Still reading but blog block

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I’m still readin g as much as ever but last week’s found  blogging slow. Well there is two reasons for this the first is some weeks I just can’t find time every other week at work I do 45 hour weeks and just recently have found blogging these weeks harder than in past. This leads to second reason we have been looking to move house and hopefully this week sign for a new house which will have a spare room for a library come office for my books and to blog from we plan to move first week of June so til then I expect spurts of blogging g but once I have first room so lol as a library office with a tiny desk reading chair  etc to blog from I hope to return to blogging as normal a few times a week so hold on be loads more from around the world here also a few post around my new library I expect as I have to fit all my books in one room.
IMAGE FROM NYPL COLLECTION

A Nobel Double Two by Svetlana

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I have in the last few days received two books from last years Nobel winner. This the first book that arrived Second hand time is a selection of interviews she has taken to form a piece on the post soviet world and how it has formed a new world and in her use of many voice to individual monologues see how the post soviet society is affecting the every man and woman on the street. This is the first new work from her since the Nobel win to reach us in English and is out from Fitzcarraldo editions. Penguin are also releasing new editions of her previous books I have reviewed this one in its earlier release as Voices of Chernobyl I had reviewed this last year as it was the only book I could get before the Nobel prize was announced .So as with Patrick Modiano the year before we now have a number of books from this wonderful Non fiction writer whose ability to work the people she talks to into a chorus of voice on the soviet and post soviet world she grew up in .

Have you read any books by her ?

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Globetrotter by David Albahari

Globetrotter by David Albahari

Serbian fiction

Original title – Svetski Putnik

Translator – Ellen Elias-Bursac

Source – library book

I had long want to try Albahari he is a writer that has always got good reviews over on the complete review with =three of his books getting -A score on the site. So when I saw this in the library system I thought be a great chance to read David  Albahari A Serbian writer , who also translates books from English into Serbian, he has won a number of prize including the Ivo Andric prize .Plus this was also published by Margellos world republic of letters a imprint of Yale press that I have a fondness for .

After that we visited the gray wolf, the buffalo, the bat, the golden eagle, the swan, and the hummingbird, and Daniel Atijas told me that the collection reminded him of a similar natural history museum in Belgrade, which he hadn’t thought of for years, and, come to think of it, he hadn’t been there for ages, for so long, in fact that he wasn’t even certain whether it was still up and running.But when he’d last visited, probably on a school trip, he had wanted to stay there forever.

A tour of a museum brings back a school trip and Daniels home town of Belgrade

Well now globetrotter is one of those tricky to describe books as it is set in Banff in Canada at a yearly art event ,but is mainly about former Yugoslavia  and the outfall of the recent war . A writer visits the art centre in Banff as a guest writer for three weeks. This writer Daniel Atijas is the main character but we see him through the eyes of the narrator of this single paragraph who is a Canadian  painter he has painted many faces of Daniel as he is attracted to this man but as he painted the many faces we see the story of Daniel but also what lead to him being in Canada the war in Yugoslavia but also the writers place in the world he says how many writers have left their homeland become Emigre writers . Does distance and history change how a writer writes ? As the two grow closer the reader discovers more about Daniels past and what he sees as his future as a writer. We also see a slowly unfolding love affair as the painter is so captured bu this Serbian writer and his tales but also by his face that seems to tell its own story .

Daniel’s room, I noticed that my misgivings had been unwarranted. The grief was still there on the grandson’s face, but by then, if I can put it this war, his was only half the grief, the other half had slided over Daniel Atijas faces, at least for that evening and night, looked less and less like the face I had been drawing and because of which I was sitting where, by all accounts, I should not have been.

The painter sees how the loss of a Croatian touches the Serbian writer when he is told by the grandson of the Croat .

I loved this it easy to compare the book to Thomas  Bernhard and many central european writers  as he writes in a similar breathless style to David in this the action is like one story coming at you at a pace. But for me it is maybe how David want Daniel and the unnamed story told a brief meeting of minds in three weeks that seemed to have touched both artist and writer in some way. This is a story of dealing with having a new home far away from your home but also ones own past a classic exile tale, but also Like Daniel David himself visited Banff in 1994 just as the story in the story was his own story and to add to the mix of Banff the translator herself visited it in 2001. So Daniel story is really Davids story of how he is trying to carry on as a writer in exile .I loved this it is a wonderful book that tells much about the writer but also those early years of the collapse of the former Yugoslavia remind me of me years at the same time in Germany working in a factory with a mixture of  Balkan refugees from Bosnia , Kosovo and Croatia

Have you read David Albahari ?

Sudden death by Álvaro Enrigue

Sudden death by  Álvaro Enrigue

Mexican fiction

original title – Muerte súbita

Translator – Natasha Wimmer

Source – review copy

Well it is Thursday and this translation Thursday I bring to you all one of the biggest stars in Mexican Lit, in fact part of what we may say is the Power couple of mexican fiction as Alvaro is married to fellow Mexican writer Valerie Luiselli. He has won a number of prizes and one of his books was picked on a list of the best recent books from Mexico .. I have read his book before I brought a copy of Hypothermia which came out a few years ago that was a collection of short stories this is his first novel to be translated into English.

At the collegiate church of Ottery St Mary, under Lacey’s rule, a group of novices had been using at the roofed gallery of the cloister to play matches against townies. In those day tennis was much rougher and noiser than it is today some were attackers, others defenders, there were no nets or lines, and points were won tooth and nail, by slamming the ball into an opening called a dedans. since it was invented by Mediterranean monks, it had redemptive overtones.

The rearly tennis so much different I once saw a court in Oxford for what is now known as Real tennis

Now the shock for you all the book is set of a fictional game of tennis , although this appears to be what we in the uk would call real tennis which is a slightly different game that game before the modern game we know. The match is between the Italian Painter Caravaggio (I mainly know about him from the Derek Jarman film in the 80’s about him ) he is playing the Spanish poet Francesco de Quevedo a quick-witted poet that wrote prose satire and many poems. As the match unfolds in other chapters we travel the world from England with Thomas Cromwell and Henry viii then through to latin america and the dying Aztec empire as they also play a game with the Spaniards there . whilst the two are cheer on from the sidelines by many well-known figures of the time Galileo, Saint Mathew and Mary Magdalene all cheer the two the vulgar Italian painter well-known for his pictures (he did paint the first still life of the modern age in his basket of fruit and the Spanish poet still trying to keep in favour with the royal court of Spain via this match.

Scarcely had Jean Rombaud disembarked at Franciscopolis – such a ridiculous name of the port of Le Harve until the death of King Francis I – before he began to spread the rumour that he was in possession of the darksome braids of Anne Boleyn and the he would make tennis balls with them that would at last gain him entry to the closed courts, where the nobility sweatedt hrough one shirt per game, five per set and fifteen per match. He had always felt that his freshed washed lions mane gave him the right to hardwood and tile: to play for sport rather than money .

I love the story of the ball it is great fun tale one of those odd stories that could be real or could be fake.

I have said before that I hate tennis , well in this case it didn’t matter as the match is just a small framing device to capture two figures that maybe show the world of the time the match is set is in change this is the golden age of discovery, When The world was moving from one age to another even the ball in this story has its own story it is made from the hair of the late Anne Boeyln. Enrique plays with what a novel is this like an earlier novel from Mexico I read By Jorge Volpi , shows how history can be made to serve the present also be caught in one match a duel between two artist to the end as the world around them sees an empire fall a man marry many woman and even the crowd have their stories to tell along the way .Of course with Wimmer translating this book it will of course bring many to connect this to Bolano, but for me they are just two great writers and for me Enrique has maybe more in common with Volpi than Bolano. This is one of those book that defies pigeonholing as a novel one of those that break the mould.

Hve you read anything by Enrique ?

Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos

Fever at Dawn

Fever at Dawn By Peter Gardos

Hungarian fiction

Original title – Hajnaliláz

Translator -Elizabeth Szász

Source – review copy

I was sent this very early this year its publishers have sent a lot of review copies out for a debut novel by the Hungarian film director Peter Gardos. He has directed a huge number of films since the early 1970’s . This book is also a film I will include the trailer for the film at the end of this review as I found it very touching. The book came about when Gardos father   passed away and he discovered a box of letters from when they first met shortly before he was born. That he was given to him by his mother these hadn’t been read since 1946.

Dear Nora, Dear Eresbet, Dear Lilli, Dear Zsuzsa, Dear Sara, Dear Serena, Dear Agnes, Dear Giza , Dear Baba, Dear Katalin, Dear Judit, Dear Gabriella…..

You are probably used to strangers chatting you up when you speak Hungarian, for no better reason than they are Hungarian too. We men can be so bad-mannered. For example, I addressed you by your first name on pretext that we grew up in the same town. I don’t know whether you already know me from Debrecen. Until my homeland ordered me to “Volunteer” for forced labour, I worked for the independent newspaper, and my father owned a bookshop in Gambrinus Court?

Excuse me for writing in pencil. but I’m confined to bed for a few days on doctor’s orders, and we’re not allowed to use ink in bed

Miklos letter to the 117 woman from his hometown in refugee camps in Sweden .

Miklos has ended up in Sweden in the chaos that followed the end of the second world war having been liberated from Belsen , he has ended up at a refugee camp. But he hasn’t a bright future he has been told he has just six months left in this world so this crafty chap gets someone to get a list of all the woman in Sweden from his home town in Hungary. The list ends up with 117 names so he spends time writing a handwritten letter to each of them. HE sends them out not knowing what will happen . He gets a reply from Lili  a woman touched by his letter but also a daydreamer so what happens is a love in letters as the two start to write to one another in the chaos of the post war years this shining light of a love blossoming that slowly drags the half dead Miklos to life and away from death.As both have wounds from Belsen to recover from the strength of the love built-in words show the power of words to sooth the soul.

Dear Miklos,

I’m unlikely to be the person you were thinking of, because, Though I was born in Debrecen, I lived in Budapest from the age of one. Nonetheless, I’ve thought a lot about you. Your friendly letter was so comforting that I would be happy for you to write again.

That was a half truth pf course. Confined to bed with a strange new illness, out of fear, by way of escape or just to stave off boredom, Lili allowed herself to daydream

Touched by his letter and to break her own Boredom Lili writes back and the story starts off ..

What is not to like in this well I am a romantic and I love stories like these. I love that Peter found his fathers and mothers letters and worked them into this book. I just love the sheer chance of the story a Hungarian man and woman fall in love in the utter chaos of post war europe in Sweden one dying the other looking for a way to live both wanting a new future and all this story told by their own son sixty years later. It is one of those true stories that almost seem unreal. The two characters stories draw you in the lament for their past that they know after Belsen will never be there again the city the grew up in is for ever changed.This is one of those books I’m sure people will talk about a lot about this book for a book club as it touches your soul if like me you are romantic and believe in love conquering all .Here is the trailer I love this trailer .

 

 

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