomorphine was unknown in Germany .That’s why i was here .He lit another cigarette .He smoked filterless senior service chain-smoked them ,

“What sort of stuff did you take ?”

“Oh , opium mainly .”

“What raw opium ? You didn’t take it intravenously did you ?”

“Yes I did .”

“Young man ,” Burroughs said , with the hint of a smile , “you must have been out of your mind .”

Harry gets to interview both his and Fauser’s  own hero William Burroughs .

What we see in this book is a side of German life that isn’t always been shown in LIterature in translation , I was luckily enough to catch on to the very tail end of this life when I lived in Germany twenty years ago , a life of small pubs , people meeting and doing arty thing seeing small bands going to make shift clubs .This is the same world that gave us the great film directors like Wim Wender and Rainer Fassbinder ,we see the Berlin that also had the likes of Nick Cave and David Bowie making some of their greatest records at the time .In Harry Gelb , we see what life was like for Fauser the ups and the downs the dreams and disappointments of the world he lived in .Fauser story is sad he died under strange circumstances aged only 43 having a life similar to Harry his character doing meaningless jobs and writing underground magazines and trying to break through to be a big writer like his Hero’s .Fauser also wrote songs I found this on you tube by Achim Reichel who he wrote songs for .

 

Have you a favourite writer from the Counter Culture side of German life ?

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