The Black spider by Jeremias Gotthelf A Halloween german lit month treat

the black spider

The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf

German Gothic Fiction

Original title Die Schwarze spinne

Translator – H M Waidson

Source personnel copy

Jeremias Gotthelf was a swiss pastor and writer ,His actual name was Albert Bitzius ,he was educated in Bern wre he founded the second oldest Swiss fraternity ,before becoming a pastor and then in his thirties he took up writing .He used the Bernese countryside and his strong religious beliefs in his books .

Christine had been gleefully watching everything outside in the field .The sun might burn hot as she worked at the heavy labour ,but the spider hardly burned any more at all .

The devil made his mark  on her .

The book focus on the people in a Bernese village ,we start at a farm where a baptism is in full swing ,then we get an unbaptized baby that  is kissed by a hunter and this kiss cause a black mark to appear and she is touched by the devil this Christine .So there is now a pact between the village and the devil that leads to years and years of godless behaviour ,when at some point this falls apart a plague of spiders swarms around the village  and they now need god to come back and save them .That is the barest bones of this tale it is a real quest between good and evil between god and the devil in tit many faces .

Next to the church was the inn , for these two institutions so often stand close to one another , sharing joy and suffering together , and what is more , in all honour .

But are they hand in hand

Well that is it in part this book has a really twisted narrative style one could almost say it has an old testament feel to it selling pone soul to the devil and it having a bad outcome all sounds like the wrathful god of the old testament  .This at times seems like a Sunday sermon that he may have told round Halloween to scare the kids and adults into god fearing Christians ,But that said Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil and he did make some great music ,.But we also get a feel of traditional Germanic folk tales with figure like the hunter and a knight appearing in the story ,also the selling of a soul to a devil has been a recurring motif in a lot of German fiction around this time and before even Faust for Example .Then there is also the way Gotthelf describes the village the church and the inn next to one another has a slight feel of temperance movement and is the godless behaviour connected to the drink .This has been a great read for Halloween one for a dark evening and a quick check to see if there isn’t a spider about to jump on me like Robert smith in the video .I read the Oneworld classic copy of this book with a 1958 translation ,I know NYRB classics has just issued a new translation which I hope to read and compare as I felt the choice of words and way the story unfold was a little stayed at times .

Have you a favourite Halloween read ?

 

Hello all, I ‘m back

Dad , Milly  and Myself

Well I have been off-line for over two weeks which I think is the longest break I have had since I started this blog .Now return after that time I find myself rather like a new starter feeling my way again ,I feel a slight lose of confidence ,but I have had a busy few weeks I found out my father had collapsed at home and need to have a pacemaker fitted ,this has played on my mind a lot recently and was actually the icing on the cake of 2013 that has leapt from one thing to another all year . But as you can all see from the updated books read in 2013 I have been reading as much if not more than normal as I have passed 100 books read for the fourth year in a row .I have found solace in my books ,they offer me a way to forget my own personnel woes and escape into another world ,I have also spent  time with Amanda and visiting my dad for the day as he lives quite far from me .So I return to the blog after all this looking forward to joining in German lit month but also with a real sense of wanting to clear my backlog of read books and transform them into reviews before time runs out on 2013 ,so 2014 can be an easier year with less catch up on my blogging  and in general as I feel 2013 has been a bad year for myself .So tomorrow I return with a review of Stoner by John Williams  ,a book which I have tossed and turned over how to review .I will be slowly commenting on everyone’s posst as I am now off work for ten days .

Nobel Prize for Literature 2013 is Alice Munro

Well it’s that time of year again when we stare into the world of Literature and try to guess the winner of Nobel prize it is like shooting minnows in a swimming pool many names mentioned this time the usual Nadas ,Murakami ,Djebar and Munro .New Names like Alexievich ,Fosse and Marias this year who knows the betting seems to point to Svetlana Alexievich as favourite a late run on Thoig’o and Djebar at this time half hour before this time Nobel have provide an Embedded feed here

Thanks for Lisa for heads up on this

The winner this year is Alice Munro The short story writer

Here is her Wikipedia page 

And a link to the short story the bear came over the mountain on new yorker here 

Crow Blue By Adriana Lisboa

Crow Blue image_med

Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa

Brazilian Fiction

Original title – Azul-Corvo

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – Review copy

Well I’ve been saying for months on twitter Brazil is the next big thing world lit wise (no hard guess really with the worlds eyes turned there with world cup and Olympic games also they are the guest country at this year Frankfurt book fair ) so a new Brazilian novel to review and to add to the too few I have review on this blog is great and what a great novel Adriana Lisboa is one of the current stars of Brazilian Fiction and a piece by her was chosen as the challenge for this years young translator prize .Sh was born and raised in Rio spent time in France and the last six years living in the US She is also a vegetarian ,Buddhist and animal rights campaigner .

Lakewood , Colorado .A strange place .But its strangeness didn’t bother me , because the Denver suburb was , to me a , a stepping-stone .Something I was using to achieve an objective .A bridge , a ritual , a password that you utter before a door and wait for someone to open it .

Vanya arriving in the US to stop with Fernando .

So to crow blue the title has a duel meaning of both the crow blue shells of the beach in Rio and blue crows in the  US as this book follows its heroine Vanja ,her mother has died she is left with her stepfather and the go to live in the US ,But who was her real father ? This she wants to find out and how her father and mother meet ,but along the way she learns a lot more than she expected ,also a lot about Brazil’s darker past and the struggle for human rights that was fought under the last dictatorship in the country and the Araguaia guerrilla what they were fighting for and what happened to them  .Her stepfather has his own story to tell he was a guerilla at this time and a tough man.We also see through their eyes the toughness of living in the US as an immigrant and through the people they met along the way .Will she find this father and what does Vanya learn about her self along the way ?

The brazilian Armed Forces had five thousand men hunting a few dozen guerillas in the forest .By now they also knew that the communist were practising jungle survival techniques , learning to get their bearings from the sun , star and Landmarks .Learning to commando crawl in the forest ,to recognize edible fruit , to hunt .

The army gets trained to get the guerilla forces in the Jungles and forests .

I loved the pace of this book it felt just right Vanya and her stepfather are treading a path that many people from Latin america do trying to find a better life .I read an interview translated from Portuguese with Adriana about the book she said the characters aren’t based on actual people .But the settings are ones she knows well she grew up in and around  Rio and  currently lives in Colorado where the book is mostly set when they get  to the US to live .I found the feel of the two looking in at the rich american world when they got there the perfect house and Lawns  .I also really enjoyed  learning more about Brazil’s recent past and the Araguaia guerrillas and the war they fought in the seventies  a dark mark on Brazil’s recent past .I am slowly falling in love with the varied fiction of Brazil and Adriana Lisboa is another name II want to read more off .Have you a favourite Brazilian writer ?

Winner of Harvill secker Young Translator prize

young translator

HARVILL SECKER announces winner of 2013

prize for young translators

 

Lucy Greaves, who holds an MA in Literary Translation from the University of East Anglia, is the winner of the 2013 Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize.  Lucy attended the TimesCheltenham Literary Festival last night to accept the prize.  Receiving her award from Harvill Secker editor Ellie Steel, following a special translation slam event in honour of the prize, Lucy said: ‘I’m shocked and delighted to have been awarded the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize. This was my first ever piece of literary translation from Portuguese, and I never imagined I’d win! I feel very fortunate to have this incredible opportunity to develop as a translator and I’m really looking forward to working with Margaret Jull Costa on the BCLT mentorship scheme.’

 

As the winner of the prize, Lucy Greaves receives £1000 and a selection of Harvill Secker titles.  She will also take part in a six-month mentorship scheme with translator and judge Margaret Jull Costa, in association with the British Centre for Literary Translation.   In November she will travel to The Hague to participate in The Chronicles programme, which brings together young authors and young translators as part of the Crossing Border Festival.

The chosen language for the 2013 prize was Portuguese and entrants were asked to translate ‘O sucesso’, a short story by Brazilian author Adriana Lisboa. The prize was judged by authorNaomi Alderman, translator Margaret Jull Costa, literary journalist Ángel GurríaQuintana and Harvill Secker editor Ellie Steel. This year’s runner-up is Annie McDermott.

The winning story is published online by Granta www.granta.com and will be available to read from Wednesday 9th October.

The judges commented: The field was very strong, and we were impressed by the imagination applied by all our entrants, and the variety of interesting ways in which they dealt with the mood and humour of the piece. Adriana’s wonderful story appears simple, but it presents various challenges which must be handled deftly by a translator. We chose Lucy’s translation for its elegant sentences and her perceptive capturing of the story’s youthful energy and coming-of-age spirit.’

There were a total of 92 entries from 9 countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, UK and USA.

Lucy Greaves lived and worked in Colombia, Peru, Chile and Switzerland before going on to study an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia. She now works as a freelance translator from Spanish, Portuguese and French, and she is based in Bristol, UK. When not translating, she teaches skiing.

Description: Description: BCLTlogoRGB.jpgPlease visitwww.harvillseckeryoungtranslatorsprize.com for more information.

THE AUTHOR

Adriana Lisboa

Adriana Lisboa was born in Rio de Janeiro. With degrees in Music and Literature, she is the author of ten widely translated fiction titles, including five novels, a collection of flash fiction, and books for children. She was hailed as a new star of Brazilian literature after the publication of her 2001 novel Sinfonia em Branco (‘Symphony in White’), which received the prestigious José Saramago Prize. In 2007, she was selected by the Hay Festival/Bogota World Book Capital as one of the 39 highest profile Latin American writers under the age of 39. Her latest novel, Crow Blue, will be published in the UK by Bloomsbury in October 2013, translated by Alison Entrekin.

THE JUDGES

Margaret Jull Costa (translator)

Margaret Jull Costa has been a literary translator for nearly twenty-five years and has translated many novels and short stories by Portuguese, Spanish and Latin American writers, including Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, José Saramago, Javier Marías, Bernardo Atxaga, Alberto Barrera Tyszka and Luis Fernando Verissimo. She has won various prizes for her work, most recently, the 2012 Calouste Gulbenkian Prize with Teolinda Gersão’s The Word Tree, for which she was also runner-up with António Lobo Antunes’s The Land at the End of the World.

Naomi Alderman (author)

Naomi Alderman grew up in London and attended Oxford University and UEA. In 2006 she won the Orange Award for New Writers, and in 2007 she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and one of Waterstones’ 25 Writers for the Future. She is the author of four novels: DisobedienceThe LessonsThe Liars’ Gospel  and the Doctor Who tie-in novelBorrowed Time. Naomi broadcasts regularly, has guest-presented Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and writes regularly for Prospect and the Guardian. From 2004 to 2007 Naomi was lead writer on the BAFTA-shortlisted alternate reality game Perplex City. She’s written online games for Penguin, the BBC, and other clients. In 2012, she co-created the top-selling fitness game and audio adventure Zombies, Run!. This year, she has been named among the twenty most promising young British writers by Granta on its prestigious once-a-decade list.

Ángel Gurría-Quintana (journalist)

Ángel Gurría-Quintana is a historian, journalist and translator of Spanish and Portuguese. He has written for the Financial Times since 2003, specialising in literature in translation. His work has also appeared in the Observer, the Guardian, The Paris ReviewBrick, granta.comand the translation blog Three Percent. A regular presence at the Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty, his translations from Portuguese include the stories by Beatriz Bracher, Bernardo Carvalho, Milton Hatoum, Reinaldo Moraes and Cristovão Tezza in the compilation Dez/Ten (2012). More recently he co-edited and translated the forthcoming anthology, Other Carnivals: New Writing from Brazil (Full Circle Editions). He works at the University of Cambridge.

 

Ellie Steel (editor)

Ellie Steel is an editor at Harvill Secker, where she publishes authors Manuel RivasKarin Fossum and Andrey Kurkov, among others. She is the coordinator of the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize and editor of the ‘A View from This Bridge’ blog atwww.internionalwriting.co.uk

I will be reviewing the New Novel in English By Adriana Lisboa tomorrow on the Blog

The castle of cross destinies by Italo Calvino

castle of crossed destinies

The castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino

Italian Fiction

Orginial title – Il castello dei destini incrociati

Translator – William Weaver

Source – Library

Well I’ve review three  of Calvino’s books before on the blog the Cuban born Italian writer is one of my personnel favourite writers ,he is considered one of greatest writer of 20 th century ,he wrote in various styles from realistic like his book into the war I reviewed here ,which was based on his world war two experiences  ,to surreal  like if on a winters night which I reviewed here  and post modern .He was also a member of the Oulipo group of writers .

i also try to

Now I mention the Oulipo connection because this book is just a perfect example of what that movement hope to achieve .The book takes the form of fifteen tales told at a castle and a tavern .Now it is how the stories are told ,because the people in the book telling the stories have been struck silent and have now power of speech to talk to each other . So they tell each other their stories via a pack of tarrot cards and are narrator fills in the gaps and makes stories for each of them .so we meet an alchemist ,grave robber doomed bride amongst others  at the castle .At the tavern we have waverer ,a forest seeking revenge and warriors .The narratives told are similar in there ways to books like Decameron and canterbury tales .The cards frame the stories and characters .

calvino

The stories show how as Calvino said ” a finite number of elements whose combinations are multiplied in a billion billion” Thus a pack of tarot could throw up any number of tales ,but then we have how do we tell the stories ,is it through the words of the narrator or the pictures on the cards how do we decide where to go when the same card with different number appear in different stories .What Calvino does is to spin the tale each time from card to card as he chooses the cards for each tale so we see how each character arrived at the castle or tavern and what has happened to them rather like the tales of the decameron and Canterbury  ,there was meant to be a third part to this et at a motel in the future that Calvino never wrote .This book is very unusual and is one of those books people are going to either love or hate ,now I loved it I love the thought of playing with what is storytelling test the boundaries by in a way cutting the chances down I mean each of these stories is formed from a tarot pack which normally contains 78 cards so thou the stories are infinite the route of the story has only a 1 in 78 chance to move on .Have you read any Oulipo books ?I chooose to use pages instead of writing quotes as it illustrates the stories much better than just the writing as you miss half of it because of their being no cards to see .

All is silence by Manuel Rivas

all is silence by Manuel Rivas

All is silence by Manuel Rivas

Spanish Fiction

Original Title – Todo es silencio,

Translator – Jonathan Dunne

Source – Library

Well I put this book down as Spanish fiction  although Manuel Rivas ,he is a Galician writer he is from that part of Spain and writes in Galician not Spanish and this book is a direct translation from his original .He grew up wanting to be a bricklayer like his father but was persuaded by his mother to become a Journalist poet  and writer .He was also one of the first writers  I reviewed on this  blog with his book The carpenter’s pencil .That  book was set in the civil war .This his latest to reach us in English is set in the Sixties onwards .

“The mouth is not for talking .It’s for keeping quiet .”

This was one of Mariscal’s sayings ,which his father repeated like a litany and Victor Rumbo -Brinco_ recalled when the other boy saw with amazement what was in the strange package  he’d pulled out the basket and asked what he wasn’t suppose to

“what’s that then ? what are you going to do ? ”

They have  mouths , and speak not replied Brinco laconically

The opening lines let you know what silence can mean .

All is silence is a book about friends growing up  and what happens when one takes one path and another takes another and there is a girl as well !,Finn and Brinco  are like peas in a pod but there is one thing they have between them and that is they both have a liking for the wild tom boyish ,but beautiful Leda .The boys like all boys spend there days on the coast having adventures with each other ,this although in a world under Franco and the fact their part of Spain (the same as the writer Galicia ,I heard it described as a bit like Ireland to England but from what I’ve read actually the north-east of the UK is a better idea for me ) ,anyway one day they find a large stash of Whiskey and fags stuck by the old school ,Now this is all very Enid Blyton in a strange way a world that although tough maybe isn’t in the kids eyes  to this point ,but then a man  in a hat appears and tells the boys that Mouths are for Silence .We then see the boys grow Brinco and Leda marry ,Finn has gone a different route than his friends he has left the village and returns as a policeman .This is a post Franco world and the smuggling that the boys saw as kids has grown and it’s not just cigarettes and alcohol now no the stakes have grown .What happened to the man they meet as a boy ?

Finn had his eyes closed .When you close your eyes ,beware what you might open ,He took a deep breath ,let go slowly like a mouth of wind .

Finn returning to his childhood home what awaits him .

Well like his other book I’ve read Rivas is a poetic writer he paints his homeland through a poets eyes ,he is a poet as well as a novel writer .I felt he built the tension well in this book as it went on .This world is based round  a love triangle ,power  who has it .What it means to be friends all play a part .This has already been made into a film in Spain .It’s one of those books that seem to get darker as you move on the strange switch from the childhood years which under Franco are viewed as dark but it is the post Franco time when the kids are grown that is darker .I must try his last book before this book burn badly .Have you read Rivas ?

Happy birthday And Other stories book giveaway

Well I can’t believe its over three years since I got a email from Stefan the head man at and other stories, about them starting and how they choose the books via there reading groups. But it is true today Saturday Marks  three years since the first book came out they grown and had a book on the booker list and still doing great translations .I ve been given the chance to share some love for this and give away three titles by them .I ve been chosen  to give these titles

And-other-stories-Down-the-Rabbit-Hole-cover

Down the rabbit hole by Jaun Pablo Villalobos

The Islands Carlos Gamerro

The Islands by Carlos Gamerro

black vodka Levy

and BLack Vodka by Deborah Levy

Simply choose your book and I ll draw them and let and other stories know the winners

Taxi by Khaled Al Khamissi

taxi

Taxi by Khaled Al Khamissi

Egyptian fiction

Original title -Hawadith al-mashawir

Translator – Jonathan Wright

Source personnel E book copy

Khaled Al Khamissi is an Egyptian born ,writer he has written two novels so far .He studied Political science and university .This book thou published in 2006 /7 .A ;lot of what is spoken in the book seems very much still to be the case in Egypt .

‘People wonder why the economy’s screwed up,’ the driver said. ‘It’s screwed up because of people. Would you believe it, a country like Egypt, the people here spend more than 20 billion pounds a year on telephone calls. Twenty billion pounds, I mean, if we didn’t talk for two or three years, would Egypt be different?

Khamissi, Khaled Al (2012-03-15). Taxi (English edition)

 

Taxi is made up of 58 stories or is it voices ,from all round Cairo the voice of the taxi drivers of Cairo ,their  stories paint the city from top to bottom from the upper echelons to the lowest street people ,what we get is a clutter city  but city wanting to move forward ,of hard-working souls and corruption and uneven lifestyles come across .The from seatbelts to cinema ,Iraq ,Palestine and Israeli all crop up in the chats note in the stories .But at the back of it from time to time is the police corruption and the president at the time Mubarak   looming in the background as we see these windows of Cairo tell the tales to a unnnamed man in the taxis .

‘The whole story was business on business. The big guys imported seatbelts and sold them and made millions . The Interior Ministry issued one ticket after the other and collected millions. The wretched cops on the street would stop you and say: “Where’s your seatbelt, you bastard?” and you’d have to slip him a fiver, and if he stopped you when an officer was there , it would be twenty pounds. I mean, everyone benefited.

how they ended up with seatbelts in the city according to one driver ?

Well this book still seems fresh not seven years on yes the modern Egypt has moved quickly ,but one feels from the bits we see on the UK news that the basic problems that underlie these stories and people in the stories are the same .The city comes across as a place of divide but also great characters . I was reminded of the book written about a tube train and its passengers that had great snippets of of there lives .Also the book has a non fiction feel at times ,you never quite sure what has been heard and what was made up ,I feel maybe from what I’ve read about the book one thing we maybe have missed in Jonathan Wrights great translation is dialect that part of the book that if you live in Cairo maybe opens the book even more like a Londoner would gather more from an east end dialect and a city boys speaking but that aside I felt it was a great view into Cairo just before it blew up and maybe in here are a few clues too why it happened .

What is your favourite book on Egypt ?

Keep your eye on the wall Palestinian landscapes

Keep-Your-Eye-on-the-Wall1-217x271

Keep your eye on the wall  – Palestinian Landscapes

Edited by Olivia snaije and Mitchell Albert

Source review copy

 Keep Your Eye on the Wall brings together seven award-winning artist-photographers and four essayists, all responding to the Wall in images or words. The photographers present unique perspectives, whether it is documenting the journey of labourers across the concrete separation barrier, or exploring the layers and textures of a wall in Gaza.

Mitchell Albert is a London-based editor. Since 2002 he has worked as a commissioning editor for non-fiction and fiction books, as a freelance book and magazine editor, and as a programme manager overseeing literary events. From 2007–11 he edited the literary journal of PEN International. Many of the projects in which he has been involved have had the Middle East as their main subject.

Olivia Snaije is a Paris-based journalist and editor. She has worked for various newspapers and magazines, and as a book commissioning editor for a publishing company and has contributed to, written, and translated several books. She is the former executive editor of Alef, a London-based culture magazine about the Middle East, and was Editor-in-Chief of World Media in Paris, a magazine published by a group of twenty-six newspapers worldwide. The Middle East has been the primary focus of her work for the past twenty years.

Shockingly beautiful and evocative … the artists echo the feelings of Palestinians who have to make do with life in a divided, disfigured land’

Raja Shehadeh

This is something a little different for Winston’s  dad. A book of photos and some essays  about the wall that divides Israeli and Palestine .A group of photographs have been brought together to show the wall and its effect on every day life .The book is forward by Raja Shehadeh Whom I interview here .The wall like all walls that divide people is an important part of every day Life .In his book I was born here ,I was born there Mourid Barghouti describe the sheer horror of him as a person trying to get across this wall to his homeland of Palestine .Walls have been part of history from the great Wall but this wall in Palestine is similar to other raised in the 20th century .The Berlin wall divide east and west ,ideologies ,but like this drew artist to record it The novel wall Jumper I have reviewed here followed accounts around the wall and those trying to get to the other side .The German Artist Joesph Beuys had said he want the wall 5cm to better fit the city ,that tongue in cheek humour seems to come across in some pictures in this collection and of course the greatest view of Berlin and its wall for me was the film Wings of desire ,which saw two angles wander the wall on both sides and see how that wall had effect the city it tied in well with this picture of  a women dressed as an angel

wallwell my own experience with walls that divide is from my holidays visiting my dad as a kid in Belfast and the peace wall the divide parts of Belfast like the wall in Palestine it divided people more than  stopped  the trouble  cause deeper divides ,in fact the design and feel of parts of the wall in Palestine remind me of the parts of the wall I remember seeing years ago in Belfast those gates to split people apart and leave them apart .

keep 1I link to Saqi site the actual book is a fold out affair and would make a welcome edition to any one with an interest in stunning photos and Palestine

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