Woman of the dead by Bernhard Aichner

Woman of the dead by Bernhard Aichner

Austrian fiction

Original title Totenfrau

Translator – Anthea Bell

Source – library

Just remember that death is not the end
For the tree of life is growing
Where the spirit never dies
And the bright light of salvation
Up in dark and empty skies
When the cities are on fire
With the burning flesh of men
Just remember that death is not the end
When you search in vain to find
Some law-abiding citizen
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end

I choose the end of death is not the end a Dylan song Mark’s death was not the end of this story .

I tossed and turned where to start my german lit month reviews and I choose this as I don’t really read a lot of thrillers so when I read one and enjoy it, I feel it must be a good book also it was translated by one of the greatest living German translators Anthea Bell. Bernhard Aichner started out as a photographer working for an Austrian paper and at the same time in his spare time starting to write short stories.He has written a number of novels this is the first of two books in this series and was published in 2014 where it was a bestseller both in his native Austria and German.

Eight years ago, they touched each other for the first time. He put his arms around her on the boat. He was wonderful man, right from the very first moment when he was there, taking care of her. Mark waited with her until the coastguard arrived, until she had answered hundreds of questions. He simply stayed by her side. Talking to the police officers on the case

Blum meet mark after her own incident eight years earlier .

This is the story of Blum she is a woman that at very start of the book has it all Marriage , children, yes she has a dark humor and rides a bike but on the surface everything seems ok. But then her lover Mark a policeman is killed in a hit and run . This starts a chain reaaction that sets her on a course to get revenge on the men that killed her lover .Blum isn’t what she first seems no she has a very dark past that this one event has unlocked so she starts out to get the five people she finds had wanted her lover Mark gone to find out what happened  and seek her own personnel revenge on them .

Blum looks around the room, at his computer, his files, and a thousand other things lying just as he left them twenty-two days ago when he rode off. Everything here is waiting for him to come back; objects that want to be touched, tools that want to be used .

Blum goes to marks work place after he is found dead .

Well it’s hard to not think kill bill when you read what I wrote about this book.It is even mention in the inside cover yes Blum is rather like the Bride or even Lisbeth whom  also mentioned . This book had a cinematic thriller pace to it, you get the fact the Aichner is a photographer in the way he writes his scenes they a clean like the way a great photograph works looking simple and telling you all that is possible with in a small space of one shot. Blum is the original revenge killer a woman wioth her own hidden past that takes a death to relight. I liked the die  welt description of her taking these five rotten apples and squashing them under her feet , yes she is pruning the world and  like with a flower when they are rotting you have to dead head them.As I said I am not a huge Crime thriller reader so when I find one I like I note the writer down Bernhard Aichner is a writer I will be trying again .

Have you a favourite German crime/thriller writer ?

The confines of the shadow by Alessandro Spina

'The Confines of the Shadow' Cover by Luke Pajak

The confines of the shadow vol 1  by Alessandro Spina

Syrian fiction

Original title I confini dell’ombra

Translator -Andre Naffis-Sahely

Source – review copy

“Interzone”

I walked through the city limits,
Someone talked me in to do it,
Attracted by some force within it,
Had to close my eyes to get close to it,
Around a corner where a prophet lay,
Saw the place where she’d a room to stay,
A wire fence where the children played.
Saw the bed where the body lay,
And I was looking for a friend of mine.
And I had no time to waste.
Yeah, looking for some friends of mine.
I choose interzone as it was inspired by Burroughs book set in North Africa of the same title .

This is another book from the new translator Darf . This is the first in what is a three volume collection that brings together the eleven novels and short story collection that he wrote 70’s and 80’s to great acclaim from fellow writers in Italian such as Alberto Moravia and on the cover a great quote from Claudio Magris (an italian writer I really enjoy reading ) .Alessandro Spina was the non de plume of Basili Shafik Khouzam a writer of Syrian origin that was educated in Italy and settled running his fathers factories in Libya for 25 years til Gaddafi took over he factories when he retired to Italy .He died two years ago but saw the collected volume of this book win The Bagutta prize one of Italy’s biggest prizes .

He asked to be shown the merchandise , and despite knowing its inferior quality he praised it, became he knew he would be able to sell it. The was had paralysed commerce and depleted stockpiles.Hajji Semereth said he was prepared to purchase part of the cargo, but he wanted a discount .Trade as the market was slow that day and that first del might expedite the sale of the rest. Hajji Semereth paid in cash

The young maronite tries to sell his cargo on arrival in the city .

The first three section in this book follow Libya from just before the outbreak of World war one to the late 1920’s from The book opens young Syrian Maronite lie about some cargo arriving in Libya .This starting the story of immigrants in Libya from The arab world and also europe so what we see is the melting pot of North africa and Libya in particular .Then we see an Italian captain in the city Benghazi as the city slowly grows over this book but eventually into the second city of Libya . The book follows the end of 1911 war as we see people follow to the area in search of chances to make their way in the world this is the first two-parts in the book and the last follows the final ending of Libyan resistance after twenty years of fighting .

Captain Martello evoked empires and diverse influences that had dominated the country, conquests that belonged to the ancient past – Egyptians , the Greeks, the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantines – with the intnet of forcing that young man to stay silent,in order to impress him so that, having overcome his diffidence .

The captain shows how many people over the years had been in Libya really .

This is one of those books that is a portrait of a place the place in Benghazi , which the writer lived himself for most of his life running his fathers factory , the story really starts with the story of some one like his father a Maronite from Syria arrive to start a factory in the town, just as the 1911 war end and we see this then the Italians ruling the area and the fact that the locals finally lay down their arms . I was drawn into this book I can see why it was such a huge hit when published finally as a whole it is the start of a journey through this place through the eyes of the local Spina has been called either the Italian Joseph Conrad or the 20th century Balzac, but to me this is one of those epic works that is written by a true one-off writer like Musil , Proust and yes Balzac Zola and those great realist writers of French literature but this is also a book from a writer of Arabic origin so it has a little of Arabian nights to it and can go off a small journeys of the mind .So it is hard to pigeon hole him just to say he may be one of the hidden gems of this year for me .

 

 

Weekend reading from a Mountain to the turtle in the tree

20151030_144950Well not going to finish these this weekend as I have just started both these epic books.Leg over leg is 400 pages plus another 100 of notes and a very large forward to read once I’ve read the book , the book follows the alter ego of the writer as we see him learning in his native Lebanon then further afield , this book opens with an eye-opening few passages around female and male sex organs the shapes and sizes of each, very unexpected opening bit even after thirty pages this morning before work I get a real sense of the writers playful use of language and imagery. Then well I maybe should be reading something at the lighter end of the reading rainbow of books I like to read but no I chosen Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann as we see the world on the brink of world war one as Hans Castrop heads to the swiss alps and a sanatorium, as he tries to find himself and the world around him but also the cracks that lead to world war one a ringing of a new guard in the German-speaking world that would lead them into war. I will probably be on these two for most november as I splatter a few shorter books in the mix . The Mann also crosses two boxes a German lit month novel but also for the 1924 club but rather late on as I think I won’t finish it till middle of November but I want to add a translation to this event. I am nearly all read for German lit month a bit disappoint few of the library books I had found haven’t appear so must be lost in the libraries it has happened before I have managed to read 11 books already for German lit month and hope to finish magic mountain and a couple of others before December .

How is your weekend reading shaping up ?

Memory at bay by Évelyne Trouillot

 

Memory at bay by Évelyne Trouillot

Haitian fiction

Original title – La mémoire aux abois

Translator – Paul Curtis Daw

Source – review copy

Mwen tap rainmin konnin, date and jou ‘map mouri … Yeah! Wyclef Jean misie Refugee, Muzion If you had 24 hours to live, and you knew you were going to die what would you do? [Wyclef:] Yo, if I had left it just 24 hours to live I would go see my mother to tell her she me well high, her son, she can be proud Let me addresses thief, murderer She not loose, for that, I ‘ will kiss A kiss on the forehead and then in the street I’m returned two hours and a half, I called Jerry Duplessis J’dit to come get me, m’deposer Among my Mam’selle in her dress is so niceShe said ‘Wyclef, will eat at TapTap.’ ‘I said j’pas can because tomorrow j’serai not! J’viens only thank you from the bottom of heart Because with everything I did you would spend the m’quitter you, go elsewhere You’re a beautiful woman, no need to cry when I’m gonna go, you can t’remarier Mwen tap rainmin konnin, date and jou ‘map mouri … [Chorus:] And if you had 24 hours to live Would you sing? Would you dance? Would you cry? Or said: oh no I wanna leave me or said oh no I wanna go away! Imposs!

This is a translation of 24 heures a Vivre ,24 hours to live from a ep wyclef Jean did for Haiti he ran for president himself in 2010 .I connect the line I would see my mother as this is what the daughter in this book can’t do.

 

I was contacted by Paul the translator of this book as he had seen on the blog, I had reviewed two other books from Haiti and would I like to review this one. Evelyne Trouillot is a member of a literary family, her uncle was a historian and her brother Lyonel is a well-known novelist and her other brother is a leading Creole scholar. This book won the Prix Carbet a prize award to new voices and books from the Caribbean.

I head home with the smell of the old woman’s wthered flesh on my fingers. The vision of her form sprawled limply on the bed like a nameless doll accompanies me through the streets of Paris, Why had they added that room to my list ?

“whatever you do, mademoiselle, don’t reveal he name no one should know who she is. Besides we have no official confirmation. I thought you were only a child when you left your country

She is given the woman to look after thinking she wouldn’t remember her own past having left as a child!!

Memory at bay is both the story of two woman one an elderly widow, the former wife of the dictator who ran Haiti for the middle part of the 20th century Papa Doc a name that rings of blood and death. She is lying in a hospital bed dying as she does reliving her life. She is being watched over by a young nurse who escaped from Haiti to France and became a nurse, but along the way she lost her own mother to the regime of the woman she is looking after. As the book unfolds, we see both woman’s story told as we see both sides of this brutal regime. As the brutal years of the Papa doc reign are seen from the wife of the leader and the everybody in the form of  a mother and daughter who have to live under the regime.The daughter escapes and becomes the nurse but before she loses her mother she meets the old woman and a young woman and wife of the leader.

On my return to France, while I struggled to recover from my fatigue, the disturbing dreams began their nightly visitations. Soon afterward, as if to give substance to the macabre atomsphere that surrounded me, I first enter that woman’s room and encountered a face that was so recognizable, despite the ravages inflicted by exile and old age. That face today epitomizes for me all the horrors od a regime that left its grim mark on my native country

She met her as a schoolgirl and even now knows the faces of the old lady even thou she is losing her mind.

This is a book about what is memory, What is history as we see two sides of the same time told. Can we forgive those who do us harm ? What happens when we have to care for those who may have been connected to those that do use harm this young woman has all this on her mind as she cares for the older dying woman at times she wants to kill her. This is a powerful look at Haiti’s past, I remember the downfall of his sons regime baby doc when I was younger and the telling at that time of the brutal nature of his fathers regime. Evelyne has strung together two main characters and narraf=tives that bring both the overview of what happened but also the inner workings of day to day life.

Another man’s city by Ch’oe In-Ho

Another man’s city by Ch’oe In-ho

Korean fiction

Original title -Nat Igun t’aindul ui tosi

Translators – Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton

Source – review copy

“City Sickness”

I’m crawling, don’t know where to or from
The centre of things from where everything stems
Is not where I belong
And the city sickness, growing inside me
So this is where I ran for freedom
Where I may not be free

[Chorus:]
I have these hands beating with love for you
And you’re not here to touch
Sent you away, what else can I do
When I need something that much?
I’m hurting babe, in the city there’s no place for love
It’s just used to make people feel better

I choose the Tinderstick as the mood of this song fitted the book .

Born in Seoul He studied english at university, when he left he started writing publishing his first story in 1967 .Which won a prize, he won a bigger prize with his book Deep blue night. He died two years ago and was remembered a year late when his hand prints were put on a street where he used to drink a lot .I was sent the third set of  library of Korean Literature books the 11- 15 in the series. I read a Pavane for a dead princess and wasn’t bowled over by it I felt it was maybe to Korean for me.But then earlier this year Tony reviewed this book and it made me pick it up .

7a.m.

(POWER ON)

What the hell? K groped the fuzzy boundary between sleep and wakefulness for an answer – what had awakened him?

His alarm clock. The strident ring a desperate cry letting the world know of its existence. Again the shrill clamor.

Dammit! K didn’t like being woken up. He fumbled at the nightstand found the alarm click, silenced .

He wasn’t fully awake. But he was conscious enough to splice the snapped filmstrip of his interrupted sleep, and he closed his eyes

The opening and a dazed K wakes up , I love that line” snapped filmstrip of his interupted sleep “

Another man’s city should really be subtitled Kafka does Korea . We find K a man who likes a drink that seems to get swallowed into a nightmare version of his hometown Seoul .So over the course of the weekend he has lost a period of time .We follow him as he tries to find what happened in this time. But is this real of a VR world one is never sure if this is the case. It is a shifting world he is in maybe electronic or maybe as he sobers up.

Well thought K, there was that one and half hour gap in the filmstrip of his memory, but he couldn’t recall anything that might have caused a concussion. He hadn’t noticed any marks on his head, no evidence of bleeding, no signs of trauma, no headache .

What happend in the missing reel of his life film,  so to speak ?

I over time have found writers ripple through time and place, the great writers  we all know and love have had a knock effect where it is Kafka who has influenced this writer. This is one of a number of books over the years I have reviewed that have been influenced by Kafka from the obvious books like Claudel’s The investigation through books like Muller’s The appointment. Here Kafka raises his head from the main characters name K to being trapped in a world. I was also reminded of fims like the matrix where the world around the lead character is a shifting one.Then there is the other side of the book the fact K is a drinking from what I can gather the writer himself was a bit of a drinker so may have also experienced lost time which many of us did in our youth but not 99 mins like here alsommaybe in a strange way Withnail and I where the time in the weekend away the spend stretches and shrinks as the weekend goes along .An interesting take on being trapped in a world and not knowing fully where it is .I view this as more a comment on the speed and way of the modern world where every minute is noted these days so losing a chunk of time is unknown now.

Have you read any of the Library of Korean Literature series ?

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