Bar Balto by Faïza Guène,


Bar Balto by Faïza Guène,

French fiction

Original title – Les Gens du Balto

Translator – Sarah Ardizzone

Review – personnel copy


I am tall and I am thin
Of an enviable hight
And I’ve been known to be quite handsome
In a certain angle and in certain light

Well I entered into O’Malley’s
Said, “O’Malley I have a thirst”
O’Malley merely smiled at me
Said “You wouldn’t be the first”

I knocked on the bar and pointed
To a bottle on the shelf
And as O’Malley poured me out a drink
I sniffed and crossed myself

Another death in a bar happens in Nick Cave’s O’malleys bar

I did a post when the new forty under 40 granta list came out a few years ago of writers in translation that were stars in the making and under 40 , one of whom was Faiza Guene the French Algerian writer .She published her first book when she was just 19 .She has also made a number of audio visual piece having studied this when younger . This was her third novel ,she is currently working on film scripts .So my third book for women in translation month is a rising star of French fiction .

I’m not Turkish .

They don’t get the difference .They’re always calling me “Turkey boy” .But I’m not Turkish .I’m Armenian .Well on my mum’s side .

My name is Taniel .My old lady calls me “Lazy bugger ” and “shit head ” most of the time .For school it’s daniel and for my mates it’s just “Turkey boy ”

I often hear people call people this and that without even knowing the person or where they are from .

This is a story of a bar told in Voices from the Owner whom is lying dead on the Floor Joel “The rink ” to Tani , the slut , the twins , the spaz . What we get is the story of the bar and the people who came to this Bar . We see how Joe treated certain people differently due to their race .Each person story is like a little statement we are left to wonder if each had something to do with his death .This is a quiet village at the end of the rail line and this is the most exciting thing to happen there for a long time .This is a place where the people dream of leaving .As Joe and the bars world unfolds in front of us .As a mother goes to this bar as an escape a young girl really wants to be paris hilton and that is just the women then there is the men Joel in particular .

It’s Joel Morvier to you , and I’ve decided to tell this story in my own words .Thirty years I’ve been surrounded by newspapers , so there’s no pulling the wool over my eyes .I can see how they can twist the facts rather than trust my own mouth ,

I ‘d turned sixty-two in april , twelfth of the month ,I’m telling you that as a point of fact ,I’ve never celebrated a birthday in my life .

They say I’m not an easy man to like .I’d say I didn’t get as much love and sympathy as I deserved ,As for slurs .I’m not racist , I’ve just got values, and clearly that bothers some people

Joel will have his story told .The rink says he is no racist but you will see others views .

This is a book that is full of undercurrents of what has happened in france since maybe the undercurrent of racism there between Joe and his customers .Faiza also captures the dreams and humour of being in a small out-of-the-way village I felt there is humour . A point I felt is that maybe the style of voices haven’t quite made it through in translation .I always feel slang must be the hardest thing to translate so some what a layer of what must have been in the original french book maybe was lost .But that said it is no reason to not read this book from what the french feel is a great writer in waiting .For me I feel Faiza is just 30 and given recent events both in France and north africa is bound to be one of the voices of this era .

Have you read any great writers in waiting .

Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson


Wilful disregard a novel about love  by Lena Andersson

Swedish fiction

Original title – Egenmäktigt förfarande – en roman om kärlek

Translator – Sarah Death

Source – Review copy

You spurn my natural emotions
You make me feel I’m dirt
And I’m hurt
And if I start a commotion
I run the risk of losing you
And that’s worse

Ever fallen in love with someone?
Ever fallen in love?
In love with someone
Ever fallen in love? (Love…)
In love with someone
You shouldn’t’ve fallen in love with

I can’t see much of a future
Unless we find out what’s to blame
What a shame
And we won’t be together much longer
Unless we realize that we are the same

I thought of Buzzcocks Ever fallen in love with just for the line Ever fallen in love with some one you shouldn’t fall in love with , just perfect for this book .

Well I move to Sweden for the second book for this women in translation month .A prize-winning novel from Lena  Andersson .A well-known Journalist and radio presenter, she has hosted a show called summer over a number of years  .She also writers a columnist for the Dagens Nyheter  .She has so far published seven books this is her fifth novel and won the August prizeone of the biggest book prizes in Sweden .This is her first book in English .

Two weeks had passed by the time she went to him , one carefully chosen evening .In the course of those weeks she had thought of nothing else .The fact he had asked her to drop round to the studio for copies of his early works meant she had the right to seek him out ,So as not to seem too eager , she waited for as long as she could bear to

I was reminded of a scene in the film swingers where they talk about how long before you should contact some one . Has Ester waited to long .

Wilful disregard is as it says a novel about love and being in love and maybe not being in Love  .The say love comes in all shapes , sizes and they say you never know when it is going to hit you .This is the love story of Ester Nilsson , she is a sensible girl in a steady relationship .When she gives a talk about an artist she loves Hugo Rask .She doesn’t know the man himself is there .He introduces himself and ask her to come to his studio , but is this just an innocent invite . They talk and then start meeting this becomes a pursuit for Ester ,as Hugo isn’t maybe quite what he seems to her and maybe what she sees he doesn’t .His disinterest is hard for her to get over .As one woman risks losing it all .

When you love and someone receives that love , the body feels light .When the opposite happens , one kilo weights three .Love that is just beginning is like dancing on a finely honed edge .It can happen that kilo never regains its proper weight , which generates a degree of apprehension in the fearful , the experienced and far-sighted .And in those who do not have esters extraordinary capacity for hope .

Haven’t we all felt this before when in love that light then heavy feeling as we start on the road of love

This is a book about love and how it makes us each act .I was sent this pleased I wouldn’t pick this to read my self and even though I read it early in the year . I knew it would be perfect for woman in translation month .The book is about what we view in others Ester has put as we used to say on a pedestal , so no matter what he does she sees no wrong .In reading swedish interviews with the writer and about the book , the events in the book thou not directly about her , events in her life had an effect on the writing of the book  and some of what Ester went through she has gone through herself .I have maybe been painting a black picture , but no this has humour in it as well a sort of comedy of modern loving in some ways .Lena takes love and breaks apart what makes one woman rick in Ester , how we maybe don’t always take the easiest path in life

Have you a favourite book about love ?


Song for sunday three gig memories

I grew up reading the NME every week , going to as many gigs as I could afford to get too with my friends .Times have moved on gigs are few and far between these days and it is now Mojo and Uncut every month .But there is the memories of those gig years .

This was a gig back when I was still at school The Beatnigs were the second of two support bands for a tour by Billy Bragg , we knew something was to be expected as the older sister of my friend had a friend that went to an earlier gig and said to watch out for this band .A mad mix of industral music and hip hop with a large chunk of politics as you would expect with a support band for Billy Bragg .

A band I saw on a few occiasions was the Leeds band Wedding present they were darling of the Indie press .I remember seeing them tour with the George Best album which this is off .David Gedge songs were about broken lover affairs and growing up with maybe not being the best lover .

Now forward a few years and a band that I managed to see on there first national tour Idlewild , although they toned down there act after there first mini album it was this first album and the songs on it like Captain I feel in love with a brutal vocal and guitar caught a mix of Pixies and REM .

What are your gig memories ?

The story of my teeth by Valeria Luiselli

The story of my teeth

The story of my teeth by Valeria Luiselli

Mexican Fiction

Original title – La Historia de mis dientes

Translator – Christina MacSweeney

Source – library book

I’ve been up and I been down
When I been between I just been hangin’ around.
Things are quite different
And life ain’t the same
Since I lost my tooth.

Now the women they treat me rude,
Not that they ever really treated me that good
I’m a minority and now I know
What it’s like and how it feels to be a negro.
doo doo doo doo

It’s gettin’ down to the nitty gritty
If you can’t smile nice and you can’t smile pretty
They don’t wantchya around they say you look sloppy
When you eat

I love the songs of Daniel Johnson and his song since I lost my tooth is a perfect lyric match for this book

Well it is upon us the second women in translation month and I start with a crossover book as we decide to carry spanish lit month over for another month ,so the perfect choice is this book from one of the best writers to appear in recent years in translation the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli I have reviewed her first novel Faces in the crowd and her essay collection sidewalks here as well .Valeria Luiselli still is living in New york , she also writes a monthly coloumn for El pais .This is her second novel to be translated to English .

I’m the best auctioneer in the world .But no one knows it because I’m discreet sort of man .My name is Gustavo Sanchez Sanchez , though people call ,e highway , I believe with affection .I can imitate Janis Joplin after two rums . I can interupt Chinese fortune cookies .I can stand an egg upright on the table , the way Christopher Columbus did in famous anecdote . I know how to count to eight in Japanese Ichi , ni san , shi , go , roku , Schicho , Hachi .I can float on my back .

Gustavo tells us all about himself in the opening lines of the book .

I couldn’t resist a book on teeth . This is a tall tale of one man and his teeth both his own and his collection of famous teeth . Gustavo Sanchez is a man of many talents , but all this is overshadowed by the state of his teeth . So along the way in his life he has somehow managed to collect a selection of teeth of the rich and famous and has reached a point where he wants to sell these teeth to get himself a new set of teeth .But where did he get those teeth he is selling and where did his own teeth go ? Gustavo is a real character and his stories of the teeth and how he got them are real gems to read .Also the lot descriptions of the teeth in the sale , he is a real salesman

Hyperbolic Lot No. 8

Some teeth are tormented , such is the case of this one the property of Mrs Virginia Woolf .When she was thirty years old , a psychiatrist posted the theory that her emotional ills were due to an excess of bacteria around the roots of her teeth .He decided to extract the three most affected ones .Nothing changed

I love this tall tale of Woolf and her teeth being the cause of her problems .

Now this is the sort of book I love and for me the sort of book that we only find in translation this isn’t a book that would see the light of day in english I imagine . For me teeth have often cropped up in books from Martin amis talking in his autobiography about his own dental problems is one I remember a lot especially as his novel times arrow had echos of the film Marathon man . Now Gustavo is a character that jumps of the page ,a voice that is maybe a every man who is pursuing his dreams , but it is  how he is trying to get his dream teeth is a unique take on how to get to your dreams in this modern age  .It is maybe also a reflection on what price we put on perfection these days . Add to that a tour of the lives of Plato Woolf and Chesterton to name a few and you have a wonderfully witty and truly unique book .

Have you a favourite book with teeth in ?



Wildlife and Weekend reads


A busy day at work saw me going round a local wildlife park with people I support so for this world lit blogger I saw animals from many of the places I have blogged about over the years here you could stroke the  wallabies .It was nice for people I look after to see animals so close up .There was many chance to get so close to all the animals at Yorkshire wildlife park it was lovely to see the people I look after so happy to see them .So now Im home and thankful for a Weekend off here are my weekend reading choices .


Two books from writers I have read before I have the first two books of what is a loose trilogy by Andrej Nikolaidis under review on the blog and of course the first book bt Mathias Enard The zone we brought into this year’s shadow iffp so the next book street of thieves is one I’m looking forward too .So what are your plans for the weekend ?

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