Booker night, damm I’ve not read any

 

Tonight sees the booker winner announced and like last year I have not read a single book from the shortlist .I last read the full shortlist in 2009 in the early days of this blog. But my tastes have shift or have they ? I watched the artsnight show presented by Ben Okri about this years shortlist and by the end of the show went damm Stu what you doing . THis years list maybe is the one that I should have tried . I have read Anne Tyler and Tom McCarthy  before and connected with both Tyler writes great family drama and McCarthy is talented writer if a little overrated imho but C was thought-provoking. I was brought A little life by Hanya Yangihara by Amanda for my birthday, but have yet to get to it. When the list was first announced a the longlist stage I would put money on A little life, BUt it is the last three books that Ben Okri really sold me and reminded me of what years ago I loved in the booker .Marlon james has written about the attempt  killing of Bob Marley , The fisherman by Chigozie Obioma could herald a new voice in African writing it seems and draws on the oral tradition of His homeland .Then there is  Sunjeev Sahota book about immigrants in Sheffield from India (I only live ten miles from Sheffield so this appeals on the level I don’t think there is enough immigrant lit ).I wish BBC had shown the Okri show at the start of the shortlist (I know it couldn’t have been done , but they could have done all longlisted writers maybe). Next year I shall take more note and maybe raise my eyes out of my current translated read and look at what makes the shortlist and in the mean time will pick up the three books by James, Obioma and Sahota as and when I see them. I’m not going hazard a guess at a winner but for fun will pick some comparable translated books similar in one or many ways to the shortlist.

A little life by Hanya Yangihara  – The tower by Uwe Tellkamp – another epic book about growing up , not as much about abuse but the abuse of  power that they saw by the state at the time .

A spool of Blue thread by Anne Tyler -When doves disappear by Sofi Oksanen a story that goes back and forth in time like the Tyler story does.also there is a link between the two main characters .

when the doves disappeared by Sofi oksanen

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy A project for revoloution in New York by Alain Robbe-Grillet A challenging  experimental novel from France set in america as Satin island is a play on Staten island in New York .

alain robbe Grillet

The fishermen by Chigozie Obioma – Our Musseque is another tale of African life tough and brutal as well but seen through the eyes of kids .

wpid-wp-1420070631857.jpeg

A Brief history of seven killings by Marlon james – The anatomy of a moment by javier Cercas another book about a moment in history , this was about the attempt coup in the early 80’s in Spain .

anatomy-of-a-moment

The year of runaways by Sunjeev Sahota – She is not me by Golnaz Hashemzadeh  Another story of immigrant life in Sweden not Sheffield thou .

 

She Is Not Me

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Euro 2016

Well I’m in the middle of watching England finish their qualifying for Euro 2016 and thinking about what I could do next year book related, like my world cup of writing post that I did five years ago for the 2010 world cup (I missed last times as the whole three percent thing was running and also there was so many countries that had so little available at hand it would been hard to have done something .So I fancy a swing at either a solo challenge or some sort of football/book related posts like I did in the world cup of writing post relating memories of writers and footballers together. A look through the qualified teams –

France

England

Czech republic

Iceland

Austria

Northern Ireland

Portugal

Spain

Switzerland

Italy

Belgium

Wales

Romania

Albania

Germany

Poland

Russia

Then four more from the eight best third place teams which will be decided tonight .The list makes my eyes light up for a number of reasons, Romania,Poland are two countries I have great books on my shelves to read. Memories of football you can’t go pass Northern Ireland at the world cup in 1982 beating Spain the host nation to top the group,  Gerry Armstrong  pictured above  and those Billy Bingham boys or shocking  moments like Austria and Germany playing a deliberate  score a win to Germany that meant both countries qualified for the next round also from 1982.I’m sure I will get something fun and different together mix books and football again.

She is not me by Golnaz Hashemzadeh

She Is Not Me

She is not me by Golnaz Hashemzadeh

Swedish fiction

Original title – Hon är inte jag

Translator – Katarina tucker

Source – review copy

Two ways to choose,
On a razor’s edge,
Remain behind,
Go straight ahead.

Room full of people, room for just one,
If I can’t break out now, the time just won’t come.

Two ways to choose,
Which way to go,
Decide for me,
Please let me know.

Looked in the mirror, saw I was wrong,
If I could get back to where I belong, where I belong.

I choose joy divison as the first lines of the something must break capture the daughters life on a razors edge .

Last month I review a storm blew in from paradise , another swedish novel about the refugee experience that one was about the trip of coming to a country and how the next genration deals with it . Anyway World edition the publisher  said they had another book from Sweden about being a refugee they felt I may enjoy as well . They sent me this the debut novel from Golnaz Hashemzadeh , she arrived in Sweden when her family fled Iran as a child .She studying at the Stockholm school of Economics , she was the eighth woman to study there and the first to be president of the students ,She has worked in finance and set up the non profit Inkludera invest a company that invest in social enterprise and ideas in Sweden .

In the beginning Mama and the Girl were joined at the hip. She sat on the toilet seat while mama showered in the mornings. Mama sat on the floor next to the desk with her strong tea while the Girl did her schoolwork. They changed together when it was time for the night shift at the nursing home. Mama changed into her nurse’s uniform , the Girl into he pyjamas .

They were close once but life draws them apart.

She is not me is maybe mirrored by Golnaz own experiences in a way it follows the fortunes good and bad of a family from Iran that have arrived in Sweden, we see the parents dreams of this new freedom not come quite the way they wanted them to end as they don’t quite fit in their new homeland .So it is their daughter who they start to push getting her in the best school .The daughter unnamed within the book is the main character as we she how she gets in school but finds she has to change who she is as a person and as she does we see how she struggles to fit in and how that affects her as a person as she walks a tightrope between what her family want her to be and what her peers want her to be .The point comes where tis has a long term effect on her .

Papa was the one who found the Elite School. He understood tha elite meant taking advantage of opportunities, that elite was the result of dreams and hard work, Papa understood that she should elite . He placed the pink business paper next to her physics books , circled photos and headlines .

All of them attended the Elite School

The father pushes her to become the best she can , but maybe to hard at times as she bends to fit in .

 

This is the story we don’t often see  on the news or in papers , we she people arrive in a new country and then see the next generation maybe. But what about the kids and families that arrive their .What happens to them , I not read many stories about that Golnaz captures well what a struggle it must be to try to stay in one world with your parents the world they escaped, but never quite leave in their minds .Where as she is of the world she has come to but not fully so she is caught with a foot in each camp being Iranian but growing up swedish but also wanting to be accepted by her peers .This is a real struggle and this is what Golnaz captures so well the emotions of growing up a divide soul .

Have you read a book about living in a new country after you escaped tyranny ?

 

The defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto

Defenceless B- format front

The Defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto

Finnish crime novel

original title – Suojattomat

Translator – David Hackson

Source – review copy

 

I come only with my punishment
There comes only my conviction
is my fate Running
In order to deceive the law
Lost in the heart
of the Great Babylon
They call me the Clandestine *
’cause I do not carry any identity papers

To a northern city
i went for work
I left my life behind
Between Ceuta and Gibraltar
I’m a just a rake on the sea
A ghost in the city
My life is prohibited

I choose the English translation of the Lyrics to Clandstine by Manu Chao a song about being an immigrant.

This is the first of three books from a new publisher Orenda books , which is run by Karen who used work for Arcadia books who published kati’s first book in English the Hummingbird .Kati Hiekkapelto is a prize winning finnish writer, she is also punk singer, performance artist and a special needs teacher (earns my respect as someone whoi supports people with learning disablities ,I know how hard it is to be a teacher ).She also lives on an isolated island in the very north of Finland .She also which is maybe the seed for this book taught Hungarians in the region of Serbia that has a large Hungarian population .This book won the 2014 best Finnish crime novel .

Sammy had arrived in Finland in the same manner and using the same route as the heroin that he knew so well, smuggled in to feed the hungry veins of Western Europeans: hidden in a truck belching thick exhaust fumes and driven across the endless steppes of Russia, illegally

The heroin continued on its way ; Sammy had stayed put

The opening lines and someone  is just  like drugs just a thing to be moved alive or dead they don’t mind these gangs.

Its been a while since I covered a number of  translated crime novel on this blog so to get sent three of what is the most popular genre for books in translation is a refresher for me of the genre so the first stop in the trio of Orenda books is Finland and the second book in the Anna Fekete series . The book starts when a body is found dead in the middle of the road .He may have been killed by a Hungarian Au-pair this is the case Anna Fekete is given  this case rings with her own past .Meanwhile her police partner Esko  is stuck in a case of trying to track a gang that are bring illegal immigrants to the Finland. As the two police officers follow each of the case like a candle burning a both ends a discovery brings the two case to an explosive end .Add to that a biker gangs one native Finns the other immigrants.

Anna sighed. She felt sorry for Gabriella: she would probably receive a minor punishment, but whatever it was the sentence would be a blow. It would be a nasty blot on her record. Would she ever get a job again ? At same time Anna felt a foul sense of satisfaction . Not exactly Shadenfreude, but something similar. What is about that girl that bothered me, she wondered. Why do I think this somehow serves her right?

The au pair gets off but is still involved as the case takes a twist .

I have read a number of Nordic crime novels during the time of this blog, For me The defenceless is up among the best. Anna Fekete leaps of the page, in this up to date novel .How often have we turn the TV on the last few years and seen stories about Immigrants and illegal gangs that bring them into countries what hiekapelto has done is taken that and used a crime novel to dissect the story from both ends the people who arrive in the country and the dreadful gangs that bring these people in dangerous circumstances. Kati has brought these threads together in what is a great Nordic crime novel with a slice of social conscience. I will be back with the other books from Orenda books .

Have you read any crime novel that tackle topical topics in their novels ?

Post exoticism in 10 lessons.Lesson 11 by Antoine Volodine

Post exoticism in 10 lessons.Lesson 11 by Antoine Volodine

French fiction

Original title -Le Post-exotisme en dix leçons, leçon onze

Translator J.T Mahany

Source – review copy

 

It began when they come took me from my home
And put me in Dead Row,
Of which I am nearly wholly innocent, you know.
And I’ll say it again
I.. am.. not.. afraid.. to.. die.

I began to warm and chill
To objects and their fields,
A ragged cup, a twisted mop
The face of Jesus in my soup
Those sinister dinner deals
The meal trolley’s wicked wheels
A hooked bone rising from my food
All things either good or ungood.

i choose Nick Cave’s mercy seat as it is also a man reflecting on his life in Jail .

This is the second of four books I got sent from Open Letter the american publisher .I have been aware of Antoine Volodine ,via the three percent podcast (a good podcast for fans of translated fiction ) .So Antoine Volodine is the main Pseudonym of a french writer , he has also used Lutz Bassmann ,Manuela Draeger and Elli Kronauer .All the books he has published have been around a near distant future and a group of writers that form a movement called “Post exoticism ” .

Lutz Bassmann passed his final days as we all did ,between life and death .A rotten odor stagnated in the cell , which did not come from its occupant, but from outside. The sewers in the city fermenting, the docks in the habor were emiting a rancid signal, the covered markets were stinking terribly as they often did in the springtime when both the waters and the temperature began to rise .

The opening lines evoke his last days so well .

The book is one long piece that is based on Lutz Bassmanns last days ion a prison in the near future as he looks back on the Post exoticism movement and the writers involved in the form of ten lessons .The text forms a description of his present in the jail and intersped with piece from his fellow writers in the Post exoticism movement , so we get a piece about the romance ,whioch mentions an earlier book in the series Minor angels (which was the first in the series I remember hearing about ) .Other lessons specific terms critics of the time use in the reviews .Through to a final list of 343 works that make up the cannon of Post exoticism (I assume these are books the writer has in mind to write or use in other works ).I struggle to describe this as it is a series of pieces about this imagined movement  as great whole as a radical movement of testing writers breaking the law with the words .

7 Specific Terms

We all know that is hazardous to analyze the post-exotic production with terms conceived by official literary critics, made for performing autopsies on textual cadavers that riddle their morgues. The exercise is possible , though at a price of mental contortions that turn post-exoticism into a meeting place for the schizophrenic and haughty elite, perversely infatuated with illegible music .

One of the lessons about how to critic and use certain terms .

 

I struggle to describe this book,as it is totally  unique  and really it is part of a great whole that forms a great work, almost a  vision .A new  way at looking at fiction .The words and works these writers involved with this movement in the near future are testing the boundaries and testing what writing can do .This is maybe a radical look at the future and how writing could be dangerous again .This book is maybe a great starting place as we find a little about the series and the writers involved (although they are all Antoine Volodine ).For me it was a start of a journey through this writers work with at least 20 plus books to be translated we have a lot to look forward too .I have been hooked this is a short book that will set you thinking about this future and the myriad of writers Volodine has conquered up for us to discover .

Have you read Antoine Volodine or one of his alias ?

Nobel winner 2015 Svetlana Alexievich

 

The winner has been announced earlier today,it was the Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich.Not a huge surprise she was second favourite last year in the betting and first for all of this years betting .Its great see a non fiction writer winner the prize,her reportage style is one I enjoyed last month ans will again when I get a copy of Zinky boys or the new book which is coming out on Fitzcarraldo editions next year . I described my view of her as” Bringing  clarity to a cacophony of voices ” which sums up my feeling of Voices of chernoybyl which I reviewed here .So on too next year and wait and see who wins .

International Poetry day Nobel Poets ? Ko Un and Adonis

Today is international poetry day,I have rarely featured poetry in translation,I personally read very little poetry maybe one or two collections a year if that so if tomorrow sees a Poet winning the Nobel I will be interested to read more as to get the prize for the best body of work must mean something anyway with today being international poetry day I will feature two short piece by two of the poets riding high in the Nobel Literature betting this year. Which poets from around the world have you read ?

Ko Un

The poet called the poet of his people .I liked this short poem Ear of the few I read by him.There is an article about him from the guardian a few years ago .

Ear

BY KO UN

TRANSLATED BY SUJI KWOCK KIM AND SUNJA KIM KWOCK

Someone’s coming
from the other world.
Hiss of night rain.
Someone’s going there now.
The two are sure to meet.

 

Source 

The second poet often mention for a Nobel is the Syrian poet Adonis or Adunis . I have read many of these piece from the wonderful Arablit about Adonis , you can also find a lot on the Arabist site as well .I choose a part of a poem about childhood think of those children in Syria or on the way here at the moment.

Adonis or Adunis (Ali Ahmad Said Esber)

 

I have mention him a couole of times in previous Nobel literature build up posts .

Celebrating Childhood

BY ADONIS

TRANSLATED BY KHALED MATTAWA

Even the wind wants
to become a cart
pulled by butterflies.
I remember madness
leaning for the first time
on the mind’s pillow.
I was talking to my body then
and my body was an idea
I wrote in red.
Red is the sun’s most beautiful throne
and all the other colors
worship on red rugs.

Kindle fire or paperwhite ? I’ve killed another ereader

iPad-eBook-Reader

Now her is a question for you all ,I went to charge my kindle fire back up this last week and found it had died tried various suggestions and no luck it had just gone to tech heaven as so much does this day .I now have a some point probably christmas to replace it , I have an ipad but find it cumbersome to read with so want a replacement Kindle , I hate having to get one but I do need it to read the ocasional PDF file or like this year with the IFFP I had to download most of the books , but this is the point I hate reading ebooks , but have to sometimes so do I pop for this bargain Fire from Amazon that is just 50 pound , I’m not sure what the scree ppi being so low will mean or do I pop for a paperwhite that is meant be near the paper look in its e ink screen , I did have a sony ereader(which I broke )but I wonder if the screens are better now than six or so years ago when I had the sony ? I know all about phones and stuff but still not sure on eink or a tablet to replace my fire hd .

Do you like ereader ?

A grain of wheat by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

20150918_192513

A grain of wheat by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Kenyan fiction

Source – Personnel copy

Exodus: Movement of Jah people! Oh-oh-oh, yea-eah!
…….
Men and people will fight ya down (Tell me why!)
When ya see Jah light. (Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!)
Let me tell you if you’re not wrong; (Then, why?)
Everything is all right.
So we gonna walk – all right! – through de roads of creation:
We the generation (Tell me why!)
(Trod through great tribulation) trod through great tribulation.

Exodus, all right! Movement of Jah people!
Oh, yeah! O-oo, yeah! All right!
Exodus: Movement of Jah people! Oh, yeah!

I choose Exdous a Marley sung about freedom this lyric is influenced by a biblical text as is the title of the book .

 

I add a second from the list of names in the nobel Betting for this years Lit prize the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o  has been high on the betting the last few years .He studied in Both Kenya , Uganda and Leeds in the uk,which is where he wrote this book in 1967.He is an active campaigner for maintaining African languages and has written a number of books in his own Gikuyu language .

Mugo felt nervous .He was lying on his back and looking at the roof .Sooty locks hung from the fern and grass thatch and all pointed at his heart .A clear drop of water was delicately suspended above .The drop fattened and grew dirtier as it absorbed grains of soot ,Then started drawing towards him.He tried to shut his eyes.The would not close .

The opening sets the scene so well .

A grain of wheat is set in the time just before,during and after the independence of Kenya . WE see the story of how Kenya gained independence  in a series of flashback stories as we are in the present with Mugo ,a lonely man in his village as the prepared to celebrate Independence day .Add to this a revenge for a traitor that is to be dealt with on this day or as it is called by the villagers Uhuru day (freedom day ) . Mugo sold people out to the brits but he wasn’t the only one Karanja did as well where as others in the village fought with the rebels and killed a brutal police man  and were capture and sent to prison whilst the wives were left behind with men like Karanja need I say more,add to this a Brit ex pat that is in one man all that was wrong with Brits in Africa John Thomson is that man .All this in one small african village the whole country in a group of a few men each showing a side of the conflict and how it effect each one of them .

Kenya Regained her Uhuru from the British on 12 December 1963 .A minute before midnight , lights were put out at Nairobi stadium so that people from all over the country and the world who gathered there for the midnight ceremony were swallowed by darkness .In the dark ,the Union Jack was quickly lowered .When next the lights came o the new Kenya flag was flying and fluttering and waving,in the air .The police band played the new National Anthem

Near the end we see the Freedom regained for Kenya .

What we see here is one of the books that is considered the main books in the cannon of African fiction a book that breaks away in style somewhat of earlier novels .The feel is of using the oral tradition in the village in the way the story of them all getting to Uhuru are woven into a complex novel  that shows how Britain was in Africa , how Kenya found freedom  is a blueprint for a number of other countries that found freedom afterwards  .This book is still as powerful as when it was written .I have had him as nobel winner for a few years it just the look of the draw who will win next week .

Have you read Thiong’o ?

Arno Who? Library stash a whole heap of german books

Arno Schmidt

I Promise I will review a book next but as ever time has runaway this evening so , I decide to show you the nine books I just ordered that had come to the library today , I’ve a few more in the pipeline . First off this is one of two I really got excited about when I ordered it from the library ,The eggplant republic is a book by the writer that has been compared to Joyce amongst others Arno Schimdt is best known for his epic novel Zettels Traum (which is huge and is currently being translated into English and is due out on Dalkey Archive a some point in the next couple of years) .This book is about a journalist visiting  a jet power island .I can’t wait this is one of the names I want on this blog .

Christa wolf

What remains is a collection of stories by the late East german writer Christa Wolf , the title story is described as a East German writers journey into a Kafkaesque world .

Marie Jaolowicz Simon

Gone to Ground by Marie Jaolwicz Simon a true story ,She disappeeared into Berlin in 1941 removing her yellow star and becoming someone else for the rest of the war .I was reminded of a film I saw years ago were a Jewish boy joined the Hitler youth in Berlin during the war Europa , Europa I think it was called .

Juli Zeh

I had tried  a previous Juli Zeh book , but didn’t get into it so left it , but this love triangle story of a couple that are  learning to dive whilst on holiday  and the wife falling for the diving instructor .

W G Sebald

Sebald talks about the six writers the influenced him as a writer in this book , I read all his novels as they came out and not read a book by him for a few years,so this will be one I will savour I think.I may also find a new writer to try from his six writers .

peter stamm

Another novel by Peter Stamm , I reviewed seven years a couple of years ago ,I like his sparse style but only just got round to him again .A women who became a widow in a car crash and has horrific injuries trying to get her life back together.

Bernhard Aichner

The story of Blum whose husband is killed by the men he is investigating , this sends her on a killing spree as her dark past is unlocked . A crime novel for German lit month .

Joesph Brodsky

One of two none German books for after German lit month Watermark is Nobel winner Joseph Brodsky prose piece about his visit to Venice .built around 48 short chapters .

Claude simon

Another of the Noveau Roman writers Claude Simon conducting bodies another experimental novel .

So one of my two surprise finds from the library the other is even better than Arno Schimdt .

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