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
24 Feb 2012 24 Comments
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
22 Feb 2012 5 Comments
I the Supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos
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 ?
22 Feb 2012 6 Comments
The way of the kings by Andre Malraux
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 ?
21 Feb 2012 17 Comments
in #translationthurs, croatia, independent foreign fiction prize 2013, independent foreign prize shortlist 2013, Maclehose press 5th, shadow iffp 2013, TRANSLATIONS Tags: 2012, classics, eastern european, TRANSLATIONS
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