African Returns and Exits

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A new arrival this morning tied up nicely with another book from earlier this year . The arrival was The lights of Pointe-Noire the memoir of Alain Mabanckou return to his home town in Congo after nearly twenty years away .I have reviewed three of his novels and have another on my kindle to read so it is fair to say this is one I will be reading soon .But as Alain returns to his homeland I was reminded by another arrival yesterday .Of a journey to europe from Africa in Swedish

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The latest edition of Swedish book review reminded me of the great books from Sweden I have been sent this year already but not review Johannes Anyuru book follows a father a son as the father left Uganda to seek a new life in europe and his son now in Sweden is living in Europe and ,making his way .The wandering pine is Per Olov enquist fictional account of his writing life and the pitfalls and dramas he has had along the way . The Hellios disater is a story from the Swedish wife of Karl Ove Knausgaard Linda Bostrom Knausgaard .Then there is the story of Alan Turing told in the novel the fall of man in Wimslow by David lagercrantz whom has been chosen to continue the Millenium series of Steig Larsson by writing book four which is due out later this summer .

The salmon who dared to leap higher by Ahn Do-Hyun

The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher

The salmon who dared to leap higher by Ahn Do-Hyun

Korean Fiction

Original title – 연어 이야기 (연어 그 두 번째 이야기)

Translator – Deborah Smith

Source – Review copy

 

 

“War Of Man”

The little creatures
run in from the cold
Back to the nest
just like the days of old
There in the safety
of a mother’s arms
The warmth of ages,
far away from harm again.

Ears ringin’
from the battle fire
The tired warrior
aims a little higher
The black falcon
or the little sparrow
The healing light
or the flash of the barrel.

I choose a song from Neil young his war of man ,which has an eco message behind it .

When this book dropped through the letter box the other week , I nearly put it too one side till I saw it was translated by Deborah , whom I have spoken with on twitter and had a brief chat with at LBF and did talk about this book as i finished it a few days before  .Although the cover was appealing as well . Ahn Do-Hyn has won numerous prizes in Korea including the so-wol poetry prize which is one of the best known poetry prizes in Korea .He studied Korean literature and this is his first book to be translated into English .

Silver salmon had managed to avoid becoming a meal for the fierce eagle .

And yet , something strange – rather than the giddy relief of having cheated death , he feels a pang of sadness at having escaped unharmed . Because the salmon who had been caught – the one who’d swum by his side ever since they left their home river ,

Silver salmon escapes the clutches of a fish eagle .

This book is part of a series of novels that are marketed in Korea as Adult fables (thanks to Deborah for that ) .The salmon who dared to leap higher is the story of one salmon’s journey  the silver salmon  as we follow them from the sea up the river he came from .The journey is a perilous one that sees many of the salmon’s swimming along side . We are told little stories of the companions along side  . The fish have to avoid eagles and bears as they try to get to the river head . Of course the book is more a fable of modern life in Korea and the river maybe is the everyday journey in life of Koreans they are maybe the salmon’s trying to reach the river head and mate have children etc .But also the world around them and the human world .

Bag-of-bones salmon was also in possessions of exceptional memory . His mind was like an enormous storehouse where all manner of facts are filed and preserved .Circling over the riverbed ,he mutters to himself , “Yes , the rapids have increased in height by 35 centimetres since we leapt down over them ”

The salmon remember the world through a sort of collective passing of tales almost their own fables .

I read this in one sitting , which for me is the sign of a book of  120 pages I have actually really enjoyed . This is a fun fable , I initially compared it in my head to Jonathan Livingstone seagull and yes the salmon of the story journey through its life is similar too Jonathan’s journey . But for me this is maybe more based in Korean culture , I was reminded of one of the other books I read from Korea on the Blog please look after mother and maybe this is the same story in a fable manner the salmon as a whole are trying to reach a point but some get eaten and some just can’t make the journey and this is maybe mirroring modern Korea where the country has jumped so quickly in the last fifty years since the end of the korean war .But also serves as a remind of the natural world around them .I feel Deborah did a great job of what must be a poetic book in the original Korean a lyrical feel to the story in english .I must admit I do love the cover art as well and the book has some great illustrations through the book capture the novella well .

Have you a favourite fable ?

What book in translation would I give away ? Thomas Bernhard welcome to second Thomas bernhard reading week in July

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Well I’ve been struggling finding time to blog or even get in a routine for my blogging of late .But I feel a project and a goal of trying to get my revie pile in order or less by then ,will help this and what better than on World book day to launch a second Thomas Bernhard reading week for the first week august this year it is two years since I did the first Thomas Bernhard reading week and with the books still available in paperback and Kindle both faber Finds and Vintage reissues . Of course there is the much lauded Bernhard letters with his publisher Siegfrieed Unseld to be published in English . I am tempt to improve my german just for the 22 voll collection of his works from his German publisher . I have a number of post here about him  including five books under review and a piece from Andrej Nikoladis about his love of Bernhard .I will sort a new badge for the reading week as I’m trying to do a similar one , but for today I will use the warhol inspired one of two years ago .Which book in translation would you hive away inspired to run a second Thomas Bernhard week for me it would be his Woodcutters .I feel this one would be the best introduction to his work .

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My day at London Book Fair

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Now this is London book fair , well part of it . I was lucky to get an invite to come and spend the day from Susan at Istros books at The Croatian writers stand .I got there just in time for the opening of the stand by the Croatian ambassador .

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Where he mention the events over the next few days and the wonderful list that Peter Elborn and the British Croatian society which featured all the books from Croatia translated to English although a few more have appeared since it is a wonderful list one I will be using to find a few books to read .Now the first event at the stand was a reading from the Bulgarian writer Alek Popov , who’s first book Istros published Mission London my review of this book.

20150414_120755He was reading from his second novel to be translated into English Black Box a dual story of one man in New york a Bulgarian abroad and a man returning to Bulgaria to find a man named Kurtz (Yes a connection to Heart of darkness /Apocalypse now ) . His new book is to be published by Peter Owen  , I will have a review soonish as I managed to get a copy from them  .At this point I decide to wander the fair although having made the unwose decison on new shoes for the day hop round the fair would be a better . I took chance to say hello to some people I know via twitter .Catherine Taylor from English Pen , Victor from Haus publishing , he told me about a great book they are due to publish this year about Thomas Mann and the decision he made in 1936 to writer a letter about the Nazi Regime and send it to a paper in Germany .I also had a nice long chat with Alan the blogger from Words of mercury . I also finally meet Malcolm from Oxygen books that publish the city lit series of books but is also doing a project for the arts council in the south-east promoting books in translation .I eventually got back to the Croatian writer stand before the next event .

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The next event was the launch of Farewell cowboy by Olja Savičević , this was the first of two launchs of the book here and in the evening at the embassy .Olja read from here book in Croatian then the passages she had read were read in English by the translator Celia Hawkesworth .The book follows a sister returning to find out more about her brother’s death . I have read the book twice and will be reviewing soon. I managed later in the day to grab Olja and have a short chat with her about the book .

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Then after the reading we had two types of traditional Croat Spirits Rakija one is made from Honey Medica and the other from Mistletoe Biska .Then we all departed to the evening reception and launch for the book at the Croatian embassy , so as I said to my wife I was in Croatia ,which did worry her that I had run off til I explained i was still in London .

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So The ambassador Dr Ivan Grdešić, introduced Olja and Celia again and we had another reading and then some wine and Fig cake to celebrate the books launch .Then Olja, Celia and Susan from istros books were all filmed by the Croatian News team as they were going to be on last nights news in Croatia . I was amazed that writers still make the news and arts is still held in such high regards to be newsworthy in Croatia . It was a double celebration for the ambassador his son-in-law had won this years European union literature prize that day 

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Thanks to Susan from Istros for the day and all the lovely Croatian writer union and publishers I meet on tuesday

Hello London , Bok london LBF here I come

I write this as I am waiting for my taxi to take me to station to get a train to bring me into London around 10 this morning . I have luckily been given the chance to go to the London book fair and meet the  writer Olja Savičević at the launch of her first book in English Farewell cowboy at the Croatian writer union stand and the publisher Istros books .I’m excited as this is the place a lot of translation deals are made so I hope to see if only at a distance how this works . Mexico is the country of note this year .I have 9 Novels from Mexico under review at winstonsdad . I may do a few short blogs today if I get chance to give the atmosphere of London book fair .

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