Back soon as I ve a busy weekend

I m away today for a family event and out sunday for a leaving party at work so not be able to post hopefuly back tuesday have a great weekend one and all Happy reading one and all

so I am spam

As my comments on other blogs now appear as spam on other blogs and I know some people delete my comments maybe my grammar isn’t as good as some people and the way I write is quirky but I m not being pushed out blogging because some small mind fool finds I m below them and because my comment dosen’t match what they want well boo on them ,at least I take time to comment when I have time .I try to be an active member of the blogosphere but maybe some people just don’t like me well instead of hiding behind a delete comment or a spam button tell me and I just npt comment any more please .I never wish to use this as an excuse for my writing but I have dyspraxia so if my language seems disorganised and my grammmar poor maybe it is this to blame sorry

I the Supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos

I the Supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos

Paraguayan fiction

Translator – Helen Lane

Augusto Roa Bastos is maybe a forgotten figure these days of latin american fiction and a major figure in the Latin American boom .He learned to read via his uncles extensive library ,fought in the Chaco war and later was a journalist writing at night best known for two books this one and the son of man .This book is a perfect example of latin american dictator literature another example would be Mario Vargas Llosa feast of the goat .

The book is Historic set in from the early 1800’s to the middle of the century .We meet the man who takes control of the landlocked Paraguay ,although this is a novel there was a number of people who ruled Paraguay during the 19th century that he could be ,he ends up being called dr francia he end up with the title the supreme ,el supremo in spanish .This book isn’t the easiest read it is dense with lots of footnotes and a drifting story .on the backof the book it is compared to Tristram Shandy .the story starts simple enough a notice is posted on the cathedral in the town,stating something about the el supremo death and beheading anyway this is false so we start on the line of how this note got there but then this gets sideline somewhat as we find the inner running of the country an ever shifting exercise in control of power from those inside the country and those outside the country .So through this we see the supremo and his ever faithful, servant sectary and man who has to put up with this guys giant ego Policarpo .Thou the setting for the novel is two hundred years ago the actions of the supremo are classic actions of a dictator and can still be seen in todays totalitarian regimes like North Korea the cult of one person is fostered and the people round him have to deal with his every whim .This is told in many forms of literary devices narrative ,reports ,footnotes creating almost a collage effect of writing ,oh and just in case you wondered the are some magic realist touches in the form of a dog that talks, being one. But what would you expect this did come out of a book at the height of latin american boom .I was so pleased when I found a second-hand copy of this book as I have really been wanting to read it since I first heard about it a couple of years ago. The book is out of print in the uk at moment which seems shame but second-hand copies are very cheap round the web if you look hard enough .

Have you read this ?

Any other Latin American books that are overlook you think I should try ?

The way of the kings by Andre Malraux

The way of the kings by Andre Malraux

French fiction

Translator Howard Curtis


Andre Malraux is one of the major figures of  pre and post war French fiction .That said he wasn’t just a writer but also a  statesman as part of De Gaulle government as minister of information and cultural affairs .He also spent time in early in his life with his wife spent time Indo china  but he fell foul of the local authorities at the time and joined the republican forces during the Spanish civil war and for the French resistance during the second world war .

The book starts on a liner heading to Indo china two men meet a young man Claude this guy is youngster in some ways maybe an early gap year wanting adventure and in some ways an easy way to the top ,he meets an older chap a dutch man who is an explorer that is off to darkest Siam  enthralled by the old mans tales and also his many talks of women he has met as well ,so this man Perken persuades his young friend to join him although he doesn’t take much persuasion,I was reminded of Richard in Alex Garlands the beach another young man wanting the more adventurous side of Indo -china  .So on the face of it is it a book in the vein of Conrad Heart darkness .But also I suppose you can compare it too Francis ford Coppola Apocalypse now which in turn is an homage to Conrad’s book and the action in that is also set in Indo china .The recent  extended redux cut we see a french family living in the wild parts of Vietnam talk about Frances part in Indo china history .This part of the world even inspired this years Prix Goncourt winner whose book was a history of french involvement in indo china .

So the men set of you have a feeling that there is something going to go wrong with this trip from the start .But like in heart of darkness get drawn in by the beauty they see wonderful statues As the men come closer we sense a sense of manhood and comrades .

The obsession overwhelmed him once again ,like an attack of fever he could question about the fearsome game to which he was about to bind his life .

Claude first meets Perken

Maybe you feel this is in part from Malraux own experiences in the area he travelled with his wife in the mid twenties but he fell foul of the authorities .This book was written five years after that .THE first part of the book is told by Claude but as things get worse in the jungle it is Perken that takes over the narration .later in the book the men spilt lose there guides and bad injuries .I found this a pleasant read one evening the book would fall into what Meike from Peirene press calls a two-hour book to read instead of watching a film 170 pages long and the boys own feel in the early parts really got me into the book as some one who used to write his own jungle adventure stories as a young kid I enjoyed this book .The book is translated by the ever reliable Howard Curtis.

Have you read Malraux ?

Do you have a favourite jungle based story ?

Trieste by Dasa Drndic

Dasa Drndic she is a Croat novelist ,playwright and critic ,she has spent time in Canada and now is a professor at Rijeka university in Croatia .

Trieste is her first book to be translated in english and I for one am so pleased it has been as I feel it is a truly important novel .When this arrived I had a flick through the book and saw it was very unusual containing a number of photos and lists and host of over literary devices .But as you dive into this book it all becomes clear .The initial glance made me think of Sebald and the fact that this book is about the second world war and Seblad’s Austerlitz touched in part that time as well but this is the story of southern europe of Italy in particular but also the neighbour places and it spreads out from the two main characters Haya Tedeschi a women who as we find out she had a son via the Lebensborn programme the Germans ran to produce a perfect Aryan race .Early on we find out her story as she waits for her son how she end up father her son and her family’s wartime story.

For sixty-two year she has been waiting .

She sits rocks by a tall window in a room on the third floor of an Austro Hungarian building in the old Gloriza .The rocking chair is old and ,as she rocks it whimper .

Haya waits for her son and thus we find her story .

The father of this babe was a ss officer that was one of the most notorious ,as he was a savage guard at Treblinka camp .The other character is Haya son she hasn’t seen him for over sixty years and now their meeting but before they do we see how this happened and this is what is most inventive in this book ,how that story is told in a number of ways that sets it apart from normal fiction written about the war as most of the people mention in this book are real people ,The ss officer Kurt Franz although I myself prefer the title murderers that Chil Rajchman in Treblinka calls them but he singles out Franz and his dog that is pictured in Trieste ,he had taught this dog to bite prisoners anyway I m getting sidetrack here my review of Treblinka will come in the next month .

A thirty year old German in a uniform comes into her tobacco shop.Oh ,he is handsome as a doll .The German already has the polish nickname Lalka ,but at this point ,when she first see the dashing German Haya knows nothing of that,the dashing german tells her later .

DOll or Lalka was due to Franz doll-like face .explained here

Another devices to shock and make the reader think is printing all 9000 plus names of the Italian jews that died in the second world war I was initially going to flick through this but no I read through and was hit by the effect tens even hundreds of people with same name and probably the same family wiped out by the war ,this is a real eye-opening device and brings the true effect of the holocaust.

Fritz Schmidt ,SS – Unterscharfuhrer born 1906 in Eibau ,Germany .Guard and chauffeur in Sonnenstein and Bernburg 1940-41 .chauffeur and head of garage at Treblinka in 1942 ;looks after equipment for gas chambers .In Trieste in 1943 .Arrested by allies in Saxony .In december 1949 sentenced to nine years in prison ,but escapes to West Germany and no-one cares .Dies in 1982

One of the many pen picture portrays of Treblinka guards .

Elsewhere Dasa uses little pen picture biographies of the guards from Treblinka ,slowly build the character of her sons father bit by bit you feel your skin cringe as every man record is told and what happened to them post war.I feel Dasa achieves here what Bolano tried in part in his Nazi literatures in the Americas using small bios to highlight a great whole of course that was neo Nazis in the America’s but the feel is the same using the bios to build a picture of the whole in this case the true horrors of Treblinka .Dasa has managed to do what seems impossible that is too mix real life and fiction at one of the darkest times and not make it seem not right which it could have easily been .But she has done it seamlessly ,without making the story seem like it is fiction and on the other hand with out it making it seem to outlandish to be true .This is one of those books you want place in people hands and just say read and then discusses ,this needs to be talked about to highlight the holocaust but also the Lebenborn programme that I for one knew little or nothing about .Because the further we get from this time the more it needs reinforcing in people’s minds the horrors that happened .This books sits well along side the books of Levi and such .

Dasa Drndic is visiting uk and is here at Jewish book week on 26th February


I got Picked for WBN 2012 WHOOP WHOOP

I didn’t enter world book night last year I’m a quiet person on the whole and was rather nervous at the prospect of handing books out but this years after trying to get beside the sea in top100 and nearly doing it .I want to pass on my passion for translation so when two made the final twenty five I choose Let the right one in by John Ajvide Lidqvist Swedish vampire story which I had read and Enjoyed  and is translated .I also have now brought the Swedish film for Amanda so we can watch it together I hope to give the book to people I work with .I m so happy I was chosen and for a book from one of my favourite publisher as well Quercus .I look forward to passing my love on to people and handing my copies out to everyone .

The night Buffalo by Guillermo Arriaga

The night Buffalo by Guillermo Arriaga

Mexican Fiction

Translator Alan Page

Guillermo Arriaga is a mexican writer ,but describes himself as a hunter that writes, maybe best known for his screen writing work in the uk his scripts include 21 grams and Babel both successful films ,he has also written three novels ,this one was also made into a film in 2007 .He also got a award in Cannes for best screenplay in 2005 .

The night buffalo is set Mexico city and it follows a best friend Manuel trying to come to terms with the death of his friend Gregorio  death via suicide ,the book takes back over one day but is also  told a lot in flashbacks to the time they spent together .then we throw in Gregorio girlfriend Tania that Manuel had been having an affair meeting her in a hotel room .A box of letters and the police looking at what happened add to this tale of latin american teens in a interview here Guillermo said he didn’t realise how bad suicides and mental health problems were in mexico before he wrote the book .Rather like his more famous screenplays this deals with the human condition and people on the edge ,also friendship what it means to people this is a classic threesome story ,of a women divide male friends  like garden of eden or jules et jim two more books dealing with this  subject .

I lay on the bed .Where could tania be ? I couldn’t tell and, at this point considered the zoo or the airport as possibilties was absurd .I had no choice but to wait for her to reappearin her usual surrepitious ,unexpected way .

Manuel waiting in room 803 there secret meeting place.

The other book I read set mainly in Mexico city Bolano’s savage detectives but that  book is a muddle tale of the city with many storylines and a bit crazy like the city itself ,But here because the focus is on three lives ,you get what is obviously Arriaga cinematic eye he has eyes for  detail character and dialogue not over doing any the bareness adds to the story and also means the story doesn’t drift like Bolano’s did , as manuel drifts back  in time and gives you the little glimpse in what lead to his friends death . Even thou he wrote it before his screenplays  you can see him having a eye on this potential being made to a film .Manuel isn’t the nicest guy I mean he cheated on his friend with his girlfriend Tania but this relationship was mostly sexual meeting in the  hotel room ,but that said he had been embroiled in many things with his friend Gregorio not all legal and seen his friends mental health decline over there friendship .This is a great read of teen agnst and what happens when that crosses over into suicide .The title is from the fact the two best friends have matching tatoos of night Buffalos .The book is translate by Alan Page .

Who is your favourtie Mexican writer or have you a favourite Mexican novel ?

I will have vengeance by Maurizio De Giovanni

Iwill have Vengeance by Maurizio De Giovanni (the winter of Commissario Ricciardi )

Italian crime fiction

Translated by Anne Milano Appel

Maurizio De Giovanni is a Naples based writer,he won a short story prize  for unpublished writers ,he won with a short story about Commissario Ricciardi ,this was later expanded into a novel ,this crime series is set in 1930’s Naples .Maurizio’s books have been translated into numerous languages and he won the Premio Camaiore prize  .A prize awarded by city of Camaiore .This is second book I ve reviewed by the new Italian crime publisher Hersilla press .This book is the first in a series of four the fourth in the series won the prize .

So what is I will have vengeance about ,Well its set in 30’s Naples ,Il Duce is just coming to his full powers after nine years in the job , its 1931 and Riccciardi an elderly police man he is a man with his own secrets an aristocrat so money isn’t his motive to work ,a man  that has no real friends .But when he sees a dead body he sees in his mind the exact moment of death .The victim Mastero Vezzi an italian tenor at the Naples opera house the best of his time .Now when I read this on the rear cover when the book dropped through my door ,I thought oh this is an “italian morse “classical music and a lonesome older cop but no this is paced different to the Dexter books more in line with classic books you see published by Hard case crime from the 30’s to 60’s .I looked up an interview with Maurizio here in Italian that I translated via google translate and the only character he likes are Ed McBain .So this book owes more to American crime than British crime fiction .Riccardi although he may see the crimes is a hard nose cop a loner “walking the line between the living and dead ” as Maurizio put in the interview I couldn’t put it better myself . in the tradition of McBain’s cops .His Bosses aren’t huge fans of his and this cases has pressure as the victim was a good friend of Il Duce ,who now in his ninth year and having used the Il Duce title for six of them years is slowly becoming a dictator and Ricciardi isn’t a fan about needs to find the killer .He has found the victim Vezzi although a true talent was hated backstage by the people in the opera house many of them had chance to kill him so it is down to the Commissaro to find who did it .Before he runs out time and someone else gets the case .

Luigi Alfredo Ricciardi was of medium height ,and slim .He had a dark complexion,striking green eyes,black hair slicked back with brilliantine sometimes a strand or two came free ,falling over his forehead ,and distractedly smoothed it back in place with an abrupt gesture .His nose was straight and thin,like his lips ,his small almost feminine hands were restless, always moving .He kept them in his pocket aware that they portray his emotion ,his tension.

we first meet the commissario Ricciardi .

Now I enjoyed this the first of four books about the Commissario the book is 211 pages longs so is fast paced the action keeps going as the pages turn .The setting seems good Maurizio has lived in the city all his life and is a huge fan of the city in his biography I ve read he has written piece on the home town club Napoli SSC .The dark Spector of Il Duce lurks in the background I feel this will grow over the books .The book was translated from Italian by Anne Milano Appel ,she has done a good job manage to keep the pace feel of the book .

Have you read this book?

Who is your favourite Italian crime writer ?

For Amanda

here is a videos for valentines day same song but different versions the Adele and Dylan orginal .For my darling wife  on valentines day and every day as she brings me such happiness and feeling of being whole .

Hope you all have a great valentines day

The detour by Gerbrand Bakker

The detour by Gerbrand Bakker

Dutch fiction

Translator – David Colmer

Source review copy

This is Gerbrand Bakker the dutch novelist second book to be published in english after his first the twin won the prestigious Impac prize the richest prize in literature .Bakker is a gardener by trade and in the winter a skating instructor he says these work well with his writing career .he also writes piece for Dutch newspapers

The detour is similar to the twin as it like the twin is set in a rural isolated area unlike the twin this one is set in rural Wales .The main character is a dutchwonmen called Emilie she has escaped a scandal in her native Holland and end up in Wales she has rented a remote farm and settles in ,as she does this we start to see the life around her ,also what brought her there .THe book is told in a spooky sketchy way not many names mentioned and strange incidents keep happening from the geese in a near by farm disappearing ,a young man and his dog appearing and Emilie getting bitten by a badger .

“Did the animal get into your house ? Do you live here in town?”

“I live up the road .I was outside ,lying on a big rock ”

“Did the badger bite through your shoe ? ”

“Do you have time for all this talk ? i d rather you look at my foot ”

Emilie and the doctor talk after she is bite by the badger .

Later in the book a second story strand appears as Emilie’s husband appears and comes to find his wife with the help of a policeman .The scandal back home involved a student who she had an affair with ,we also discover Emilie passion that is Emily Dickinson the American poet ,does this allude to why Emilie has travelled away from her husband is this escape to die ? or to experience nature ? both themes in Dickinson’s poems .Also William of just william allude to Bakker style in this book maybe owning a little bit too Dickinson as her prose are sparse and have strange spacing and pacing at times maybe this is reflected in the book .I m not sure to me Bakker reminds me at times of the english writer Magnus Mills there is a gentle humor at play here and also slightly surreal situations like Emilie getting bitten by the badger ,the geese that disappear one by one remind me at times of how Mills builds his stories with little things happening bit by bit leading to a shocking ending ,The way this book unfolds stylistically reminds me the restraint of beasts the tempo building up bit by bit as husband draws nearer .Also there is a connection in the men themselves both have jobs not connected to writing Mills is now a bus driver and Bakker a gardener .But I feel Bakker hasn’t quite got the ending here something lacks in the last third of the book which is a shame as he has written such a good story to that point that a flatish finish maybe wasn’t what was required .But that said I enjoyed it, he catches through Emilie’s view of day-to-day life in rural wales and that boredom that creeps in when you go away and don’t have a lot to do with references to daytime tv and Emilie mind wanders .He has also caught the north Wales scenery well those isolate villages and farms ,I remember passing through as a kid as we spent family holidays with my grandparents who lived in north Wales .I loved the twin and this book has a similar feel if maybe not the same impact that book made on me but that would be hard as it was one of the best books I have read in recent years ,again Colmer’s translation is pitch perfect .If you loved the twin you’ll like this book.

Who is your favourite dutch writer ?

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February 2012


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