London day Old friends and new IFFP 2013

Well I got up early on Monday to catch the 8:59 train to London ,strange as I sat on the platform reading Skylark by Dezső Kosztolányi which saw the heroine of the novel Skylark go on a journey via train .So I left Chesterfield and just over two hours later and only Ten minutes late I arrived .To meet my old friend simon from the blog Inside books ,we had a great couple of hours having a coffee in Welcome institute talking books ,marathons and family .We then head to central London Simon back to work ,myself off to meet Susan the owner publisher of Istros books ,I’ve reviewed a number of books in the last couple of years from this new publisher and was really keen to meet Susan .we chatted books ,blogging ,book prizes .I also got the in side track on a great book from Bulgaria that they are hoping to publish in 2014 ,if you like the wit in the book by Deyan Enev I read a couple of years ago this one is in the same vein it seems .

Next stop was my favourite bookshop in London the London review bookshop  ,well only one  I’ve been to next time I hope to make it to a couple more bookshops .I had arrange to meet Henry ,he was one of the first book pr to follow me and has been at different publisher and is now at One world I was told about there forthcoming books ,they don’t do much in translation but have some very interesting sound Persian books coming out in the next year .I did buy three books as three is my limit be quite easy to break this in the LRB it has a wonderful selection of translations from around the world it would be very easy to get Carried away anyway I picked up these gems .


Cosmos and Pornografia by Witold Gombrowicz

Ever since I read the diaries by him I’ve been want to read more of his works ,so this double collection is a perfect choice ,I will save one of these two for Polish lit month .

an episode in the life of a landscape painter

An episode in the life of a landscape painter by Cesar Aira

I have had Cesar aira on my list of people I need to read for a while so there where a number at LRB ,I choose this as I had seen a couple of positive reviews for this one .The story is that of a painter in 19th century Argentina inspired by Humboldt he paint the scenery .

istanbul was a fairy tale

Istanbul   was a fairy tale by Mario Levi

Heard this was coming out last year but yet to see a review and Epic Turkish novel about being Jewish in Istanbul over three generations and the middle of the 20th century .

Then after some refreshment I head to RIBA the home of the IFFP prize night ,I enter was amazed to see Andres Neuman chatting with Nikesh from booktrust so I entered the main room and saw Katharine from Maclehose she introduced me to  Daša Drndić  the Croatian writer ,I had earlier been talking to Susan from Istros about Daša Drndić ,she had told me the Croat version of Trieste has the list of Italian Jews killed during world war two printed on pages that can be taken out ,so when she passed it round Jewish book week and people removed pages this made the book unstable ,this Daša Drndić says shows how unstable society is when we lost all these people .Anyway we spoke on the nature of literature ,how some books we both like Nadas and Krasznahorkai missed the cut off for shortlist ,does this mean us, English readers maybe aren’t use to such complex themes and subject matters .Then I spoke to Frank Wynne I’ve meet Frank the previous two years and he was a judge this year ,knowing he could say nothing I only asked how many times he had read short-list he said four to six times and he had read most in translation and their original language .Then I meet Joanna the publisher of Stork Press ,some one I have spoken a lot with on twitter and via emails ,she is a lovely person and we spoke about books ,how we could raise the profile of her books and books in translation (any ideas welcome I will pass them on to her ) Then we gathered to her the announcement .The head of booktrust spoke about the wonderful Reader project and how it had got people who wouldn’t normally read books in translation involved ,they had chosen  Trieste as their winner .Next came Boyd the chair of the judges he highlight the merits from all the judges on the different books ,then mention the judges had want to mention on book not the winner but a book that deserved merit ,the book was Andres Neuman Traveller of the century ,great choice couldn’t agree more a wonderful book ,that shows what I love about books in translation ,inventive ,challenging ,pushing the boundaries and rather unlike anything in English .So on to the winner ………. The detour by Gerbrand Bakker ,we all clapped and Gerbrand and his translator David Colmer went and accepted the prize . her is Gerbrand and David  winning the prize .

IMG_1029    Here is a recent interview I did with him .Then we returned to the party ,I got to chat to Christopher Maclehose about blogging ,he feels we should have some reward for our efforts ,the fact we are filling the ap from old print media book reviews .Then I got a huge hug and great chat with Andres Neuman ,whom I have spoken with on twitter ,I was amazed he knew me ,he told me he has two more books in the pipeline to reach us in English ,a collection of short stories and another novel .The I head of with Joanna , Susan ,Danielle from Europa ,Simon from Peter Owen ,someone from Telegram to a local pub for a drink ,then a dash for the train and back to my everyday life .But I do have a wonderful project to work on thanks to Susan and made some great new friends and meet some great old ones ,also meet Mark Thwaite a fellow blogger and net guy for Quercus /maclehose ,Stuart Evers ,Nikesh ,Alan Bowden a feloow blogger .

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. farmlanebooks
    May 23, 2013 @ 17:43:35

    Sounds like you had a fantastic day!


  2. Travellin' Penguin
    May 24, 2013 @ 01:37:18

    Wow great post! These are books people would never have had access to in the past but now with the internet it really is a whole new world and how exciting it is. Glad you had such a great day.


  3. Tony
    May 24, 2013 @ 05:38:52

    I am thoroughly jealous of you and your big day out in the big smoke – I would love to have been there 🙂 I’m especially amazed at all the people you got to chat to, all the big names (and a few others you haven’t even mentioned!).

    Maybe another year 😉


  4. Tom Cunliffe
    May 24, 2013 @ 07:19:52

    Amazing Stu – you’re really part of the literary scene aren’t you. I wouldn’t have made as much of the day as you did. You are obviously very confident moving in those circles!


  5. Claire 'Word by Word'
    May 24, 2013 @ 07:50:34

    What a day Stu, I can’t believe you were despairing about what more we can do to get the word out there a few posts ago, you are amazing and I am really happy that you made all these connections and felt how valued you are by writers, readers and the industry with this visit. Because it’s true and you are a fantastic advocate for translated works.

    I am now putting that bookshop down to visit next time I am in London and love that you’ve highlighted another Istanbul book for me to read. But honestly I get to the end of your post and I want to read everything you have mentioned. So just keep being your honest, good, book loving self and keep sharing it with us. Great job, great energy and a well deserved visit!


  6. Lisa Hill
    May 24, 2013 @ 09:12:24

    Wow, Stu, what a wonderful day and night you had, thank you for sharing it with us. Rubbing shoulders with the elite of European writers, I am green with envy!
    I must agree about the LRB, I have dropped in there myself to bolster supplies of reading material when I’ve been in London and like you, I have to restrain myself too, though in my case it’s because of excess baggage back to Australia!


  7. Iris
    May 24, 2013 @ 09:13:12

    Sounds like you had a great time Stu! Curious about the project..


  8. Lizzy Siddal
    May 24, 2013 @ 11:30:21

    Next time you are in London, try Daunt’s Book Shop in High Marlebone Street. It’s the shop that knocks the LRB shop into 2nd place for me. I confidently predict that you will love it and find it impossible to stop at 3 …..


  9. Sarah
    May 24, 2013 @ 11:52:45

    Glad you had a good time, Stu.


  10. Brian Joseph
    May 24, 2013 @ 13:51:35

    Wow, it sounds like you are having a fantastic literary trip.

    The idea of a book where pages are removed that represent people who were killed is touching.


  11. Nicola
    May 27, 2013 @ 23:13:54

    Enjoy your bookish visit to London!


  12. whisperinggums
    May 30, 2013 @ 04:48:12

    Oh sounds like a lovely day and a great evening. Nice to hear blogging being recognised more and more by the mainstream. I’ve just had a few people on my blog recently say they’ve read books because of my reviews. That’s what you hope, isn’t it, but you often don’t know whether it’s happened or not. There’s probably a PhD in it somewhere.

    I tried this week to get my reading group to do a novel in translation in the second half of the year … didn’t quite manage it but I have a second bit at the cherry next month as we didn’t quite fill up the schedule! It’s quite a while since we’ve done a non-English author.


  13. Vishy
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 09:57:14

    I am late in commenting. Glad to know that you had a wonderful time in London during the IFFP day. It was quite exciting to read about your conversations with writers and publishers. I have a few books by One World publishers, including a bilingual version of Pushkin’s ‘Ruslan and Ludmila’ which I hope to read someday. I love Europa editions too. ‘An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter’ looks quite fascinating! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it. Happy reading!


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May 2013


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