march round up and a look to the futrue

It’s been a busy month at winstonsdad ,i ve seen the visitor numbers increase and also read a lot of books this month –

books read in march

  1. The snowman -Jo Nesbo
  2. Bad vibes by Luke Haines
  3. Tehran ,lipsticks and loopholes by Nahal Tajadod
  4. Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya
  5. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
  6. Solar by Ian McEwan
  7. A sun for the dying by Jean-Claude Izzo
  8. Of kids and parents by Emil Hakl
  9. Brecht at hight by Mati Unt
  10. The year of the hare by Arto Paasilinna
  11. The post office girl by Stefan Zweig

so the challenges for the year stand –

100 books in a year 29/100

around the world  13/53

both challenges are going well ,looks like i ll read over a hundred books this year.

favourite books this month –

snowman – I like Harry Hole ,he is my kind of detective so will be reading his other books and featuring them .

Terhan lipstick and loopholes -this book was so funny in places and eye-opening  in others .


The is going to a change of focus on winstonsdad ,i ve been reading more world lit and the focus will be more towards world lit with feature pieces related to world lit .i ll also be featuring some nature writing as i feel this is an area i ve neglect this year and books like Walden and Leviathan are personnel favourites .

what would you like to see on winstonsdad ?




books books books

After reading the books i got a few weeks ago i decide to call in again return the books i ve read and found the translated fiction stand was still there so got a lot more books to read with a group of nights coming up ,i need some nice short novels to read every night .the books i got fit in to three categories

  • japanese
  • the sailor who fell from grace with the sea by Yukio Mishima -this reads a bit like lord of the flies mixed with peter pan and is part of the vintage east series .
  • scandal by Shusaku Endo – this is probably japan’s second most well-known writer behind Murkami ,a catholic writer is accused of visiting ladies of the night most enter seedy Tokyo to face his own demons
  • african
  • The purple violet of Oshaantu by Neshani Adreas -a debut novel part of the Heinemann african writer series this book is about women and village life in Namibia ,which will be interesting i work with some one from Namibia .
  • Neighbour the story of a murder by Lila Momple -a novel set in Mozambique about a raid from south africa and how it affects life this book is also from the African writer series .
  • the beautiful screaming of pigs by Damon Galgut – A conversation on twitter remind me to seek this guy out a south african ,up and coming ,this was his breakthrough novel and strangely  also set partly on Namibia about a man facing his past and actions he has done .
  • classics
  • Le Bal by Irene Nemirovsky -I read suite franciase a few years ago ,this is set in the parsian society of the 1930’s about a girl trying to ruin her mother whom she hates
  • the actual by Saul Bellow it must be ten years since i read a bellow a beautiful writer and one of the great post war american writers ,this is the story of Harry Trellman a complex character .

A great selection ,some new names and some old names .

Brecht at night by Mati Unt


This Book is part of dalkey archives Baltic literature series .the book is set in the early 1940’s and follows a journey the German playwriter Bertolt Brecht took in 1940 fleeing germany en route to the U.S.A he had to stop in finland for a while whilst awaiting visa clearance to travel to U.S.A .the book unfolds like a docu drama with two main  strands Brecht’s journey and time in Finland and also a history of Finland and Unt’s own Estonia during the war years .We find that Brecht a socialist ,is what maybe termed nowadays a champagne socialist ,that when even fleeing his own country on the run so to speak still really wants the creature comforts ,as well as a mistress a fling with an older women a well-known Finnish playwriter  .In the other strand of this novel we discover the soviets land grab during the second world war grepping Finland ,with a short and bloody warwith Finland that the soviets wrongly considered a soft target, and the Baltic states including Estonia .what happens once this has taken places the book banning by russians and new rules ,a new governor for Estonia named M.Unt no relative to the writer Unt points out ,we also get little glimpse of what happens in germany the oddness of the german leaders and what lead to Brecht leaving his homeland .This book is a wealth of info and pin points a small event i n a great writers life ,it isn’t the easiest book to read but is rewarding in the end .It brings to a wider audience Unt’s undoubted talent and unique style of writing ,and the translation is wonderful by Eric Dickens .

 Brecht decides :I’m taciturn by nature . i won’t reveal anything about myself or my plans.he remembers that Ibsen came from somewhere up here ,and said ………yes,what was it he said ? something about silence, and something about being on your own -you where stronger alone – and silent .If Ibsen did say something like that,he refuted it later on .

Brecht just about to arrive in Finland .

book booty from nottingham

On friday i went to an exhibition at Nottingham contemporary gallery ,this gave me chance to pop in to the large waterstones they have there and get some books this is what i got –

  • how to live by Sarah Bakewell – part biography /part philosophy Sarah’s book is about the 16th century french noble man and writer Michel De Montaigne who wrote numerous essays on a wide range of  subjects .I got heads upon this via rob at robaround books .
  • desert by J M G Le Clezio -The french writer was little known in the uk before his noble win two years ago this is a new translation of what is his most widely acclaimed and respected novel ,two intertwined stories one about tribal uprising the other set in a shanty town this is meant to be a tough read .
  • the year of the hare by Arto Pasilinna – This is highly regard in his native finland and france ,the story follows a journalist as he drops out of society to follow a hare he injured with a car into the wilds of Finland .
  • The conservationist by Nadine Gordimer – i got this at local Oxfam ,it’s a booker winner and one i ve want for quite a while .it follows Mering as his life falls apart a bit like the south africa around him .
  • A year in the woods – Colin Elford -This was my birthday gift from my darling wife and was a book i really wanted i love good nature writing and have want this since it was mention in a radio programme a start of the year ,it follows Colin a forest ranger for a yearn the ebb and follow of the unwinding seasons the wildlife and plants he sees .

Of kids and parent by Emil Hakl

of kids and parents

This was the second book i got from the local libraries translated stand ,Emil Hakl is a czech writer that had a number of manual jobs in the communist era ,but also wrote poetry ,short stories and novels,in the post communist era he work in advertising before becoming a full-time writer ,he has published three novel ,two short stories collection and some poetry .Of kids and parents Follows a fathers and son on a meander round Prague where they visit numerous pubs and pass the sights of the city .They in the course of this journey they discuss many subjects such as ,fighter plane design in the post second world war era ,some family members a memorable aunt and uncle ,a stunning Slovenian women the father eulogies over her body and beauty .They move back and forward in time .The chapters tended to be short and each based on a discussion between the father and son .the description of this book is similar to Ulysses and Harbal .I could see the comparisons ,like Joyce Hakl likes to dart of on angles in the story,the other writer i was deeply reminded of was W G Seblad the style of writing is similar ,not a lot plot wise happens in this book but you discover lives places and history .i think this is a writer i ll read again and would even reads this book again in the future .

we left the pub and walking along the line of the hill ,we reach the governors place .”so where now ?” father asked nonchalantly ,his voice directed toward the battlement-like row of tiny housing block on the horizon.Behind the hill spattered with the tiny white cubes of buildings,an unbroken ridge of clouds was slowly advancing .”i guess the best thing is to go back to Stormovka ,if you don’t mind .

opening of chapter -the world

The book is published by twisted spoon and was translated by Marek Tomin .

Do you have a favourite  Czech writer ?

all that glistens is it gold

I have Been pondering if all that glistens is gold ,this last few months for the first time in my life .I ve been mainly reading new books as in just out .I ve enjoyed a good many ,my question is how many of these books will be here in twenty years how many will stand the test of time ,what makes a book stand the test of time .Do writers have vogues ? Does the quality of the writing make a difference ,i ve a number of books from Persephone and capuchin both who publishers books that have fallen by the wayside the ones i ve got and have read all seem great books .Most of my life i ve read books that have been out for a while read many by the writers i love Burgess ,Doyle ,Maugham ,Roth ,Updike,Mailer Kerouac,Burroughs most of these have stood the test of time .so the question is –

what makes a book last ?


lost booker shortlist 1970


Earlier in the year a long list was published for the books that missed out in 1970 On booker prize when the date was changed .

The Birds on the Trees by Nina Bawden (Virago)-this book is about a 19-year-old growing up in middle class family .
Troubles by J G Farrell (Phoenix) this was the first in the trilogy ,the second siege won the booker in 1973 .It was made in to a film in 1988.
The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard (Virago)-Hazzard won the miles franklin award one of australis most prestigious awards in 2004
Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault (Arrow)-a book about Alexander the great Renault wrote both fiction and non fiction about Alexander
The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark (Penguin)-best known for prime of Jean Brodie ,this was one of her favourite books .
The Vivisector by Patrick White (Vintage)- White won the nobel prize in 1973 and the solid mandala is probably his best book .

these are the six announced today on the shortlist of them Farrell had won in 1973 with the siege of Krisnapaur ,Sparks had been shortlisted twice in 1969 and 1981 ,Bawden had been shortlist in 1987 .the other three White ,Renault and Hazzard had never been shortlisted .I only read books by Sparks ,White and farell but not the ones on the list .`

have you read any of these books ?

best european fiction 2010 1

best european fiction 2010

This is dalkey archives collection of short stories from all round europe ,it was edited by american Bosnian Aleksandar Hemon .he was given about four or five stories from each country and decide to choose one from each country  ending up in 35 stories from 30 countries ,as some countries have two languages and different parts like the uk .i ve decide to write short reviews for each story over the next few months to give this wonderful project its due .

  • 1. Albania -(extract from) The country where no one ever dies by Ornela Vorpsi 

ornela vorpsi

  • This story is about the experience of growing up as a young women and girl in Albania ,how important being a virgin is how men perceive women in Albania  ,how well looked after she was when she was sick and how she want to be sick again to have strawberry jam .the story is only 8 pages but gives a brief glimpse into a relatively unknown country .My personal experience with Albania was a summer in the early nineties working alongside a Kosovo Albanian in a factory in Germany a wonderful guy who had worked in tv in his own country ,he ended up in germany as he was intermidatted by the mainly Serbian police in Kosovo .I have read some Ismail Kadare as well who like Vorpsi writes in another language other than Albanian .

 have you read any books from Albania ?

a sun for the dying by Jean Claude Izzo

Jean Claude Izzo -A sun for the dying

I got this from local library as part of their translated fiction month .A great find it turned out to be .Izzo was primarily a thriller write ,but this book is something completely different more a keen to an updating of down and out in paris by Orwell .The novel follows Rico a down and out ,as the book opens we find him in Paris with his good friend Titi ,who dies of exposure on the station .This leads Rico to decide to leave the cold north of france and head to Marseilles where he grew up .Along the way Rico bumps in to numerous characters a african security guard who helps him out by staying on a building site .a Bosnian hooker who he befriends ,an argument with a french ticket collector and police .till he arrives in Marseilles  you find out why he left .Izzo has brought french life warts and all to life .It seems as thou its the immigrants that help Rico along the way rather than the french .The book was Izzo last as he died in 2000 the book was published in 1999 in france and 2008 in english.The book is wonderfully translated from the french by Howard Curtis .

Rico reckoned Titi must have been a teacher , a professor something like that .he d read lots of books and was always referring to them in conversations .one afternoon they were sitting on a bench in the sun ,on square des Batigonolles – one of their favourite meeting places – and Titi said you know , when I was a teenager , i read a lot of Burroughs ,Ferlinghetti and Kerouac …

Rico and Titi

windmills for the mind

windmills for the mind

late last week i won a competition on windmills book blog it was to match a drink to a book ,my tagline was “reading on the road to a string of espresso’s ” .The prize was a six of windmills great books –

  • Thing I’ve been silent about by Azar Nafisi – growing up in iran during islamic revolution ,I think this will be a great follow on to Tehran lipstick and loopholes I read earlier this month .
  • Red dog red dog by Patrick Lane -a book set in the fifties  follows a family over the course of a week as secrets unfold ,on the backdrop of depression and a tough life .
  • Land of marvels by Barry Unsworth – the booker winners latest book follows Somerville an archaeologist on a dig just a the first world war starts ,sounds great
  • The finest type of english womanhood – Rachel Heath – two girls meet in south africa  in 1946 one from a quiet background the other from a wold background they find there lives changed as they spend time together
  • Good to a fault by Marina Endicott Clara’s life is changed by a family ,this is a new writer to me and a new voice from Canada.
  • last off is -bad vibes by Luke Haines which i have read and reviewed on here

 many thanks Harvey and windmill books for this prize .

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March 2010


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