International Translation Day – state of the translation nation


Now the picture above is Saint Jerome one of the first people to translate the bible and has since become the patron saint of Translation ,well this year seems a great time to do a state of the nation type piece from my view (as thou anyone is listening I imagine but ) ,well as I recently passed the 100 books in translation read for the year ,I get sent books in translation and in the five years of this blog ,yes things are changing but it is rather like turbo in the film its a snail’s pace ,what we want is a nitrous oxide injection .Now I was struck by Katy Derbyshires piece on a female prize in translation being need , I agree,  but I may also add it isn’t the only prize that is really need ,we have a lack of book prize in translation and also a lack of coverage of prizes in translation in the press .I’m not sure which is the chicken or which is the egg to change this situation ? more prizes more coverage would seem to be something to me , also publishers then able to sticker mention prizes and in that way attract the general buying public to books in translation .I have been talking slowly to Susan from Istros about sorting a European book prize of some sort a sort of european booker ,early days and it is slow mainly as I am very nervous about this both through excitment about this but also scared of messing it up as I am actually just a care worker ,who loves books in translation .But I feel my passion is the best part I bring to this any way Susan mentioned it in the post she did for me last year  .I want a prize not just for uk publishers as one of the main things I have seen in the time I’ve been blogging is publishers outside the uk coming to the uk market ,with spanish ,czech publishers and in the future a Dutch publisher doing this I see this as a trend indviduals or big publishers just bypassing the uk / us publishers and translating books at the source .I would also love in the ebook market maybe more out of print books in translation being made available ,I’m not sure how many of you have tried to find some great books that are out of print secondhand some of these books cost a lot in fact the first two Murakami books due for new translation are perfect examples the hear the wind sing is available at £80 secondhand (bargain not ) one of the great things about ebooks is the fact the cost is very little to bring these books back ,I know there are rights problems that need to be sorted ,but someone should try and get on this as for me it seems a small but possibly valuable corner of the market that isn’t being fully used yet .So in year one to five  of winstonsdad – books in translation doing well but could do more (god it sounds like every single one of my school reports lol ), needs more prizes ,more media coverage and maybe a way to get the every day reading  public keener and less scared of books in translation .So back next year for year 6 of books in translation ! . Image via Wiki

What are your thoughts on recent years in translation ?

Indigo by Clemens J. Setz

Indigo by Clemens J. Setz 

Austrian fiction 

Original title – Indigo

Translator – Ross Benjamin

Source – review copy


Just like watching the detectives.
Don’t get cute!”
It’s just like watching the detectives.
I get so angry when the teardrops start,
but he can’t be wounded ’cause he’s got no heart.
Watching the detectives.
It’s just like watching the detective

We not only watch the detectives but join them in this book ?

I have been vaguely aware of Clemens J Setz ,I had seen his name on a few German book prize list over the last few years , so when this book arrived from Serpents tail I was delighted to be able to try what seems to be one of the rising stars of German literature .Studied at Graz ,after university ,he went on and became a translator ,then a writer and poet ,his second novel the frequencies was on the German book prize shortlist (the German version of the booker prize ) ,he has also won Leipzig book fair prize .Indigo is his third novel and his first to be translated into English .This novel was also on the german book prize shortlist .A quick taster for German Lit month .

The wonderful inner peace , the first in a long while ,dissipated immediately when he stepped out of the building .Twenty-nine years on the planet and in all that time probably four hours altogether of perfect peace .During the years at Helianau it had been no more than three minutes ,Not counting sleep

Robert tatzel just as he is set free into the world ,free from Indigo .

Indigo ,is a book with two main characters A maths teacher named Clemens Setz and one of his former pupils Robert Tatzel .The title refers to a kid that in 2007 appears in children that affects any adults that get near them with severe headaches ,nausea and vertigo .Clemens is teaching at the time when the children in his class that catch this Indigo condition.Clemens tries to discover what has happened to his pupils ,but is meet with brick walls and the loss his jobs  .They are driven of in a strange type of mask .Then a number of years later one of these pupils Robert tatzel who with age has grown out of the Indigo condition is reading a paper when he discovers that his former teacher Clemen Setz had been on trial and acquitted for a brutal murder .

Acquitted in a trial for the violent death of a man from Romania .Kept his dogs in a dungeon for years . severe abuse .Death by slow flaying .Prime suspect Setz free as of today .The family of the victim , a small picture .people standing there sadly .In recent years mainly a science fiction novels ,a turn away from literature .Currently living as a freelance writer near .

captions from picture Robert finds about his old teacher .

Now that is the basic story ,but this book is a wonderful German take on Post modern fiction , that through these two stories we almost join these two men as they try to discover what has happen in both case ,why were the children taken ? what cause the Indigo ? Why did Clemens Setz end up in a trial for murder .We meet a mix of files, letters, book reviews , news  stories , clippings and pictures  as the two men try to discover fifteen years apart what happen to the other ,almost like a snake trying to eat its own tail it coils and coils ,making this one of those books that is hard to pin down .It’s a real journey through it ,I was reminded at the times  of  writers  like Pynchon or even Perec  both of whom like Setz here tried detective fiction of one sort or another in their time . There is an inventive hand in Setz writing with all the documents letters etc add a dimension that I haven’t seen done as well recently Strene did it first and Dos Passos did it in his books ,even BS Johnson in some ways but Setz for me made this feel like I was detective alongside them ,I ‘m sure each reader like me has their own take on what happened and why because we can all read into what we see from our own lives ,this make this unusual and unique book and new voice in German lit .


Chronicle of a death foretold by Gabriel Garcia marquez

Chronicle of a death foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Columbian fiction

Original title Crónica de una muerte anunciada

translator – Gregory Rabassa

source – personnel copy


When you’re sad and when you’re lonely
And you haven’t got a friend
Just remember that death is not the end

And all that you held sacred
Falls down and does not mend
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end

When you’re standing on the crossroads
That you cannot comprehend
Just remember that death is not the end

Nick cave version of death is not the end rather apt as death is not the end or the beginning of this book .

Well this is the last but one  of  the Marquez books I read back in July for marquez reading week .I choose this book for the week as it out of all of Marquez’s works of fiction , because it seemed to mix both his fiction and his journalistic style of writing as it recounts a murder in Small town of Santiago Nasar  .

Nor did Santiago nasar recognize the omen .He had sleep little and poorly , without getting undressed,and he woke up with a headache and a sediment of copper stirrup on his palate ,and he interpeted them as the natural havoc of wedding revels that had gone on until after midnight .

The morning after and in a way the morning before so to speak .


The chronicle of a death foretold as I said above is different in some ways to his other fiction as it is told in a more formal journalistic style of writing ,the story is of the killing of Santiago nasar , whom runs a successful ranch ,which he had inheirted father and still lives there with his mother and their servants ,we meet him on the day his is going to die .On this day as well a wedding is taking place the wedding of Angela Vicario ,she is due to marry a man who has come to find a bride ,find a virgin bride indeed ,so when after the wedding hew finds his new bride has already been with a man ,she is returned to her family and her brothers try to find out how has been with their sister …. Any way Angela who wasn’t in love with the man she was due marry at the time but had fallen for him during that day ,she wrote to the man Bayardo san Roman everyday for the following seventeen years at which point he returns with all these letters but he hasn’t ever open one ,of course in true Marquez style the book ends with the actual killing .Meanwhile her two brothers have had to leave town .

Bayardo San roman , the man who had given back his bride , had come for the first time in August of the year before : six months before the wedding .He arrived on the weekly boat with some saddlebags decorated with silver that matched the buckle of his belt and the rings of his boots .He was was around thrity years old

Bayardo arrived looking for a bride .


Well I said that this wasn’t like his other books when I choose it but actually after I had read it I  found many traits in this story that we have seen in his other books , families and honour are a recurring theme in his books from 100 years of solitude onwards .Lost love and longing for a former lover well enough said I think this has been in most of Marquez;s fiction Angela’s longing is maybe different as it is a women longing a man where as in most of the other books it is a man longing for the women .Then there is part of this book that harks to his other career as a journalist in the way the killing is recounted ,it has a crime report feel at times to it .Then we have the way the story is told in a non linear style that i have encountered in other books by Marquez where the story is a Rubik’s cube you don’t fully see the story till you make the last move the same is true of this book you don’t fully get this till the last pages .

have you read this Marquez ?

Song for sunday

Well rather late this week but this week I have been listening to mainly the last Sun kill Moon album ,I have been a fan of Mark Kozelek work since his early days in red house painters .But this last album to me seems his most his most personnel to date ,the title Benji is from a series of films in the seventies through to the eighties ,I remember the films .The lyrics on the most part are about his parents and very heartfelt ,i read in an interview he wrote this as at 47 its hard to write about things he did when he was 21 .I was very touched by the song I have chosen “I can’t live without my mothers love ”

have you heard of Sun Kill Moon or Red house painters .

Change is good but also refocusing is better for me reading wise


I’ve noticed a couple post by bloggers i love in recent days about changing reading habits ,I think we have all written similar posts if we have been blogging for any length of time ,one of the problems with blogging is getting drawn into the new  and shiny  also hype but be honest i never go for hype why be a sheep that is the last thing i would ever want to be follow the flock in reading .but that said I am a as bad as everyone ,who doesn’t love new books ,I know I do. But from time to time we need to think about the older or even out of print books  ,I have always reviewed a few older books over the course of the blog and will carry on doing this I feel I have a fairly good mix and will be trying to add a few more  older books .I feel for me the real problem is focusa and  making clear the focus of the blog for me now it is just  fiction or non fiction in translation nothing else book wise of course i still want to do pieces about me and my life and loves but for the books its just translation from now on !!!,I’ve updated my about me page into about me and review policy explaining that from now on I will only be accepting books in translation for review  but also trying to get further content about translation, translation and publishing books in translation ,I still get a number of books sent that aren’t translation most of (in truth none )which don’t appeal to me ,which is a shame so i change the page to make this clear to people out there in the future .I agree the balance of reading blogging etc is hard but I have made efforts myself this last few months to sort this ,using my wordpress app for most of my comments now during the day its fast and can be done in a spare few minutes throughout the day ,the chromebook saves me ten minutes in boot up times I think so i can use my laptop before work on my early start ever so often .So as slowly I am getting near to the 1000th post on winstonsdad ,I feel like it is a new start I have done part one of the journey ,now i need to carry on and try and find part two not sure what that is but I feel there is another level to which I can get to at some point blogging wise .

Judges Andrea by Camilleri , Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo de Cataldo


Judges by Andrea Camilleri ,Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo de Cataldo

Italian novella  collection

Original tile Giudici

translators –

Camerlli – Joesph Farrell

Lucarelli – Alan Thawley

Cataldo – Eileen Horne

Source – review copy

The judge turned around the room .At one table four men were seated,one with a beret and two with hats .A stocky fifty-year-old man ,with fair skin and reddish hair , rose to his feet , removed his hat and said “accept it as a gesture of welcome ”

Judge Surra has just arrive and is greeted by some gifts from Don Nene Lonero


This is the second collection of novellas from Italy Maclehose press has brought out the first was Outsiders ,this is called judges and is the first I have reviewed ,I have read two of the writers in the collection before Andrea Camilleri and Carlo lucarelli .The third writer in this collection  sounds like an intersting writer as he was a former Italian Magistrate ,turned writer and screenwriter ,he is also a judge on the Italian tv show masterpiece ,which is like an X factor for writers .

While Ferro was fifty-six but looked older ,the Bambina was thirty but looked younger .He knew how old she was because she had told him as soon as she got into the car – “Wish me many happy returns ,today’s my birthday .Born in 1950 ,I’m an old woman now !”

La Bambina looks so young to the older judges

Judges are three novellas ,each about a different Judge in Italy ,also at different times .Camilleri story Judge Surra ,  we meet a Judge Surra ,a Sicilian based judge that has just moved to a small town ,he is greeted by a collection of strange welcoming gifts ,he has travelled from the north of Italy just after Italy became Italy ,the gifts are from the brotherhood (the Mafia before it was the Mafia !) ,but unperturbed he takes them on his first trial in Scilly,oh and of course there is some food involved in this book it is Camilleri  .Lucarelli’s story La Bambina ,which  follows a young female judge ,who due to getting caught in the  complex crimeworld  of  Bologna and the violence involved in this world  ,gets caught up in the violence and has to go into hiding with a bodyguard .The last story by Cataldo  The triple dream of the prosecutor ,follows the battle with a Judge well prosecutor  mandati and the mayor of Novere ,whom for years have been at one another ,but when the Mayor suddenly starts becoming the target for a killer ,is some one trying to kill the mayor or are the judges dream starting to come true !


Even better , a triple dream .It was March 18 .And as the headline of the Novere echo said ,The may Berazzi-pedrico is preparing to fight his umpteenth battle with the prosecutor Mandati .

dreams are actually instructive .Because not even in dreams can you get away from the law .

I choose this quote from the end of the triple dream of the prosecutor because march 18th is one of my favourite days .

This collection brings together the cream of Italian crime writers ,each adding a novella related to being a judge in Italy from the very first days of Italy and even then tackling the earliest beginnings  of the mafia ,to the torrid and violent days of the late 1970’s and 80’s in Italy ,a time I vaguely remember seeing in the news as a young boy as we saw criminals in plastic cages or actual cages to protect the judges and the criminals .Then to the age-old struggle between the Judge and the authorities between power and money .This collection is prefect as a taster of Italian crime fiction or if like me you are a fan it is a great way to find one new writer Cataldo is a new name to me and after this I will be reading one of his full length novels .

Have you  a favourite Italian crime writers !

German lit month here again …

Well it’s that time of year when I start keeping my eye out and looking through the recent buys from the last twelve months to find some books for Lizzie’s and Caroline’s  German lit month ,well after it was announced earlier this week my first trip was to the Library to see if they had any Joseph Roth week is the theme for the last week ,I have only read him once before and missed out on getting the recent Granta reissues  from the other year but luckily for me my library had a couple .

IMG_1944 (1)

So I have two great books to read for that week both sound great I had a different copy of job out of library a few years ago but never got chance to get to it so now is the chance ,I also fount this gem

IMG_1945 (1)

An old Gunter Grass novel Local Anaesthetic ,a story of an idealstic teacher ,another section of German lit month is to read a prize winner and Gunter won the Nobel prize in 1999 ,I also remember I have the box but need to get hold of the peeling the onion to read his memoir in order .

Well that is it for now I have a number of other books a couple of surprises among them ,have you any plans ?

The sermon on the fall of Rome by Jérôme Ferrari

The Sermon on the Fall of Rome

The sermon on the fall of Rome by Jérôme Ferrari

 French fiction 

Original title – Le Sermon sur la chute de Rome

Title – Geoffrey Strachan 

Source – review copy 

Sweltering Africa and languorous Asia,
A whole far-away world, absent, almost defunct,
Dwells in your depths, aromatic forest!
While other spirits glide on the wings of music,
Mine, O my love! floats upon your perfume.

I shall go there, where trees and men, full of vigor,
Are plunged in a deep swoon by the heat of the land;
Heady tresses be the billows that carry me away!
Ebony sea, you hold a dazzling dream
Of rigging, of rowers, of pennons and of masts:

I thought of this straight away baudelaire poetry and this one caught my eye .


I have reviewed the first book that Maclehose press published by Jérôme Ferrari Where I left my soul  and loved that book ,so when I was sent this book I was pleased and it was surprised that it was a very different style of book to Where I left my soul .Jérôme Ferrari studied at the Sorbonne ,he studied philosophy ,he has since taught in Algeria and at a High school in Corsica ,His first book translated  into English was set in Algeria and this his second to be translated is set in Corsica .The sermon on the fall of Rome won the Prix Goncourt the biggest prize in French literature .I feel the sign of a great writer is the ability to change the style of what you write and it still be great for me Ferrari has this .

In the middle of the night ,taking good care tom make no noise ,although there was nobody to hear her ,Hayet closed the door of the little flat she had lived in for eight years above the bar where she worked as a barmaid , and disappeared .Around ten o’clock in the morning the hunters came back from the drive .

One of the bar people who disappeared .

The book is a trio of stories really the first story the main story is that of a bar in the mountains of Corsica ,that is brought by two friends Mathieu and Liberio ,who have returned to the island disillusioned  with their life in Paris studying philosophy .The bar they buy with money from Mathieu grandfather Marcel ,the bar has very attractive barmaids and a collection of odd customers  and the local hunters .The story follows affairs and drinking too much and what effect that has which isn’t a great effect .The second story is that of Marcel the grandfather who loaned the money to the two boys to open the bar ,his story is one of the French empire he spent most of his life which we see in snippets throughout the book ,is the fall of French empire in Africa in particular .The Third part really isn’t a big part but gives the title to the book and that is the Augustine of HIppo the fourth century saint ,Ferrari has retold the sermon that Augustine told on the fall of Rome ,we can see a parallel on the fall and the fall of the french empire .

Augustine lies there dying in his own city to which for three months Genseric’s forces have been laying siege .Perhaps all taht had occurred in Rome in August 410 was shaking of one centre of gravity ,the setting in motion of a slight swing of a pendulum ,the thrust of which finally propelled the Vandals through Spain and across the sea,all the way to beneath the walls of hippo

From the last chapter a reworking of the sermon on the fall of Rome .

Well I love the way the book took a small place a bar and the people who visit it and used that as a wider question of what had happened in France and across the French empire ,then using the story of Marcel to illustrate this and delving even farther back to use Augustine of Hippo to connect the fall of the French empire to the fall of the Roman empire .The book has naturally been compared to Marquez’s works ,of course around the bar you are reminded of small village life we see in Marquez’s work but to me I was more remind of a more recent French novel I have read where the tigers are at home  another book that uses the past and the present to weave a tale on a wider scale .There is fluidness to Ferrari’s writing you never sense a jolt as you move from place to place and time to time each connect to from a wonderfully vivid take on the fall of empire ,but also on where France could head after this ,add to this affairs causing trouble between the two main characters ,thieving and the fact a lot of the past owners of the bar have vanished you see there is more to this than it first seems .

Have you read either of his books to be translated in too English ?(if not why not !!)

Fear and Trembling by Amelie Nothomb


Fear and trembling by Amelie Nothomb 

Belgian fiction 

Orginal title – Stupeur et tremblements

Translator – Adriana Hunter 

Source – Library

Loving you is driving me crazy
People say that you were born lazy
‘Cause you say that
Work Is A Four-Letter Word

So change your life
There is so much I know
That you can do
Come and see …

I choose one of my favourite song by The Smiths work is a four letter word as it caught in part this book .

I decide a month or two ago to start adding a few books by writers I have enjoyed in the time I have been blogging ,to add depth to blog and to the list of books read ,so I read Amelie Nothomb’s The character of rain  three years ago and had a time want to try more of this talent Belgian writer ,this book like the character of rain is another book set in Japan Amelie Nothomb ,lived in Japan and was born there  in Kobe .The title of this book is a reference to how the average citizen should have felt when greeting the Emperor of Japan .

Miss Mori was at least five feet ten , a height few japanese men achieved .She was ravishingly svelte and graceful despite the stiffness to which she, like all Japanese women , had to sacrifice herself .But what transfixed me was the splendor of her face .

She was talking to me ,The sound of her soft voice brimmed with intelligence .She was showing me some files , explaining what they contained , and smiling. I was dimly aware that I wasn’t listening to what she was saying .

Amelie as she says is transfixed by Miss Mori on their first meeting .

The story of this book is a fiction Amelie going to work for a large company in Japan the Yumimoto corporation ,she has managed to get a job for a year with them .initially it is great she loves the way she is greeted by the people in the company ,but then she is put under the perfect Miss Mori .This is the point that things start to go wrong for the young Amelie ,because she just cannot do anything right ,she has hit the brick wall of Japanese etiquette and the way things are done .She eventually she her self doing less and ,less as every task she is given she seems to fail at in the eyes of the task perfect Miss Mori ,Amelie is also strangely attracted to Miss Mori and the way she is .Amelie ends up with one job sorting the toilets on the 13th floor of the building a toilet that just she and Miss Mori use ,even this she isn’t very good at in the eyes of Miss Mori .

I SPOKE RARELY in my new post , not because it wasn’t forbidden but because an unwritten rule stopped me .When your job is as dreary as mine was the only way of preserving your honour is by remaining silent .

Amelie on her last job the bathroom attendant .

What i loved about this wonderfully short novel is the humour that is there from the clash of cultures ,the western ideas of Amelie cut no way with Miss Mori .Miss Mori leaps of the page as a perfect example of a women in business in Japan she has to be better than the men beside her and above her this is what drives her perfection and in some ways the way she treats Amelie .Miss Mori has her own problems she is turning thirty in the new year and this is traditionally the time a women in Japan is expected to be married .Like character of rain Amelie Nothomb has a great way of casting an outsiders eye on Japan without turning it into a joke and a freak show that so many times happens when we view how Japan works .I felt Miss Mori could have been one of the figures of love from a Murakami novel ,she is just so perfect or tries to be .Amelie at one point imagines her and Miss Mori’s position as similar to that of David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto in the film Merry christmas Mr Lawrence .

Amelie -san



I added this as it is the last lines a letter Amelie received just after her first novel came out from Miss Mori .

Have you a favourite book by a Belgian writer ?

Song for sunday Ryan Ryan

I remember when I first heard Ryan singin it was with his first band Whiskeytown ,an alternative country band .The band had a small amoun of success with there three albums ,before Ryan Adams became a solo artist or with his solo band The cardinals ,his solo stuff moved into a  rockier sound than his early stuff with Whiskeytown he has since gone on to release 14 solo albums his latest has just come out his first in four years .I chosen an early song from his second solo album gold which is push comes to shove my favourite solo record by him .

Have you a favourite song by Ryan

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September 2014


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