Literary fascism and me

drooker_web smashing the wall on translation

Well bet that got you looking at this post good .I need to clear my chest and get something of my chest that really bug me .I don’t easily get bugged but I feel something that  need to be said and some things need to be changed ! Well I ll start this followed seeing a book review that got lot people excited including myself about one book ,now I ll not name the book or the publisher that isn’t fair and to say this isn’t the first time I’ve had this feeling about books and publishers who are  at the heart of some high-end literature publishing fiction  in translation.That  there is a sort of fascism at heart of what they do and that is they don’t consider the everyday reader  clever enough  or entitled to read the cannon ,I feel this is an insult on the everyday  reader and a loss to  those writers they publish on there  behalf For them to try to say any books is beyond people is an insult to the reader  .I often think I maybe come across as stupid or not to literate as I write this blog and it has been noted before . Well let me tell you, yes my education is quite basic I grew up in a time before computers and much investment in working with people with certain problems like mine .I suffer from a disorder called dyspraxia .This made my own handwriting hard but also at times I found everyday school a nightmare as a clumsy kid with scruffy writing and also other problems like being unable to sometimes grasp grammar or misunderstand words with similar sounds ie there and their I know which is which but sometimes if I don’t note them in a piece i m writing  ,I get them the  wrong way round .So yes my post are rough and ready and this will thus set me at a disadvantage to most bloggers ,But I am them for the every day reader and try to draw people into fiction in translation .But this condition doesn’t mean I don’t understand or am unable to perceive the most complex novels or short stories because I can .I tend to write post for the Everyman like myself and I want books in translation to be for every one to choose rather than have them put on the top shelf because there is a feeling they aren’t for some people, man who do these people think they are  .I know for a fact that none of the people I have in mind will ever read this shame I don’t mind them reading it .Because they have their own ideas on what they do and boy is it wrong they are same people who will say oh I don’t like soma, big companies and what ever the liberal cause is this week ,  then go about their own work in a fascist style  make sure there books seem above the everyday reader ! As I say I m not picking one person publisher or book because I m not the type of person to do that but if you think you are one of these people hey why not try to sell some more of your books by getting them in the hands of an everyday reader .This comes to the core of what I want to do with winstonsdad  and that is to break down the wall that reader have built up round works in translation .Oh and one question probably you all ask left school at 18 after two years at college I had then found my calling and that is to work with people with learning disabilities  ,I had decided to do my job at 14 and never regretted it ,I make a difference every day to the people I look after and not many people can say that can they .

How do you view this world ?

Do you find it insulting ?

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Snow country by Yasunari Kawabata

SNOW COUNTRY YASUNARI kAWABATA

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

original title 雪国

Translator – Edward G Seidensticker

Source personnel copy

Well It time for Tony’s Japanese lit month January in Japan and I’m kicking mine of with a short novella from the Poet and Novelist Yasunari Kawabata .Born in 1899 in the early to mid twentieth century he was one of the best known Japanese writers .Orphaned at two he start writing soon after he finished his studies ,this his best known work was published in 1937 and added to ten years later .He was also well-known for writing Haiku poem .He also won the Nobel prize for literature in 1968 .

A girl had been sitting on the other side of the carriage came over and opened the window in front of Shimamura .The snowy cold poured in .Leaning far out of the window , the girl called to the station master as though he were a great distance away .

Shimamura on the train meet ?

 

Well Snow country is a love story but it is very Japanese story .The book opens with a business man  Shimamura on a train of to the Snow Country a mountain village that has a lot of snow in the winter .He gets off at the station and so do two women the first a traditional Geisha from the village called Komako and the second a younger women coming to car for a sick family member these three form the bases of the book .The Geisha   Komako becomes the women that Shiamura seeks and wants to be with ,but as the story unfolds you see the gaping gap between the village and the way Komako grew up she is very traditional following the old ways and Shimamura has been in Tokyo  is very into western things with an idealized view of traditional Japanese culture  .So he starts to notice the younger women Yoko  the daughter of an innkeeper when with Komako  you see all this unfold from the winter through the spring and summer . This is how the story starts and to see how it goes on is up to you will need to  read it .

See out at the back,

Three pears ,three cedars,

Six trees in all ,

Crows nest below ,

sparrows nest above

And what if they are singing ?

“harkarmairi itcho itcho ya ” *

*means a hundred yards ,a hundred yards again

A song sung later in the novella

 

The book was published initially as a short story and then as a number of extra stories / chapters afterwards, so you do get a somewhat episodic feel to the tale as we see the romance move on and the pair then … . The other big theme in this book is one of my favourite themes in literature and that is the clashing of changing cultures ,from the urbane Tokyo to the old Japanese values and customs of the village and the Geisha girls in the village .Kawabata language is sparse at times,he has honed his writing craft writing haiku’s so you feel that every word had been thought over and worked to the last drop thus produce something that just works perfectly on the page ,the scene is set but not over set and the character just sketched enough to make you know who they are .Komako is based on a real Geisha that Kawabata  knew from the region the book is set  .So  he is  a great new writer to me as this is the first book by him I have read .Many  thanks for Tony as this may have sat on my shelf for a couple of years otherwise .

Have you read this book ?

Well

Between Clay and Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi

between-clay-and-dust_0

Between Clay and Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Pakistan fiction

Musharraf Ali Farooqi is a Pakistani  -Canadian writer ,he briefly studied  engineering at university before turning to writing .He has so far published five novels and some children’s fiction ,one of his previous novels was shortlisted for the south Asian DSC prize and longlist for prestigious Impac prize .He spends his time between Canada and Pakistan ,he is also a translator of books from Urdu to english and is working on an online collection of Urdu Fiction and literature .

Ustad Ramzi was the head of a Pahlwan clan and the custodian of a wrestler’s akhara .He was a man of frugal speech and austere habits and appeared to some a stern man .His imposing stature .a heavy set jaw ,and upturned whiskers only reinforced this impression .He was one of those men who do not accept the futility and emptiness of life ,but who try continuously to give it meaning

Ustad described ,he is one proud chap .

So this was one of the writers that was new to me from this years longlist for the man asian and I may say the biggest surprise for on the surface a novel about wrestling didn’t really appeal .But no this is a great book in fact over christmas I called in my undiscovered Gem of the year .So the book it focus on two brothers Ustad Ramzi and his younger brother Tamami now Ustad is the best wrestler of his time and at his base ,called a Akhari ,he is joined by young men hoping to gleam the knowledge of the master .Now the younger brother is forgotten and considered maybe a bit of a loser and a burden by his older brother .That is part of the book the story of the brothers the other is a challenger to Ustad from another wrestler called Goher Jan he is younger than Ustad and is want Ustad’s postion of respect .A futher strand is to do with the changing face of the place new building old friends leaving and promoters getting involved in the wrestling scene .So as you see this has it all sporting drama ,family saga and commentary on the changing face of Pakistan society not bad for a book of just 212 pages .To find out what happens I suggest you buy it !

 

During the exhibition bout Ustad Ramzi observed Tamami prolonging the fight with Sher Ali .He angrily left the Akhara when he realized Tamami was doing something he  had expressly forbidden him to do .the trainees followed him .

Ustad sees his brother wrestle and get better but at what cost !

Now I have always been wary of sports related novels as I felt in the past some just don’t catch the feel of the sport or maybe the sport is just a small by line in the story and I ve been disappointed .But this book took a sport that I don’t watch these days I did grow up watch on a Saturday  the rather  they would overact and the action was quite tame at time professional wrestling on British TV in my youth with over the top character like Giant Haystacks and Big daddy .Well these guys in this book are serious about their wrestling  and train hard and take real pride in what they do .For them to be the best is to earn honour and a place with in the community around them  .Also this is a book about family but  brothers in particular  and the thing about one being a success and the other maybe not having it and being over shadow at times this is like something from Greek myths or classic literature .I do hope this finds a UK publisher as is a positive view of life in Pakistan and would maybe break down people ideas of the country .

Do you have a favourite sport based novel ?

 

Maclehose is five years old lets celebrate by reading their books

The Maclehose Press  is five week 20th – 27th January 2012

Maclehose Press is five years old this year .Christopher Maclehose set the press up after he left Harvil when they were sold to random house .Together with his wife he has brought us a wonderful  mix of well-known writers from the world many of those in translation , established names  Cees Nooteboom to  newer names Marie N’diaye ,many of which have won the big prizes around the world .Here is an interview from the guardian with Christopher Maclehose about setting up Maclehose press and how they choose books . To find a book you may like here is a link to their web site which is really easy to get round .So at the end of this month 21-25 January they will spend time celebrating their five wonderful years and hopefully to many more .so I ask you to join me and  post a review of one or more of their books .sign in here  I’ve add the custom WordPress form .

 

Happy New Year -this is a new year that was the old year

winston taken last new years day

Well it’s that time of year again New years day the time to make resolutions and plans for the coming year and also a chance  to look back and digest  how the last twelve months have gone  on the blog and reading wise for myself .

Last year was a strange one it felt for me  , I drifted in my blogging. But when I got my year-end report from wordpress I was surprised what I had done  and after reading Sue’s post .I thought well it was a busy year really and maybe I just relaxed as a blogger and gone with my natural flow .So highlights of last year was doing the two shadow juries the first was the man Asian one last January with Lisa in charge ,with matt ,sue ,mark and Fay .Then I took a leaf out Lisa’s book to start a shadow IFFP jury with Rob Lisa Mark Simon Tony and Gary .I loved doing both these and am at moment stuck in the middle of this years Shadow Man Asian jury .I also started Spanish Lit month with Richard to highlight Spanish language fiction from all round the world .That’s not to mention Henry Green week .I also loved joining Lizzie and Caroline in German lit month ,once again and the fact it brought a chance to  enjoyed a new chunk of Germanic literature .So in looking back on my year I did a lot really, made lots of new blogging friends and help promote fiction in translation which is the main aim of the blog these days.

So 2013 another year resolutions reading and blog wise ,I have debated doing a post a day and I know it be hard to keep up my job and life just isn’t able to support a post a day so my resolutions is to try to post a little more and maybe do 50 more post than last year which equates to a post every other day or so which seems achievable .I have previously tried to set reading totals but I m leaving them behind I feel my reading is at a constant level and pushing it to read more will a. spoil my enjoyment of books as I rush trough rather than saviour them ,b..do I really need to add load more books to the unreviewed pile (close to 60 books already on it ) .Another blog resolution is to try over next twelve months to clear pile of books I ve read but not covered on the blog so far ,hopefully doing a few more posts will even this out and cut the pile down .challenges I will be doing some more challenge of my own next year and joining in a few along the way I m sure I prefer month or week long  challenges to year-long ones hence I ve not signed up for any this time again .So my first challenge is Tony’s January in Japan I ve one book read and currently on my second book .

So a very happy new year to you one and all and may the year be a very bookish one for you .

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