what give a book the X FACTOR !

Well call me shallow I ve used the fact it is the X FACTOR final tonight to do a book related post I hate the show it is a meaningless money-making venture for mr Cowell and doesn’t high light real talent which would be writing the songs they sing as a lover of sing /songwriters  a show that focused on that talent and help people establish a realistic career rather than a Warhol  15 mins of fame !

Well to the point what makes the X factor of A book I ve Pick 8 from the last year that on cover and style would make me buy them above others on the shelves .


The books are from top left clockwise –

The Whitsun wedding by Philip Larkin ,I love Larkin this is from Faber’s Poetry first collection the book reminds me a little of a ladybird books from my youth if a little large and with lovely end papers inside .

The last brother by Nathacha Appanah ,Now I think Maclehose always do wonderful covers this cover sums up this book tropical but sorrowful and would always catch my eye on the shelf .

Senselessness by H C Moya ,this is a wonderfully produced book from New directions ,and like last brother catches the spirit of this book a blood soaked report being read during the book .

The thousand autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell ,this is a tactile book ,but evokes its setting Japan also love the fact it goes all round the book so both front and back cover are beautiful wonderful foil detail make it glisten in the light .

Beside the sea by Veonique Olmi ,what more can I say I m a huge fan of all thing Peirene the cover ,font and flaps all perfect make reading these little gems a pleasure .

A year in the woods by Colin Elford ,the simple drawing throughout this book and eye pleasing font size made it a lovely book to read and own .But most of all a gift from my lovely wife made it special to me .

Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher ,I ve yet to get to this but read few Arabic books in summer so will get to this early next year I love the raised effect on this cover making it very tactile in your hand ,this was the arabic booker winner .



Intimate stranger by Breyten Breytenbach ,this is one of the lovely books published by non-profit publisher Archipelago books in the us I ve three from them and will get more next year there books are truly wonderful and quirky square print on heavy paper with unusual cover art .




a funny dirty little war by Osvaldo Soriano

Osvaldo Soriano was a jornalist and writer he worked for the la opinon in the early seventies ,he wrote his first novel in 1973 ,this his fifth novel was published in 1986 and was translated by Nick Caistor.he died in 1997 at the young age of 54 ,his books have been translated in to 15 different languages and inspired films .


The book is set in a small fictional Argentina town Colonia vela ,we see what starts as a small argument escalate to a huge conflict .This story has a strong Parable element to it ,we see through the Humour of Soriano writings the effect the Juan Peron had on his country men .we met Suprino the local Peronist boss ,he along with the town’s mayor and others plots to get rid of the assistance of the  deputy mayor Fuentes and his assistant Mateo who has leftist leaning as sympathies .but Fuentes doesn’t want to this leads to a huge stand-off and the local students which have leftist sympathies get involved ,thus the situation ends at near civil war .

Suprino said that the mayor and the party tribunal would take responsibility .

yes ,but not for the shambles.If we get them out ,all well and good :if not ,we’re screwed

let’s go in shooting then .

Hang on let the others do the shooting ,then clear off you’ve got keep your hands clean .Suprino said you’re going to be made police chief in Tandil

There must be thousands of commies there

the place is crawling with them .in the university ,in the steelworks ,you’ll have lots of fun .

Suprino and the local inspector talking .

The action is constant throughout the book and also the laughs as the situations lead from on disaster to another ,This is latin American writing at its best facing the distant past face on and with out rose-coloured glasses .Peron influence over post war Argentina was huge his crimes and death squads is something this country still comes to terms with and books like this help shed a light on that time .the book is very short and took me an afternoon to get through  ,the book was made into a film in 1983 by Hector Olivera .which was critical acclaimed ,the book  and film is a tale of left wing versus right wing politics that was acted out in many towns and areas of latin america during the 70’s .the translation by the acclaimed Nick Caistor is perfect ,he is one of the best at male latin american voices

Have you read this book ?


Purge the Prize winner

winner 2010 sofi oksanen

Sofi Oskannen together with Robert Saviano for a essay called beauty and Hell won the Le PrixLivree europeaan the European book prize in its third year the award site is here .This goes with the Nordic Council prize Purge won earlier this year .My review is here

my bug bear !!!!!

What is one of your literary pet peeves?  Is there something that writers do that really sets your teeth on edge?  Be specific, and give examples if you can.?

WELL that is this weeks Literary Blog Hop question as hosted by the girls at the blue bookcase .

This is my bug bear it is the high-minded attitude of certain People ,Publishers and bloggers to the world of translation ,The people I talking about are what I call the its mine not yours brigade ,the ones that moan at the three percent translated in english from other Languages ,In other global markets the translation of english books account for 50% of the market , in Serbia it is as high as 70% .We should hold our collected heads in shame books in translation aren’t some gold level of book they are just the same as every other book but just from another place ,we need to start think reading a book from here there and everywhere is normal not some form of high thinking !! .It ain’t I m just a normal guy with a basic education ,but a passion for reading ideal target market for publishers really ,only difference is my father is a bookworm and my gran taught english and ran a school ,so I ve had that as my background but hated school when young .anyway drifted of topic when in a recent twitter chat told by a publicist at a large publishers they don’t really bother with translation probably due to the stick it on a pedestal brigade .MY reviews are simple personnel and hopefully make people want to try a work in translation as there not like other that can make it seem like a task to read them ! sorry to go on it really makes my blood boil .and was my main reason to start #translationthurs on twitter to get people talking simply about book in translation lifting the veil and getting people interest for the books not the prestige of reading them .

Books to watch out for in 2011 .

Well here are a few books out next year that have caught my Eye for next year .

Peirene Numbers 4,5 and 6 – earlier in the year in an interview on winstonsdad Meike mentioned these titles and her descriptions of their year of men titles are much better than mine .I’m looking forward to these as the first three titles have all been of such a wonderful high standard .

Paris metro tales -another in the OUP collection of city tales ,translated and selected by Helen Constantine ,stories in and set round the Paris Metro due out March 2011 .

Never any end to Paris by Enrique Vila -Matas – maybe the perfect companion to the metro tale a novel set in Paris involving the writers of the nouveau Roman movement .The writer is described as the greatest ;living Spanish writer by Bernardo Axtaga and that is he praise this is due out on new directions May next year .

Tyrant Memory by Horacio Castellanos Moya –A novel following a tyrant in El Salvador in the thirties the action takes place in a month between a coup and a strike .Moya was described by Bolano as the only writer of my generation who knows how to narrate the horrors ,the secret Vietnam that was latin american was for a long time .out in May on New directions ,

Love virtually by Daniel Glattauer –Now a german friend told me about this a while ago a very inventive german novel .A love affair told in E-mails ,but will it survive in real life when they meet ? out feb on Machlehose press .

Trieste by Dasa Drndic -A Croatian novel about a mother being reunited with her son that was stolen by the germans sixty years earlier this is meant to be a touching novel .out in april on Machlehose press .

As though she were sleeping by Elias Khoury –I read Yalo by Khoury earlier this year ,this book is different set in the 30’s in Beirut should be wonderful has a arabic poetic edge to it by a wonderfully talented writer ,this is out may 2011 by Machlehose press .

SPLITHEAD BY Juyla Rabinowitz –a German coming of age story about a seven-year old girl who grew up in russia and then came to the freedom of Vienna .a vibrant new voice in german writing .out in february from Portobello books .

Lovetown by Michal Witkowski – growing up queer in Poland under communism ,a book set in the 70’s and 80’s then in modern Poland .Out april on Portobello books

Gargling with tar by Jachym Topol – A book set in the aftermath of the invasion of 1968 .This book caught ny eye when I first heard about it .out in June by Portobello books .

Windows on the world by Frederic Beigbeder

Frederic Beigbeder is a french writer ,commentator and lit critic .He word as an advertising executive and work with the french communist party .He also had a talk show on the french tv channel Cannel+ called the hypershow .he has written many novels in french with a couple in translation .This is like many of his books autobiographical in many way .although I enjoyed reading this book I found it hard to review .

Windows on the world is set mainly in new york during the 9/11 attacks and imagines what happened over this time to the people in the windows on the world restaurant .The book is two stories really the first on 9/11 is the tale of a texas estate agent Carthew Yorsten who is having breakfast with his sons in the windows on the world you find out about them ,but I always feel sorry for them as I know what is coming ,maybe that sounds strange but I found it hard to connect with imagined people on this day when I knew what would happen to them .The second story is the writer writing the story and recalling his visits to new York eating at the windows on the world before the attack also,where he was the day of the attacks,I connected more to this section of the book I think Everyone remember what they where doing that day  .The story unfolds minute after minute with each really short chapter defining a minute of the time from the attack to the tower collapsing .


Everyone knows precisely where they were on september 11 ,2001 .Me I was in the basement of my publisher Grasset ,giving an interview for culture pub at 2:56 PM french time ,when the presenter Thomas Herve ,was informed via cellphone that an airplane had Just flown into one of the world trade center towers .At the time ,we both thought it was a small tourist plane and went on with the interview .

the writer remember where he was that awful day .

Well I enjoyed this book any book on 9/11 is hard to talk about ,for me I was getting ready for work that awful day and remember seeing it on tv just before I went to work and being stunned in to disbelief .As my family lived in Ulster and some still do, bombs and troubles are something I got use to hearing about. But 9/11 was terrorism on a new scale ,Frederic has caught and tried in a sympathetic way to connect with his feeling and emotions due to this .I ve read a couple of other 9/11 inspired novels and this is the best I ve read so far but is still flawed ,maybe some subjects need space and time before you can write about them and I think 9/11 is one of these events .the translation is top draw but Frank Wynne is a great translator and this book won the Independent foreign fiction prize in 2005 .

Have you read this book ?

Novella reading wrap up post

Had planned to do this yesterday ,but a visit to dentist and Tooth being taken out I thought it was just check up but the  tooth needed taking out so had a few injections as I hate the dentist with a passion ,all due to my sweet tooth I do like my cakes and biscuits !!! Well this weekend Simon at stuck in books had a novella reading weekend well I ve managed to get through 4 novellas this weekend which was great ,may do this on my next weekend of in the new year still have a lot on the shelves to read .


So I spent summer in Finland ,a small village in Argentina as it falls in to chaos ,a fisherman’s dilemma over a large pearl and its fall out and a young women’s romance in 1930’s china .Not a bad weekend review to follow in next few weeks .


Winstons books

Been a while since I got any books but last week had a splurge at Nottingham where that is a large waterstones and at local Oxfam .

The books –

The wild ass’s skin by Honore de Balzac ,choose this at oxfam due to its 70’s cover will read it for pink sheep cafes bad cover challenge next year ,plus my good friend linda is enjoy Balzac at moment and thought I d read another of his read one in twenties this will make two ,still loads of his to read .

Fear of De Sade by Bernardo Carvalho ,A Brazilian writer this book set in 19th century France is considered one of the best writers in Brazil at moment so really looking forward to this one .

Embers by Sandor Marai ,this is for my Hungarian week that means I ve four books now for that week next year ,this is set in Carpathians so expecting a dark tale and loads of suspence .

Kye by Lukas Tomin ,this is a twisted spoon book a book from 80’s a autobiographical novel set in london where Tomin lived at the time it is about identity .

The Tartar steppe by Dino Buzzati ,a book written just before the war follows a man that is post to a remote fort where he spends the rest of his life as he is forgotten considered Italian classic ,I loved the poem strip when I read it and want to see how two so different books could have come from the same pen .

Solibo Magnificent by Patrick Chamoiseau ,I jump for joy when I got this in oxfam as it is from Martinique a unusal police procedural ,written in french and creole .

The discovery of heaven by Harry Mulisch ,his recent death made me want to read his opus ,considered the best Dutch book ever ,I read another of his books a few years ago but this looks awesome .a book following a quest  and a couple onno and max .

Winter -a dance to the music of time by Anthony Powell ,this mean I ve books 4,5,6, 10.11and 12 I ve read the first two and have book three from library so this  is for when I get this far which will be a way of yet but was a bargain for two pound .




I ve add this post to the story siren mailbox post .have you read any of these books ?

novella reading weekend start post

Simon over at stuck in books ,ask people to join in Novella reading weekend well I started last night with a funny dirty little war by the Argentina writer Osvaldo Soriano .a book that follows a village splitting and fighting as peronist and non peronist’s .a fast paced book so far and a new argentina writer to me .

next on pile after this is The Pearl John Steinbeck

November round up

book of the month .

Well I ve let the blog go a bit to pot this month and also my reading .hope to make up this month on blogging and reading .I ve read  this month .

  1. City pick amsterdam edited by Heather Reyes and Victor Schiferi .
  2. Autonauts of the cosmoroutes by Julio Cortazar and Carol Dunlop.
  3. Purge by Sofi Oskannen .
  4. three trapped tigers by G Cabrera Infante .
  5. Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes.
  6. ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
  7. windows on the world by Frederic Beigbeder
  8. A buyers market by Anthony Powell .
  9. The book of chamleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa .

That is 9 in all the least for some months ,I m not a winter person and hate dark nights so have been reading less .

Challenges –

books for the year 119 want to read hundred but passed that a while ago hope to finsh with over 125 .

around the world in 52 books 20/52 one more from orginal list read .

Next month Novella reading first weekend and want to clear library pile that has built up .and finsh year reading 2666 .

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