New blog translating Turkish literature

I happened to have seen this link to a newish blog that is translating Turkish Prose and poems to English .As I feel there is never enough in English from Turkish it’s great to see a translator putting her work Online lets hope she gets some interest and some more fiction and poetry comes to use in English .
go and visit word prism


Gabriel Garcia Marquez in China

Saw this earlier article is Spanish but nice to see Garcia Marquez honoured in this way a new statue in China in his honour thanks to Neustadt prize for link on twitter
Marquez in china

My first vine

My first vine

I’ve been trying to think
of how to use vine ,then decide it would be great for new books coming in to Winston towers .hope this works as posting on the phone and first time adding a video on the phone so here goes .

Letter from an unknown woman by Stefan Zweig

Letter from an unkown women Zweig

Letter from an Unkown by Stefan Zweig

Translator – Anthea Bell

Original title – Brief einer Unbekannten

Source – library

Well I have reviewed review a Zweig before the post office girl ,I really enjoyed that book and wonder why it had taken three years to review another book by him I did read a personnel copy of Journey into the past but as usual i was rather over ambitious in my reading and quite slow in my reviewing so my review of that will be up at some point probably later in year when German lit month runs round again any way to this book which is a new collection of one long novella and three short novellas / short stories any way the all have female as a main character or narrator I think that is the main connection between them .Also love in its many forms links them .

I have taken a fifth candle over to the table where I am writing to you now .For U cannot be alone with my dead child without weeping my heart out ,and to whom am I speak, in this terrible hour if not to you ,who were and are everything to me ?

Part of the letter from the unknown woman .

Letter from an unkown woman is the main story in the book and the main one I am going to mentions as of the four piece in this book it struck me as the strongest in both Narrative and Plot .The story revolves around a letter that has been sent to a famous writer .A thirteen page letter from this women is a life story a young girl has a crush a famous writer ,she then grows works in a shop  ,yet over time ,this is actually his neighbour but he has never noticed her ,sad and love that has gone unreturned ,but then there is a meal and something else happens .Other stories see a women met a man she was once head or heels in love with but he has change since she last saw him into a total bore .

My dear Ellen,

I know you will be surprised to receive a letter from me after so long ; it must be five or perhaps even six years since I last wrote to you .I believe that then it was a letter of congratulations on your youngest daughters marriage .This time the occasion is not so festive ,and perhaps my need to confide the details of a strange encounter to you ,

A women tells her friend of meeting some one she once loved in The debt paid late .

These like the other books I’ve read by Stefan Zweig show the strength of his female voice I think of all the male writers I ve ever read Zweig’s female voice seems to be the best I ve read ,never sure if part of it is in my head I always have a fixed view of his women a sort mix of merchant ivory” room with a view “characters mixed with the females from Gustav Klimt’s paintings but any way it works for me .He is also very much of that age of looking at relationship and love the follow on from the like of Freud analysis in fiction what make females tick is very much his think ,also class which at the time he wrote still means a lot .I also  think ,Like in  a recent discussion with Tony about another prolific writer Llosa(I know he is modern and latin american but he writes a lot of good books ) ,Zweig is a master of good writing ,steady  maybe not spectacular .I know in some places his writing has been discussed as overrated but unfortunately I am in the other camp that feels he is an important writer that needs to be kept in the public eye .Ok he may not be a Porsche (But we all want a 911 as a kid ,well I did as they are flash and fast ,but on the whole unpractical for everyday life ,sorry to any readers that on one ) no Zweig is an AUDI( reliable, dependable and a car that goes past and you say I like one of them ) so I hope you get my meaning he is a writer that no matter which book it is a short story ,novella or novel you seem to finish feeling you’ve been in the hand of a master .

Have you a favourite book by Him ?

Four years of winstonsdad

Well just noticed in my notification on phone app it’s my anniversary of blogging today I actually thought it was later in the week well four years today I decide to start winston’s dad as many of you know I had celebrated at turn of year but this year didn’t to get inane so it’s happy fourth to me and the blog so 300 plus books covered and 280000 hits on .I reach this milestone ,what has blogging brought me,well chances to meet fellow bloggers writers and book folk .I also have expanded my own reading bounds and hopefully of readers of this blog .Many thanks one and all for continued support .

Dutch Lit fortnight – Herman Koch Answers some questions

the dinner

I was lucky to be able to Ask the writer of The dinner a few questions via E-mail ,so here are his answers ,you can also see my review Here and A look at the food in The dinner here .
1 Which writers have influenced you ?
I started with reading the Russians when I was sixteen, I think they still have the biggest influence: Tcheckov, Turgenev, Tolstoj and Dostojewski.

2 How did you come up for the idea for the dinner ?
It starrted with a real event in Barcelona where two boys molested a homeless person in a cash machine. The boys looked so nice, so normal, they were laughing and having fun, and I thought: “They are ruining their whole future in five minutes….” So from the starting point I identified with the boys, not with their victim. That was the trigger for the book.

3 How many meals out did you have before deciding on the menu for the meal ?
I tried to remember all the absurd meals I had in the past twenty years. And I thought of all the restaurants where I would never go back again. That was my research.

4 Are the brothers problems meant to be seen in a wider context of Holland itself ?
No, I don’t think their situation applies particularly to Holland. More to Europe, or the ‘Western world’ in general. Although you will find some exaggerated political correctness in our country.

5 I have previously ask both Cees Nooteboom and Gerbrand Bakker to describe what makes Dutch literature so unique. What are your thoughts ?
I am not sure. We live in a rather boring and spoiled country. Maybe Dutch literature is only unique in that it wasn’t noticed in the past 200 years in the rest of the world.

6 What are you favourite Dutch books ?
For me there is only one, I think it has been translated into English: The Dark Room of Damocles by W.F. Hermans.

dlf-1 (1)

I put this up today as part of Iris on books Dutch Lit fortnight 

Andrej Nikoladis on Thomas Bernhard

Author on Author Montenegrin author, Andrej Nikolaidis, talks of his love for the Austrian writer, Thomas Bernhard.


The first book by Thomas Bernhard that I ever read was “Der Untergeher” – ‘The Loser’. That was in the early nineties, when war was raging across what was once Yugoslavia, and very soon after the forced migration of my family from Sarajevo to the relative safety of Montenegro, where I still live to this day.

At that time, Montenegro was a troubled place of unprecedented hyperinflation. The central bank would regularly print new batches of notes worth 100 billion dinars, with which you could only pay for a coffee in one of the many bars that were crammed with men dressed in the uniforms of irregular soldiers; those who had just come back from the war in Bosnia and those who were on their way there. And this was despite the fact that the Hague Tribunal for War Crimes repeatedly insisted that Montenegro and Serbia did not participate in the war in Bosnia and Herzgovina!

The average wage in Montenegro at that time was 3 German Marks, which today would probably be the equivalent of about £1.50. I just want to illustrate that in those days I didn’t even have enough money to join a library, let alone buy a book. I cannot even remember how I came by a copy of ‘The Loser’, but whoever lent it to me didn’t get it back. ‘The Loser’ still sits on my bookshelf today, together with the other translations of Berhnard that have been published in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro or Serbia.

Bernhard writes about society in collapse: society rotten with dishonesty, corruption and deep-rooted lies. Montenegro at that time was just such a society. The narrator of the story is caught up in a fundamental battle with that society, just like I have been in conflict with Montenegrin society since the day I arrived here. In the end, Bernhard’s narrator understands that his conflict with society is an externalization of an inner conflict: that his true enemy with whom he must fight to the death, is in fact his own existence. And that is what I understood, too.

‘The Loser‘ remains to this day, my favourite of Bernhard’s books, more so even than ‘The Cellar’ (Der Keller), in which I believe the final part (from the line ‘One day three of four years ago…’ to ‘That is all,’) to be the finest piece of prose ever written. Those final five pages of ‘The Cellar’ seem to me to be definitive evidence that it is possible to write dark, existential prose with poetic beauty.

In Bernhard’s opus, I have never found a reference to Paul Celan (although it is possible that I overlooked it), and yet I believe that in one fundamental way, Bernhard’s work is a prose response to Celan’s famous poem ‘Fugue of Death’ (‘Todesfuge’). We are reminded by the rhythm of Celan’s poem, just as the title itself states, of the ‘Art of Fugue’ by J. S. Bach, to which Bernhard’s prose also owes it rhythm. I believe it would not be unfair to say that without Bach there would not be Bernhard.

Celan’s poem searches for the roots of the Holocaust, what was it in the German culture that allowed the possibility of that indescribable horror?

“There’s a man in this house who cultivates snakes and who writes who writes
when it’s nightfall nach Deutschland your golden hair Margareta
he writes it and walks from the house and the stars all start flashing he whistles his dogs to draw near
whistles his Jews to appear starts us scooping a grave out of sand
he commands us to play for the dance…”
(translated by Jerome Rothenberg)

What does a man write from his home? Philosophical essays? Prose pieces? Notes? To which tune do the Jews dance in their sandy graves?

Line by line, page by page, Bernhard digs down to the very last notes of the great composer, to the most subtle combinations of colour of the great artist, to the last punctuation point of the great writer, while posing the same question to his countrymen: Austria – how was this possible? Only to arrive at the most terrible of conclusions: it is still possible.

The last years of Celan’s life read very much like something from Bernhard’s prose. Celan’s illness, his frequent stays in hospitals (which reminds us of ‘Wittegnstein’s Nephew – “Wittgensteins Neffe, Eine Freundschaft”). His visit to Heidegger, from whom he expected so much and received so little (in line with Bernhard’s principle that ‘’one should write comedy as tragedy and tragedy strictly as comedy’’).

Paul Celan ended his life with suicide, like many of Bernhard’s characters (in ‘The Loser’, ‘Yes’, ‘Concrete’, etc.). He threw himself into the Seine on April 20th, 1970, and his body was retrieved from the river ten days later.


Andrej Nikoladis ,is published by Istros books in the uk I have reviewed The coming by Him here ,He has a new book due out from Istros later this year The son a sort of follow up to his last book his profile is here on Istros books and you can order his books here as well .Many thanks to Andrej for this He wote it over a weekend for me and Susan from istros translated it too english for me and Andrej approved this translation .


Mother departs by Tadeusz Różewicz


Mother departs by Tadeusz Różewicz

Polish prose and poetry

Original  title Matka odchodzi

Translated by Barbara Bogoczek

Source – review copy

Tadeusz Różewicz is one of the foremost Polish poets and writer ,he was a solider in the polish underground army ,and after the war which he lost his brother Janusz ,Tadeusz Różewicz  he has written Poetry ,Prose and plays  his early play the card index is considered the first example of the Theatre  of absurd in polish .In 2007 he one the European literature prize ,Mother departs also won the Nine prize in Poland the sort of  polish booker prize .He is considered the last of what was called Poland’s golden age poets .

So mother departs is one of those books that is hard to pigeon-hole ,Like a number of other polish books I ve read this tends to blur the lines .Memoir ,prose ,diaries poems and photos all form a rememberance built by Tadeusz Różewicz  to his late mother ,she died of cancer in 1957 ,this book written in 2000 is an older man looking back on his connection to his mother ,his mothers legacy ,through him and through his late brother .The effect feels like a lid being lifted on the innermost workings of a family and the Matriarch of that family  .Now many of you that read this blog may know or those that know me via twitter I struggle at times with poetry so for the poetry in this book it is hard for me to benchmark it as good or bad .I like them the style is quite short and clipped there is spaces in his words that I felt I had to fill in if you know what I mean .


I look through the window

with its pink flower frame


Outside the cats are getting drenched

and my old mother

draws some murky water

with saintly hands


In the window with a sly smile

her son stands


In the window  with a sly smile

her son stands


One of the poems that I connected to a bit .

Now the prose pieces I feel better placed to mention and comment on ,I found the first pieces called the village of my childhood ,quite enticing ,the way it described a the village of his youth .A fly in amber the old ways are brought to the fore ,in a piece that remembers the  village he grew up in ,this is all the more because it isn’t  Tadeusz piece no this prose piece was written by his late mother and is heart-warming and heart aching at the same time .We see the brothers go to war ,only grabbing chance visits with his mother during the war as they fought the Nazis ,then we see Tadsuz try to become a writer in the post war Poland ,he has been a writer that has according to the polish version of his wiki page has transcended genre at times ,interested in many styles of writing but never quite being pigeon holed and this is how I would describe the piece and feel of this book ,yes memoir ,yes prose poetry .But not fully either ,one could almost say the reportage that Polish writers post world war two have often been known for the likes of Kapuscinski or Stasiuk are well-known ,has been turned internally on to  the family trying to find what the mother was and what she meant  to her family .by bring together pieces from all the family to try to grasp the meaning of being a mother in the Poland of the time a shifting world from independence in 1918 ,through the dark war years and the into the bleak Post war communist times .But be easy to see this as bleak but no this book is littered with a humour that is dark and the sort that laughs at the bad times .

Mother’s eyes which can see everything watch the birth watch throughout life and watch after death from the “other world ” .Even if they turned her son into a killing machine or a beast a murderer mother’s eyes are looking at him with love …looking

From the piece now ,don’t all mothers have love in their eyes .

Well I’m not sure I ve put over the full beauty of this book ,because it is .We all have Mothers or a maternal figure within or lives and if I could write something like this about my mother to go through time as a remembrance and testament  to her ,I would be proud .I like thanks Joanne of stork who had invited me to the above event that video is from but it was a couple of days after I was in london shame would love to have met the man ,he is a true great and talent .


Do you have a favourite book on mothers ?

Memories of my Melancholy whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

memories of my Melancholy whores

Memories of my Melancholy whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Columbian fiction

Original title – Memoria de mis putas tristes

Translated by Edith Grossman

Source – Library

Well I decide a while ago when news of Gabriel Garcia Marquez having dementia and not in the best of health at this moment in time ,he has won the Nobel prize and sure is a writer I have to say little about as he is one writer in translation that seems to have crossed that magic barrier to be read by everyone regardless of it being in translation (wouldn’t it be great for more writers to break that wall in the reader’s mind )  well up to now I have only one book under review  on the blog by him so hope in coming months to add a few but not being a big rereader at best of times when I was this on in the library which I hadn’t read it seemed a great place to start .

At one time I thought these bed-inspired accounts would serve as a good foundation for a narration of the miseries of my misguided life ,and the title came to me out of the blue .Memories of my Melancholy whores .

The narrator comes up with the actual book title .

Well where to start with Memories of my Melancholy whores ,it is his last book published in English and the last but one in Spanish (that being a collection of his speeches published in Spanish in 2010 ).So the main character in the book is a unamed reporter ,he is on the verge of his 90th birthday ,he decides he wants one last fling with a teen virgin to maybe go out in a blaze of glory  .So he meets the local madam Rosa to set this up ,as we do this the man recalls past women ,the narrator the old man choose a wild life of women over love he recalls his life over the course of the book in small chunks  .He then meets the girl Rosa has found for him Delgradina ,she is 14 and perfect in the old man’s eyes, she has wonderfully flawless skin and hair , because the second he sees her for the first time in his life he falls deeply in love .He shares nights with here but Delgradina isn’t her real name ,he never finds out more about her .

She was surprised when I mentioned the name Delgradina .That isn’t her name ,she said ,her name is …. Don’t tell me I interrupted ,for me she’s Delgradina .She shrugged all right ,after all ,she’s yours,

He never even knows her real name this young girl he has fallen so much for



Well this is a clever switch on his earlier book love in the time of cholera ,florentino is the flipside of this narrator a man who meet and had to leave his true love for most of his life sleeping with many women ,waiting this story follows a man maybe not knowing it but searching for that true love .Other Marquez traits are there like a  time span narrative , like  in a number of his other books. This book although is told in the present as the man reflects and remembers  the  nine decades in which he has lived   and the changing scenery around him  ,Marquez has always been the master of regret and solitude in his books his two best novels are rife with it  both present in this book .What is this man ?What is the sum of his life ? yes he is a fairly well-known report that has in the recent times written a weekly piece on the town and its life .But is that enough ? questions always questions  in Marquez (well that is what I come away with questions of life ) false turns ,missed chances ,lost loves and that one true love .If this is his last book it is a fitting tribute to the man as it has what made him the star he has been for the last fifty years and I would say is short enough for even those none readers to try .One can say yes maybe a 90-year-old and 14 year is wrong ,but the actual sex and meeting is a sideline in this book .The main themes are Marquez stand fare .

Have you read this book ?

My fathers’ Ghost is climbing in the rain by Patricio Pron

my fathers' ghost is climbing in the rain

My fathers’ Ghost is climbing in the rain by Patricio Pron

Argentinian fiction

Original title El espíritu de mis padres sigue subiendo en la lluvia

Translated by Mara Faye Lethem

Source – Netgalley

Well I am on netgalley and don’t often choose a book ,but when I saw this book ,which I had mentioned a few times in recent months was up for review I just had to choose it ,Pron has been on my radar for a couple of years  .He featured in the Granta  best  new Spanish language writing collection from 2011 ,and in fact  he was one of the writers And other stories was reading back in 2010 .So  Patricio  Pron studied in both Argentina and Germany ,before becoming a correspondent for a Le capital where he spent a lot of time travelling Europe ,eventually settling  in Madrid ,he has won a number of prizes for his books .This is his first novel to be translated into English

As I flew toward my father ,toward something I didn’t know but which was disgusting and frightening and sad ,I wanted to remember what I could about my life with him .There wasn’t much .

Patricio returning home to his dying father .

So My fathers’ ghost is climbing in the rain is a book about families and There past in Argentina .The story focus on a son who has found out his father is dying, back home in Argentina  the son is a writer the father was a builder ,so he returns to Argentina from Germany .Father and son have a strained relationship and have grown distant over time .The son returns to his parents house and  while looking round finds documents ,maps clipping  regard an incident in the past ,that his father was obsessed with an incident and the one man and a girl .This leads the son on a journey ,Patricio finds out about his parents past and what happened in 1977 the height of the time called the dirty war in Argentina . Patricio the son is unaware of what his parents did during this time and via this journey into the past he discovers more than he expected and maybe ends up closer to his father .A journey though a man death in 2008 back to a girl who “disappeared” by the junta and what was a father search for justice . Pron handles the past of Argentina with subtle tones through a family story .

The folder was thirty by twenty-two centimetres ,made of a very lightweight cardboard in a pale yellow colour .It was two centimetres thick and enclosed by two elastic bands that once been white but at this point had a slight brown tone :one of the bands held the folder from top to bottom and the other along its width which made them form a cross ; more specifically a Latin cross

Patricio finds his father collection of clippings and things .

Pron manages to  fit nicely in my thoughts on Argentinian fiction ,between a number of  other Argentinian writers I ve read in recent years. The father and son relationship could be a grown up version of the narrator in Marcelo Figueras Kamchatka  which I reviewed here set during the time ,one could imagine Patricio as a grown version of Harry the narrator of that book .Carlos Gamerro is another writer which  springs to mind both his books I have under review here , are crimeesque without being crime more as in this case as one man’s quest for the truth is like a master detective searching for the smoking gun , in Carlos Gamerro case , what happened in the dirty war in Open secret and during the Falklands in The islands ,also a wider sense in spanish language writing to look back on past events recent books by Lhosa ,Marquez ,Cercas and Goytisolo have all looked at the recent past with honest eyes and breadth like My fathers ‘ ghost is climbing in the rain does .Pron book evokes the past in the present and is wonderfully held together in English by the translator Lethem .We also see how father and sons can be distant over time but when the layers are peeled away are one and the same .

Hvae you a favourite book  from Argentina ?


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