Well I was asked to take part in this twitter meme and have decided expand it to a month in the blog as well so here is day one a childhood book .I loved The Hobbit when I read it must been ten or eleven it was a book that took me into another world of misty woods ,dragons ,hobbits ,dwarves and Gollum .Now my copy fell apart years ago so this is my younger brothers copy I borrowed of him a few years ago oops (he may want it back ) lol
What was your childhood favourite ?
31 May 2014 6 Comments
31 May 2014 4 Comments
Mission London by Alek Popov
Original title – Мисия Лондон
Translators – Daniella and Charles Gill de Mayol de Lupe
Source – Review copy
Why, why, why? Because it’s all logic and reason now! Science, progress, chip-chip… Laws of hydraulics, laws of social dynamics, laws of this, that and the other… No place for three legged Cyclops in the South Seas… no place for cucumber trees and oceans of vine… no place for me!
From Quote NET baron Munchausen
Susan at Istros books is doing a great job bring wonderful new books from the Balkans and surrounding regions ,here she has brought us Alek Popov a rising star of Bulgarian fiction ,Alek Popov he got a degree in Bulrgrian Philology from Sofia university , he has worked as an editor ,also as cultural attaché to the Bulgarian embassy in London for a time .He has written 11 novels and was elected to the Bulgarian academy in 2012 for creative arts .Mission London is his first novel to be translated to English and is also a successful film .
“Your Excellency !” Robert Ziebling exclaimed , from the very threshold of this office .”I cannot begin to express how delighted I was to receive this invitation ”
The managing director of famous connections seized the Ambassador’s hands and proceeded to shake it fiercely .
The dodgy Pr man meets Varadin
So Mission London follows the new Ambassador at the Bulgarian embassy , this guy Varadin has been thrust from nowhere really to this prestigious job as a stepping stone for a bigger political career .Now the problem is he has some hard tasks to try to do for his bosses back home ,The wife of the current prime minister wants to meet the queen for a banquet .This leads him to a dodgy pr firm ,he meets a Princess Diana double Katya ,whom he employs first as a cleaner then when he discovers she is the Diana double things take quite a strange twist for her and Varadin .Then there is the hunt for food for the meal ,the chef he wants swans but through a Russian Mafia connection ends up with ducks stolen from the royal park that the police can track .Add to this the keeper of the ducks ,Russian Mafia bosses and a fake queen .A story that will have you laughing and cringing at Varadin’s life in London .
Dale pulled out his mobile and called Ray Solo head of security
“Ray ” he said weakly ,”I’ve cause to believe something terrible has happened …”
“Whats wrong ?” Ray’s voice sound stressed .
“My ducks have disappeared ” sobbed Dale “My little duclings !”
The ducks are stolen from the Royal Richmond Pond to go in the ovens at the Embassy .
Now I loved this one it was a book I started put to one side and then Last weekend decide to start again and read it in a couple of sittings especially after watching the trailer for the film .As you see in the trailer the book is rather like A Bulgarian take on a guy richie film ,multiple plot-lines ,bending the real world just enough that it is absurd but believable .It also is a remind of the Humour in Bulgarian lit ,I have come across before in the other book from Bulgaria I have reviewed here circus Bulgaria by Deyan Enev , a dark mix of satire and black humour that is similar in this book .If you like the greats of British Political satire television you will love this book it is one of those books that every turn sees another disaster around the corner another near miss .Another gem from Istros books .here is the trailer for the film .
Have you a favourite Bulgarian read ?
30 May 2014 3 Comments
Under the Channel by Gilles Pétel
French Crime fiction
Original title – Sous la manche
Translators – Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken
Source – Review copy
Our Saviour. Two thieves. One is supposed to have been saved and the other (he searches for the contrary of saved) damned.”
– Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot via CLASSIC LIT
Gilles Pétel was born and brought up in Dunkirk , he studied Philosophy at the University of Nice , he then taught abroad for a number of year .He wrote his first book in 1996 ,this is his fifth novel and the first to be translated to English .He has taught in London during the Financial crisis working at a French school in London .
Roland really couldn’t face an argument tonight .He had only just left a crime scene .No matter how used he was to seeing dead bodies ,they still left him shaken, and he wasn’t prepared for coming home to a fight .
Roland and his wife are struggling when we first meet him in the book .
Well the story of this book is in the Title a man is murdered Under the Channel ,the man John Bunny a Forty five year old Scottish man living in London working as an estate agent ,arrives on the Eurostar at Paris and is found dead .So the case of his death is given to Roland Desfeuilleres A Forty year old married with kids ,his life is at a bit of a crossroads when he is given this case and goes to London to discover more about John Bunny and his life in London .But in doing so he maybe discovers that his life could of being something else with at first being wow by this man’s wonderful life in London ,but then he sees the flaws in it and what may have led to his death and also maybe learns something about his own life .
The doctor uncovered John Burny’s naked body , as the lieutenant looked impatiently on .Then he exclaimed :
“He’s in great shape ! how old did you say he was ?”
The victim looked younger than Desfeuilleres, although he was five years older .In spite of himself desfeuilleres felt envious ,jealous even ,hardly an appropriate reaction to the sight of the unfortunate man .
Roland sees John and maybe wants to see how this older man looked so much better than him .
Well this book is rather like a couple of series that have been on TV in recent year the bridge and the Tunnel ,what happens when a body is discovered or killed midway between two countries ,unlike those it is also a story of two men One alive and One dead .I felt the philosophy that Gilles ,had studied in some way as these two men John and Roland ,so close in age yet so different in the own lives enter each others lives ,Roland will learn a lot from this journey to London ,about himself , the modern world of money and power in the world and also what one man will give up to be on top in that world .Also it is a reminder of how great crime novels on trains or about trains can be ,from Murder on the orient express , through strangers on a train ,the edge by Dick Francis .As a train brings together people on a journey that aren’t meant to know each other and 750 people in a eurostar it is a great place to try and hide a crime or as here a murder .A clever book about two different lives colliding and neither being the same after .
Have you a favourite French crime novel
22 May 2014 4 Comments
Well the shadow Jury announced their winner yesterday it was Sorrow of Angels ,one that missed the real shortlist .So as you read this I’m on a train heading to the Bg smoke as I was grateful to be invited to the 2014 award night for the Independent foreign fiction prize 2014 .Tony did his round-up and thought on the shortlist and whom he thought would win .So I decide to be rather fun and go for an if this book was a footballer post for fun and whom I’d think will win .So here are the books from the shortlist .
The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blassim
A collection of short stories , brutal at times and surreal at others .
If the book was a player it be Younis Mahmoud ,I struggled to find a Iraqi that had played in the Uk there is one that had been at Spurs but hadn’t played for them ,so I cast my net further afield and found Younis Mahmoud one the most capped Iraqi ,players watching a couple of you tube clips ,rather like the book Younis remind me of a classic old fashion centre forward rather like Hassan prose remind me of classic short story writers .
A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard
The second in the six book stgory of Karl Ove life seems him coping with early adulthood and becoming a father .
If this book was a player ,well one struck me straight away and that was the baby face assassin Ole Gunnar Solskjær .As a united fan ,he is a player rather like Karl Ove made an impact straight away when he usually came of the bench like when we won the champions league .A folk hero character ,rather like Karl Ove that has his own mythology around him .
Strange weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawkami
A may to december story of a former Pupil and her former teacher fall in love in a sort of shared loneliness ,I ve chosen the US cover as this was the book I read
Now if this book was a player ,I’ve picked Shinji Kagawa ,the player who United brought from Dortmund ,he has yet to fit fully into the team but has shown flashes of brilliance at times and what is to come and that is like this book flashes of great thing to come from the writer .
A meal in winter by Hubert Mingarelli
Two soldiers , a Jewish man and a Pole stuck in a room sort of microcosm of the war share an evening as the snow traps them .
Well I initially thought of King Eric but actually settled for Laurent Blanc , he had a cameo at united and rather like this book we hoped to have seen more of him like we hope to see more of Mingarelli .
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
A collection of dark interlink through motifs stories from a master of the short story form .
Hidetoshi Nakata is the player I imagine for this book a clever midfield that broke out of Asian football and played in Italy for a number of seasons .Like the book Nakata was a player you just loved to watch playing for his silky skills like Ogawa writing is one I love reading .
The Mussel feast by Brigit Vanderbeke
A family have cook a favourite meal of the absent father a book set just as the wall is falling in Berlin .
Well when I thought of this rather mad post ,this is the first player I thought of Matthias Sammer as one of the first East germans to player for the unified german team Sammer was amazing he was a commanding defender and sweeper that controlled games ,but had to retire early due to injury and maybe like this book as I’ve said what differenece would it have made coming out at the time ,what did we miss from Sammer due to that injury .
SO for me its between Mussl feast or A man in love to win ,I can not seperate those two and another is in with a chance which you may guess .Who do you fancy winning this year ?
21 May 2014 9 Comments
In 2014, for the third year in a row, Chairman Stu gathered together a group of brave bloggers to tackle the task of shadowing the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. It’s not a task for the faint of heart – in addition to having to second-guess the strange decisions of the ‘real’ panel, the foolhardy volunteers undertook a voyage around the literary world, all in a matter of months…
On our journey around the globe, we started off by eavesdropping on some private conversations in Madrid, before narrowly avoiding trouble with the locals in Naples. A quick flight northwards, and we were in Iceland, traipsing over the snowy mountains and driving around the iconic ring road – with a child in tow. Then it was time to head south to Sweden and Norway, where we had a few drinks (and a lot of soul searching) with a man who tended to talk about himself a lot.
Next, it was off to Germany, where we almost had mussels for dinner, before spending some time with an unusual family on the other side of the wall. After another brief bite to eat in Poland, we headed eastwards to reminisce with some old friends in Russia – unfortunately, the weather wasn’t getting any better.
We finally left the snow and ice behind, only to be welcomed in Baghdad by guns and bombs. Nevertheless, we stayed there long enough to learn a little about the customs involved in washing the dead, and by the time we got to Jerusalem, we were starting to have a bit of an identity crisis…
Still, we pressed on, taking a watery route through China to avoid the keen eye of the family planning officials, finally making it across the sea to Japan. Having arrived in Tokyo just in time to witness a series of bizarre ‘accidents’, we rounded off the trip by going for a drink (or twelve) at a local bar with a strangely well-matched couple – and then it was time to come home 🙂
Of course, there was a method to all this madness, as our journey helped us to eliminate all the pretenders and identify this year’s cream of the crop. And the end result? This year’s winner of the Shadow Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is:
The Sorrow of Angels by Jón Kalman Stefánsson
(translated by Philip Roughton, published by MacLehose Press)
This was a very popular (and almost unanimous) winner, a novel which stood out amongst a great collection of books. We all loved the beautiful, poetic prose, and the developing relationship between the two main characters – the taciturn giant, Jens, and the curious, talkative boy – was excellently written. Well done to all involved with the book – writer, translator, publisher and everyone else 🙂
Some final thoughts to leave you with…
– Our six judges read a total of 83 books (an average of almost fourteen per person), and ten of the books were read and reviewed by all six of us.
– This was our third year of shadowing the prize and the third time in a row that we’ve chosen a different winner to the ‘experts’.
– After the 2012 Shadow Winner (Sjón’s From the Mouth of the Whale), that makes it two wins out of three for Iceland – Til hamingju!
– There is something new about this year’s verdict – it’s the first time we’ve chosen a winner which didn’t even make the ‘real’ shortlist…
Stu, Tony, Jacqui, David, Bellezza and Tony would like to thank everyone out there for all their interest and support over the past few months – rest assured we’re keen to do it all over again next year 🙂
A few thoughts from me ,I have loved hosting this year as everyone has made a real effort to read all the books and 83 reviews out there is a great acheivement and wonderful way to promote the IFFP to a wider readership .