Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan

Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan

Egyptian Fiction

Translator  Jonathan Wright

Youssef Ziedan was born in Upper Egypt and raised in Alexandria and studied  philosophy and the Sufism .He is an academic and in charge of the manuscript centre and Museum at Alexandria .He has published over fifty books in arabic both fiction and Non fiction .Azazeel is possibly his most well know and controversal ,it also was the international prize for Arabic fiction winner in 2009 .

Azazeel is a wonderfully realistic piece of historic fiction set in the 5th century Ad and told via a translator of the original manuscripts that we written by Hypa at the time .,we are drawn via the main character Hypa a Coptic monk into the begins of modern religions early christian beliefs but what may have also been the belief of people who later became Islamic .Allow set 1500 hundred years in the past there are some parts of this tale still ring true today every one’s struggle with good and evil  is the same as we see Hypa wrestle with the devil on his journey through the book .When he wrote the book in Arabic originally it seems Zieden intentionality of unintentionally open a provirbal bucket of worms .It seems rare according to Arablit that books deal so closely with religion in egyptian Fiction .So Hypa in a way this is a man coming of age through the book as he wrestle with him self and his own soul but also the temptations of the outside world .But in this questioning he maybe touches on faults with in the christian faith ,this is what so inflamed the Coptic christians in Egypt .We see Hypa meet merchants ,widow and singer he meets along the way ,for although he is a monk he isn’t a monk in the sense we see monks now he is religious but also has interludes with people one my favourite scenes is  with Octavia a women there seems a spark til he mentions he is a monk and then is order from the house .This book is one of those books that has a bit of everything gore ,sex and life but far from feeling like a historic document Ziedan has brought the 5th century to life ,I personally feel  this is  one of my all time favourite historic novels ,I have struggle myself with novels that are historic that deal with history pre 1800 ,but this one kept me interested from the first to the last page .

A moment of shocked silence passed .Octavia bowed her head ,then looked towards me .Her face was flushed with anger ,and her eyes inflamed with a furious sadness .Suddenly she sprang to her feet and stood like one of those massive ancient statues ,full of pagan vigour and ancestral bitterness .She stretched her right arm towards the door and shouted at me in a fearsome voice ,like the rumbling of Alexandria thunder or the howling of a raging pagan wind “Out of my house ,you wretch ,out you villan ”

Hypa has to leave .

I discussed this book when I was in London with Mark who I feel maybe loved the book even  more than me ,we both lament the fact the book which is a great piece of historic fiction , controversial and thought-provoking seemed to have fallen under the radar so much here in the UK on its release with few mentions in papers and the reviews that have come out  have come out over time so not catching the eye by being in every paper pone weekend  .I fin it strange with recent major uk  book prize being won by historic fiction Wolf hall winning the booker and Madeline winning the orange prize last night .Is the fact that this book obviously written by one of the leading experts in the time and full of his obvious insights into the time and the people ,he has spent many years working on real manuscripts from the time so gave this book a real sense of being a real piece of history not a novel .Seems to have fallen onto deaf ears is a shame I feel it is a better historic novel than wolf hall was and also one that gives you many questions about life and religion and yourself after reading it ,which in some way isn’t that the job of great fiction ?

Have you read this book ?

Do you have a favourite Arabic novel ?

Spanish Language Lit Month July 2012

Spanish Language Lit Month

Well last year Iris hosted Dutch lit month and Caroline and Lizzie hosted German lit month .Well I decide it time we had a month celebrating Spanish language lit .I contacted one of my favourite Bloggers Richard from the blog Caravana De Recuredos .He is perfectly suited as he blogs bi lingually in English and Spanish and features a lot of Spanish fiction yet to reach us in English .So after much e mailing  and discussion for last couple of months, we are pleased to announce spanish language lit month ,I’ve  made a badge of sorts at the top it features all the spanish languages countries so you can see where to you could choose books to read from we have chosen two books to readalong during the month and a spanish film to watch as well .I love spanish fiction and really looking forward to sharing my passion with every one .

So the schedule we have put together is –

Week 1 – on the weekend which falls on 6 – 8 th July to post on the film Cria Cuervos a classic from  seventies follows an eight year girl in the dying years of the Franco regime.I’ve not seen it myself so sure richard will have more info .there is a DVD available and looks like it can be streamed as well .

Week 2 July 13 -15 on this weekend we’ll be talking about our first readalong choice .A brief live by Juan Carlos Onetti .This was his first novel to feature the fictional town of Santa Maria .The Uruguayan was one of the most respected writers from Latin America .The book is available in uk  and Us from Serpents Tail  .

Week 3 July 20 -22 , our second readalong book .My choice is from one my favourite Spanish writer Enrique Vila-Matas .His debut in English but actually he wrote a lot more in Spanish before this became available in English .Its Bartleby and Co .We meet Marcelo and Vila-Matas gives us echos of other books and writers in this modern classic one my favourite books from Spanish .This book is Published by Vintage in the UK and New directions in the US .This also ties nicely with his new book due out next month as well .

Week 4 – roundup weekend we ‘ll round up everyone’s reviews and  posts .

Please feel free to join in for one ,two or all three of our scheduled events .Also feel free to publish on any other book from the spanish speaking world .I ve already read a number of books to include in this month .I ll be posting nearer the time links to list of spanish and latin american books that you could choose from . I ve a number on my blog from Spain and Latin america already for you to  look at .

What is your favourite Spanish language book ?

 

Rondo by Kazimierz Brandys

Rondo by Kazimierz Brandys

Polish fiction

Translated by Jaroslaw Anders

Kazimierz Brandys was a polish writer ,he is little known but a multiple prize winner and also a member of the order of fine arts in France .He was a graduate in law and made his writing debut in 1935 .his first novel published in 1946 .This considered one of his best was published in 1982 at that time he live in france where he lived until his death in 2000.

So rondo what is it well it is a man life the man in question is called Tom ,it is his story he has written after reading an account of the RONDO organisation a resistance movement in Poland written by a professor Janota  in a historic magazine  .Tom  was a member of , but the question as the books unwinds is what is real and what is false in this account of Rondo and toms retelling of his remembrance of events  ? .Tom past and present mix as we jump from the now of Warsaw in the 70’s a city just starting to become wealthy and changing .Then to the past of pre war and wartime Warsaw .So how did he get involved with the RONDO (Tom called it after a Chopin piece ) well this is how it started as he imagined it he was dating a girl Tola he made it up to impress her (haven’t we all bent the truth a little to impress a girl /boy ) but as the war progresses his peers start to build the imagine resistance movement into a real one because of the own selfish motives and  thus fiction becomes fact .So tom is he the illegitimate son of a famous polish pre war leader ?  This book very much in the allegorical vein of literature a display  of what may have happen if person x had done this and persons a ,b and c had joined in rather than a truthful account of events .Then there is Tola an almost saintly women in Tom’s eye ,he is one of these men brought up to put the women in his life  on the pedestal no matter what they do to them  .

Professor W.Janota claims that (1) Rondo was founded in 1942 ;(2) it was established by people smuggled secretly from London;(3) its activities included extensive infiltration of the Wehrmacht and SS circles as well as surveillance of German strategic objectives ..

Tom read this and through that find out what happen for real or maybe for real .

So this is a mix of spy ,romance ,surreal ,memoir and  allegory  fiction ,all in one package ,I suppose the nearest book in English maybe  is William Boyd’s Any human heart their is something of  similar in Logan and Tom ,Logan is a man  who ends up caught up in major events by accident rather like Tom  has in Rondo and also Logan maybe extends the truth at times like Tom as well  .But in the wider sense outside fiction ,he is a Walter Mitty  the film character carried into a wider story of the second world war in Poland ,also rather like Clifton James the man who played a double of Monty to fool the Germans in the war and he played himself in the film  where he was portrayed as a man who got carried along by events after he initially played Monty for a joke in a stage show ,there is a similar feel in Toms story here he started of with a small idea and then  got carried along into a bigger idea .I loved this books take one world war two in Poland ,Tom was a great character to follow  through these events .The book is published by Europa editions and is part of there first group of books to be published in the UK .

Song for sunday Ian curtis 32 years

Well friday this week saw 32 years since the to soon passing of Joy Divisions lead singer Ian Curtis .The band have been with me since my early teens ,I lived near where the band was from so I  knew places where  he lived and the site of his grave   as I went to college in Macclesfield his hometown .Around the same time ,I remember hearing love will tear us apart in 1990 the 10th anniversary whilst I was working in a local pub ,boy as I heard it was 32 years on friday on 6 music I realised how quick those twenty-two years have gone as in my head so in a moment I had a proustian moment of being transported  back to a busy pub ,behind the bar serving people as this love will tear us apart came on the jukebox (what happen to jukeboxs you never see them these days )and finding myself caught in the moment and singing the lyrics .

Do you like Joy division?

 

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

Darkness at noon by Artur Koestler

Hungarian fiction

Translated by Daphne Hardy

I ve held off on read Koestler for a number of years never quite sure why but recently saw a old penguin modern classic and thought it was about time I read it ,this book  is his most famous .It was on the Modern library’s hundred best english language books ( strange it is a translation ).Arthur Koestler was born in Hungary in the early years of the twentieth century into a Jewish family he lived all over the world in Palestine ,Paris and Berlin then in mid thirties he went to Soviet russia for five years to report on the country this was a the hit of the Stalin show trails and the great purge  and spent time in Spain in the Spanish civil war .On the outbreak of war he was caught in france but eventually made it to England .Shortly after arriving  ub the uk  he wrote this book which is considered his best work  first published in 1940 .

“Put that gun away ,comrade 2 said Rubashov to him .”what do you want with me anyhow ?”

“you hear you are arrested ” said the boy “put your clothes on and don’t make a fuss “.

“Have you got a warrant ?” asked Rubashov

How it all started .

Now darkness at noon is a dark ,dark book it is really an insight into totalitarian regime through the eyes of a little man caught in a party machine ,although when it was written it seems Koestler’s time spent  in both in spain and Russia inspired the book . (He had a lucky escape in spain when he was still a communist and he  got caught in Franco’s camp but avoided being put to death.)The book is one mans story Nicholas Rubashov ,this man is in late fifties and really comes across as an everyman ,in looking up on the book Koestler Said he made him out of a large number of Soviet prisoners of the time .Any way he is arrested suddenly by some men and but in a cell by him self ,the other people we meet along the way are people in the same part of the prison a cell mate called 402 they communicate via taps ,a old ,old man who has spent more than twenty years in solitary confinement  he calls Rip Van Winkle .We follow him as he has four hearing this loyal man who has risked his life on many occasions for the party (it is never called the communist party ) and thus not placing the book in russia as we are never told where the trails are taking place .It is Obvious the madness of the trails there are four in all this makes up the parts of the book  as they unfold  they are a direct reflection of Stalin’s show trails in the thirties. But in the years since , how many times have we seen dictators run trails with no reasons and people arbitrarily killed for no real reason .This book still rings true seventy years after it came out .

“Asked whether he pleaded guilty ,the accused Rubashov answered “yes” in a clear voice .To a further question of the public prosecutor as to whether the accused has acted as an agent of the counter-revolution ,he again answered “yes” in a lower voice ….

The broken man near the end not the man from the early quote .

This Book is a true modern classic and all I can say if you’ve not read it yet , you should you can see its  standing  in  twentieth century writing .A s a child of Kafka obviously this is a more realistic take of what Kafka did with the character  K in his book   The trail and you can see its influence on Orwell in particular 1948 and works by Solzhenitsyn like the gulag archipelago and one day in the life both have the similar anti-Soviet feel .also the recent book by Elias Khoury Yalo has elements owing to this book the dark brutalness of men being broken by the regime . Daphne Hardy the translator  was Koestlers lover at the time she worked with him on this translation from German and gave  the book it’s  English title, the original title  in german meant solar eclipse .But I feel the English title has so much more meaning than the  German one as in the cells there is no real light at times so darkness at noon fits to me .

Have you read this book ?

Do you have a favourite book set in a prison ?

HHhH by Laurent Binet

HHhH by Laurent Binet

French fiction

Translator – Sam Taylor

Laurent Binet is one of the hottest new writers in France ,this his debut novel won the Prix Goncourt prize for debut novel rather like our Costa prize for a first novel in the UK .He was Born and grew up in Paris, his father is a historian .He recently chronicled the campaign of the new french president Hollande .He currently teaches in Paris .

Well I think every one has heard of HHhH by now .I do wish every book in translation was given as much press time as this book has been .I think this is help in a large part by the wonderful job Harvill ecker have done on the book as an item of book art in its self a stunning cover shot, is match by a nice grey marble hardback and the use of a germanic style font for the HHhH which is also follow through on the edge of the pages a bit like a huge red ink stamp ,you may have seen in countless world war two movies .So I give it away the book is about the second world war and mainly about three people three people the first is the character of the tile as the title is an acronym for Herr Himmler gesicht heisst Heydrich or Himler’s brain is called Heydrich – Heydrich was Himler’s right hand man and for those of you who remember was played by Kenneth Branagh in the film (well tv play here but think a film abroad ) Conspiracy ,I have include the trailer here give an idea of the man we are talking about in the book .Binet opens the book with the build up of Heydrich from his youth ,then in the army and then as an officer in the S.S and how he ended up as the one that started the final solution he was the one the proposed the mass killing of the Jews in europe .

Little Heydrich – cute blond ,studious ,hardworking ,loved by his parents .Violinist ,pianist ,junior chemist .A boy with a shrill voice which earns him a nickname the first in a long list : at school ,they called him the goat .

A little boy who grew into ? well watch the trailer for an idea

So we see how the boy they called the ” goat ” became” the butcher of Prague” .As he rises in power and ends up in Czechoslovakia ,he becomes a target for assassination by the Czech resistance and this is the second part of the book to men are sent by Czechoslovakian resistance to kill him in Operation Anthripod the two men chosen are Gabik and Kubis are two very different men to one another but are sent with one purpose sent with one purpose to Kill the butcher of Prague .

Gabcik the Slovak and Kubis the Moravian have never been to Prague ,and in fact this is one of the reasons they were chosen .If they don’t know anyone the won’t be recognized .But lack of local knowledge is a handicap ,so part of the training involves studying maps of the beautiful city .

Is it a handicap the lack of knowledge you’ll have to read the book.

Well now I have a problem ,I liked this book a lot. But I did have one or two problems with it .The historic narrative is great the long passages of action are worthy to stand up with all great war fiction ,he captures the build up of Heydrich as an SS officer well and then the tension of the two men in pursuit of Heydrich well as well .No my problem is the third narrative strain which is Binet breaking out of the book and talking to you as the reader this is rather like Calvino did at time in if on a winter’s night, he address you as a reader ,the main drive of this discussion is a comparison between his book HHhH and the book the Kindly ones by Jonathan Littell (he is american but grew up speaking french and writes in french this book is the only book in the last ten years I ve not finished ) ,Now I didn’t particularly like the kindly ones but Binet really didn’t like it ,the french publisher had to remove twenty pages of his words about the kindly ones from the french edition of this book .I like some of his comments about writing in general but others seem less important .The book hasn’t page numbers just chapters number I do wonder if the chapters are like bits he collect as he thought of the book as some just half-dozen lines others tens of pages like he almost decide to include his own notes as he progressed through the book . The book remind a bit in style of the bits of USA by John dos Passos I read when I got it to read a few years ago a mish mash of narrative, fact and commentary thus build a novel a bit like you may a collage out of little bits of pictures to build a bigger picture that is HHhH .Now I ve read that some people having problems with the translation some names have been change from the French edition I m not overly concerned the change of the surname Veil in french to Weil in english as it is a germanic name the V is said like “vow” in english anyway so could sound like a w in english .As a first job of translating from french to english Sam Taylor has done a sterling job .

Have you read this book what did you think ?

Shadow IFFP WINNER 2012

A quick word from me Stu the Chair of this years Shadow IFFP .I want thank all my fellow Judges for making this such a successful first year for the shadow IFFP .

ROB

SIMON 

Lisa 

Gary 

Mark

TONY 

We all undertook the Journey of judging the 2012 shadow IFFP eight weeks ago .This journey first took us to Asia , 1980’s Tokyo or is it ? ,a mother disappears in Seoul and then a book highlighting the Aids crisis in China were are three stops there .Then we read two Hebrew novel the first set in the present an old man and a village the other a young jewish man on the run in world war two hiding in a most unexpected place .The to Germany and two books dealing with death the first a husband shocked at is wife’s view of him after she is dead ,the other a women called Alice has friends and lovers die around her .We the journey north firstly we meet a professor stuck in a mid-life crisis and having witnessed a murder ,then to meet Chaim the head of a jewish community in a second world war ghetto .We then met a villain of the top order in 18th century europe and a shipwreck man who may or may not be finish in our two stops in Italy .A skip to 1980’s paris a group of friend facing the ,the AIDS crisis face on .lastly a Basque writer takes us to Colonial Africa and a man heading into an army camp gone rogue .This journey hasn’t been the easiest for us as judges most of the books dealt with the dark side of human life and death .But they show the wealth of talent around the world and the wonderful job of modern translators .We as judges have discovered a lot about each other digesting and discussing the books and slowly trimming or list down to our winner and it is with great pleasure we announce our winner .

From the mouth of the whale by Sjon
Translator – Victoria Cribb
Publisher in the uk telegram books
We all liked and some of us loved this book no one really had a bad word about it ,I think from when ever any one of us judges read it we feel for it as a book and Sjon’s voice  .We felt Sjon had captured through Jonas eyes the 17th century Iceland so well ,this was helped by Victoria translation that through its usage of older languages and grammar gave it a feel of a book that had just been unearthed not a modern book .A worthy winner for the fist  shadow IFFP winner 2012

The panda theory by Pascal Garnier

The Panda Theory by Pascal Garnier

French Fiction

Translator – Svein Cloustin

Pascal Garnier was a french writer he had a number of jobs including being in a number of rock and roll bands before turning to a writing career in his mid thirties ,he unfortunately died in 2010 age 61 ,Gallic books have taken to translate three of his books .In france he was frequently compared to Simenon and Bove .The Panda Theory is the first of these books to be published .

Now Panda theory is a strange book it falls between categories of books lit,detective ,darkly humourous and also a slight surreal air .A strange turns up in a Breton Town his name is Gabriel as the book went on I saw him as a catalyst rather like Spencer Tracy’s character in Bad day at black rock a man come to sort things out .He makes friend he is a chef and connects well with the locals a pretty Hotel receptionist Madeline ,then there is a Junkie pair and a stuffed panda in a bar that which was won at a fun fair by Gabriel .This is all added by the fact the Gabriel is seemingly from nowhere ,you do wonder if his name has a meaning Gabriel being the name of the most famous angel and this man seems on one level to angelic helping people with their lives and the cooker of wonderful food  .But then there is always a feeling that this is too good  to be true .I found the feeling of something else at work apart from the goodness we see very dark .I think this is in dept in some part to the french love of existentialism the moral questions we ask and in this way is this why Gabriel is here ?  is he real ? As I said like spencer Tracy he is here to make people think .This is another take on the stranger comes to town ,we see so much in western films .

He was sitting alone at the end of a bench on a deserted railway platform .Above him a tangle of metal girders merged into the gloom ,It was the station of a small Breton town on a Sunday in October – a completely nondescript town but certainly Brittany ,the interior the sea was far away its presence unimaginable .

The opening very like bad day at black rock the feeling of being nowhere in particular .

Garnier has woven a strange unusual tale here it is very unlike anything I ve read for years I m going to be eagerly  awaiting  the other two books the publisher has got in the pipeline from him .I ve not read enough of the other writers he is compared too I m assuming it is more Simenon non Maigret books the french readers  have in mind when comparing his work to Simenon and I have only read one of them ,numerous Maigret’s  thou and that said ,in some ways there is a dry humor that also seeps through Maigret the slipped comments he sometimes makes that make you smile especially with his wife are maybe sometimes echoed  in Gabriel comments to people .It was a shame he passed so early in his writing career I feel Garnier would be a major french writer at some point .

Have you read this book ?

Shadow iffp reviews

Here’s a list of links to all the reviews done by the ‘Shadow’ Jury for this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Thanks to Mark for keeping it through out the shadow panel 

IQ84 (1&2) by Haruki Marukami (from Japanese; trans. Jay Rubin) (Harvill Secker)
Tony’s Reading List
ANZLitLovers
Winstonsdad

Alice by Judith Hermann (from German; trans. Margot Bettauer Dembo) (The Clerkenwell Press)
ANZLitLovers
Winstonsdad
Eleutherophobia
Tony’s Reading List

Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld (from Hebrew; trans. Jeffrey M. Green) (Alma Books)
Eleutherophobia
Inside Books
Winstonsdad
Tony’s Reading List
ANZLitLovers

Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke (from Chinese; trans. Cindy Carter) (Constable)
Winstonsdad
ANZLitLovers
Tony’s Reading List
Eleutherophobia

From The Mouth of the Whale by Sjon (from Icelandic; trans. Victoria Cribb) (Telegram)
Eleutherophobia
Parrish Lantern
Tony’s Reading List
ANZLitLovers
Winstonsdad
Inside Books

Hate: A Romance by Tristan Garcia (from French; trans. Marion Duvert/Lorin Stein) (Faber)
ANZLitLovers
Eleutherophobia
Winstonsdad
Parrish Lantern
Tony’s Reading List

New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani (from Finnish; trans. Judith Landry) (Dedalus)
Winstonsdad
Parrish Lantern
Eleutherophobia
ANZLitLovers

Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki (from German; trans. Anthea Bell) (Peirene)
Winstonsdad
Tony’s Reading List
Inside Books
ANZLitLovers
Eleutherophobia

Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas (from Hungarian; trans. Imre Goldstein) (Jonathan Cape)
Winstonsdad
Tony’s Reading List (part one) (part two)

Please Look After Mother by Kyung-sook Shin (from Korean; trans. Chi-Young Kim) (Weidenfeld)
Eleutherophobia
Winstonsdad
Tony’s Reading List
ANZLitLovers
Inside Books

Professor Andersen’s Night by Dag Solstad (from Norwegian; trans. Agnes Scott) (Harvill Secker)
Winstonsdad
Eleutherophobia
Parrish Lantern
ANZLitLovers
Tony’s Reading List

Scenes From Village Life by Amos Oz (from Hebrew; trans. Nicholas de Lange) (Chatto & Windus)
Rob Around Books
Eleutherophobia
Tony’s Reading List
Winstonsdad
ANZLitLovers

Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga (from Spanish; trans. Margaret Jull Costa) (Harvill Secker)
Winstonsdad
Eleutherophobia
Parrish Lantern
ANZLitLovers

The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg (from Swedish; trans. Sarah Death) (Faber)
ANZLitLovers
Winstonsdad
Eleutherophobia
Tony’s Reading List

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (from Italian; trans. Richard Dixon) (Harvill Secker)
Tony’s Reading List
Eleutherophobia
Winstonsdad
ANZLitLovers
Inside Books

 

The Patagonian Hare by Claude Lanzmann

The Patagonian Hare by Claude Lanzmann

French Non-fiction biography

Translator – Frank Wynne

Making a history was not what I wanted to do .I wanted to construct something more powerful than that – Claude Lanzmann on Shoah

Where to start with Claude Lanzmann ,he is maybe one of the most interesting figures in France .He hid as a jew from the Nazis ,then joined the french resistance during second world war post war he joined Sartre as editor of the magazine Les temps Mordernes and also he made the film Shoah .That is Just the tip of the iceberg ,this guy has really lived a number of lives in one life time .

Anyway so we move on too  The Patagonian Hare is his autobiography ,to a Life that has touch every part of french history and Jewish history since the second world war .He begins talking about his family ,what his father imagines for him in the future  a postman but boy how different his life was ,how they had to escape and hid at first in the second world war in france ,then how he joined the resistance movement in france fighting the Nazis .He did this with the communist ,this maybe served him well later when he made Shoah behind the Iron curtain .The style of telling his personal story is very personal almost throwaway. This is an interesting life, but he tells it with out glamour or the seeming need for praise from you as a reader thus drawing you into his life I like his wartime experiences but  for me the most interesting part of the book is after the war when he joins Sartre at les temps Modernes the lit magazine that shaped Sartre’s view of lit in france and maybe lead french lit , Lanzmann edited from the early days and still does  . The look inside the magazine his involvement  with the founder and his Girlfriend  and lover Simone de Beauvoir ,the way the opposed the Algerian war in the 1960 joining the anti-war movement and the fallout from this decision also how they viewed various figure in french lit in the fifties and sixties most of which I knew very little about (this is a dream for googling and learning about french lit ).

It is here that the adventure of Shoah begins :my friend Alouph Hareven ,director-general of the Isareli ministry of foerign affairs invited me in and spoke to me with gravity and a solemneity I had never experienced from him .Having congratulated me on Pourquoi Isarel ,this is in substance what he said to me “there is no film about the shoah ,no film that takes what happened in all its magnitude ,no film that shows it from our point of view ,the viewpoint of the Jews .

How he decided to make the film Shoah !!

Then you come to  the last third of the book as thou the first two-thirds were not enough of a life lived  is mainly dealing with his epic film Shoah for those of you who haven’t seen it you should Shoah is the film that examine the holocaust and is a bit like the world at war as it is mainly eyewitness testament, as at  the time when Lanzmann started making the film a lot of people involve with the holocaust where still alive to give their stories over to him for posterity .He spent years filming people getting them to open up and visiting the sites across Europe involved (yet again for the third book some figures from Treblinka are mentioned ) also getting Nazis to admit what  really happened in the camps . I personally would put any one that ever denies holocaust in a chair for nine hours to watch this and then still denied  what happened during the second world war  .I loved his descriptions of making the film this is where you felt this guy’s passion flow of the page this was more than a project it became a mission to him to get across what had really happened . Then when it was made we saw how people reacted and how he tried to get it to as wide as audience as possible .Also we get a chunk of the writers own insight into his own sex life  through out the book ,you have a rare book indeed .

I find it hard to fault this book I m not a big non fiction reader ,but when I see a book I d like to read ,like this I know I love it even before I open the cover . I  even asked  for a copy of this from the publisher, after its translator Frank suggested I read it ,needless to say frank has made the book seem as thou it was written in english the actual writing by Lanzmann involved him dictating too two women Juliette Simont a Sartrianne and Lanzmann own secretary Sarah Strelinski a writer in her own right  they manage to pull together his memories of a life live into a book that has been described rightly so as a master piece by Le monde, Der Spiegel and FAZ .  Lanzmann is one of those rare people who has made a difference  and this book shows a man  close up from the french left-wing and literary world .

Have you seen Shoah ?

Have you heard of him before ?

 

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