Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla


Meat space by Nikesh Shukla

British fiction

Source – review copy

The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Now I don’t read many British writers ,but when the chance came round to review the second novel by Nikesh ,I jumped at the chance as I really enjoyed his first novel Coconut Unlimited I reviewed it .So I must first say I have met Nikesh on a couple of occasions before I review the book .

The first and last thing I do everyday is see what strangers are saying about me .

I pull the laptop closer from the other side of the bed and press refresh on my inboxes .I have a google calendar alert that tells me I have no events scheduled today ,an assortment of twitter and Facebook notifications ,alerting me to 7 new followers ,a favourite tweet thanking someone for liking my book ,an invite to an event I’ll never go to ,spam for play and guardian jobs .#

The opening lines of Meat space

Meatspace is a term in the internet world for the real world .The story is the tale of a few months in the life of Kitab Baisubramanym ,he is a guy whom life is at that point where it’s about to implode or explode .His long-term girlfriend has left him ,he has just lost a job for writing a book on the firms time .So he has come to live with his brother Aziz  .He has alll this time on his hands and being a modern man he has descend into the rabbit hole of the internet and ends up doing the think many of use has done and search for a doppelgänger the  namesake  online and in his case he finds one chap in the US that shares his name and the next thing he knows is this chap turns up at his door and this leads Kitab into a world of madness both online and offline as this doppelgänger is a little of  the rails .As they descend into a world of swingers and sex .

History :

The perfect CV – Google 

kitab Balasubramanyam – Facebook 

Hayley Bankcroft – Google images 

[104} – twitter 

The start of each chapter starts with the search history of Kitab .

Now I am a later come to the tech age I didn’t get my first laptop til seven years ago and ever since have felt like I’ve been playing catch up or at least get it ,I still don’t fully get the net but everyday seems more as thou I do .Now that said Nikesh is a child of the net this book is what it is like to live and breathe the net to tweet ,tumblr ,Facebook and get it .Kitab is the Everyman of the net ,but he hit that rabbit hole like in Alice he pressed the return button on something he shouldn’t have .The wit and realism drips of the page ,Nikesh is one of the funniest writers I’ve read in recent years .Now I was remind the time I read Fever pitch for me Nikesh has done for the net here in this book the same as Nick Hornby did for football and that is put on paper the Everyman experience of something .SO if you love the net and want be laughing and crying at times ,this is the book you need to read ,Nikesh missed the costa  with coconut unlimited ,but this should be a prize winner ,if there is any justice out there ,daring new and funny .The book comes out 3 july .

#bookaday 26 a book that should sold better

Well I’ve picked a book I reviewed last year my review that is The mirror of beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi an Indian novel that was translated by the writer himself from his Urdu orginal .Now the uk version of this book came out in may ,I had kindly been sent by penguin India a copy at the request of Musharraf Ali Farooqi another book worth checking his clay and dust is one of the best sports novels I have read ,anyway back to the mirror of beauty it came out here and I’ve not seen a single review for what in India is consider one best historic novels about in India in recent years .

#bookaday 25 never finished it

Infinite jest brought it a few summers ago for a big readalong call infinite summer but got couple of hundred pages in and just hated all the tennis bits as tennis is a sport I was scared with as a kid having to sit and watch every summer Wimbledon when I’d rather have been watching cartoons or blue peter .That said I may return to it at some point .

#bookaday 22 out of print

Well missed a couple of book a day posts so on out of print I’ve choose this old soviet English translation of Pushkin I found second hand a few years ago .I’m sure this edition of Dubrovsky is out of print it’s from 50’s but the story as a single story is only available as a kindle book or a very expensive paperback on amazon here .

Blood-drenched beard by Daniel Galera

blood drenched beard cover

Blood-drenched beard by Daniel Galera

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Barba ensopada de sangue

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – review copy

I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.”

Jorge Luis Borges  source here 

Daniel Galera was on the recent Granta list of best Brazilian writers from last year .Born on Sao Paulo but grew up in the city of Porto Alegre the same city as Luís Fernando Veríssimo, comes from .Daniel Galera  works as a writer and translator and is considered one of the best Brazilian writers at using the internet for his writing ,he found his own publishing house and also has contribute to numerous online publications .He has also won the Machado De Assis prize .

What’s that face ? asks his father .

It’s an old joke .He gives his usual answer with the barest hint of a smile .

The only one I’ve got

The first hint at the main characters face blindness condition .

Well Blood drenched beard is one of those books that reminds me why I love translation so much, a crime novel that breaks the mould and is more postmodern than crime  .A man who is unnamed in the book is drawn back to the seaside town that his grandfather lived in ,after his own father commits suicide.His is accompanied by his fathers old dog .Now this man is trying to discover his families past ,but has a problem a rare condition that means he can’t remember people after meet them because he can’t remember faces .So he is forced to remember actions and places to remember people .SO what we see through his eyes is the world in the pieces he remembers as he tries to discover who killed his grandfather .The grandfather died in a blackout ,hence the title of the book the lights went up the grandfather was drenched in blood . Will he find the killer ?

Back then there wasn’t a police station in Garopaba ,says the officer .If there was any kind of inquiry,the files would be in Laguna .But I doubt it .That was a long time ago .I’m from here ,born and bred ,my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents are from here and I’ve never heard of him .People remember the ones who die .

He talks to the local policeman ,but is what he says the truth or a lie ?

Blood-drenched beard is a clever take on the quest novel the man returning home on a quest .Now if you take out the main thing that most crime novels have and that is the facial identification and expressions  .So what we get is the smaller details how people move there gestures and how he sees these through her eyes . Add to that the setting the small coastal town of Garopaba a small town with its own past ,myths and surreal nature ,at times I was reminded of Marquez world .I’ve read Casares the Argentinian writers take on the crime novel and was reminded at times in this book of the way he wrote .A town with secrets and a family past unravelling makes this a real page turner .Do you have a favourite crime novel that isn’t a crime novel really ?

Five years happy birthday winstonsdad


Well I nearly missed this if it hadn’t been the fact I saw the notification of my anniversary today .Well five years for me is a milestone I never thought I’d reach and finally feel like a proper blogger now .So in Five years there has been 910 posts written , 452 books reviewed .94 countries covered in the blog ,10,500 comment left and replied ,5 shadow juries ,a lot of book pictures .I want to thank everyone who has visited the blog ,left a comment ,rt a post I written ,been inspired to read a book in translation.I now look forward too five more years getting to 500 books under review ,100 countries ( one nearer yesterday with an Estonian novel ) .I will return to reviews tomorrow with a promised Brazilian novel Blood drenched beard .Many thanks again blogging has given me so much more than I ever expected .

#bookaday one I still talk about

Borges Borges it’s twenty year since I first read him and still he blows my mind .If there is a perfect writer of short stories it has to be Borges he took the world of literature through his mind uniquely made it his own .What is your choice ?

#bookaday 17 a future classic

When does a book in translation become a classic book ? Well a number of ways win the nobel prize for one , like Laszlo Krasznahorkai with satantango catch the eye of a star critic James woods in his case and finally word of mouth now I would say Haruki Murakami is a perfect example of this in action .Now I’ll give you my tip and it is Andrej Nikoladis here are reviews and piece on the blog I have met Andrej and rather like Andres Neuman he is someone you know is going to be the next great writer in translation .Istros books is due to publish his third book a book which has Sebald as an influence on it I can’t wait .

#bookaday an old favourite

I’m sure I mention this before Sebald is a writer whom I feel brought me back into lit about 15 years ago but more so than that increased my love of translation .I know since then some other books by him are considered better but for me this is as near perfection as you can get digressive ,informative , challenging and truly unique .I recently caught the film of the book in a way after Sebald a Sort of homage of this book and what made it so great . What is your book ?

#bookaday 13 a funny book

I read this last week it is Nikesh second book ,his first was a fun book about growing up with a love of hip hop .In this his second he turns his eye on the internet tweeting blogging and how it can lead you up unexpected paths .A cutting tale of one mans journey after his relationship broke down finding his doppelgänger and how meeting this guy lead into a world of chaos .

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June 2014


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