The tongue’s blood does not run dry by Assia Djebar

The tongue’s blood does not run dry by Assia Djebar

Algerian Fiction

Translator – Tegan Raleigh

Assia Djebar name has flown high in the nobel odds the last couple of years so I decided to try her ,before she does win it .Assia Djebar is her pen name her real name being Fatima-Zohar Imalayen ,she is a Algerian of Berber origins , she was the first Algerian women to go the prestigious ENS  the elite Parisian college .Her first book was published in 1957 ,she was also the first Maghreb to be voted on to the  Académie française and won the Neustadt prize .I must say given all that she is still not well-known in the english speaking world and really should be .

This collection the first of two books I got by her from the library is a collection of short stories and a 80 page novella Felicie’s body ,I ll leave the stories mainly set in Algeria and all dealing with a female perspective on what it is to be a women in modern Algeria ,Felicie’s body deals with a women near the end of her life and indeed after her death she is french catholic and was married for her life to her Algerian husband who died before her now nearing the end of her life we see her having to take a muslim name to be buried beside her beloved husband this story really catches what it is to be between two worlds as this family is some of her children drawn to Algeria other to France we see how this family copes with her death of the mother and her wishes to be buried beside her husband in Algeria .

You arrive on a Monday morning in February ,unconscious already.In the ambulance ,I sit down next to my sister Ourdia ,who’s come with you from Oran .I tell myself this time you’ve come to die by my side ,right under my eyes .But will you at least look at me ,just once ? Smile at me ,maybe talk ?

The opening of Felicie’s body .

I was trying to  think of a way to sum up her writing and how it impacted me but I think  she  has  best summed up by a quote of her own –

I write like many other Algerian women with a sense of urgency against regression and misogyny .

That sums up so well how this book grabbed me and her as a writer feisty and lots of strong female characters .I asked my self is this a potential nobel winner having read other Nobel winners work and the answers is yes and I hope she does so her work can reach a wider audiences of readers .Her’s is a voice that lifts the lid on the female Muslim world of north africa and also how these women or there families are effected in France .The translation works a treat her the translator is new to me but has done a great job here .The book was published in the US  by seven stories press in 2006 and the original stories were published in French in 1997 .

Have you read her works ?

Have you a favourite North African writer ?

winstons coffee and muffin – plugged in


Well after a week away for blog and google reader ,Facebook  for most part ,I feel refreshed and ready to face the blogging world again .I had a busy week at work til thursday and then I’ve had the weekend with Amanda we went to Sheffield on friday and I called in there Waterstones which is much large than the one than we have in Chesterfield .So here are the books I got .

Dona Flor and her two husbands by Jorge Amado – Brazil’s most famous writer of modern times ,a women loses her first husband,she  remarried and then her first husband reappears on her first night with her husband .I liked sound of this one in the shop .

Petersburg by Andrei Bely – This was mentioned on a radio show the other week and I remembered it was one I had noted a time ago as to read .So this new penguin edition seemed a great buy Vladimir Nabokov choose it as one of his five favourite books .He is often called the russian James Joyce .

Cairo swan song by Mekkawi Said – the other day I noticed my supply of Arabic books had run down in last couple of years so this is a welcome addition to that pile short-listed for the Arabic booker prize in 2008 .Mustfa tells the story of himself and his friends growing up in modern Egypt .

I brought the fourth book at tesco the other day as Amanda saw a book she wanted and I saw this one .

The savage altar by  Asa Larsson – this is the first in the Rebecka Martinsson series ,after I enjoyed until thy wrath be past .I looking forward to seeing where this story starts .


I also visited the local Oxfam on saturday and brought three books –

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino – A Japanese thriller ,every one is 1Q84 at mo .I’ll try something else and I liked the sound of this very dark sounding book .

Malgudi days by R K Narayan – I had this from library as part of a collection of four of his books but didn’t get to read it so this was a good find as I love the world of Malgudi Narayan drew in his books .

The hard life by Flann O’Brien – I keep saying to Kim mainly of reading matters I need to read some irish fiction so got another of O’brien to read he is clever and funny but sometimes I find him a little hard to get hold of and I like that when I m reading .

Have you read any of these ?

What did I miss ?

Trevor for booker

I ve long been a fan of the Irish writer William Trevor ,for those of you not familiar with him he is often called the irish Chekov ,Tim Adams of the observer said of him “widely believed to be the most astute observer of the human condition currently writing fiction .He has long been a booker bridesmaid with five nominations one long list in 2009 and four shortlists 1970 (Mrs Eckdorf in O’Neils hotel ),1976(The children of Dynemouth) ,1991(Reading Turgenev) ,2002(The story of Lucy Gault ).So rather than the Booker prize do what they did with the other booker bridesmaid Beryl Bainbridge and have a prize after she died why not honour the man whilst he is here I feel after the fuss this years prize caused say oh well we’ll stop for a year give it to William as a special one-off price for 2012 for the body of his work ,I would imagine many readers would be disappointed with this choice also it would honour William’s contribution to modern English literature he is a writer that has mixed Chekov, Maupassant short story talent with a touch of Irish tradition from Joyce and O’Connor with the English literature of Maugham and Greene .I love the booker I felt I gave the wrong impression last week it has led me to many good books ,my problem was with this year and recent years that I felt let down with the prize that has been dear to me .But never wanted to lessen the prize and I don’t think readability is dumbing down it is up to each of us what is readable .I felt near the prize being given some people went a little over the top with the vileness of the opinions and also the puppets that think these people are a sort of demi god of English literature !Any way if you think this is a good idea please write a post maybe if enough of us little people shout loud we can make the Horton’s of this world listen !!!! Please support this William Trevor is a writer that touches the soul !!

Borges – Tom Castro ,the implausible impostor

Tom castro – published 30 sept 1933

translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni

Collection  A universal history of infamy

Well after a couple of months I finally get round to my Borges project ,the stories I choice will be ad hoc todays is Tom castro this is one of Borges earliest stories from the thirties .It is about Tom castro or Arthur Orton a con man from the 1800’s ,he and his manservant a black man called ben Bogle tried to pass them selves of as the long dead Sir Roger Tichborne ,The story actually is an authentic telling of the actual  story .Castro a large built australian man tried to pass him self of as the slim English heir to the ninth largest fortune in england  as his Tichbourne mother believes he is still alive even thou she was told he died .This case made the headlines and had a lengthy court case ,which Castro was found guilty .Borges is at his sparest with his writing here no fleshing out just the bare facts and a little window dressing but enough to get the facts of the story in ten pages .This story was also made into a film called The Tichbourne Claimant  in the 1980’s

Have you read this story or seen the film ?

Steig Larsson my friend by Kurdo Baksi

Steig larsson my friend by Kurdo Baksi

Swedish Non fiction

Translated by Laurie Thompson

Steig Larsson is without a doubt the biggest success in translated fiction of recent times ,he also lead to the great number of Nordic crime books we see on our book shop shelves ,unfortunately he died before the huge success of the books he wrote hit home  ,so this book by a colleague and good friend of the man is a great insight into him as a person and writer .Kurdo Baksi a Kurd writer journalist and magazine owner , that has lived in Sweden since the 80’s like Stieg he is a figure in the anti fascist movement in Sweden and runs a magazine about anti fascism .he first meet Stieg in 1992 as their paths crossed with stieg,s non fiction books on the extreme right in Sweden and the shared beliefs in this movement grew into a great friendship .They both ran magazines Stieg Larsson Expo and Kurdo Baksi Svartitt .We let into the world of Swedish journalism where these two writers Stieg in particular walk a line of danger where because they have highlighted the extreme right with exposes of these movements ,they have to watch what they do ,then there is also the hate mail he got from the right-wing nutters .What you get is Stieg dedication to democracy   and freedom of speech this lead to long hours and as Kurdo put it a man fueled by cigarettes and coffee in equal measures .The two men are drawn closer when Stieg magazine runs into trouble so rather than let it go out of print he and Kurdo join together and publish the two magazines as one as Kurdo is a better business man than Stieg  .THE other thread of Stieg life that kurdo lets us  into is the personnel man Stieg lived with his partner Eva whom kurdo knows well and helps at times when she is worried about Stieg  had traveled a lot in his youth as a sort of backpacker spend time in africa this had a lasting effect on him .

On 30 november 1998 ,T.T . issued a newsflash .The anti racist journal Expo had been resurrected ,thanks to a merger with the swedish magazine svartvitt .

I was quoted ;”expo had been outstandingly good at investigating racism .but they never grasped how to make money .That is where I can help them ”

The magazine combine their talents .

So you can say I liked this book in fact I loved it read it in an evening as I want to learn  more a\nd more about Stieg I enjoyed the millenium trilogy when I read it and knew a bits about Stieg’s life, but this book fleshed out the scant facts I had . He comes across as a man who work hard in fact a real workaholic that slept very little  and cared for his fellow-man ,the millenium trilogy is just part of his story his activism was the bigger picture and that in turn is shown in the books of the millenium trilogy which the Kurdo appears in as a character .This bio is a loving tribute from someone who knew Stieg and admired him also due to working everyday with him for later part of Stieg life knew him as he worked on the books that made his name .

Have you read this or Stieg’s trilogy ?

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