Bookish deeds a film and lend

well last night I had a great night at home with the Amanda but had two great bookish moments away from reading books the first was a film that was new to me that was on the sky premier film channel so a newish film it was called Eleanors secret ,a French Animation with english language soundtrack .We follow Natanael a seven year old boy that is afraid to read aloud and this is effecting his school work ,so on the way to his late aunts house where he spent many happy summers with her reading to him from her library of first editions fairy tales and classics .She left him this library and the secret that goes with it .I don’t have kids but I fell this is a film to inspire kids to read and to a book junkie like me was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours with my darling wife .I m sorry I picked german trailer first as it much better than the english one I found gives better idea of the book .But have include the english one as well .

My second bookish event last night was minor but to me a thrill I borrowed my first e-book from our library system I didn’t know Derbyshire even  had a e library well we do it’s not terribly big but there is a number of books there I wanted to read but most were out on loan so I choose Arctic chill by Arnaldur Indridason as I have it on my shelves if I don’t finish it on my I pad in time .

Have you borrowed a e-book ?

What bookish things your discovered recently ?

Man asian Literary prize 2012 shortlist

Well this came out earlier this week but two night shifts really caught me earlier this week so I m a day or two late her is the short list .

2011 Shortlist

Here are mine and my fellow Man Asian Shadow jurors reviews of the short lisrted books –

Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke. Reviews by MattMarkLisa and me.

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto. Reviews by MattSueLisa, and Mark.

Please Look After Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin. [Note: US editions are entitled Please Look After Mom.] Reviews by MattLisaMark, and Stu.

Rebirth by Jahnavi Barua. Reviews by Stu and me.

River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh. Reviews by LisaMark, and Matt.

The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rahul Bhattacharya. Reviews by Mark,Lisa, and me.

The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad. Reviews by LisaStuMark, and Sue.

As you see every book has a couple of reviews .I hope to have some of the others review here before the prize day that I ve not got too yet .I ve a favourite in my mind but want to wait and see if the books I ve not read blow me away If any one has spare copies of the river of smoke or lake I d love to borrow or swao them .

Winstons books

I didn’t get many books for christmas ,well that is a lie really I ‘d in a way I got an I Pad from the lovely Amanda ,which via i books ,kobo and kindle has a infinite number of books and will replace my broken E-reader .Any way to make up for the lack of paper books I had five arrive in the last week they were –

The silver bridge by Paul Michael Francis ,a love story Karmia a pop star and Claire ,he has secrets and we follow his journey from Hollywood to Greece ,I m an old romantic at heart so look forward to this .

The Detour BY  Gerbrand Bakker – many thanks to Elie how sent this just because I said  I love the twin by him ,this story is also set in a rural area ,this time it is wales not Holland .A women on the run after a scandal her husband in pursuit and geese our disappearing add up to an odd story I would imagine .

Where Tigers are at home by Jean Marie Blas de Robles – a triple prize winning french novel that took ten-years for Jean-Marie to write and nearly as long to publish as he didn’t want it chop as it is 700 pages long .set in Brazil this novel ahs multiple layers set in modern brazil and 16th century europe .I was kindly sent this by Daedalus books .

Adventures in the rocky mountains by Isabella Bird &  Black Hawk -life of black hawk or ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak -two classic bits of american lit one native american and the other a brave women .These were sent kindly by one of my favourite blogger Richard from Caravana de recuerdos 

All photos via my instagram accout .What books did you get for Christmas ?

Rebirth a novel by Jahnavi Barua

Rebirth by Jahnavi Barua

Indian Fiction

Jahnavi Barua is a Bangalore based writer this is here second book ,the first being a collection of short stories .She has had many short stories published in collections and anthologies .she grew up in Assam the setting for the novel ,is a doctor .Rebirth is on the man Asian long list and is another of the my shadow man Asian reads.As part of the shadow man judges .

“Maybe you can write about Kabini ,no ?” Preeta waves towards the river “why not ? ” indeed ,why not.

“What about Ron ? ”

I am angry suddenly .”What about him ?”

“what is going to happen ? you may need to actually earn a living ”

A conversation between friends about a childhood incident



Rebirth follows Kaberi ,she is newly married and now with child .Her marriage to Ron is on unsteady ground over the course of the book we find Kaberi talking to her unborn child about her marriage but also what sort of father Ron would make .It’s fair to say Kaberi has fairly rose-coloured glasses in regards her husband,one main things about this book is it is modern India we talk about she her friends Tarun and Preetha  at coffee shops ,they wear and talk about sports  wear .Her friends and family also see here husbands faults more than she does .Also she is going for doctors check ups ,we see Ron grow into an  awful husband over time we spend with him in the book  . We see her childhood as well as a prelude in some ways to how she end up where she did  .For me this a novel of self rhetoric as Kaberi talks her self round to the fact that her husband isn’t the dream man she had wanted ,she even says this and the fact that she idolized him slightly only made things worse .So the title has a duel mean both the birth of the new-born baby but of a  Kaberi  as well  .I also got a real sense of place this the north-east part of India which the writer is from which gives real credence to the settings as it is the places she grew up in and obviously knows well .Even thou this is an arranged marriage and set in india I feel the main themes of this book are universal worry of marriage ,idealizing one’s partner and having a baby are the same all over the world .I did say on twitter the other day and Lisa picked up on this that I felt on one level this is a book females would feel more empathic for than men  .I m struck by what Harold Bloom said

” love tempered by ambivalence ” is a fitting four word quote for this book .

Many thanks to Penguin India that sent a copy to me for the shadow man .

Here is fays review

A new book podcast and a old one

Well I say A new one there has been 14 episodes of the readers a new banter based podcast .It is run by two well-known Blogger Simon of Savidge reads and Gavin of Gav reads .each episode is about an hour long a mix of book news ,reviews interview and also a couple of other bloggers have also appeared .If you like the long running us podcast books on the nightstand this one is for you .I like the informal style of Simon and Gavins’s almost like your sat having a coffee with the guys as they inform you of all that is going off .

Well Kim of reading matters is hosting an australian literature  month I d thought I d remind any one that doesn’t it is worth listen to ABC NATIONALS the book show this show on a few times a week is a wonderful source of book info and in particular australian book news ,I feel I learnt lot about the in working of publishing and what books sell in australia and new writers from australia .I would try it and look at the archives for suggestions for Australian reading month my self I m just finishing Bereft by Chris Womersley .

What podcast do you like ?

are you reading a Australian book this month ?

Into the war by Italo Calvino

Into the war by Italo Calvino

Italian Fiction

Translator Martin Mclaughlin

Italo Calvino was considered one of the most inventive modern italian writers in his time born in cuba he grew up in San Remo which was occupied by the german when the occupied the northern area of italy ,he joined the partisans ,this collection of three short stories  set during the second world war was published during the fifties .They have just been translated into English .

Into the war is a trio of loosely interlinked short stories this collection is only 90 pages all together .It also demonstrates the more straight forward side of Calvino’s writing ,more known for his later  experiential works like invisible cities and on a winter night .. .The books are set in 1940 and focus on three different generations , the first into the war we meet a young guy just join Il Duce’s army he is moved around told to do this and that and is let down from the dreams he had in a way .the second Avanguardisti in mention ,we join an army unit this is a slightly more  experienced solider ,as he  and his comrades travelled to an occupied part of france and the only bit that the Italians took early in the second world war .The third story is a comic war-time tale as we see what can happen in a blackout ,as a man the narrator isn’t where he was supposed to be looking after a school, no he is  trying  to find strange delights in the night .

It was a moonless night .The school building still reflected a vague brightness .I had arranged to meet Biancome there,but of course he was not on time .Beyond the school ,in the darkness ,there were houses and fields .You could hear the sound of crickets and frogs .

from story UNPA  nights (an Italian form of air raid wardens )

I can’t say much about the stories as that give away too much, a little research into Calvino’s own background shows that a lot of what happened him these stories certainly the first to is from first hand experience ,he was in the fascist scouts and briefly had to join the army and travelled to the part of france described in the second story during the same  time  as the story set .These as I said a start are from the journalistic side of his writing and shows that at the end of the day he was a great writer with out the need to use the  clever tricks and oulipo style he used in later novels and is more known for than this more autobiographical style of writing .I now really want to read his novel based on his time during the war” The path to the nest of spider ”  which he published before these stories but is also largely autobiographical like the stories are The three stories were translated by Martin Mclaughlin and these stories were translated by him last year 2011 .A worthy successor to the great William Weaver who translated most of Calvino’s other work .

Have you read any of Calvino’s works ?


Open secret by Carlos Gamerro

An open secret by Carlos Gamerro

Argentina Fiction

Translator – Ian Barnett

Carlos Gamerro is an argentina writer and literary critic ,born in 1962 he was broguth up speaking both spanish and english ,he has published six novels so far this is the first out in english and another the island due out next year .He has also translated shakespeare and Harold Bloom into spanish .

An open secret was the third novel I’d read from Argentina last year that dealt with the Dirty war period  .Yet again it took another twist on the time ,the other two Purgatory took a wife who’s  husband disappeared ,Kamchatka was told from a young sons point of view at the time .Now An open secret set in the present and uses a young man called Fefe as he  returns to the town where his grandfather was Mayor and he spent summers as a boy ,he arrives at the small town of Malihuel ,he has a agenda and that is to get to the bottom of what happened to Dario Ezcurra who disappear in the dirty war time of 1976 to 1983.But tells them he is researching a piece on a fictional murder in a small town .As the action unfold the fact that only one man in a town of three thousand has become symbolic for the country as a whole as the futher Fefe goes the more people where there or knew what had happened ,you feel the  danger as the locals try to close ranks and Fefe feels he might be in danager himself from the locals .

“So why did you choose us ? I mean there are so many towns in the province ” Don Leon wants to kno now .

“I used to come here as a boy ,”I reply”every summer.That’s how Gudio and I know each other ”

“He’s Echerzarrea,your grandfather ? ” Gudio chimes in.”poli’s son”

Fefe says why he came to Malihuel

I felt Gamerro caught a nation looking towards its self and fefe was in some ways a nations concious looking at what happened at that time ,and malihuel is a typical villages as Gamerro describes it intersped in the chapters the every day argentina place and I think this is him symbolising the place as thou it was any where in the country they all have petrol stations cafes  etc .The book is paced  very in the thriller esque mode that constant turning of the screw this is help as the speech has little or no punctuation thus give the effect of speed as thou the words can’t come quick enough ,  as Fefe moves towards the truth ,what was once a friendly place becomes dark and unfriendly as we see what the effect of one mans death had on this small town of three thousand yet even thou the town is small we get to meet a host of strange and wonderful characters almost like a cross section of the country as a whole  .Yet again I’m amazed with the openness Argentina writers are now approach this time in there history .I look forward to Gamerro new novel I enjoted Ian Barnett translation he is based in Argentina and translated other writers from there and you get a feel he has a sense of the rhythm of the language .

New Finnish Gammar Diego Marani

New Finnsh Grammar by Diego Marani

Italian fiction

Translator Judith Landry

Diego Marani is a translator and newspaper columnist ,he worked for the council of europe as a translator at this time he invented a language called europanto a joke language poking fun at the euro in workings .This is his first novel to be translated into english and has taken a number of years to translate .This book was suggested as a book I should read at the IFFP by Nick Lezard of the guardian and I wish I d picked it up sooner as it is one of the truly great books in translations this year .

Doctor Friari’s eyes were the first living thing I saw emerging out of nothingness.

Sampo wakes .

Now on the surface this book can be compared to Ondaatje’s English patient as the kernel that the story is from is similar a man is found in this case on a beach in italy his personnel effects leads to the belief he is Finnish ,although he can’t talk and has had some horrific injuries ,now this is where the similarities with English patient end as the English patient spins of to a death and love story ,this story spins of in another direction .That direction is language and citizenship ,does how you are make you what you are ? Is this man finnish ? as these questions are answered you discover that Finnish is a hard language to learn but also to relearn in the case of Sampo as the man becomes known due to a name on a jacket ,and that it’s a Finnish name .He is helped in Italy where he is found ,by a Finnish doctor Friari who helps him recover and relearn or learn Finnish ,we are not sure who this man is as he is not sure who he is .The book springs the idea that in some ways in the chaos of war we can be reborn as someone else .

fire ! iron and fire ! These are the only things that count in war ! You whose name is Sampo – did you know that you are born of fire ? Sampo is a sacred word for the Finns ; the whole of the Kalevala revolves around it .

Sampo learns about his name and a Finnish epic .

As for Finland which Sampo returns to we learn about its national treasure a long poem called Kalevala this work is central to Finnish identity as it was used in the breakaway from Russia in 1917 ,which also counters the current time when Sampo is in Finland as the war nears its end , when they are trying to stop Russia overrunning them again .We also see the doctor return and to try to find out what happened to his patient .Now this book is complex and is one of those books that you never want to end as you are drawn into the world and feel Sampo struggles with who he is and really want to find via his quest who he is or who he was .I also found this book is maybe like being a baby and with a clean slate how do you learn a language is it there in you or is it taught the old nature versus nurture debate ,can a brain be wired to learn a complex language from the start or is the wiring laid as we learn ? .The book is a masterpiece and unique ,since it was published Marani has written five more novels I for one am now waiting to see what this wonderful writer has written next .He deserves to sit amongst the greats of modern Italian literature Eco and Calvino .

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