Good old London town for IFFP NIGHT

Well as I said on last post I went to london on thursday ,so mid morning on Thurs I caught train to St Pancres ,I arrived just after on and was met by Simon from the blog inside books but also a good friend I speak to every day on twitter ,We went and had a coffee and I check in my hotel ,whilst Simon return to work .I planned to meet again at London review book shop to have a look at books and grab a coffee .

This is former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman he is in st Pancres station ,he led a campaign to keep its wonderful Victorian facade ,the pub is also called after him .So after checking in and changing into my suit I decide to head towards the LRB sim had said just head down and across from where I was so I did ,but I must not silly me I forgot to bring an umbrella and was caught in to huge down pours on route but as I stumbled turn here and there on my way to LRB  I noticed I was near Lamb Conduit street which is where Persephone books are .

This was near by a nice blue plague ,so I went and visit Persephone books whose books I ve really enjoyed ,I knew I d like to get the Irene Nemirovsky book they published last year ,the short story collection Dimanche .I brought it and some lovely postcards ,the lady that served me was very helpful ,if a little surprised it was a man buying the book for himself .so avoiding another rain shower I hit the british museum and turn down Bury Place home of the LRB ,I went in and started scanning the huge shelves of books ,almost dribbling at the titles ,I saw as I went up and down twice but had promised my self to limit my self to three books whilst away .So i found two I wanted the first was waiting for the wild beasts to vote by Ahmadou Korouma ,the Ivorian writer that Frank Wynne said was his best translation ,the second book was Juan the Landless by Juan Goytisolo the highly acclaimed spanish writer the older Helen lane translation .So book brought

I got a coffee and was meet by Simon again and Rob of Rob around books and his wife ,this was a real thrill the two people who got me into blogging via their blogs ,we all chatted away for a good 45 mins,I did notice they had a display of Peirene books in the cafe which was great ,before Rob his wife and myself decided to make a move to the RIBA headquarters on Portland place where the Independent foreign fiction prize was being held we arrived and grab a glass of the tattinger champagne that was there as they’d sponsored the event a little nervous I sat and after a bit we heard the art council tell us how important the prize was and introduced  Boyd Tonkin the chair of judges and as we were told a man with untouchable knowledge on fiction in translation ,Boyd told us how strong genre translation was at moment mainly due to Nordic crime ,but still need our support for more literary fiction in translation to see the light of day ,he then ran through the books up for prize then the moment came ,I want Kamchatka ,Rob loved Visitation ,but no it was Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo the Peruvian was the youngest ever winner he came up .

He read from the opening of the book in wonderful English ,he then thanked people ,I was struck by one phrase he said ,this win is for the 70.000 people that died in Peru during the troubles .Then it was back to the drinks after during the prize I tweeted and got a tweet from the ladies of Peirene ask where I was so I found Meike and Maddy and spoke to them this was lovely although I trod on Maddy’s foot twice with my huge feet ,I also meet Rosie Goldsmith from BBC but she has also started the European literature network as a follow-up all year round to the yearly European literature night A site and idea worth following she has real passion for literature in translation .It was  a great day I walk back to my hotel with Mr & Mrs rob ,I made some great friends got to take part in a great event and got some great books ,Thanks to Nikesh at booktrust who set this up and to Rob Simon Meike and Maddy who made it a wonderful day there .


I m off tomorrow to attend the prize giving for this years IFFP 2011 sponsored by Booktrust,I ve read five of the six shortlist books ,but was unable to get the sixth in time due to a library bloop ,but will weight up each  chances of winning –

The Museum of innocence by Orhan Pamuk  translator Maureen Freely – The longest book on the list ,an epic tale of love class and that feeling of total togetherness with one person .It could win due to its epic scope and heartfelt writing .

If it was an english book it would be lady Chatterley lover ,also about love and class with a flip in gender roles thou .

The sickness by Alberto Barrera Tyszka  translator Margaret Jull Costa – A novel involving three people and illness real and imagined ,also father and son relationship ,an interview with him here ,it should win because sickness isn’t often touch so well in fiction

If it was an english book it would be north and south a novel that also touches on dying and parental relationships .

Red april by Santiago Roncagilo translator Edith Grossman  – the past horrors effect a present day crime in Peru ,a hard-hitting and no holds barred novel,it should win because its sheer honesty about his homeland .

If it where and english book it would be This is hard book to match but John Mcgahern seems to touch on Ireland’s terrorist past in some of his books .

I curse the river of time by Per Petterson translator per Petterson and Charlotte Barslund ,like the sickness touches a parent dying but now it is a strong minded mother and a son wanting and needing answers ,it should win as it beautifully bleak like his other books and so insightful into family .

If it was in english book it would be the art fair David Lipsky ,another mother son relationship that is strained .

Kamchatka – Marcel Figueras  translator Frank Wynne Harry and his brother the midget on the run in 80’s Argentina ,this should win as Harry is one if not the best child narrator I ve ever read a warm and touching book .

If it was an english book it be black swan green ,two great narrators and similar times on in uk and Harry was in Argentina .

Visitation -Jenny Erpenbeck  translator Susan Bernofsky -I ve not read this but have read Old child sop ,she should win as she has a fable like talent as a story-teller ,thus I can’t compare to an english book .But this is the favourite .

My tip Kamchatka !

Marcelo Figueras winstonsdad talks to the IFFP SHORTLISTED WRITER ,

I m very happy to bring you a interview with Argentina writer Marcelo Figueras short listed for Thursdays Independent foreign fiction prize 2011 .Thanks to Frank Wynne his translator who mention my interview with him to Marcelo and he said he would be happy to be interviewed as well .Here are the answers .

1.How did you get into writing?

I always wanted to be a writer. Since I was even younger than The Midget! I started with short stories that I copied, illustrated and labelled as ‘novels’ and sold to family and friends. Then I tried to write and draw comics as well. My father still keeps one of those pages (a ripoff of a Burne Hogarth character called Drago, in fact) in his study. And afterwards I pestered my teachers, who in turn read my stories to my poor colleagues at school. They were all extremely kind, and never crushed my one-man industry. And with minimal variations, that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

2.What gave you the idea for Kamchatka?

I was consciously trying to write a story about what we in Argentina call The Dark Years, or The Iron Years: the period between 1976 and 1983, ruled by our last military dictatorship. Most of the stories I knew back then about that particular time (not many novels, mostly films) were unbearable, and repeated the same pattern ad nauseam: romantic young man / woman, his / her involvement in politics, that leads to kidnapping, torture, death and the inevitable coda at the law courts. And I wanted to write about the other horror, the one that the rest of us, who were not kidnapped but still were victims of violence of another sort, have endured.

3.What are your memories of the time?

My memories are a mixed batch. On the one hand, I was the typical boy on the verge of adolescence: shy, introspective, living in a bubble made of books music comics TV and movies. I played Risk a lot. I watched The Invaders. I enjoyed Houdini, the movie with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, but rejected its sad, sad ending. I fell in love every day. I danced alone. But on the other hand, I lived in fear. I knew nothing about what was happening, my family had always been apolitical. In spite of that, I sensed something awful was going on: it was everywhere, even in the air, atoms of fear mixed with oxygen and nitrogen. That was one of the main ingredients of the military Junta’s perversity: they tried to keep the appearance of normality, Buenos Aires’ streets were calm and orderly (and filled with policemen), as if nothing out of the ordinary was really happening. But people were being kidnapped in the dark, locked in dungeons, tortured and killed, and their bodies hidden in massive, anonymous graves or dropped into the sea. So something wicked was indeed happening. And my nose picked it up somehow. Even when I reached my teenager years, I was afraid of going out to the streets at night. And if I saw a policeman out there, I retraced my footsteps and avoided him. I still knew nothing about politics, but in some strange way I gathered that being young and inquisitive, I was definitely the enemy for the guys in blue.

4.How much of harry’s character is based on yourself he seemed so real?

Given that Harry was more or less my age, it seemed natural to lend him most of my experiences: the public school and then the religious one, my father, my mother (The Rock!) and my little brother (The Midget!), Risk, The Invaders, my love of books and the rest. I had a bit of a temper, too. And as I answered before, my experience of living in fear also became quite useful.

5..Do you like strawberry nesquik?

I loved chocolate Nesquik, that dark brown powder that you mixed with milk. And as the Midget, I loved it most when it had little, crunchy chocolate bubbles.

6.What does being up for the independant foreign fiction prize me to you?

Being in the longlist for the IFFP meant already a lot, and the shortlist was sheer Heaven. Even if I don’t win, being between the six best novels written in a non-English language is quite a prize in itself.

7.What does being translated into english mean to you?

It means a lot. English is my second language. Most of the novels I read are in English. (And when I say most I’m not embellishing: 98 % is a conservative figure in this respect.) And many of my all-time favorite writers are English: from Shakespeare to Dickens, from Graham Greene to Martin Amis, from Joseph Conrad (well, sort of English) to David Mitchell. Learning English was the only thing my mother really forced me to do, when I desperately wanted to drop out citing well documented exhaustion. I was a really good student, so I thought deserved a break… that luckily, my mom didn’t give me. So I’m really grateful to her. And this modest recognition in the country she admired so much feels to me like poetic justice, given that she encouraged me so much and that she died so, so young. (Not as young as Harry’s mother, but…)

8. Do you ever feel burden by Argentina ‘s glorious writing history?

I don’t feel burdened. Argentina has a great literary tradition (Robert Arlt, Borges, Cortázar and Rodolfo Walsh are amongst my favorites) that wasn’t really helpful at the time of creating Kamchatka. Because for the most part, Argentina greatest writers tend to escape from emotion, embracing stylishness and formal exploration instead. And Kamchatka without emotion would have been a table with only two legs. So I reached my hand to the masters of the form, starting obviously with Dickens. He is the one who taught me that children are more resilient than grownups. Or, to put it in the words Lillian Gish says at the end of The Night of the Hunter: “Children are man at his strongest. They endure and they abide”.

9.Which of your books would you like to see next in English?

I would like very much to see La batalla del calentamiento translated. Because it has many things in common with Kamchatka (emotions being one) but also some fantasy: a giant, a girl with magical powers and a wolf that speaks Latin (that’s me repaying my debts with Europe’s fairytale tradition), mixed with some heavy stuff taken from real life and Argentinian history from the recent past -as in Kamchatka too.

10. Which do you enjoy most fiction writing or script writing or do the two overlap?

As the frogs in Kamchatka, I deem myself amphibious. I need literature and movies to survive. One’s a solitary way of creating; the other is more of a group endeavour. And I like it the most when I can mix both in the right proportions as in a good Martini. (Shaken, yes, but not stirred!)

11.Which Argentina writers should we be watching for?

Mariana Enríquez, Samantha Schweblin, Sergio Olguín, Félix  Bruzzone.

12.What are your favourite books and writers?

Don’t get me started. I’ve mentioned some of them. I would add: Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salinger, Saul Bellow, Michael Ondaatje, John Irving, Cormac McCarthy, Alan Moore… Do you need more?

Red April by Santiago Roncagiolo

Source – library

Translator – Edith Grossman

Santiago Roncagiolo is a peruvian writer ,grew up in the city of Arequipa ,his father is well-known political analyst in peru ,which meant he lived for a time growing up in exile .He has lived in Barcelona  since 2000 ,due cleaning jobs at first then spots of writing for papers like El Pais ,red april is his first novel to be translated into English.he has so far written five novels ,and he has one of his books filmed in spain .

Red april is set in the year 2000 in the small town of Ayacucho ,during holy week a serial killer is found to be on the lose ,this is at the time peru is just coming out of an extreme regime and  the terrorist group shining path .This leads to suspicions growing through the town .The government send a man from lima to investigate the crime and find the person committing the crimes .this man Felix gets tangled up and finds people that he is talking to die as the lines between the past and the present blur ,people s connections to the past come to light and he struggles to get to grip with what is happening .He finds the past is still ever-present in people’s thoughts .Also is the shining path still operating even thou the government says it isn’t these are all questions that need answers .

“Felix ,eight years ago ,if I went out they would kill .Not now .The dammm terrorists killed my mother ,they killed my brother ,they took away my sister so the damm solder could kill her afterward .since the president took office ,they haven’t killed me or anybody else in my family .You want me to vote for somebody else ? i don’t understand why ?

Felix faces people’s pasts as he tries to find the truth .

This book isn’t one I would normally choose as I m not huge fan of  thrillerish books but as it was on the Independent foreign fiction shortlist ,I thought I d give it a whirl and as Llhosa was the only over peruvian writer I d read I thought  d like to try one of the younger generation of writers post -latin american boom writers ,I like Santiago’s honesty about his homelands dark recent past and tackle it well using the present and a crime now unconnected to the past as a way to address the distant past .Felix is a great character like the typical outsider he sees thinks different and also has an open mind but he does get involved far to easily ,he has an eye for the ladies and this makes him vulnerable at times ,as he starts his relationship with a young women called Edith that isn’t all she seems at times .The book is gruesome in places as we see the actions that happen during the conflict on both sides the tremendous loss of life and the shattered life’s left behind mothers without children ,children without parents .I was reminded at times of Bolano in the style of writing and the way he use the story to tackle the past .the book was well translated by Edith Grossman as IO would expect she does a lot of latin american literature .

Have you read this book ?

Do you like books that tackle difficult subjects ?

Tarantula By Thierry Jonquet or the skin I live in

Source – review copy from serpents tail to tie in with the film coming out .

Translator – Donald Nicholson-Smith

Thierry Jonquet was a french writer ,he grew up in Paris and studied Philosophy at university ,His books were part of the well-known French book collection ” the black series “,the  collection of novels all have a noir ,feel tarantula was one of these ,Jonquet said he his main source of inspiration is the daily newspaper a treasure trove of anecdotal evidence of ,in his words the barbarity of life .I feel he does this in this book it is a little extreme in places but not too much to make it far-fetched .Thierry died in 2009 aged 55 .

The story is two tales that start separate and end up classing into a shocking stand-off in the end .The first tale is of a Parisian Plastic surgeon called Richard Lafargue ,a successful man ,but also a dark character that Keep his wife Eve locked up naked sometimes in a bedroom ,only letting her out dressed in very revealing and sexy clothing to go to parties or to perform sexual acts with people as he watches her voyeuristically get his kicks from this via a one way Mirror .He also has a secret operating theatre in his basements this is where he performs operations that he wants to keep on the hush-hush .He seems like a man who has it all but has lost his way and end up in a very dark place .

“Get yourself ready,” ordered Lafargue .”they won’t be long now ”

Eve opened a closet and undressed .first putting her own clothes away ,she proceeded to dress in long black thigh boot ,black leather skirt,and fishnet stockings ,She made herself up ,using whited face powder and bright red lipstick ,the sat down on the bed .

Eve gets ready to perform for her Husband as he sits behind the mirror .

The second trail follows a bungled robbery and the man committing it Alex barney ,we see him on the run after killing a cop ,also he needs to find a new identity this leads him to Larfargue ,they have met in passing through the book ,he ends up at the house stuck in a great stand-off between the three ,from which there lives will change .

Alex Barny rested on a camp bed in an attic room .He had nothing to do ,except wait .The chatter of the curadas in the garriage was an unrelenting racket .Though the window Alex could see the crooked silhouettes of olive trees in the night ,forms fixed in bizarre poses .

We’re introduced to Alex .

I love noir and Novellas ,so read this short book it is only 120 pages long in an evening it packs a hell of a lot into those 120 pages .Thierry shines a light on the dark corners of the human soul and how even the most professional of people can have darkness in their characters ,Eve is trapped ,she loves richard but is trapped by richard performing for him .Richard has trouble having sex so makes eve perform also likes the danger of performing secret operations .Alex is criminal and like a runaway train through the book on a course for a huge crash .The book was sold to be made into a film by Pedro Almodovar ,he read the book when it came out and want to film it over ten years .Now the film the skin i live in has just come out at this years Cannes festival the storyline in the film is far removed from the but the main thread is there the relationship between surgeon and wife ,renamed Robert legard and Vera in the film Robert is played by the well-known actor Antonio Banderas .

Have you read French Noir ?

Do you like Pedro Almodovar films ?

#translationthurs round up

Today on twitter it was suggested by two good twitter friend I am Amro and rob around books I start listing books mention on translation thus on the blog   .I start this small meme last year and it is slowly growing and seems a great way to find new books to read if like me .you like world literature .

Blue fox by Sjon – suggest by I will tweet the guy behind Just William ,you should go over and have a look he does better reviews than me and loads of world lit .

Woodcutters by Thomas Bernard – suggested by Amelia atlas ,Bernhard was Austria favourite writer even if he dislike his homelands art scene I ve one of his near to of tbr pile .

Gold by Blaise Cendrars – The renown swiss writer ,a peter Owen edition they publish a few of his books .This was John s. of asylum suggestion ,he reviews a great mix of fiction ,with highly insightful analysis of books  ,a number in translation.

The death of Napoleon by Simon Leys -suggest by great twitter friend Simon from inside books ,from the Belgian writer pierre ryckmans ,Simon Leys is his non de plume  was made into a film called emperors new clothes .

blood sisters by Alessandro Perissinotto – a book I like when I review an italian crime novel suggested by Cazbah88 from Carol’s book corner blog

Memoirs of the duc de saint Simon by Louis de Reuvroy -a french classic ,new to me here is the wiki info   suggest by dave trembley

Lost honour of Katherine Blume by Heinrich boll -from  Meike at Peirene as their writer Friedrich Christian Delius had won the Georg Buchner prize ,germany’s biggest Literary prize ,as had Boll .

THE topless tower by Silivna Ocampo – New Zealand based Tim Jones from tim Joness blog ,The surreal Argentina novel considered a classic

The sleeping Dragon  by Miyuki Miybe -a Japanese mystery by In spring it i s the dawn from the blog of the same Name

The final going of snow by Kristina Ehins -suggest by mpt magazine the poetry translation magazine ,Estonian Poetry in translation .

A void by Georges Perec -the novel that’s a detective novel with a vowel missing all way through the book ,suggest by Gary and Gina here are the blogs Parrish Lantern and Gina Choe  both great world lit bloggers .

Spring in Fialta by Vladimir  Nabokov -suggest by Nia Polly from her blog and literature across frontiers comms manager a great site link lit in europe ,not read this Nabokov but he was one of the best writers in the 20th century wrote in russian and english .


The post office girl by Stefan Zweig -by new york based writer Katie Kitamura  writer of longshot ,post office girl is a study of class I loved it when I reviewed it here on winstonsdad .

The Lusiads by Luis vaz de Camoes – by themselves  Oxford world classics ,a Portuguese classic about them discovering the world .

Cibernectica e fantasmi in une pietra sopra by Italo Calvino -suggest by sam tweets books ,loved every Calvino I ve read so sure this will be good .

Tomorrow Pamplona by Jan Van Mersbergen -Peirene press no 4 ,I finish it last week out 7th June well worth reading one hell of a ride like grabbing the bull by the horns .suggest by tony from tony reading list 

Memoirs of a porcupine by Alain Mabanckou- a book narrate by said porcupine of the title loved broken glass reviewed here on winstonsdad ,suggest by the publisher serpents tail

Traveller and Innkeeper by Fadhill al-Azzawi- by Arablit great blog for all arabic lit ,set in Iraq follows a secret policeman published in 70’s in Arabic

Redbreast by Jo Nesbo -by little reader who has recently returned to blogging ,the third in the Harry hole series I read snowman from this series a well written taut crime novel ,of nordic noir style .

Kamchatka by Marcelo Figureas suggest by Rob from Rob around books my favourite IFFP read ,reviewed here on winstonsdad .

well that’s them for this week ,we had books from every where and every age and genre just shows what you can find in translation if you look .


Various Authors – the first Fiction Desk anthology

Source – review copy

The Fiction Desk is a blog and twitter feed run by Rob Redman ,an Editor based in Italy in Roma ,I ve spoken to Rob via twitter  and followed his blog for a couple of years so think I have an ear for what he likes book and writing  wise ,so was so pleased to be sent this collection of 12 short stories by new and upcoming writers .Rob describes the books experience as being a dj  and making compilation cds for the nights he dj ,so I sat back and read his choices .

There isn’t a theme to this collection some stories are similar a number about family ,we follow a Scottish lad on the bus to his parents only to discover his father in a stat of chaos and his mother gone .

“What are you on about ”

“You see ,your mum ,she’s saying …its the drink.” the balls thud and spin on the Tv and ger’s heartbeat makes him stay very still .

Gerry find out his Ma is gone .(almost like a Glasvegas song as a story )

In another a younger boy set out on an ill fated journey to find a long-lost father who is in Wales ,firstly trying the train then walking and meeting people .Another explains the joys of trying to catch and fall in love with an Air hostess over the course of a flight told as a basic guide of how too ,a story by Windmills books PR person Marcus Harvey .A man pretends to be a dog called rex in another ,this story is very surreal .as a family falls apart rex is a the centre of the action .There is a story following an office, a high-powered executive working in the US for the government  is concerned about his  new assistant she seems to leave the office early every day ,he confronts her and she tells him about how she is playing in a small play ,he is interested she says he could join her and he does .

The last thing he heard as Brutus set him down on the floor was the voice of Sadie

“I think we have a caesar”

he stood up and felt like he could probably die all night .

Daniel the executive discovers the joy of acting .

I leave you there with the stories if you want to know more go out and support Rob ,there isn’t a bad story in this collection to use the time-worn phrase they are all page turners .and to take it back to Rob’s starting point of a dj ,well this book is like the semi legendary NME MIXTAPE C86 ,which collected a group of acts in 1986 ,some were couple of hit wonders and some went on to be huge ,this collection has tha feel anyone here could be huge and sure someone from this collection will but who or when is hard to say but if this is Rob’s mix of new writing in English ,well it looks like we re in good health .here is collection and writers with links to the fiction desk bio of every writer .

Do you like new collections of stories ?

The painter of signs of R.K.Narayan

Source – own copy

R.K.Narayan was one of the first writers from India to break the british market ,he was mentored in the early days by Graham Greene ,after one of his early manuscripts was given to Greene .he won many awards and in later life spent time in the higher parliament of India for his contribution to Indian literature .

Like a  lot of Narayan’s book this book is set in  the fictional town of Malguldi ,this town in southern india the area Narayan came from ,well the painter of signs is about one of the inhabitation of the town Raman a well educate man ,whose job is to paint signs .He takes great pride with this advising his clients on style of calligraphy and colours .Now early on we find Raman is a single man and happy being a single man a well-known figure in the town as he has painted many signs . he one day is asked to do a sign by a feisty young women Daisy ,she intrigues Raman ,he gets slowly drawn tp this women and her fresh way of thinking she is a forthright women ,she runs family planning clinics ,thus needs a frequent supply of signs and chance to meet Raman as they travel to these different clinics as Raman needs to see the location before deciding on the sign as they do this they grow closer  .Eventually leading to Marriage .

“A very simple ceremony ” he did not wish to explain to her that they had resolved to do without any formality .He had explained to daisy the five kinds of marriage he had read about and they had come to the conclusion that the system called Gandharva was most suitable one for them ;that was the type of marriage one read about in classical literature .when two souls met in harmony the marriage was consummated perfectly ,and no further rite of ceremony was called for .

Raman and Daisy discussed marriages .

Narayan was a brilliant story-teller this is a simple story a couple meeting, but told with such delicacy and subtle tones ,he was very influenced by the western literature he grew up reading ,this is like those moved to India ,it has a slight humour running through it but also a feeling of the time it was written in the mid 1970’s as india was changing becoming more western Daisy shows this face and in some ways Raman is tied up with the traditions of Indian life ,but also the roles are flipped Daisy forthright confident with her self ,Raman reserved and in lots of ways Naive .I read another book many years ago set in Malgudi by Narayan ,he was included with his short stories in recent Penguin mini classics ,which was good to see as he is a writer that needs to be read ,he gives you a window into post colonial india from independence  to his death ,a country awakening shown through this colourful indian town and the people who live there .

Have you read Narayan ?

The tigers wife by Tea Obreht

Source – review copy (requested by me)

Well I very rarely want get caught up in Hype books but read about this book and it writer Tea Obreht made me .Tea was born in Former Yugoslavia,lived there til she was 7 the in cyprus and Egypt .Before settling with her family in the us were eventually she took  a  MA  in creative writing at Cornell university ,she is teaching there now this is her first novel .I was amazed that someone so young could write a book that by the blurb seems to have been written by some one that is older .

Well what is the tigers wife about ,its set in Yugoslavia ,it is about a grandfather and his granddaughter Natalia ,her grandfather has disappears she is away doing vaccination in a distant town ,  so she rushes off and decides to find him .Whilst doing this we discover her childhood and the fact he always carried a volume of Rudyard Kipling’s the Jungle book and told the young  Natalia  ,stories from this book which he loved .This reminded me of my friend Rob of Rob Around books and his hunt for a book that can be a constant companion to the reader ,rob found this in part with the Essays of Michel de Montaigne ,also in the book the english patient the main character count Alamsy  has a copy of histories by Herodotus that he has loved and kept things in ,so here the grandfather had enchanted his young grand-daughter with tales from Jungle book mixed with local history like the tale of the tigers wife of the title of the book a tale of a mysterious silent women from the second world war ,also the man she thing her grandfather is looking for the deathless man ,a man who has lived forever and wanders the backlands where her grandfather lives .There is also tale of the tiger that escaped from the zoo during the war ,that enthralled her grandfather as it seemed th book he ;loved had come to life .to find out what happens to Natalia and her grandfather you better read the book .

Everything necessary to understand my grandfather lies between the two stories : the story of the tiger’s wife and the story of the deathless man .These stories run like  secret rivers through all the other stories of his life – of my grandfathers days in the army ; his great love for my grandmother ; the years he spent as a surgeon and a tyrant of the university .One ,which i learned after his death ,is story of how my grandfather became a man ,the other which told to me ,is of how he became a child again .

opening of the second chapter .

This book is filled with love ,it is a story of generations ,of Tea’s homeland the Balkans .We get a heady mix of folkish tales and magic realism .I find hard and disheartening that this is a book written by a 25-year-old if you didn’t know you would think it was a much older writer ,it has echos of a lot of great books a bit of the English patient ,a bit of  life of pi and maybe some magic realism of marquez and Okri .I m happy I asked for this book does it live up to the Hype yes it does .If your at Hay festival Tea is there talikg about this book .

The discovery of Heaven readalong (from iris on books)

I brought Harry Mulisch’s The discovery of heaven 1992 masterpiece a while ago having enjoy another of his books a long time ago and when Harry died in October I thought be time to read him again, then I saw Iris of Iris on books has organised a read along of the book ,so I thought I d join in with Iris a blogger I really like the book was  voted best dutch novel by the Dutch newspaper NRC ,here is the piece about it from the NRC ,I used google translate ,and just about got the article .Micheal Orthofer has a page on Harry Mulisch ,with links to his many reviews of Harry’s work which like always have numerous links to paper reviews .He gave it a rare A+ in his review .The book was made into a film in 2001 starring Stephen Fry as one of the two main Charcaters here is the IMDB REVIEW .this starts later this week and runs through to June when it is Dutch Literature month on Iris blog you may want join in here is a good place to start the centre of Dutch Literature in translation many great books to choose from .

What dutch books have you enjoyed ?

Have you read this epic book ?

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May 2011


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