The son by Andrej Nikolaidis

the son Andrej Nikolaidis

The son by Andrej Nikolaidis

Montenegrin fiction

Original title –  Sin

Translator – Will Firth

Source – Review copy

I’ve reviewed the first book in this what is a lose trilogy of novels by Andrej Nikolaidis .He is a well-known figure in Montenegro where he is quite outspoken at times and is firmly a writer that likes to give his opinions over .He also kindly wrote a piece for this blog on his love of Thomas Bernhard .He said to his publisher this book was more influence by Bernhard than his first novel the coming .

April is the cruellest month , according to Eliot .But he never lived on the Montenegrin Riviera , and his fellow citizens didn’t rake in the wealth by renting out rooms .He never saw tourist arriving in his peaceful town like hordes of Huns and turning it into a giant barbarian amusement park

I loved this line ,as I want to go to Montenegro on holiday at some point and be one of the hordes .


Well given the fact that we know in part this is a book that is influenced by Bernhard ,we can see it straight away as we meet our narrator he is a writer and is unnamed .We meet him on one evening in his life as he wanders round Ulcinj partly the setting for Nikolaidis earlier novel .We follow him through this night as he wanders the city but also interacts with numerous folk along the way a piano student from Vienna ( another nod to Bernhard I think as his book about Glenn Gould the great Canadian pianist  is set in Vienna ) this man has quit piano and become a Muslim . a preacher also crosses his path .Also refugees from Kosovo ,I loved this part I spent a summer in Germany in the mid 90’s working in a factory with a couple from Kosovo so this brought back memories of that time . Add to this the Son of the title is struggling in his real life and his father blames him for his mother’s death and we have a dark evening of guilt and the past of this city itself slaves that made the city initially  and communist past echoes around the narrator .Also a good dose of drinking this is a novel that grabbed me as a reader .

My mother cursed the day she bore me .She was in hospital in Podgorica ,melting away before my eyes as uterine cancer ate her up from the inside , she literally de materialised as the emptiness of her womb spread like the expanding universe ,and disappeared into that void like light is devoured by a black hole

Powerful and touching lines here .

Well I loved this as much as I loved The coming for me Nikolaidis is the reason I read translation ,voices like his make reading books in translation a pleasure .Had I not loved Bernhard works and his unique narrators would I have been able to see his influence on Nikolaidis the narrator her could walk of the page of a Bernhard novel but this isn’t just an homage to Bernhard we see the last twenty years of modern Europe ,very much  the balkans  ,the refugees from Kosovo are a great example of the times their country and recent history sums up the history of the Balkan conflicts religion and Serbia at the heart of it .There is also a dose of almost dream like drifting into the past ,almost like you have had a few drinks as yoy read add to this Andrej has added a playlist to the book I include one song he listen to while writing this book Steve Earle John walker blues (I love Earle since hearing copperhead road as a kid )

Russian stories by Francesc Serés

russian stories

Russian stories by Francesc Serés

Spanish fiction (or russian !)

Translator from Catalan Peter Bush

Translator from Russian Anastasia Maximova

Original  title Contes Russo

Source – review copy

Fransesc   Serés is a Catalan   writer he studied fine art and Anthropology at university ,after this he became a writer he has publish over ten books of novel and short stories in Spain and has also produced a number of stage works . He is also a professor of art history and a Russophile .

Consequently , if it weren’t for this confession of mine , nobody would know that Elvis Presley gave a concert in Moscow’s red square.

Yes , you heard me , a concert in Red square in 1958

It was one of the many demonstrations of strength the superpowers made during the cold war .A stupid one , but it was ,at the end of the day , a demonstration of strength .

Well imagine if the King had played in Moscow .

Frnacesc Serés happen in his love of Russian literature this lead him to coming  across a unmined wealth of lost , writing that hadn’t seen the light of day outside Russia .He gathered together 21 different stories from five new to us in the west  writers spanning the history of modern Russia .We start in modern Russia Ola Yevgueniyeva born in 1967 writes about Putin’s Russia stewardess contrast their world and the places they go and how their world is changing .Also a wonderful story of a chess match between an old gent and a young girl almost showing the change in modern Russia from the older player to the younger player .Then we move back through time with each subsequent writer .The next writer  Vera-Margarita she evokes the soviet past story of red square mentions of Lenin and Stalin .Then we get to Vitali Kroptkin and my favourite story Elvis Presley sings in Red Square ,did you know that Elvis had song in Red square in 1958 well he had new KGB files show ,a fun look at what could have happened had the King played in Russia .Then  we have Aleksandr Volkov he wrote of the post world war two soviet regime also how bizarre the state could be at times given the story about Voromians ,I liked this because it was just them remove the name and it is at heart of a number of incidents involving separate races with in the soviet sphere .The last writer Josef Bergghenko takes us to a pre world war two soviet times .

Voromians are pleasant , the odd one even looks at her as if he regonises her . one couple are called Var and Mirtila , like so many they ask her where they will be taken .She can’t think what to reply

A group that have been moved by the purges .

Sounds wonderful doesn’t it well it is amazing to discover these unknown writers ,ha nearly had you no the book is entirely made up by the writer francesec  Serés it is an homage to soviet writing but also a look into maybe what might have been written .He manages to pull it off with great style each writers piece do seem as thou they are from a different voice they are completely from the hands of Fransesc  Serés he has playfully mixed styles of contemporaries of the figures he is writing about so you get sense of these writers writing in their time echoes of kafka the fun of Bulgakov  .A book for fans of Russian literature but also the likes of Borges .I also discovered an interesting interview here it is in Spanish but comes across reasonably well via google translate .

German lit month 2013

I was so pleased when yesterday Caroline and Lizzy announced German lit month 2013 .this year there is a change with male and female weeks .I have been saving all my German translations since last year so have a good number built up ready for review more than I thought as I grabbed books for pictures I have nine of the books pictured already read . So here are the female books I’m hoping to review

As you see it’s a broad mix of books and as with the last two years I’m reviewing a Herta Muller .I’ve also a Christa Wolf on order from the library and hope in next few days hope to add a few more female names as Lizzy and Caroline noted last year saw more male German writers reviewed than Female I maybe didn’t help as I am more drawn to male voices and writers in my book choices as the picture of what male German books I have show


I wanted to include two by German language writers this time I haven’t review before they are Uwe Timm although not so well known in English is a huge writer in German and Peter Handke who I’m still shocked I’ve not reviewed before as his books I have always enjoyed since he wrote parts for one of my favourite films wings of desire .
What book have you in mind for German lit month 2013 ?

Let the games begin by Niccolò Ammaniti

let the games begin

Let the games begin by Niccolò Ammaniti

Italian Fiction

Translator Kylee Doust

Source – review copy

Now I must admit this is my first novel by the italian writer Niccolò Ammaniti ,I have had I’m not scared sat on my shelves for a couple of years .But when I was offered the chance to review this book I jumped at the chance the mention of satanic cults ,intoxicated supermodels ,olympic athletes and man eating Hippos how could I say no at time I not the wasn’t enough hippos in fiction but strange enough two books in the last twelve months have had hippos in down the rabbit hole and the sound of things falling both had hippos in ! maybe we are on the brink of Hippo fiction .Anyway back to Niccolò Ammantiti and Let the games begin .Niccolò Ammaniti studied biology but didn’t finish his degree ,he moved onto writing he published his first novel in 1994 and has since written six novels had his books made into a film .He won the prestigious Strega prize in 2007 .Let the games begin is his fifth novel .

Fabrizio Ciba was forty-one years old ,but everyone thought of him as a young writer .That adjective , frequently repeated by newspapers and other media had a psychosomatic effect on his body .Fabrizio didn’t look older than thirty-five .he was slim and toned without going to the gym .He got drunk every evening but his stomach remained as flat as a table .

MMM is this the young-looking Niccolò  making a point about people calling him young a lot ?

Let the games begin follows a number of different characters Fabrizo Chiba a Novelist ( to me he was  a writer trying  to live down a huge novel when young  ala Salinger but italian he is well-known for one book more than his others ) ,he is also a little up himself .Then there is Sasa Chiatti a multi millionaire property guy that has a mansion Villa Ada where a lot of the book is set and has invite a group people including Fabrizo ,A satanic cult leader called Mantos  leader of the wild beasts of Abaddon and a model that was a Satanist that has since convert to the Catholic church ,add in a collection of wild animals and you have a recipe for some real moments of madness and dark with .What happens when a writer and a cult leader meet ? All meeting at the Villa Ada .

Sasa Chiatti had built marshland , river and quicksand and committed himself to repopulation the park .He had brought from neglected zoos and abandoned circuses of the eastern european countries bears , seals , tigers , lions giraffes , foxes ,parrots cranes ,storks macaques , Barbary macaques ,hippopotamus and piranhas , and he had scattered them throughout the one hundred and seventy hectares of Villa Ada .

He want it to be like when he was a boy and came with his mum to go round Vila Ada .

I loved this book it may all sound outlandish a sot of modern take on the exterminating angel a look at what may be considered the modern elite where it isn’t class that gets you place it is celebrities .Maybe it is ,I felt it capture the madness and bizarreness money and power can bring to people the thing is Vila Ada Chiatti world isn’t far removed from the world Michael Jackson and others have built round them selves .I can also see Chiatti as maybe the embodiment of all that Silvio Berlusconi politics and personnel life style stands for there is a message against excess her and wonderful with behind the message .One for anyone that likes a little madness in the fiction .

A century in translation

Well I’ve been inspired by Simon from stuck in a book who for a second time in 2014 is doing a century of books challenge reading a book from very year of the 20th century well when he announced it herehere .I had a think and decided I would like to try and do the same with books from around the world so I been busy looking around the net and think this will be possible there is a vast amount available as e books if you spend time looking pre 1950 .I’m looking forward to this as it feels like a return to what I did when I started blog before getting on the new book hamster wheel and hat is bringing the best of the world I could find myself to you my readers so in the next two years I’ve given myself two years as I feel some years will be hard to find every year will be the publication year of the book in its original language .so in the next year names like Roberto Arlt,Armando Palacio Valdes ,Horacio Quiroga ,luigi Pirandello ,Henri Barbusse ,Rene Bazin and Osmau Dazai to name a few will be featured as I show how literature around the world developed over the 20th century ,


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