New year new order


I sorted the four shelves I use next to my sofa today these are always changing and a new year always sees a clear out of books that were ever failed projects or I just didn’t fancy in the end or those lucky ones I have read. I like reorder and  see what is there and maybe make small plans for the coming year. Too the fore is a number of Gabriel Garcia Marquez books 9 in all some of which I have reviewed here already but it would be nice to fill the others gaps in his books on the blog. I have a similar pile of Murakami books on an upstairs shelf with similar idea in mind. I want start filling in the gaps in writers I love a lot of which I read pre blogging days.
Have you writers you want to have more of on your own blog ?

First book of 2016 three days of Thomas Mann


Well the first book has arrived it was published last year though. But is one I was interested in when I first heard about it last year at london book fair from the people at Haus. The book follows three days in 1936 where the writer Thomas Mann after he denounced the Nazis facing up to what he had done and why. This period he didn’t cover in his own diaries so Britta Böhler fills in the gap. Britta herself is an interesting figure being a well known lawyer in Holland representin Volkert van der Graaf the assassin of Pim Fortuyn.

You have me to love by Jaap Robben

Jaap robben

Well the first review of 2016 is one of the last books I read in 2015  Jaap robben first adult novel, he is well-known in Holland for his children’s poems and short stories. There is a video of Jaap talking in English about this book that his uk publishers World editions made, where he talks about what inspired the story. It was two events the first was a story of a father drowning after saving his son from drowning, the son come ashore they turn back only to find the father had now drowned after passing his son to help that appeared. The second is when Jaap was helping at an old people’s home and an old lady said what nice legs he had he said thank and again she said “you’ve lovely legs ” and have you a girlfriend. These two pieces made  the kernel that became the book  you have me to love .

I tried to shine the torch in the direction she was looking. Any second now, Dad would surface, coughing and choking, and here she was, ready to grab hold of him and haul him up onto the beach. Any second now. He would emerge from the water. He had to. Especially now that mum was here. We’d see his head above the waves, like a football floating towards us.” look ! look 0ver there ,” I’d shout, jumping onto mum’s back and catching him in the torch-light .

I was reminded in part with this passage of the Stevie smith poem drowning not waving .

Anyway into the book the book is set on a remote Scottish Island and follows the vents during and after a drowning of a man the man is father to Mikael, he is nine years old and watched his father just disappear in the sea as he tried to get hold of Mikael’s ball. Then there is the widow Dora that is left behind. Also on the island is Karl a fisherman unmarried and Augusta although dead plays a part in this story as Karl had a fling with her then there is the crew of the ship that takes everyone back to the mainland. The story is set in the weeks after the drowning happened when Dora and Mikael struggle with the guilt and also the added isolation this brings them. The second part of the book brings you back to the island a number of years later Karl has moved closer to Dora and Mikael has nearly grown into a man and looks very like his father at the same age.

It’s a little gull. Legs folded. Bones as thin as twigs, barely held together by a film of skin. Both his eyes are missing his skull is an empty walnut shell. His body creaks as I pick him up by the tips of his wings and spread them. Empty. A hollow cage of ribs. it’s as if he shrunk away to nothing so he can ft back into his egg.

It’s my fault. His mother has pecked him to death, and it’s my fault I should have never locked them up.

This one scene maybe echoes Dora’s and Mikael relationship after the father has gone in their isolation.

I leave it there it isn’t hard to put together what might happen later in the book, the video of  Jaap talking about the book reminded me of a scene in a film Smoke where one of the character recounts a story of a father lost in the artic who is found as he was in ice and seen by his son who is now the same age as the father when he died. Well the later part of this book is the mother looking at the son and seeing an echo of his late father. There is another horrific scene where is there is a mother and child Gull that Mikael has in his room were the mother gull kills the baby chick. The beauty of the book is setting it on a small isolated island means the grief and recovery from the grief is twist by the sheer isolation of the place. The book won the Dutch bookseller prize and is currently being made into a film. This was also my favourite cover of last year.

Dutch fiction

Original title – Birk

Translator – David Doherty


Winstonsdad’s Books of the year

Well it was a busy reading year if not reviewing year at winstonsdad I managed to read 128 books but as said yesterday managed to review a far fewer books so the ones I have chosen I have reviewed as well barring one .All the books this year are translations I have picked twelve in no particular order .


Farewell cowboy by Olja Savicevic – I met Olja this year her book follows a sister return to her home town in former Yugoslavia to find out what happened to him. We see how much the years she was away have effect her hometown and those she left behind.

Bridge over the Drina by Ivo Drina – Yugoslavia again and a vital crossing in the region is used as the cornerstone of a collection of stories through time. I found this was so forward-looking as the simmering undertensions that later erupted into the wars of the Balkans.


My documents by Alejandro Zambra – I had read his novels short books that lead me to think he would be a great short story writer. A collection that follows someones first days on a computer to footballing moments remembered from Chile’s past .

What became of the white savage by Francoise Garde – A lost gem of this year this prize winning french novel based on the real life tale of a french sailor who went native in the 18th century after his ship sank .What happens when you return to the world you left behind many years ago.

Street of thieves by Mathias Enard – A boys journey to manhood from Algeria to Europe as we see how he has to change to survive in the modern world .From the buds of the Arab spring to the wilting flowers of life on the streets of Barcelona .

Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp – Four friends go back to the great tour de France climb of Ventoux after twenty years and the loss of a friend on an earlier trip to the region. Funny and dark in places, I can’t wait to see the film of this one.

Fall of man in wimslow  by David Lagercrantz – The death of Alan Turing told by the detective investigating his death. The book before he took on the Milenium series .First of two books I connect with due to location in the top ten.


20150828_151617The illogic of Kassel by Enrique Vila- Matas – The story of when Enrique was asked to be an art piece sat in a chinese window in the city of Kassel for the Documenta. A city I spent time in years ago another connection to my own life .


The egghead republic by Arno Schimdt – I had long want to try Schimdt and strangely found an edition in my library system as a taster before his huge opus Zettels dreams is due out in English this year .This followed a reports trip to a strangely floating city of scientist .

Tram 83 FINAL FC

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujilla – A city told through the eyes of two friends as civil war rages and diamonds, sex , people are sold nightly at the night club Tram 83 .A vibrant trip to Congo DR in a great debut novel .


Til kingdom comes by Andrej Nikoladis – I have met Andrej twice now this is the third book from him and also the one that features events of the first day I met him when we saw a man being photograph in Red lion square the home of Istros books. Part of the tale of a man uncovering the truth behind his parents .


Oh and the on I haven’t reviewed or finished –


The epic Zibaldone by Gicamo Leopardi the notebooks of the Italian poet as he takes you through his thoughts of what he reads , thinks and every thing in his life from the origins of myths to Italian .I have been sipping this all year round. I will be reviewing this when I finish this masterpiece just say it is maybe the greatest book of its time.


So that is it ask me tomorrow it would be twelve  different books There have been some great  books this year .


Welcome 2016 reading resolutions and Euro 2016



Well I’m back and for the first time ever I am going to resolve to do a few things over the coming year blog wise. The first is a vow to review every book I read, so in order to do this I may need to read fewer books than previous years. I have been reading about 130 books on average a year but only tend to get to review two-thirds of the books so I am aiming for 100 books and 100 reviews this year and given my effort to try to improve this bloggers review style I am currently dipping into CS Lewis and IA Richards books on reviewing  . I will also do the first man booker international shadow jury which I am looking forward to see how the combing of the two prizes will effect the quality of the long and shortlists this  coming year . I keep vowing to read more english books , but I tried and failed with a different blog. So a small-scale effort , I will be doing a second Henry Green week  later in the year four years after the original Henry Green week . As you see I have a new Kindle well Fire that Amanda got me for christmas and I am looking for those lost gems of translated fiction that I can find via my kindle. As for other targets i have singled out Russia, I am a jumper of countries unlike Tony I tend to want to jump around the world every year although I was a bit Latin american Light blog wise last year so I may need to find a few latin american books to read .The other big project I want to do is around European 2016 football books and football I did a big project early on in the blog around the world cup in 2010 a full four years before anyone else connected blogs and football. For me this combines my two biggest passions football and books, but as we know male readers under thirty are the least likely to read so I really want to get these posts out there for a vague hope of connection using more of the football side to get clicks on the posts well I hope at least.

henry green

I hope to bring more films and music as well this year . My end of year blog round-up post told me I had managed 207 posts last year which was more than I expected given I was poor blogger at various times last year. So much the same as ever just translation given the henry green week so much same as ever. I have read some great books over christmas so when I do my best of 2015 post tomorrow I am like a jack in the  box all wound up for 2016 ready to pop back up.So what are your plans for 2016 reading wise.

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January 2016


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