Tigermilk by Stefanie De Velasco

 

Tigermilk by Stefanie De Velasco

German Fiction

Original title – Tigermilch

Translator – Tim Mohr

Source – Library book

Berlin im Licht

And when you go for a walk, the sunlight may be enough, but to light the city of Berlin, the sun is not enough.
This is no little hicktown.
This is one helluva city!
If you want to see everything you can,
You have to use a few watts!
So what then? So what then?
What kind of a city is it then?

Come, turn on the lights so we can see what there is to see!
Come, turn on the lights and don’t say another word.
Come, turn on the lights, so we can see for sure what the big deal is: Berlin in lights!source

I choose Kurt Weil his songs reflect the darker side of life on the whole and here is one about Berlin

Now every IFFp longlist there is a few books I haven’t come across with hundred plus books out a year in translation , even I miss some so when this was on the longlist I didn’t know what to expect .Stefani De Velasco was born in Oberhausen to spanish parent she studied Political science at Bonn .She now lives in Berlin , were the book is set .This book was here debut novel it won Prenzlauer Berg Literature prize .

We dump the chocolate milk down the toilet , chocolate milk is for children . We drink tiger milk this is how you make it . Pour a little school cafeteria milk , a lot of maracuja juice , and a decent slug of brandy into a muller jar . Jameelah stirs it .

This is tiger milk a very German idea , my old  German girlfriend loved nutella and eggs on toast

Now Berlin has had many great books written about it ,the city has also been a character in many books .This is a book of modern Berlin the melting pot of cultures and races that live there now .The book follows two girls on the verge of womanhood , Nini and Jameelah have just broken up for school for the summer and are all set on losing their virginity By practice .But they choose a dangerous path by going to the red light district and picking up random men to learn about sex , maybe learning in the wrong way as they just view them as meat really  .All this discovery is fueled by The tigermilk of the title a mix of milk brandy and other thinks they drink from jars (now seen in every hipster bar in the uk ) .This summer sees the girls grow but also witness the darker sides of life and sex . There attempt to practice maybe doesn’t make perfect and also different cultures

I don’t know why we ended up on Kurfursten of all streets and with the men there , i don’t know any of that , I just know that we always thought nothing would ever go wrong, nothing would happen , as long as we didn’t go anywhere alone , never alone .

The closing lines struck me how we sometimes look back in regret but maybe experiences is a thing we all need .

This book is a gem really , I’ve not read to many Bildungsroman that have females as their lead characters .Nini  and Jameelah both reflect the new face of Berlin with both there families came to Berlin from outside Germany .These two street girls so to speak are this generations Christiane F like the kids in the book and the film, set around Banhof zoo in the 1980’s .What De velasco and Tim Mohr in his translation has done is bring the streets to life through the eyes of these fourteen year old girls .A book for me to sit next to the great books about berlin like Berlin Alexanderplatz and films like Wings of desire .So a great choice for the longlist , I love discovering new voices and this is another great new voice from Germany .

Have you read this book ?

By night the mountain burns by Juan Tomas Avila Laurel

 

 

 

By Night the M B front cover CMYK

By night the mountain burns by Juan Tomas Avila Laurel

Equatorial Guinea fiction

Original title – Arde el monte de noche

Translator – Jethro Soutar

Source – review copy

 

“Memories Can’t Wait”

Do you remember anyone here?
No you don’t remember anything at all
I’m sleeping, I’m flat on my back
Never woke up, had no regrets

There’s a party in my mind…And it never stops
There’s a party up there all the time…They’ll
party till they drop
Other people can go home…Other peoplle they can split
I’ll be here all the time…I can never quit

Was hard to find a lyric but talking heads for some reason seemed right and a song about memories .

Well this is one I had read last year but put to one-sided and never got too , which doesn’t mean I didn’t like it the opposite really I loved it at the time sometimes if I leave a book too long to get to I never do .So last few days I flicked through it again and remember what I enjoyed about it after it made the IFFP longlist .Juan Tomas Avila Laurel is one of the voice to speak out against his countries harsh regime .A well-known blogger in his country , he worked as a nurse .He chose to stay in Equatorial Guinea ,when a lot of his fellow writers left .He eventually left in 2011 after he went on hunger strike to tie in with a visit from a Spanish minister  .

If there were too few people on our Atlantic Ocean island , too few strong people , we obviously wouldn’t be able to fish in canoes .There would be no need to ask a woman to have malanga soup ready at particular hour of particular afternoon , and nobody would sing to pull a half made canoe to its final destination

The island works together at times .

Now By night the mountain burns is one of those books that feel as thou it has been around for years in its style of writing  because the world we see maybe hasn’t changed for years .laurel draws on the small island of Annobon which is part of the country but also maybe shows more what is wrong with the country as it is smaller and poorer  .But rather like Fois book bloodlines is cut off from the surround world a world caught in amber .In this case it is an island where some of the past still lives on in myths and traditions . But the island is faces many other problems as Cholera and fire have both broken out and are spreading like wildfire .This is all told to us through the eyes of one of the youngest members of a family the young grandchild of a family  .So will it be fire disease or the old superstitions that drive the family out ?

They made the dead man a coffin and in the afternoon they went to bury him , following the procedure I described earlier . All the children who lived on the streets of the funeral procession were shut up in their homes with the windows covered up , forbidden from going outside until the adults got back .

A world full of tradition and the fear of what cholrea have brought to the island

I really enjoyed this when I read it last year as it is what seems the second book to be translated from its country it is hard to compare it with any other African fiction as Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking country in africa . But at the time I noted down one book it reminded me of and that boom was” the last will and testament of senhor Da Silva Arajo by Germano Almeida “a book from Cape Verde a small island off Africa rather like Annobon I was  reminded as both gave  me  a feel of island life (meaning it is rather slow and often can have developed its own mythology ).A great choice for the English pen translation programme bringing us a writer that stands up for what he believes and in this book he shows us in part what is so wrong with his home country .In this book rich in its poetic language .

have you read this book ?

Horcynus Orca Stefano D’arrigo what are we missing

Another in the occasional series of post about books I’ve discovered from around the world that have yet to hit us in English published in 1975 Horcynus Orca was twenty years in the writing by Stefano D’arrigo and is one of the longest novels in the world it has been compared with Ulysses and Moby dick .The book covers four days in 1943 and tells the story of a sailor returning home after the collapse of the Italian navy . i found out about this via a german friend that point me in the direction of the German translation by Moshe Khan which has recently been a hit in Germany .

Here is him reading and talking from the German edition ,I can understand a little of this so found the prose interesting . Then I also found an interview with Andrea Camilleri translator had said in an interview he was translating the book ,which is good given one problems with translating the books would see to be it has a Scillian element too it in the dialect used in the Italian .So not sure which publisher this is for if it is not just a personnel journey by Stepeh Sartarelli himself

Any ideas which publisher has this lined up ?

Which over modernist masterpieces are we missing in English ?

Winstons books some more arrivals at winston towers

Been  while since I did a post of new books coming in so I grabbed a few that have arrived the last week or two .Some new some old friends in the post .

in the night of time

Now this is one I remember coming out in the US over a year ago  Antonio Munoz Molina is one of Spain’s best known writers and In the night of time is his epic . A dark novel that follow one man as he leaves his family and escapes a Spain on the brink of Civil war .It was called a Spanish war and peace in one US review .

My documents by Alejandro Zambra

I have reviewed his novel ways of going home a couple of years ago . Alejandro Zambra is one of the leading voice of Chilean fiction .This is a collection of his short stories from writers trying to stop smoking or call centre worker . All featuring his ironic style .

when the doves disappeared by Sofi oksanen

Another returing writer .Her first novel in English Purge was one of those books in translation that seemed to break out and be read by the more general reading public .Lets hope this tale of Estonia in the world war two and then year after as two relatives try to discover the truth .When the doves disappeared(keep wanting to call it when doves cry lol ) sound even more interesting than Purge to me .

A gothic Soul by Jiri Karasek Ze Lvovic

A gothic soul by Jiri Karasek Ze Lvovic , is the latest and another wonderful little hardback from Twisted spoon press . A gothic soul is the story of one man one city a man struggling with god and his soul as he sees the city through time considered one of the best Czech novels from the decadent movement .A great new read for East European lit month

The bridge over the Drina by Ivo Andric

bridge over the drina

 

The bridge over the Drina by Ivo Andric

Bosnian fiction

Original title – Na Drini ćuprija

Translator – Lovett F Edwards

Source – personnel copy

This table has four sturdy legs
And a heart of very near wild oak
When others would have screamed out loud my friend
This one never even spoke

I’ve been sat upon, I’ve been spat upon
I’ve been treated like a bed
Been carried like a stretcher,
when someone thinks they’re dead
I’ve been dined upon, I’ve been wined upon
I’ve been taken for a fool
Taken for a desk,
when they should have been at school

The table in the song by beautiful south is a dumb witness of history source 

Well this has been a book I have want to add to the blog for a while . Part of what I need to do is add books like this and writers like Andric .Former Nobel winner .He was born to Bosnian Croat parents ,was rought up in the town of Visegrad where this book is set and the bridge is .He won the nobel mainly based on the value of this book it was the first of a trilogy of books he wrote set in his native Bosnia .

For the greater part of its course the river Drina flows through narrow gorges between steep mountains  or through deep ravines with precipitous banks  . In a few places only the river banks spread out to form valleys with level or rolling stretches of fertile land suitable for cultivation and settlement on both sides . Such a place exists here at Visegrad , where the Drina breaks out in a sudden curve .

The town has people living on both sides of the bridge .

The bridge of Drina is well what it says on the tin the story of this bridge that in a way links east and west . The bridge is set in the town of Visegrad . The bridge was built-in the 16th century by the Grand Vizar to connect the two sides of the town and two worlds really . Through the book we see families torn apart on the two sides of the river . The story starts with a Serbian boy  whom has been  taken from his parents  .The parents of the boys taken suffering . Through the door of everyone living in the town we see the small world there but also the larger world of the Balkans .WE see the religions of the region and how they affect the townsfolk Catholic , orthodox and muslim altogether .This is a huge book about the region through glimpse of the world through three centuries .

In all that ten days long bombardment no major damage was done to the bridge .The shell struck against the smooth piers and rounded arches ,ricocheted and exploded in the air without leaving other marks in the stone than light ,white scarcely perceptible scratches . The fragments of shrapnel bounced off the smooth firm stone .

The bridge came through world war one fairly unscathed .unlike the world around it

Now this book was written in Belgrade during the second world war .It maybe shows much of what happened after the second world war . The cracks that finally broke up the post Tito Yugoslavia can all be seen in these little stories in this book as we see the lives through 300 years which has seen many people trying to gain control of the town and over Bosnia and the wider region . from the Ottoman empire .then the interaction between the Serbs and the Muslims .Andric enters all the lives of the town he grew up these are little stories glimpse of people’s lives that he knew and must have heard of growing up in the town .Also the  folktales of the place all drawn together .The bridge is like a dumb witness to the history and the wounds left during the three hundred years in this book .Which formed scabs after this book that was maybe ripped off to bleed again by the Balkan conflicts at the end of the 20th Century .This is my second book for east European month and maybe one of the best and earliest books of the post war eastern europe .

Have you read this book ?

Bloodlines by Marcello Fois

Bloodlines

Bloodlines by Marcello Fois

Italian Fiction

Original title -Stirpe

Translator – Silvester Mazzarella

Source – Review Copy

 

He was a blacksmith by trade; he used to live on his own.
She was a little old maid; she was all gristle and bone,
Just a crone that you might not have fancied yourself;
She was not born to attract. She was lined up for the shelf
If it were not for the fact the blacksmith loved her well,
He loved her like hell. He used to grunt and sigh, fit to die.
But from afar; for he was shy, as blacksmiths often are.

I went for an obvious choice here The blacksmith and The toffeemaker by Jake thackray  and love the comparison he was shy like blacksmiths often are , given we have a shy Sardinan Blacksmith .

When the IFFP longlist was announced I was a bit annoyed with myself I hadn’t read this one as I had loved the first book by him that Maclehose had published Memory of the abyss . It was one of those books I started and just put to one side after 30 pages last year and never got back too , not because I hadn’t like what I read, no there was shiny new ones to read .Marcello Fois is part of what in Italy is called the New Sardinian literature a group of writers that have given a new voice to the island .He has published over 20 books in Italy .

Luggi Ippolito was the first Chironi to know the history and origins of the family .He had read enough to know we all come from somewhere and he was articulate enough to be able to tell the story . His firm and steady , if not yet fully mature , voice echoed calmly through the short November days as everyone grew sleepy round the log fire .

The family origins also told in a side story to the main one .

So Bloodlines as the title maybe suggest is a story of family .But rather cleverly the English title using the term bloodlines instead of lineage .Because this is the story of a family that in a way isn’t connected by blood the Chironi family is started when Giuseppe the father a blacksmith is at the local orphanage and he sees a boy Michele and see in him what could be his son .So he adopts him and he grows up and falls in love with a woman called Michele hat he had met when younger  , but meet when older and start the family that we see through the 20th century through their eyes and there kids eyes .The story of the family that  follows Sardinia through the first and second world war .A family struggling , both with themselves and with the world around them changing  . In a world that has changed is the still a place for them in it .

Michele Angelo is solid and stout , plum as a well-fed animal . His clothes are basically light brown but see against the light , his substance almost blond  , like living expression of something as transient as fruit-growing from honeyed seed , in sharp contrast to the crow-like blackness that surrounds him .

A great example of Fois Prose and the great job of Silverstre the translator .

Epic is one word that can sum this up . An epic family saga , that remind me of Marquez in a way , but without any real magic realism .A family and how they face the world , also like Marquez this is a world disconnect from elsewhere round it Sardinia is an island so is both in Italy and not in Italy . In a way it remind me of the world my Father and Grandparents described .When they described the Irish republic they used to visit for weekend’s growing up in the 30 , 40 and 50s and the difference in the world just a few miles from their door .I feel Donegal at this time and Sardinia probably were quite similar worlds . Again I feel in love with Fois wonderfully rich prose style , in a way he is maybe a rich meal full of flavour . In regards the IFFP for me this is a shortlist book so I’ll be scoring it high in the shadow jury .

Have you read Fois ?

Calling in The zone and other IFFP related items

zone_cover

Well strangely Tony Malone and myself discussed last year about adding a book to the IFFP longlist. if we felt a truly great book had been missed from the original list .I believe the Shadow Giller did this a few years ago .With over 120 books enter for the IFFP a few titles we considered were going to get missed but we at the shadow jury felt that Zone by Mathias Enard , was one that really should be there .So after a discussion a few of us are willing to add it so we will be adding this to our longlist. Here is my review of this book , which I am pleased to add as it also supports Fitzcarraldo editions one of our newest publishers  .In other news I ‘ve been quiet this weekend as I tried to get a few of the iffp books read and out-of-the-way , which I have done I managed to get two books read and am well into a third .How was your weekend ?

Independent foreign fiction prize longlist 2015

Well we finally get to see what us shadow IFFP folks will be reviewing over the next few weeks .I managed to guess two right   in my prediction post .I have read 7  of the longlist five I ve reviewed leaving me 8  read so here is this years longlist .A good year for what is 25 years since the prize started .I ve

 

Longlist

 

 

 

 

all info thanks to Booktrust 

 

 

 

Shadow IFFP JURY 2014

IMG_2040

This year Tony and I have brought together the biggest shadow jury . But a truly global  jury for a prize for world fiction . We have bloggers from the US , UK , France ,India and Australia .I feel we will really get the IFFP noticed around the world .

Chairman Stu blogger at winstonsdad , champion of translated fiction and starter of this shadow IFFp prize bringing the world of fiction to the readers so far 500 books from a 100 countries .Also twitter fan at @stujallen started hashtag #translationthurs to promote translated fiction . By day a support worker working with people with learning disabilties for the last twenty years .

Tony Malone is an Englishman based in Melbourne who teaches English as a second language to prospective university students .He is interested in foreign languages and literature , focusing in particular on German , Japanese and Korean . He blogs about literary fiction in translation at Tony’s reading list and can be found on twitter  at @tony_malone  .

 

Joe Schreiber was born in the US, but has lived most of his life in or near Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He would really welcome a change should his adult children ever leave the nest. Presently on leave from a career in human services, he is finding more time for reading and writing. He has had a long standing interest in international literature, both in English and in translation, primarily from Europe and Africa. He blogs at https://roughghosts.wordpress.com/ and is learning to use Twitter at@roughghosts

 

Messy Tony backs up for his second IFFP Shadow Jury and having a long history of charitable work with other cultures he’s recently been a convert to learning about the many varied cultures through the literary eye. Blogger for Messenger’s Booker, Tony has been known to decline romantic dinner dates for a thick book and a blanket. Being an occasional Central Australian desert dweller, a good book helps with the isolation (maybe there’s a book in that???) tweets at @messy_tony

Emma Cazabonne is French and has been living in the US for 15 years. After university studies focusing on foreign languages, she has been an English-French translator for about 25 years. She is currently translating into French novels by Tanya Anne Crossby. She is also an online French tutor and the owner and sole operator of the virtual book tour company France Book Tours. She blogs at Words And Peace. She is especially interested in books in French as well as translated from the French and the Japanese. She can be found on Twitter @wordsandpeace

Chelsea McGill is an American living in Kolkata, India who recently got married and finished a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago. She is interested in the anthropological and psychological aspects of international literature. She blogs at The Globally Curious and tweets from @chelsea_mcgill4.

Julianne Pachico was born in Cambridge, grew up in Colombia and now lives in Norwich, where she is completing her PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia. She is working on a linked collection of short stories and blogs at never-stop-reading.com. Twitter: @juliannepachico

Clare started blogging at A Little Blog of Books three years ago. When she’s not doing her day job in London, she blogs mostly about contemporary literary fiction and particularly enjoys reading books by French and Japanese authors. Twitter: @littleblogbooks

Bellezza lives in the United States where she has been a teacher for 28 years. Her passion for translated literature has grown enormously since she began hosting the Japanese Literature Challenge eight years ago. This is the second year she has participated on the Shadow Jury for the IFFP. Her blog is Dolce Bellezza, and her Twitter handle is @bellezzamjs

David Hebblethwaite was born in the north of England and now lives in the south with a lot of books. He’s trying to read more from around the world, and to work out exactly how and why his reading tastes have changed recently. He blogs his thoughts at David’s Book World, and tweets as @David_Heb.

 Grant Rintoul teaches English in Scotland, where, amid towering piles of marking and bringing up two children, he somehow still manages to find the time to read. He blogs at https://1streading.wordpress.com/ attempting to keep his English language reviews proportionate to those from the rest of the world. You can follow him on Twitter@grantrintoul where, among all the literary links, he will occasionally irritate you with obscure references to Scottish politics.

 

Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas

javier Cercas

javier Cercas

Soldier of Salamis by Javier Cercas

Spanish fiction

Original title – Soldados de Salamina 

Translator – Anne McLean

Source – Personnel copy .

 

you say you’ve got to go home ‘cos he’s sitting on his own again this evening.
I know you’re gonna let him bore your pants off again.
Oh God, it’s half past eight you’ll be late.
You say you’ve never been sure tho’ it makes good sense for you to be together.
Still you bought a toy that can reach
the places he never goes & now it’s getting late.
He’s so straight. Do you remember the first time?
I can’t remember a worse time
but you know that we’ve changed so much since then
Oh yeah, we’ve grown.
Now I don’t care what you’re doing

Do you remember the first time is a bit oike war stories our first time is often misremembered .source

 

I have read this book roughly around the time it came out and won the IFFP prize Lisa and I choose it as one of our books to celebrate 25 years od the IFFp running .With the clock running down to thursdays announcement I decide to start today with this tomorrow I have our shadow jury announcement and then thrursday will see what I have read of the longlist and what needs to be read by myself .Anyway back to Javier Cercas he is one of a number of great spanish writers that have in the last decade or two started looking at what happened during the Spanish civil war . I love this book as it in some ways captures what I enjoy most in recent Spanish language writing , even down to having the great Roberto Bolano as a character name  . Cercas has won numerous prize for his books this one in particular he has written 8 novels including two on here Outlaws and Anatomy of a moment  .

It was the summer of 1994 , more than six years ago now , when I first heard about Rafeal Sanchez Mazas facing the firing squad . Three things had just happened ; first my father had died ; then my wife had left me ; and finally , I’d given up my literary career .

Opening lines , the value of a story to a writer in the opening lines here .

The soldiers of Salamis , is really a study of how we view the past told in three parts . The connection between the three parts is the history of Rafeal Sanchez Mazas . The book revolves around an incident that happened during the civil war .Who in one day escapes a firing squad and then also nearly getting caught by a a soldier sent to search for him .The first is what he thought happened then in the following two parts more about the man that nearly caught him appear so was the original history the truth ? A writer in the present struggles with what is truth in historic fact and is all historic fact fiction in some way ? Was the man that spared Mazas Miralles the real hero of the story . A real look at hpw the events of the civil war still linked with the present and more so effected those involved .

Exhaling loudly , Bolano reminded me that he hadn’t seen Miralles for more than twenty years , and that he wasn’t friends with anyone from back then , anyone who could  – he stopped short and , offering no explanation , asked me to hang on a moment . I hung on . The moment got so long that I thought Bolano must have forgotten I was waiting on the phone .

I loved he called a character bolano .Like real Bolano he knows the other side of the story .

Well again like in the two other books I have reviewed by javier Cercas there is a thin line walked by him between truth and lies in fact between fact and fiction .This book could sit on the middle .the earlier books are Outlaws his childhood reimagined a fictional growing up story . Then in Anatomy  of a moment the attempt coup of the Spanish parliment in the 80’s is recounted more of a fact based non-fiction novel . So What do we learn , that the history of what happened in the spai=nish civil war was in some ways rewritten by those that won .There was good and bad on both sides . What we see is how history gets written or even invented or misrememebered . For me this is as near perfect novel and a fine example of what the IFFP should be there for promoting the best voices from around the world .

Have you read Javier Cercas

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