April and May winstonsdad months that were

  1. The Pine Island by Marion Poschmann
  2. The faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg
  3. The years by Annie Ernaux
  4. The storyteller by Pierre Jarawan
  5. Celestial bodies by Jokha Alharthi
  6. All Happy Families by Herve Le Tellier
  7. Lord of all the dead by Javier Cercas
  8. Garden , Ashes by Danilo Kis
  9. singer in the night by Olja Savicevic
  10. Redemption by Friedrich Gorenstein
  11. Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen
  12. When death takes something from you give it back by Naja Marie -Aidt
  13. In the end they told them all to get lost by Laurence Leduc- Primeau

I missed Aprils round up as I had a break so in the last two months I have reviewed 13 books from 11 countries with one new publisher in Sandstone Press which went on to be the man booker international winner and my first book from Oman wich was the only new country in the last two months. I still have round of the man booker books but to say I had a two week break it isn’t a bad total and takes the number of books reviewed this year too 38 still just about on course to make the 100 review mark for the year.

Books of the months –

I’ll pick two

Termin front cover.png

 

 

Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen

This little gem seems to capture what I look for in the books I am reading these days and that is challenging what literature is and this is one of those that is a borderline between fiction and nonfiction using ticks of narrative non-fiction and journal keeping. Tell how a brain injury leads to a man’s life and social web falling apart.

When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back

The second book is When death takes something from you give it back by Naja Marie Aidt

A touching book about grief cooping and how even a great writer even struggles to get the words on the paper. It alsio shows how words can heal and help share what has happened to you.

Non- book events

well, the last two months have flown by even with two weeks of I find I am reading less the last few months but have a backlog of books I have finished still so plenty to keep the blog ticking over. Amanda and I spend most of our days off visiting the peaks or place like Ikea just keep Amanda busy and I’m making the most of being able to drive. I have found a new tv passion the Canadian series Cardinal which I have watched all three series in the last two weeks this slow-burning series that has one case per a series set in the fiction town based on the Canadian town of the North bay. They have managed to produce a nordic style series with a grumpy detective a brilliant sidekick great settings but the storylines have many a twist and turn.

Looking forward blog wise

Well I was asked if Richard and I were doing Spanish lit month well. I will be Richard is taking a break so like the last few years July and August will be for Spanish and Portuguese lit. I want suggestions for an August book to read and chat about. I thinking of a Marquez maybe? or another Latin American greats LLhosa or Bolano .I am not so organized as Richard but will try and sort an Mr linky links page when it is time? any suggestions?

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In the end they told them all to get lost by Laurence Leduc-Primeau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end they told them all to get lost by Laurence Leduc-Primeau

Quebecian fiction

Original title – À la fin ils ont dit à tout le monde d’aller se rhabiller

Translator- Natalia Hero

Source – personal copy

I thought yesterdays review was the longest title of the year but this may be too. Anyway, after a few months, I return to Quebec and another from the publisher QC that has brought some of my favorite books of the last couple of years so here we have a debut novel. I  love the bio of Laurence on her French publisher which says “Laurence Leduc-Primeau was born and raised in Montreal. As often as possible, she launches first in destabilizing things she knows absolutely nothing about. Already at the age of five, she was seen doing high-flying equestrian riding and leaving on the go in Gaspésie with a rebellious guitarist met in a bar. Later, she began to write ”   a rather tongue in cheek bio but also maybe explains the style of this book which is quirky with its choppy paragraphs. 

I’ve been starring at you a week, Betty.Betty the stain. Dirty and Alone. I didn’t think I’d give you a name when I first got here. A brown stain, on a yellowed wall, in a dirty room. Dosen;t deserve a proper noun. But you’ve started movin. You almost move more than I do,YOu need a sharp eye to notice ; I watch you all daylong. You must be alive. I’ve decided to cal, you Betty. Traced you with a felt marker, outlined in Black, cast in a mold. Now you’ll stop movingYou’ll stay close to me

This opening has so many layers to it sorrow, a sort of detatched feeling and drifting and utter lonliness from Chloe.

This book has a broken style of narrative as we are told the story of Chole as she has arrived in an unnamed South American country after she tried to take her own life what we see is a vulnerable woman trying to escape what happened in her past. But  she is crippled by the inability to communicate the book opens as she is in what must be a flea-bitten room in the unnamed South American city starring at the stain she has called Betty as we see her time unfold in this new country struggling with language trying to be a young woman but also we sense that this isn’t just her nature but the suicide attempt but maybe what lead to that as she starts to gain more confidence in her. We meet her roommates see her venture out of the room get herself a  job and gain a sense of self and speaking Spanish with more confidence. She leaves behind the room and Betty the stain and slowly we see her open her wings but also as this happens there is a sense of past traumas swelling up also being remembered. this is reflected in the second quote near the end of the book still what has happened before the book is there.

THey should rent out arms, bellies, shoulders and necks to cuddle and hold the people who need it and don’t have anyone to care for  them. An affection buisness. The prostitution of tenderness would really take off.

Deep won I’m fine with thinking my pain is unique and special, that I still have my own identity that hasn’t all dissolved

later still tinged in sadness this is as she is in the bars and more social but also more reflective in her past and present !

 

This is a classic story of someone trying to run away from there past. I like Laurence choice of style the choppy paragraphs and sense of detachment as this quirky girl get to grips with the world around her it is dark and comic at the same time. She gives to Chole is great I remember the sense of being a small fish and not knowing what everyone is talking about when I live in Kleve for a couple of years in my twenties not having studied German I like Chole grappled with talking and meeting people although for me the German girl I was living with helped me so I can’t imagine what it was like for Chole especially as English wouldn’t be to come in South America this is a wonder no wonder her life is enclosed at the start given to that the mental health angle to her and what may be causing her to break down and why she is in South America this is one of those books that grows on you it isn’t the easiest at time but worth the journey. Another gem from QC a publisher that always seem to bring something exciting out for us readers.

 

When Death takes something from you give it back (Carl’s book) By Naja Marie Aidt

When death takes something from you give it back Carl’s book By Naja Marie Aidt

Danish Memoir

Original title – Har døden taget noget fra dig så giv det tilbage

Translator – Denise Newman

Source – review copy

Books have been with me all my life and they have helped me deal with things and sometimes just escape the world around me this is a book that follows the Journey that the Danish writer Naja Marie Aidt as she tries to piece together the world after the accidental loss of her son at just twenty-five. One of the greatest writers of her generation she struggles to find a way to put down and write about what happened to her son, the aftermath and moving forward with grief. I have taken my time to get to this but I have been two years dealing with the loss of my  mother at what seemed too early and recently as my wife and myself grasp with the loss of her brother who took his own life six months ago and we are still grieving so I found some solace in Naja’s book and the journey she made.

The french poet Stéphane Mallarmé’ never wrote a book about his eight-year-old-son, Anatole, who died in 1879. He wanted to. But could not. He wrote 202 fragments or notes. He wrote:

So as not to see it anymore

except idealized

afterwards, no longer him

alive there – but

seed of his being

taken back into otself- seed allowing

to think for him

  • To see him <and to>

I DARE NOT THINK ABOUT YOU

WHEN YOU WERE ALIVE

FOR IT IS LIKE KNIVES IN 

THE FLESh

The discver of the fragments Mallarme left behind I found very touching.

A tragic accident end Carl Aidt life in 2015. What follows is how Naja piece together what happened and how she came to find a way to put it in words from early memories of Carl growing up it is the gift of a book from a friend of the French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s  A tomb for Anatole an incomplete work that is a fragment poem to his dead son showed  Naja she said in an interview the way forward and that it isn’t in a whole but in pieces so the book mix the discovery of how she remembers Carl from those early days to the last few texts between them. works like C S lewis Grief observed and Time lived, Without its flow by Deinse Riley french writer Roubard book about his grief.As we see her trying to cope with death and wrestling with words.

I write in my journal

12 January 2016.

IT’S grey today, there’s a hush in the living room. Death is something we now live with every day. I have no idea how. I’ll be able to put all my energy. So much presence, concentration and energy. Beauty has abandned my language. My language walks in mournu=ing clothes. I’m completely indifferent .

Roubaud writes

To cling to death as such, to recognize it as a real hunger, has meant admitting, something over which I have no control.

I liked the line about words in mourning I have felt that experience of being unable to find words from time to time.

I am just a mere blogger,  a small writer. But I know the struggle death and grief bring to a writer it is wrestling with something so large it fills the room and yes as time pass we see around it and when that happens we maybe have words to fill the void or reading  for me it  was the discovery of Barthes mourning diary that helped me like Naja to  deal with grief. The discovery of that book was thanks to Joe from Rough Ghost who pointed me in the direction of the Barthes and this is another book about how one person has dealt with there grief and loss in Barthes case it is the loss of his mother. How we piece our lives together how we start living that point when the blackness lifts slowly and we want to remember those we have lost a remembrance and this is what this is of Carl this sits alongside the other works mention as how great writers deal with the worst thing and that is the loss of a close one. Have you ever found a book that helps you at a tough time?

Services edition Graham Greene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was at the local Flea market today which over the years has turned up a few gems the Gunter grass  cat and mouse arc I found there the other year today I found something I had been looking for a while and that was an Old world war two service edition books both The Uk which is mine produced these books for the Forces Penguin then guild and other presses. The Us editions used have two novels or other books in one edition. The book I found today was The confidential agent by Graham Greene. I am a Greene fan and have his biography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sort of life and 11 of his novels < I hadn’t a copy of confidential agent as a kid I read a lot of Greene and in recent year when I start getting together all of Anthony Burgess novels together which I have nearly done there is only a couple of Burgess books left to get thanks to the new Irwell editions. My mind turned to those other writers I liked as a kid and teen Greene, Steinbeck, Hemingway and Waugh. I have got a few more Greene to get but they are something I rarely see secondhand and the ones I have left to get are his lesser novels. So I have opened the door on another project after Burgess which I still have a lot of his books to review on the blog. I also love that Greene and Burgess had a history as they lived near each other near the end of there lives and had a few run-ins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you seen any service editions? are you a fan of Graham Greene

 

Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen

Termin front cover.png

Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen

Norwegian fiction

Original title – Termin

Translator – Matt Bagguley

Source – Review copy

I said last night when the winner was announced for this year’s Man Booker that small publishers like the winner Sandstone press and the publisher of this title Nordisk small presses are the lifeblood of fiction in Translation. They bring us those gems that the big boy publishers can’t so here is a book that was nominated for the Nordic council literature prize. Henrik Nor-Hansen has written four novels and poetry and short story collections this book was his latest novel. There is an interesting interview with the translator Matt Bagguley He describes the trouble find terms in English and the uniqueness of the voice

Kjetil Tuestad reportedly moved to his own place in late august. It was a basement flat in Bjergsted. It is known that he called his parents and wife. He had apparently said that he needed time alome. They showed understanding. In hindsight, this approach has been questioned. the immediate family were perhaps not good enough at recognising changes in Kjetil’s personality.He remembers very little from this period. In many respectshe still required help .The flat never quite came together.

The first signs he isn’t quite the man he was when he tried to set up hime alone.

The full title of the book is Termin An inquiry into violence on Norway. The book is only 80 pages but what we see is the aftermath of a violent attack on one mans life. Kjetil Tuestad was a normal man working in the Stravanger shipyard as an electrician. He had married his wife Ann and they had decided to settle down in the small village of Hommersak a place that was growing as the oil boom was in full swing at the time. that was all in 1998 and in Midsummer night he was found beaten on the outskirts of the town. The actual injuries are listed three fractures to the jaw his teeth completely bent the wrong way. Blood coming from his ear what follows is an account of his life for the next twenty years from his slow recovery with first his parents than trying to rebuild his relationship with the wife they try and have a normal life and have kids. But he is a changed man and there is a detached nature to the way his life is described and the world around him. But his world is changed and he is on the path to be a loner as he has lost that ability to connect with people. This is one man’s life falling apart after a vicious attack but also a changing world around him and a village that has changed after his attack.

Kjetil Tuestad stresses that he is only occasionally able to picture his wife in the home. He says it is also difficult to visualise the infant as he would have  looked in the summer of 2001. Kjetil reacts to the fact that he did not participate more often in this. Other memories well up quite clearly. During the holidays what would become a string of severe animal welfare cases began. Cats in particular were made to suffer.

His behaviour years later is very different and his brain injury becomes much clearer.

I choose The years as my Man Booker winner. as it broke the boundaries of what fiction is here and for me, this is what Nor-Hansen has done here it is the sort of anti-Knausgaard as whereas Karl Ove tells us everything. this book is a sort of bare minimum of a man’s life over the same period from 3000 pages to 80 pages.  I remember the scene in the film a river runs through it where the writer Norman Maclean is given a task to write by his pastor father but as he says the less we say the more we say. In fact, there is another connection as the book follows the vicious attack and in a river runs through it the end is like the beginning of this book when Normans brother is attacked. So this has a blunt style a detached nature as Kjetil life is told post attack. The only thing I have read that repeats the style of the narrator is the character in curious incident of the night there is a similar way of view the world I found that it is now just black and white but also there is no real emotion in it  that is what he lost more than the outside injuries it is the loss of empathy this maybe is one of the best views of a man with brain injuries trying to live his life as best he can when what is us is gone and maybe the shell is left to carry on and rebuild. In what is a harsh world than it was. This book comes out this week from Nordisk books.

Winstonsdad man booker international winner 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having digested and read all this year’s book although I still have a couple to review. But the journey in books took us from China to Latin America modern Korea people caught in people trafficking. Elsewhere we saw Oman from the turn of the century to now through one family a series of cutting short stories from Palestine, with strange going on in the Polish countryside. I decided that the winner for me was the one that was maybe pushing the boundary of what is fiction. As it sits in that place between fiction and non-fiction in a way. is what this blog loves to champion as a reader I love books that leave you wondering and amazed and this book ticked those boxes. The book is by Annie Ernaux book the years. My review is here. The actual prize is announced tonight but for me this piece of post-war France view through one woman’s eyes her family the cultural highs to lows she saw. The lament of recent tech taking over what is culture as the world opens learning books reading become something besides the net. I enjoyed solo doing the list after years of group judging finally the book I wanted won Well for me. Let’s see what happens tonight. Have you read the list what were your favorites? I will be back next year with another Winstonsdad man booker and let’s see how a change in sponsor changes the prize?

Redemption by Friedrich Gorenstein

Redemption

Redemption by Friedrich Gorenstein

Russian Fiction

Original title – Iskuplenie

Translator – Andrew Bromfield

Source – personnel copy

 

I move further east after my Croatian return and to the Russian Library series of books I have been buying these the last year or so. I love the covers and they are bringing out a mixture of lost classics and modern classics. Here we see the exiled Russian writer Friedrich Gorenstein a Jewish writer whose father was arrested and Shot by Stalin. He worked as a screenwriter and novelist he is maybe best known as the screenwriter of Solaris the well known Russian film by Andrei Tarkovsky. He finally left Russia in the late seventies and his books came out. The title of the book is redemption in English but atonement in German as the Russian word has meaning between the two words.

It was Sashaenka’s first ball. She had been reparing for it a long time, a whole week, since got her an invitation through the local special trade committee. Sashaenka had washed every day with a special war-trophy lotion brought at a stret market, wound curlers into her hair, rubbed eau de cologne into her skin and , for  the first time in her life, painted her lips in a little cupid’s bow and powdered her cheeks. And now there was Genral Batunuya’s son whispering something to his friends and glancing furtively at sashenka’s calves in their covering of cream lisle cotton. Sashaenka sttod in line, shwed her invitation,and reciever a present at a competitive market price.

THe Ball she tried hard to perfect fall but all wasn’t perfect fore her in this imperfect post war soviet world.

The books open in 1945 the war is over and the New year is happening and in the town of Berdichev, a town which is now  in  Ukraine Sashenka a sixteen year girl who has end up there when her father a pilot in the war died and her mother brought to this mainly Jewish town at the time. A young woman that has managed to avoid the Nazis and crippling illness to now as the war ends to start blooming into a woman. She runs off to a Ball but is shocked when a fellow guest at the ball points out the lice on her clothes and she blames her mother. But she hates the fact that her mother has a new lover she is trying to get her family by but the daughter doesn’t see this? She then decides to denounce her mother as a petty thief. Whilst at the same time she has a new man in tow. So when she meets a young Jewish Lieutenant August that has come home to bury his family she helps him find his family from the unmarked graves they are in to give them a decent burial. What will happen to her and her mother? and her relationship in this new post-war Soviet era!

“My mother” Sashenka wrote,”is a pilferer of Soviet property. I repudiate her and now wish to be only the daughter of my father , who died for the motherland …” Sashenka tried to forcefully, but the pen  splashed and scratched, and although the paper was lined, like in a school exercise book, the letters jumped about and the lines or writing either crept upward or curvred downward.Sashenka simply couldn’t think of what to write about Vasya,Olga, and the master of ceremonies, Shethought it would be a good thing to put something in about Batiunya, and Markeev, and Zara with her gold pendants, and in genral everyone who had laughed at Sashaenka and mocked her.

The aftermath of the ball she lashes out like many a ytoung woman at first with her mother , but could have been others!

This is a tough book that has the brutal nature of war at its heart from the loss of a father and the loss of parents in August case both due to the war. The daughter trying to come of age but also like most kids of the age she hates that her mother seems to have forgotten her dead heroic father. The story in the book echos part of his own story he was a boy who with his mother fled across to Uzbekistan. But she died mirroring the illness that Sashenka had. He also was brought by family to the town the book is sent in post-war so would have known the atmosphere he paints of hunting out those that helped the German in the war with neighbor turning on neighbor as the war years start to turn on each other as the dark daily world of the Soviet life starts to come clear in those early weeks of 1946 as the wounds are still raw. A powerful book and one that shows how good these Russian library choices are!

Singer in the night by Olja Savičević

Singer in the night by Olja Savičević

Croatian fiction

Original title – Pjevač u noći.

Translator – Celia Hawksworth

Source – review copy

I’m back from my short holiday and back with a book from one of my favorite publishers Istros books and also a book that does something that in the time I have been blogging we are seeing and that is a second book from a writer coming out in English. Sometimes we see a great novel from a writer then never see any of there other works translated so this is the first of two returning writers that Istros have brought out this year the other I will be bringing you shortly here. I reviewed Olja first book farewell cowboy a novel that followed a sibling hunting for a lost brother with touches of lost time from her generation often called the lost generation. She grew up when Yugoslavia was still just together and saw the birth of a new country. This book like her earlier book, this is set in Split and also has a similar theme of a female looking for a lost male her it is Clementine’s story of searching for her ex-husband.

Dear citizens, householders, close friends, fellow townsfolk, mild and attentive civil servants and waiter, courageous and patient nurses, magicians, secretaries, dresser of abundant hair, eternal children in short trousers, seasonal ice-cream sellers, dealers in intoxicating substances, drivers who brake on bends, gondoliers of urban orbits, captains of foreign ships, foreign girl on captains, neighbours – agreeable disco gladiators, neighbouring proto astronauts and everyone else in Dinko Simunovic street, not to list you all

The book opens when a poetic letter is posted by someone calling themselves the nightingale. This letter an ode to the street in a district of Split and his wonderful neighbors from the daily rising to there lovemaking. This letter leads into a sort of hunt for the writer of it from someone that was his wife  Clementine now a successful soap opera writer sets of to find the Gale but also driving her car around the places they visited we see her take a drive into her past and what happened to bring them to the present from the street of the letter writer we see a trip to the seaside and the to the Capital of Zagreb where her job is launched and her street poet other half and her drift war and life drifted them and this fragment work shows a women grasping at the past love and trying to reconstruct her life and like most her fellow country people make sense of the war still there in the background and she has to face what is her reality what is her truth this in her world is maybe now rewritten like a soap episode and shows what happens when we make those choices.

All right, I’ll tell you, so ,my name is Clementine. On outside, I’m a blonde orange. I have a Brazilian hairstyle, I drive a two seater Mazda MX-5 covertible, gold, but inside I’m a black orange. Full of black juice.

The day bfore my meeting with nightingale’s mother, the meeting with which I began this story, I travelled from Ljubljana to Split. I decided to make the journey after I had spent tje whole of the proceding week vainly calling Gale every day,. When I tried to pay money for the boat’s berth  I discovered that his account had been closed months before, at the marina they told me he had paid all his bills, but, they’d noticed for some time no one had been coming to the boat. His mobile was dead and at first that annoyed me , then it worried me( we had not been in touch often, in fact very rarely in recent years, and then mainly in connection with our shared boat, but nevertheless).

Clem explains why she want to find the gale.

This book brilliantly is a mix of a road trip novel as clementine revisits her past in doing so sees where her life start from her home town and the mirror of her friends from then with her kids a life that she could have had there is a sense of a soap opera at times the way the tale opens piece by piece wanting us the reader to get to the next episode as one would say a lot of cliffhangers. This is also a detective work in a way we follow Clem and her hunt for the Gale and like a good detective novel those little clues of there lives and past are scatters as the picture builds this is a single night read that lingers with the reader. It has a heady mix of lost love, poetic writing, post-war Croatia  and pre-war Croatia without ever wallowing in the war just showing the outfall from letter by the likes of the old warrior.

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