The Republic of Consciousness Prize for small Presses announcement

I Have published the announcement of a new prize on the UK for small presses. I am really happy to see this prize as many of the Publishers I review books from are from small publishers. I feel the passionate people I know Like Susan from Istros Stefan from And other stories and Jacques from Fitzcarraldo editions need to be acknowledged for the hard work they do in opening the eyes of readers to challenging literature .

Judges Announced for The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses

http://www.republicofconsciousness.com/prize/

Submission Deadline: 31st October 2016

Longlist Announcement: 30th November 2016

Shortlist Announcement: 2 January 2017

Winner Announcement: 16 February 2017

Prize: min of £3000: £2000 to the press, and £1000 to the writer, plus a bottle of Amarone each.

The Republic of Consciousness is delighted to announce the selection of judges for the first Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses.

Launched earlier this year, by award-winning novelist Neil Griffiths, the prize seeks to celebrate “small presses producing brilliant and brave literary fiction”.

The judges of the award are made up of a selection of independent booksellers and bookshop owners from across the UK and reflect the award’s aim to highlight the important role that booksellers play in helping to bring quality literature to the attention of readers. It’s often those hand-sold copies or bookseller recommendations that will be a reader’s first introduction to the world of independent publishing, and the relationship between the booksellers and independent publishers cannot be overstated.

“We wanted the judging panel to comprise independent booksellers because the spirit behind the prize is to support the more vulnerable sections of the publishing community, and given the prize is for independent presses, it made sense to approach booksellers who share a similar ethos. This we did, and we are thrilled with the response. Across the 9 judges we have a strong regional spread, with a good a mix of urban and rural locations. Each judge brings something different to the prize, but they all share experience, dynamism and a willingness to take risks, perfectly mirroring the kind of presses the prize aims to support.’” Neil Griffiths, founder of The Republic of Consciousness & co-chair

Submissions for the prize are now officially open – to UK and Irish publishers with a maximum of five full-time people working for them – and will close at the end of October. Each publisher is allowed to submit one novel or single author collection of short stories for this year, with one wild card call-in allowed per judge.

A shortlist of eight novels will be announced in January 2017, followed by the winner announcement in February 2017.

Neil Griffiths is also putting out an appeal to fellow authors and readers alike to help support the prize with donations which will go towards the final prize money. Already a great financial boost to most small presses, an increase in the amount will make an immense difference to the winners.

Judging Panel:

Neil Griffiths (President of The Republic of Consciousness & co-chair)

Awarding-winning novelist of Betrayal in Naples (Penguin), winner of the Writers’ Club First Novel Award and Saving Caravaggio (Penguin), short-listed for the Costa Best Novel Award 2007. His new novel Family of Love will be published in 2017.

Marcus Wright (co-chair)

Tax inspector, bibliophile, and sometime writer on jazz.

Sam Fisher – Burley Fisher Books (London)

Sam Fisher has worked at Camden Lock Books for the last three years and together with Jason Burley opened Burley Fisher Books – specialists in new titles by independent presses – in Kingsland Road this February.

Gary Perry – Foyles (Charing Cross Road, London)

Assistant Head of the Fiction Department at the Foyles flagship store on Charing Cross Road, Gary has been with Foyles for six years and works hard to promote fiction in translation and independent publishing.

Anna Dreda – Wenlock Books (Shropshire)

Owner of Wenlock Books and founder of the Wenlock Poetry Festival, Anna Dreda was also one of the judges for the 2014 Costa Poetry Awards.

Helen Stanton – Forum Books (Northumberland)

Owner Helen Stanton previously worked for Waterstones, Headline and Canongate before taking over Forum Books nearly 5 years ago.

Lyndsy Kirkman – Chapter One Books (Manchester)

Former NHS stem cell scientist, Lyndsy Kirkman, is one half of the dynamic sibling duo (along with Christine Cafun) who opened Chapter One, a bookstore, café and performance space, in Manchester last summer.

Emma Corfield – Book-ish (Crickhowell, Powys, Wales)

Owner of the independent family run bookshop based in the rural market town in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Book-ish is one of the regional winners of the British Book Industry Awards’ Independent Bookshop of the Year. Praised for being a “small shop that punches well above its weight” they were also awarded a James Patterson Bookseller Grant of £5000 for their book bus project.

Gillian Robertson – Looking Glass Books (Fife, Scotland)

Founder of independent bookshop Looking Glass Books, Gillian is committed to using the shelves in her shop to shine a light on the gems offered by the many brilliant small independent presses in the UK & beyond.

The four books by Yan Lianke

 

The four books by Yan Lianke

Chinese fiction

Original title – 创建“四书

Translator – Carlos Rojas

Source – Library book

Well I have mentioned before my struggle with Modern Chinese fiction a country so large and growing huge megacities that seems to lack at the moment books capturing the Zeitgeist of these cities and the madness of the growth. That aside this is the second book by Yan Lianke I have reviewed and both have been on the longlist for a prize the Last Dreams of Ding Village was on the old IFFP longlist and this is on the First Man booker. I maybe enjoyed Dream of Ding village than my fellow jurors a few years ago so had high hopes of a book that the writer himself had been working 20 years on and took two year to write. He want to write a true account of the Mao sent people for re-education.As Tony and I say there has to be an Issue book on the longlist and this is this years.

I recommend that the Higher-ups would be well served if they carefully monitor the Musician’s capitalist behaviour and tendencies. A single ant hole can cause an entire dike to collapse.We can not permit the Musician’s petty bourgeois feminine sensibility to infect our Re-Ed district.

Part of the sections called Criminal records, which is written by The Kid as he found a french novel in her poscket.Which he will later burn.

As I said in the intro The book follows a group of  intellectuals  that have in the late fifties been sent to one of Mao’s notorious re-education class.An author , Musician ,Scholar, Theologian and Technician all at area 99. In charge of these men is a younger man called the child part of the book is made up of his observations and how he punishes the prisoners that break the rules.This is all in the part called criminal records. Then there is bits of the Authors novel and two other books that could be described as works of philosophy. What we see is how These clever people,  have to bend and try to avoid being broken in a camp run by a teen that has been given to much power and has gone slightly crazy with it the horrors he inflicts are terrible to our eyes but in his is maybe like a modern kid playing some brutal video game.

the child was delighted, and even sang a little song. He turned around and waved, saying” hurry up! Now that we have produced a hundred tons of steel, we’ll finally be able to eat meat tonight ”

And in fact, they did have meat to eat. They weighted the steel, recorded the weight in a notebook, then used an abacus to add it all up. The accountant shouted in delight.”Ah you are the first to reach a hundred tons!” He grabbed the ledger and rushed into the building whereupon the higher-up took the ledger and walked back out smiling, he shook the child’s hand and said “Congratulations, this is wonderful.You are the first to reach One hundred tons”

They make Steel which they all hate but the child drives them to make himself look good .

I felt this book was better in its overall feel than dream of ding village. Yan Lianke has tried to tackle Mao’s great leap forward in a fresh honest way. I see it took more than 20 publishers to look at the book before he found someone willing to publish this book and it is still banned in the mainland of China. The men in the camp show how easy ir is to lose ones identity just been called by a name the way the camp is run remind me of the way Stanford prison experiment showed how people easily fit into the roles of prisoner being just a number or in this case a Job and then The guard shown by The kid that shows how easily power can take over a person in control. Yan Lianke has managed to life the lid on the brutal years of the Mao regime and the way the great leap forward broke and in many ways set the country back and maybe lead the country to the events in the country of the early 90’s .I expect this to make actual shortlist as Boyd seems to be a huge Chinese lit fan.

Have you a favourite Chinese writer

 

A general theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

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A general theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

Angolan fiction

Original title – Teoria Geral do Esquecimento

Translator – Daniel Hahn

Source – copy from translator

I was lucky that Daniel saw I was after this when it was mentioned on the longlist for the Man booker international prize. He said he had a spare copy of the us edition (extra bonus as it is an archipelago books copy so very pretty as well ) . I had looked for this on ,my library system just before the man booker but they hadn’t a copy as the book of chameleon by Jose Eduardo Agualusa an earlier book by him had won the prize and also been one I had really enjoyed. Jose Eduardo Agualusa  is not just a writer,  he has a radio show dedicate to African song and poetry and also publish books from around the Portuguese speaking world .

Ludo opened the box. Inside, looking fearfully at her, she found a little white newborn puppy.

“He’s a male. A German shepherd ” Orlando explained. “They grow quickly. This one’s an albino, rather unusual. He shouldn’t get too much sun. What are you going to call him ?”

Ludo didn’t hesitate

“Phantom!”

“Phantom?”

Orlando shrugged his bony shoulders

“Very well. Then Phantom he shall be ”

Ludo gets her dog. Now the strange thing is my Mum has a dog his name is also Phantom he is a greyhound thou I love the way books and real life cross sometimes.

A general theory of Oblivion follows one woman story but not just that the story of her home and homeland post freedom Ludo a woman decides on the eve of Angola becoming a free country to brick herself away from the outside world into her apartment. What follows is a collection of her life and what she glimpses from behind the walls . As she faces life through her collection of books her albino German shepherd dog, also her memories of a man who might have been the one Orlando and the radio the only link to the world apart from the glimpse and chance encounter she has over a number of year like a burglar that she encounters. The book is a wonderful mix of life and dramas real and imagine worlds and how someone avoids madness just in more than thirty years apart from the real world.

The days slide by as if they were liquid. I have no more notebooks to write in. I have no more pens either. I write on the walls, with pieces of charcoal, brief lines.

I save on food, on water, and on adjectives.

I think about Orlando. I hated him, at first. Then I began to see his appeal. He could be very seductive. One man and two women under the same roof- a dangerous combination.

A  short piece this captures almost her being on the edge of madness in her words as she remembers the past and Orlando .

From what I have read I think this novel is actually based on the real life person . Her notebooks Diaries and poems that where all collected after she died after spending 28 years cut off from the world. It seems Jose was given access to this body of work initially to write a radio play. That is odd as I felt when I finished this book  the small pieces that make this book up are almost like turning a radio dial through the years that Ludo had spent apart but also like gems in the dirt of african history waiting to be unearthed. I can see the mix of styles in this book can put the reader off but to me they drew me in as we see Ludo and her world and how her world starts to slowly fall apart from the lose of her dog, to having to burn her books and then the end. But what we also see through these piece is a glimpse of the past and present in Angola using both the real world and a mythical world.  This book shows why we maybe should be trying to get more books out of the Lusophone world!

Have you read any of the other books By Jose ?

A whole life by Robert Seethaler

A Whole life by Robert Seethaler

Austrian fiction

Original title – Ein ganzes Leben

Translator – Charlotte Collins

Source – Library book

Every year on the Old IFFP and now on the first man booker there is a book on the list that I hadn’t heard of and a writer that is new to me and this was this years book. Robert Seethaler is an austrian writer, the german wiki page says he has sight problems so went to a school for the blind. Then drama school , he is an actor as well as a scriptwriter. He has also written five novels this is his fifth novel.His first to be translated . I am pleased to see his fourth novel The tobacconist is in the pipeline to be translated.

 In 1910 a school was built in the village, and every morning, after tending to the livestock, little Egger sat with the other children, in a classroom that stank of fresh tar, learning reading, writing and arithmetic. He learned slowly and as if against a hidden inner resistance, but over time a kind of meaning began to crystallize out of the chaos of dots and dashes on the school blackboard until at last he was able to read books without pictures, which awoke in him ideas and also certain anxieties about the worlds beyond the valley.

I was reminded of the Herzog actor Bruno S a man who never is in time with the world either .

I must admit I am so pleased this was on the longlist as it may have passed me by maybe until,a german lit month. This book is the story of one mans life Andreas Egger a man who arrives and then spend the rest of his life in one small mountain valley. This is the early 20th century and the world Andreas is living in is slowly giving way to the modern world as we see through his eyes bit by bit his life but the world he lives in getting to grips with the modern world. From his arrival to work on his uncles farm where he first met the woman he loves over time Marie but this is a love that will never be.So as Andreas First build cable cars, then help electricity then the war take him away from the farm and the valley he always come back to the world he is meant to be in. As much as he tried to escape .

That was in the late fifties. It was only much later, in the summer of 1969, that Egger had a second encounter with the television – which in most households by then already constituted the central focus and primary purpose of the evening family gathering – that made a profound impression on him, albeit in an entirely different way. This time he was sitting with almost a hundred and fifty other villages in the assembly room of the new parish hall, watching two young americans walk on the moon for the first time.

A world no gone without tv or wanting to see a tv Eggger is really a man out of time in his valley .

I must admit I loved this book  it is a really pretty gem. I was reminded of  one of my favourite books Stones in a landslide Andreas life and the way he lives in the valley that is sort of out of time with the world around them remind me of the world in Stones in a landslide. I also pictured this in a way as being a lost script for a Werner  Herzog film on the other hand Andreas is a simple man like most of the classic roles in the 70’s Herzog films, a man who has the world against him in the way like the classic Bruno S films  Herzog made . A beautiful world of the valley is like quicksand slowly killing the man but not just the man but also his spirit is slowly dragged into the ground of the valley.As for man booker I feel the simple sparse nature of the narrative that as the Irish times review saaid remind that review of Stoner as for me I felt this is a better book than Stoner which I may be the one person that felt stoner was like a  afternoon film of one mans life. No egger is a character you believe in he is like a man in the background of Heidi brought to the fore.

Have you read this book ?

A cup of rage by Raduan Nassar

A cup of rage by Raduan Nassar

Brazilian Fiction

Original title – Um Copo de Colera

Translator – Stefan Tobler

Source – Personnel copy

Now this may be the oddest title on the first Man booker international longlist as it is hard to place is it a long short story a short Novella or something else this book is under fifty pages long. I had just the week before the longlist had been announced looked for this title on my local Library system but had only found the other book penguin had brought out by the Brazilian writer Raduan Nassar. He is a now a farmer retired. He wrote the two books mentioned and worked in news papers as an editor. Then in 1984 he gave up the writing as he had bored with it to become a farmer.

My coming nakedness and soon I heard her breathing in deeply, over by the chair, where she had perhaps already given in to her desperation, struggling to take off her clothes, getting her finger caught in the straps slipping down her arm, and I , still faking , knew that all of that was real, oh how I knew her nightmarish obsession for feet, and for my feet in particular, their firm step and well shaped form, a little bony around the toes perhaps and nervously marked with veins and tendons on the instep, though they hadn’t lost the shy manner of a tender root.

Early on in bed the man and woman start getting frisky and he remarks how she likes his feet.

Now it is strange he choose to be a farmer as this is the setting for this most unusual story told in a classic stream of consciousness  it is told from the point of view of an older man as he awakes starts his day making love to his younger wife. He then is sidetracked by some ants and other things in the house which leads to an argument between the two . The wife then heads out . Now that is it a lot to fit in under fifty pages . I think this is one over the next few year I will read and reread and still wonder every time I do so .

Under the shower I let her hands slide over my body, and her hands were inexhaustible, and they ran searchingly through all the foam, and they came and went tirelessly, and our soaked bodies now and again pressed against each other so that her hands could reach my back in an embrace, and I enjoyed all this movement, sinuous and vague, that provoked sudden, hidden jolts, and seeing that those hands were already taking advantage of my darkest corners – even combing through the threads at the badly stitched seam of the groin (and secretly weighing the soapy packet of my member) – I said ‘wash my head, I’m in a hurry’, and then, pulling me out from under the stream of water, her hands immediately penetrated my hair, rubbing firmly with her fingers, massaging my scalp with her nails, scratching my nape in a way that sent me crazy, to my core

And after the bed they meet in the shower he manages to get the feeling just right I feel .

The fact I was already looking into reading Nassar, means I felt he was a writer I would enjoy. Nick Lezzard also wetted my appetitie in his review mention Thomas Bernhard, but for me the only real connection to him was the fact that he like Bernhard isn’t very keen on a full stop. The whole story is like one long thought in the mind of the older man. No for me I was reminded of the classic modernist piece like Joyce’s Ulysses which in the sex here you can see in the later passages of Joyce’s piece. A relationship not working or problems reminded me of Woolf’s Mrs Dallowway and of course like both these works the action is set over the course of one day . Now that isn’t to say this hasn’t connection to other writers in Latin america of course Lispector a fellow Brazilian and also a writer using Modernist ticks in her writing . I was also reminded of one of my favourite Cuban writers Infante three trapped tigers like this is set over a day and has a similar rhythmic feel to the prose. Now that is enough praise my main problem was what is this it is like a clip from a great novel or a long-lost short story from a great collection . I wanted more than this as wonderful as it is it is like going for a meal and leaving after a wonderful starter if you know what I mean . Stefan piece in the independent about meeting him is very interesting . Now for Man booker I thing this will probably make shortlist as it is a challenging read and different to anything about at the moment .

Have you read this book or ancient tillage ?

 

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