Well 2011 has drawn slowly to a close here I’ve been away from blogging over Christmas to spend time with family .but am now ready for next year I ve decided to avoid challenges this coming year as I felt they distract my reading as I tend to find it hard to stick to them as I m a flighty reader , whether later in year this may change but at moment I just want to feel free in my reading again ,I be more careful with review choices next year as I feel ive been pigeonholed as a bit of a crime lover which I am but my main love will always be lit fiction And mainly fiction in translation especially those books that get overlooked or we re missed when they came out .Plans I ve set down so far thou for next year are – the shadow Asian reading and Judging which I m enjoying ,henry green week which is at the end of this month ,shadow IFFP reading and a Spanish Language fiction month at some point in the year ,which is enough as I start to try to get my rhythm back with blogging ,book reading target well I managed 132 books again like it was in 2010 last year (can see how far behind I fell with my reviews in last few months ,as I enter the third year of blogging regularly I feel I found my niche in the blogging world now and have now got my own style of blogging, which suits me .I feel three to four post a week which is the level I want to be posting at and need to clear backlog of books unreviewed .I added twenty new countries to the blog this year and read from books from fifty different countries ,slightly less than last year but new countries are getting hard to find and I wanted to add some depth to places and felt I did that I ll do the same next year .
29 Dec 2011 35 Comments
26 Dec 2011 4 Comments
I won this just before Christmas on twitter and was intrigued by it and london in general as a northern and proud of it , who has only visited London on half a dozen occasions I wanted to see if this book by Craig Taylor, who is also the editor of seven dials magazine would give me an insight into what it is to be a Londoner and is there any peace in the madness as it seems to the outsider .Craig spent over seven years interviewing people from all walks of life on what effect London has had on them and what they do every day .The book is loosely organised in sections following an arc of arriving in london too what happens every day the people how entertain, feed and look after us whilst there and ultimately the people who see us into then next life .these range from pilot that bookends the book arriving at the airport and leaving as he puts it moving away from all that life in the city .
But london has cross winds .Nothing’s stable .Nothing’s set it can be tough work too. if it is rough you might duck into grey cloud pilot
Kevin Pover on landing in london but this nugget seems to sum up London a bit as well .
I loved Taylor’s style of interviewing letting people chat and obviously editing it into little nuggets and gems and getting rid of waffle whilst still keeping the feel of every person via the grammar and use of language .I felt like I spent seven years on a tube train every day talking to a different person or in a pub for seven years .Craig has done for modern London what the mass observation project did in the second world war ,captured it like a fly in amber for all time .Some of my favourite people in the book where the Pakistan currency guy that had marfan syndrome just because he had that as a tall thin man this syndrome was often mentioned to me as something I may have due to my build and shape , till my mum took me for tests and I hadn’t it but his story remind me of that time .
I also has some problems with my health .Some eye problems .I had retinal detachment -I have a genetic reason for that ,Marfan Syndrome ,which makes me tall and causes eye problems . karman Sheikh currency trader talks about his health problems a syndrome I was suspected of having but didn’t .
The funeral director that show the cosmopolitan nature of London has led to him working with people in Poland and Nigeria on a regular basis even opening a branch in Nigeria as he was shocked at the facilities .
I went into one mortuary and there were bodies lying on the floor at various stages of decomposition when they’d not kept up the payments .
The ambulance man talking of delivering babies here there and every where also the fact he delivered babies of all races and every one is the same when it come to child-birth .this book is the best non fiction book I ve read all year and one everyone should read I think .
22 Dec 2011 28 Comments
Well I have spent a long time thinking of this year’s best books and finally got down to ten books which I must admit two of which Ive not reviewed on blog yet,so here we go in no particular order –
Down the rabbit hole by Juan Pablo Viilalobos – A young Mexican boy wants a pygmy Hippo and his dad is a Mexican drug baron,so he might just get it . This book is a glimpse of another world that of the drug cartels . A wonderfully crafted novella from a new publisher .
Tomorrow Pamplona by Jan Van Mersbergen – I still amazed at Laura’s translation of this book how well she kept the maleness of the voices so well and I love the story of men at a crossroads in their life .As they head to the annual Bull running in spain .
Parallel stories by Peter Nadas Is maybe one of the true epic books of the 21st century ,ok it has a lot of sex but also you feel the dirt and grim of everyday communist life in eastern europe through the eyes of his characters within its covers .
Phantoms of Breslau by Marek Krajewski A dark atmospheric crime novel set in post world war Poland ,I love his use of language and the way he brings Breslau to life .The best crime novel I ve read this year.
Beauty and the Inferno by Roberto Saviano This book typifies non fiction at it best from a writer that is fearless these pieces range from the trivial stories of footballers to the deadly serious with pieces on the environment , all written in Saviano’s wonderful prose style
Kamchatka by Marcel Figueras -This is my favourite south american book this year in what has been a good year for Argentina fiction ,a little boy on the run with his parents in the seventies that dark time in Argentina and the best of a number of books about this time that came out this year .
Khirbet Kizah by S Yizhar is the first of his two masterpieces to reach us English his epic follow-up to this due out sometime in the next few years ,this book follows a battle in a small Palestine village from the view of the Israeli soldiers doing the mission.
I was born there ,I was born here by Mourid Barghouti yet again his poetic prose bring his homeland to life ,not with angry voices but with quiet words showing the everyday to him that seems outrageous to us .A must read for anyone that wants to know the Palestine side of the conflict
Glorious Nemesis by Laidslav Kilma another gem turned up by the wonderful twisted spoon this follows a man haunted by an old women he saw briefly and its driven him mad and to poverty.
New finnish grammar by Diego A book about language , memory ,learning who you are .This by a man who is found and assumed to be finnish by the contents of his bag .I was told about this at the Iffp by the Nick Lezard of the guardian and finally read it last week this maybe just nudges book of the year.If push comes to shove .
So that is that all of my books of the year are translations ,it what has been a great year for translations .
What was your translation of the year ?
If your on twitter hashtag it with #translationthurs for all I will rt them all .
21 Dec 2011 6 Comments
Glorious Nemesis by Ladislav Klima
Translator Marek Tomin
Ladislav Klima grew up in Bohemia in the late part of 1800’s and early part of 1900’s expelled for his views on church and state from his school he lived hand to mouth in the later part of his life making money doing short-term jobssuch as a shoe shiner or in hotels .In fact most of his work was published after his death at the age of 50 in 1928 from tuberculosis .This is the latest to be brought to english by The czech based publisher Twisted spoon .
When I read the pitch for this book from the publisher ,I knew it would be a book I loved ,as I have a great fondness for pre world war two central European fiction from likes of Kafka ,Leppin ,Zweig and so on this book falls firmly into this group of writers where they question life and social standing and what it is to be human .saying that this is a short novella of a 123 pages and also includes a number of special commissioned Illustrations for the book by the Czech artist Pavel Rut ,the whole book is wonderfully package with a striking cover that uses the virgin mary /two sister motif .The book is the story of a young man Sider, he is 28 ,and whilst on a holiday in the Tyrol. He comes across two women on a black cliff these are sisters Errata and Orea .The are dressed in red and blue which happens to be the colours of the Virgin Mary ,he falls in love with these women and this sets the scene for the story ,as he is always returning to the place where he saw them first and he sees echoes of them even after the women have gone and even died .I m remind of other books of the time and think this fits in as we watch Sider descend into madness as he treads a line between the real and unreal ,this book touches many things over its short length philosophy , religion ,love and longing also the Czech tradition of the ordinary turning into the surreal and absurd as Sider see thinks that aren’t there and meets various people .
Finally ,the older women ‘s eyes regarded him .She said something to her companion .Now their conversation became livelier …. and then the younger of the two looked intently at Sider for a long time ,for an almost indecent length of time .He was the first to avert his eyes .
Sider gets a close look at the women as they descend towards him .
I love the quote from the recently departed Vaclav Havel” Klima almost always shocked ” I can see how Klima has influence figures like Havel and Haki also quote it’s that czech thing of walking the line between the everyday and the unusual motifs in both writers work ,and how easy it is too become obsessed and then mad because of obsession. As ever another triumph from Twisted spoon as they continue to unearth the hidden gems of central European fiction for us to read in English .This book can easily sit next to a Zweig or Kafka .Here is Complete reviews take on it
What is your favourite Czech novel ?
16 Dec 2011 39 Comments
Last year I signed up for a few challenges that appealed but as year went on I failed at them terribly ,so for 2012 I l be doing no challenges in fact I ll just do the odd thing here and there as I try to get my failing blog back on the rails I ve neglect winstonsdad of late .In part due some ill-health ,wanting to spend more time with Amanda and my own laziness but when I spoke last night and realised I had 20 plus books unreviewed Ive decided I need to get a routine going so in 2012 I want to get a better routine with the blog and this is a question to you all especially those who post regularly HOW DO YOU DO IT ? any tips are welcome I have been writing a post at a time but not sure if this is best way maybe a day and write a few at a time would work what do you do ? Do you like challenges ? where am I going wrong ? I am a butterfly reader I like jumping from place to place and very disorganised .so any tips and advice be more than welcome thanks as from jan I want get back to regular posting .