Nine moons by Gabriela Wiener

Nine Moons by Gabriela Wiener

Peruvian non-fiction

Original title – Nueve Lunas

Translator – Jessica Powell

Source – Review copy

A fitting end for both Spanish lit month and Woman in translation month I am working the next two days. I was ask if I wanted to review this book and I decided I would it is a bit different to my normal reading as it follows the nine months of Peruvian writer Gabriela wiener pregnancy. She has lived in Barcelona where she has written a number of books including one about sex which had grown out of articles she wrote about the swinging community. She has lived in Spain since 2003.

To start with, it’s not juist bausea; the fundamental malaise that seizes you when you wake up in the morning is like waking up with a hangover and a guilty consience all at the same time, like waking up after a loved one’s funeral or seeng dawn break on the day after losing the love of your life. The nausea would attack me in the most inapportune places and times. I started to think that it revealed a certain psychology in my relationship with things. For example, I always got nauseated when I had to do something that I didn’t want to do like go out to buy bread very early in the morning in the middle of winter.

Morning sickness described by her i loved the bit about feeling it when she had a job she didn’t really want to do.

Gabriela and  her husband J have been trying for a baby so when they find out that not long she had surgery and she had heard her father was uffering with Cancer. She discovered she was pregnant. We have a description of how you find out you are pregnant with the gona appearing in the womans blod after six days.Then  what follows is nine months of her thinking about her mother and how she treat her as a child and how many different ways you can look after a baby. As they pregnancy moves on we she her go through morning sickness, styles of bringing up a baby, the changes in her body and the regulas check ups during the pregnency and the predjuce at times for being Pewruvian in Spain when someone in a hospital thinks she is a maid or a cleaner. The discovery of the sex and the rush neat the end finding where to live a rush painting with Her and her husbands J love of Kitsch. I loved the afterword ten years after this came out she had read the end of the book to her daughter and she had laughed.

Third and final apointment with the Spanish Public Health service, all expenses covered, for which one must be grateful, despite its downsides.This was one of the most importnt appointments because I would be registering for the first time at Barcelona Maternity , the hospital where Lena would be born. In order to do this , I had to be seen by one of the center’s midwives. I was greeted by a Latin American-looking nurse, whioI later found out was Bolivian, though she spoke some Catalan. It mademe happy to know I’d be attended by an almost compatriot. I would have liked to be able to speaj well of her, but that’s not the case. she was short and plump, with cropped black hair, and her white coat was too big for her.

I loved the description of the midwife you have a sense of her character in just a few words.

This is a page turner Gabriela has a really flowing narrative style as we walk alongside her on her pregnancy. She is a writer from the Latin american Cronicas style of writing these short piece for Newspaper that are common in papers in Latin america she had written a number of piece around the swingers scene before this.It is a mix of highly personal insight and journalstic as we follow the ups and down of her pregnancy but also being Peruvian in Spain struggling job to job getting a job at a vets via a friends. As she struggles to make ends meet in the build up to the pregnancy. This is an intresting look one woman’s journey open honest warts and all. Have you read any books by her ?

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The Desert and Its seed by Jorge Barón Biza

The Desert and Its Seed by  Jorge Barón Biza

Argentinian fiction

Original title – El desierto y su semilla

Translator – Camilo Ramirez

Source – personal copy

This is a modern classic from Argentina the late writer used his own family life as the bases of the story. His own father Raul Baron Biza a writer and Politician that was in a middle of a divorce with his mother when he threw acid over his mother this is the bases of the story which is told from Jorge’s point of view. He worked as a journalist and in various publishing houses. He translated Proust. His life was touched by tragedy his mother they had to flee to Uruguay as they opposed the Peron regime . His fathe mother sister and ultimately Jorge himself all commited suicide.

Eligia’s naively sensual face began to part with its contours and colours. beneath the original features, a new substance was emerging: not a sexless face, as Aron would have wanted, but a new reality beyond the the necessary resemblance of a face. Another genesis had begun to happen – a sytem of unkown laws

Just after the inital attack her face is meling just before one of the lawyers rush her to the hospital.

The names have been changed Aron is meeting his wife in 1964 as they try to reach an agreement over the divorce. Eligia arrives and Aron throws acid in her face this is where the book opens and Mario her son arrives at the ER to see the horror that be fell his mother at the hands of his own father we arre told tha tAron ran off but later shot himself as he wouldn’t have coped with being imprisioned. The novel folows the mother and somn around the world as they seek a way to mend the mother face painful operations the pain is told early on as his mother is restrained by her wrists to stop her doing more damagfe to her face this is told as we also see there homeland of Argentina falling apart as it stumbles from one disaster to the next. His mother fate at one point he looks at one of those great Arcimboldi the artist that made his pictures of objects his most famous works had veg bu this one was made up of meat and fish. A feeling of his mother face being a patchwork of various surguries and attempts to sort it out.This book shows the horro but also the detacted nature of there relationship he cares for her but there is a lack of empathy and pathos at times he cares for the body of his mother but her soul maybe not so much.

My lace at the table faced animage from the sixteenth century that I could never imagined on my own. The frame had a metal plague that read “The Jurist” Under a cloak with a fur collar was an embellished vest with embroidedflowers and a thick golden chain – a sign that the subject was on the emperors good side – but the coin on the chain didn’t have an inscription or any figure. Underneath the waist coat, where one would expect to see the body of the subject covered by a shirt three thick volummes were visible one over the other, dry and soporfic, I imagine. The ruff was made of paper sheets, and a black cap covered the head.

All these elements, represented very natrually, framed the strangest face I have ever seen in my life.It was composed of plucked chickens arranged in such a way that a wing formed the eyebrows ridge, a thigh made up the cheek, and a small chick passed for a massive nose. A fishappeared fold onto itself, so thats its mouth was also the mouth of the subject, while its tail simulated a beard.

A face made of various parts is maybe a remind of his mother face.

Well this is a classic a slow burn story of a mothjer and son but also the aftermath off facing your own fathers actions this is his own story like they say in a lot of dramas only the names have been changed. Biza was an art critic hence the Arcimboldi and a few othe rpainting mention I alway thought of the vicious image of Bacon’s faces when I imagined his mother. This is a tragic story as we know that everyone in this book took there own life the main characters from Aron shooting himself then a decade or so later his own mother took her life as she couldn’t cope withthe horror that was her life and then his own sister and laterly Jorge only a few years after he had finished this book. How do you find words to capture this he does the nature of surgery on his mother but also the changing up and downs of his homeland at the time are  caught. A gem have you read this book ?

 

An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky

An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky

German fiction

original title – Verzeichnis einiger Verluste

Translator – Jackie Smith

Source – Review Copy

This will be the first book by Judith Schalansky I did read Giraffes neck a few years ago when it was on the Booker longlist but never got round to reviewing it. Her books are work in art themselves having twice won the prize for the most attractive book in German with earlier books she studied Art History and Communication design this is her fifth novel four have been translated into English. The book is a collection of twelve stories that we had lost overtime in her intro she says things like the last Male white rhino meaning they will die out,  an animal from the barrier reef that had disappeared. A lost jet a crashed spacecraft so many things while she wrote this book. We are always losing or seing or world change.

The reprts describing this improbable patch of land were just detailed enough to plausibly prove that it did inded once exist, even if the chronometer never determined its exact postition, for neither Tasman nor Wallis, neither Bougainvile nor even a captain of some wayward whaling ship ever sighted its gentle shores. Again and Again I studied the routes of the south sea expeditions, followed the dashed and dotted lines accross the graticule and through the paper ocean, and compared them with the presumed postition of that island which, in a rash pf imperial setiment, i had mafrked in the bottom most empty square.

Tuanki a lost island of the south seas reported but since lost

We start with an Atholl that disappeared in 1842 or 43 that was there and disappeared in what was an earhtquake the story deals with the fact it was barely known then wasn’t ther as so few westerners had see it in the middle of the Paciffic.  Then the Caspian tiger that walked tfrom Northen turkey through Iran and Afghanstan to the ver west of china when it was there this sepecies died out twenty years ago. we follow the last of them Schalansky starts to beath life in those lost piece she has gagther he box of delights her cabinet of loss. A lost piece of Sappho a lost painting the great Casper David Friedrich. Lost Villa from a famlous groundbreaking architect. A former huge East german Palace this is a lament of what is so eay to lose but these are all things that hadn’t they been collect we may haven’t of fully heard off.

Designed by a collective of architects led by Heinz Graffunder at the East German Building academy, the symbolic goverment building was errected on the derelict land known as Marx-Engels-Platz, on the former site if Berlin’s city palace, which had been demolished in 1950 it took thirty-two months to construct, and was inaugurated on April 23, 1976 as the poeple’s Palace

Palace of the repbulic the lost former Palace of East Germany like the country nearly a figment of imagination.

This isa a collection fo ghost not ghost stories but the sense of what was in each case a n island in the middle of the sea there then gone this has often happened with  earhtquakes and change in ccurrents etc there are place we know now that that won’t be there one day or even the suprise lose like Monserat a coup,e of decade agos. I love the show Abandon engineerong as we see the carcas of what was her is another literary Elephant graveyard , we could all make are own in a way things we know ior we knew. I rememeber the thearte in atockport the Davenport I went at least four or five years to see the pantomine but now there is car park. this is a collection of things she has found over time like a collector a stamp album of loss. Her prose brings each of these stories to life. As with her earlier books this is also a stunningly beautiful work. We all have loss from the personal to the loss of animals, lost building a sort of nod to her East german past with the lose of the grand palace but also the loss of all that it was to be East German good and bad there is an Ost culture from the tv shows to the food and drink they had.Have you read any of her Books ?

 

Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac

Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac

Argentinian fiction

Original title – Las constelaciones oscuras

Translator – Roy Kesey

Source – personal copy

I have another from the Grangta best Spanish writer list of a few years ago. This list has thrown up so many great writers over the last few years. Pola Oloixarac is an Argentinian writer she studied Philosophy and has written a number of pieces for various publications including New York times. She has written three novels this is her second the first novel has also been translated into English. She’s a founding editor of The Buenos Aires Review bilingual journal featuring contemporary literature in the Americas

On the final day of 1882, a group of explorers reached the sea that surrounds the crater of Famara, the volcanic mass that rises up from the archipelago of Juba. Like a fortress on the water , the crater’s aerial line shrouded the bay in grandeur. The travelers made land on a beach of black sqand crored by the tails of lizards, and began their climb along a mossy trail through a series of gorges that wound their way through the sinous formations of dark lava. Anchored in the bay,  their ship looked like an old dinosaur, its viscera extracted by parasites who lowered the cages, bronze instruments, wooden traps, and coils of rope into the sand amidst the boulders onshore

The opening as the head to discover new plants.

Dark Constellations is a work that involves three stories the first is a plant biologist on the canary islands discovering new plants. Then in the 1980s, we follow Cassio a hacker at the dawn of the internet we follow him from a kid entranced by computers and girls to a brilliant scholar and then a wonderful hacker.  Then in the near future, we have a group of scientists trying to discover a way of tracking people through there individual DNA. The latter two stories are interlinked as Max in the near future recruits Cassio he was a brilliant hacker in his day. As they use people’s biometric data to project their life and what will happen to them. Meanwhile, in 1882 the scientist Niklas Bruun has discovered a plant that he feels lets him connect with other species. Then in the near future, Max has made Cassio work on this algorithm as it is a new species as Max says. This is a mix of cyberpunk gen X and nods to the great explorers of the victorian age. A trio of tales that are wound together to a scary look at the future.

Cassio broke off all relationships with women, starting with the ones in his house. His natural satellites, Sonia and Yolanda, mother and maid, whom he perceived as inauthentic, united to form an incomprehensibly sadisitc caste. The are of his life coincidedwith the rise of women, considered a “Minority” , toward equal civil rights, but his mental life moved in the opposite direction, Soon his room began to stink of pizza and Coca Cola, sources of essential nutrients for growing young programmers. On the TV, ads showed blue liquids poured onto vaginal products”with wings” which didn’t help in the slightest. Was this what they had inside ?

Cassio struggle with his realtionships with Females whenhe was younger and became radical at times.

This is a clever look at the near future were Tech companies maybe have to much power the thought of DNA and over biometric being used to track us even lay the course of our lives. This is a storyline is one I have seen taken to its climax in the film Minority Report a Philp K dicks story there is a fell here she is a fan of his I have read a couple of his books years ago. From Cassio a rebel hacker his life is a classic blueprint of a lot of Tech giants from a scholar and backyard tech person. Is similar to the likes of Gates and Jobs but here it is set in Argentina. |cassio is also a classic Gen X character a slacker but then like so many gen x he gets caught up in the real world. This is a highly original book I had brought both her books as I had seen her as a writer that challenges the boundaries. Have you read this book?

Things we lost in the fire by Marianna Enriquez

Things we lost in the fire by Marianna Enriquez

Argentinean fiction

Original title – Las cosas que perdimos en el fuego

Translator – Megan McDowell

Source – personal copy

I’m reviewing today another book that tick both Spanish lit month and Women in translation month with yet another talent from Argentina. Marianna Enriquez studied Journalism and social communication, then she took a job as a journalist becoming deputy editor of arts and culture of the newspaper Pagina, She has published four novels and two collections of short stories this is her first work to be translated into English and given the content you can see a journalist eye behind this scary tales as they seem to connect to the dark past of the country.

The dirty kid and his mother sleep on three matteresses so worn out that, piled up , they’re the same hieght as a normal bed. The morther keeps what little clothing she has in several black carbage bags, and she has a backpack full of other things, I couldn’t say what they are. She doesn’t move from the corner, she stays there and begs for money in a gloomy monotonous voice. I don’t like the mother. Not because she’s irresponsible, or because she smoke crack and the ash burns her pregnant belly, or because I never once once saw her treat her son , the dirty kid, with kindness

The dirty Kid the opening story was he there ever or just a ghost touching people to remind them

There are twelve stories in this collection they cover things from kids pulling fingernails out, ghosts, dirty child beggars, and father disappearing. Opening with the dirty kid a woman living meets the dirty kid a beggar at the underground shaking hands and leaving his mark on people but was he really there as there is no sign of him when they come back with the police but there is a dead murder child that fits his descriptions.  There is a burnt beggar which appears in the title story. My favorite from the collection was the Inn a family go to meet the father who is working as a guide for the Inn. But when the guide he tells some tourists about the dark past of the Inn more than he should have done. Which was back in the day a police station one of those used for the dark activities that happened under the Junta. Then we have Adela house were they have three kids trying to challenge each other and eventually build up the courage to enter the local ghost house and they disappear.

For years ,Rocio’s father had worked at the inn as a tour guide: he brought the guest to the archaeological park, to the dam, and to the Salamanca cave, where he told them ghost stories about meetings between witches and devils, or about stinking, red eyed goats; furred snakes; and a basilik with blazing eyes. He was a star employee and was treated accordingly; he used Elena’s 4×4 when his truck broke down, he ate free at the restaurant whenever he wanted, he used the pool and football table without paying and around the townspeople said he was Elena’s lover. Rocio denied it saying her Father wouldn’t get mixed up with his boss, bot that snooty woman.

But when he tells people about the inns dark past he dissappears !! like so many before !!

Another wonderful collection of short stories from a female writer from Argentina I have enjoyed Samantha Schweblin collections in recent years if you enjoyed her collections this is one for you. Like Schweblin stories these are tainted with scars from there past and also the poverty that hits hards in the big city like Buenos Aires where there are so many fallen people on the edges this is a glimpse into there everyday horrific but for many the norm. In the dirty kid I was reminded at times of the great play an inspector calls where the fallen woman was seen by all there in the house and has died but was she the same or even real !! I enjoyed this collection it is the dying embers of the past still there in a piece like the “The INN ” which shows even thou it is now an inn the dark past of the police station is just below the surface. Death, murders, and male violence are all things she touches on in this collection. Have you read this collection?

 

Catherine The Great and The Small by Olja Knežević.

Catherine The Great and The Small by Olja Knežević.

Croatian fiction

Original title – Katarina, Velika i Mala

Translators – Paula Gordon and Elien Elias-Bursac

Source = review copy

It has been a while since I have reviewed a book from Istros books well here I have one of a new series they have been publishing called On the margins. this is the second I will be doing a review of the first book soon. Olja Knežević studied creative writing at Birkbeck college was where she got an MA this book grew out of her dissertation for her MA.  She has lived in London, , California, Belgrade, and London. This was a bestseller when it came out.

I am Catherine the great, hiding away in small room

We have proclaimed this small room an office. English people calla room of this size a broom closet. the english people are spoiled, or so my husband and I say, even when they’re poor. Thats our attitude all year long right up to Christmas, when the bitter cold sets in. Then we marvel at them running around town in the howling wind, going about their buisness as usual, bald me without hoats, women wearing ballet flats without sock, everyone sleeveless, and againwe remember where we’ve come from a small mediterranean country where as soon as the north wind blows, no one goes outside, where everyone leaves work early – noon at latest – with the excuse of attending funerals and paying respects

The opening and the madness of us living her in the UK viewed by Katarina

We follow Katarina the main character in this book from the late seventies when she is a teen selling ice cream and trying to get by in the small country of Montenegro as it is now but then still part of Yugoslavia her home town was called Titograd after the great leader of Yugoslavia. What we see is her family life this is back up with the cracks that are appearing in the country. As she loses her mother her family is all in the same house as her grandmother is there as well. As she starts to blossom she starts a relationship starts Siniša with whom she loses her virginity. Her other friend Milica is wanting to break free of Titograd Katarina knows her mother as well she calls an Aunt. So When Milica goes there and studies Drama she also discovers Drugs in the Big city. So Katarina is found a job as a child Minder and studied to go Belgrade where she is sent to help and keep eye on her friend. She also dabbles this all happens as the homeland falls apart but this strong girl manages to get out and the latter part of the book catches her in London.

The year was 1988. July in Belgrade was intolerably hot; smell of dead dogs and cats, strays killed by the hear, and dried up insects, black and brown cockroaches. But the pressure was on for my finals. I had to be like a youing stoic and, with books as my only defence, resist desire – summer’s naked, sweaty, sexual desire- and grapple with my demons.

The summer in the big city as she starts to live away from her family

This is a great insight into the break up of Yugoslavia from a young female perspective the pressure of growing up as the world around you starts to tear its self apart it also is a personal view of those times one feels that a lot of this is the writers own life and loves from the western music they listen to to the places they live Titograd now in modern Montenegro called Podgorica the capital of that small country was where Olja was born she has also lived in Belgrade and Zagreb which gives her perspective on all sides of the war and she also lived in London. This is a great coming of age rale the ups and downs of being a female growing up and also of being a woman Katarina i n’t perfect and that is what drew me in / she is a flawed character. This is a perfect choice for women in Translation month. Have you read this or the other on the margins series book

Ankomst by Gøhril Gabrielsen

Ankomst by Gøhril Gabrielsen

Norwegian Fiction

Original title – Ankomst

Translator by Deborah Dawkin

Source – personal copy

This is the second of this year’s Peirene series books this year a series called closed universe. It is the second book by the Norweigian writer Gøhril Gabrielsen that they had published the first is one of the few books by them I haven’t reviewed I have a copy so will at some pointreview that one. This is another one for women in translation month. It is the fifth novel from the writer it won the 2017 book prize fort the best book from the North of Norway. 

The bay lies wrapped in darkness, but in the light of the waxing moon. I can make out the waves frothy white crests rushing up into the sshallows. they glide between the rocks on the shore and retreat with a pale metallic sheen. I attach the trailer to the scooter and load it with the mast for the automatic weather station, along with my measuring equipment, guy wires and data logger, the bucket for the precipitation gauge, some antifreeze, my snowshoes, a couple of spades and a can of petrol. Before pulling on the protective cover . I check yet again that my equipment is properly secure.

The remoteness is there as she arrives and start to set up for her experiments .

I picked this as I have always had a love of birds and the fact this follows a scientist in the far north of Norway who has gone to spend a seven-week period as the seabirds she wants to see are due to migrate over and be around she is seeing if climate change is affecting the birds she is her to see the Auks Guilmonts and puffins. As she has done this, she has left her young daughter with her Ex called S who she has regular contact with Skype conversations with her daughter as communication is just basic for her as it is so remote so at times she has no outside contact. There is a lover that may be joining her but the loneliness starts to creep in and the is a s=feeling of a woman on the edge trying to escape the messy break up of her relationship and the idea of this time away seems great but the positiveness of the early part of the book gives way to paranoia as she questions her life and the work draws her to the much earlier owner of the hut she is using. This is a bleak place full of sea birds and nature as it is brought to life in the prose her world collapse will her lover arrive who where is he ?

On one of these January days, as as I sit and ponder the colours in the sky., I think about preception and the sense of sight. I consider those episodes in which I see Borghild and Olaf. I find myself thinikng if them as electrons in the mysterious world of quantum mechanics. electrons jumping from one orbit to another, releasing, with each leap closer to the nucleus, energy in the form of light. Light of varying wavelengths, each ommiting a distinctive colour.

The worldshrinks ghost of the past mix with the colurs in the sky as she finds her minding wandering and drifts.

This is another Peirene gem it took me two sittings thou it is 187 pages long which is one of the longer books. This is a woman on her own going over her past but you can also feel the world around her crashing her life has a rigid routine as she observes the bird, but also a sense of a past in the place she has chosen to live to watch the birds a sort feeling of woe in this place that has seeped into her. Her wanting to make a difference with her work plowing on whilst she reflects on the personal collapsing of her life whilst the lover that is due to arrive never seems to come as time almost slows even when she arrives and sees the boat lights fade off in the distance the remote and rugged world she has left envelopes her. I was reminded of the great book Tartar steppes which saw a soldier in a remote Desert as he waits for someone to attack him. There is a shared sense of remoteness and drifting towards madness. Have you read this books ?

The Bitch by Pilar Quintana

The Bitch by Pilar Quintana

Colombian Fiction

Original tile – La Perra

Translator – Lisa Dillman

Source – review copy

Here I have a crossover of Spanish lit month and women in translation month by another of those that were selected a few years ago for the Bogota 39 list of writers at the hay festival. Which for me has always been a list that has produced some of the best books I have read over the period of this blog. She has published four novels this is her latest and won a big prize in Columbia where it was described as “above all, the great economy and literary quality of the prose; its ability to display extraordinary oppression amid great openness and geographic immensity. by fellow writer Alonso Cueto who’s a Blue hour, I loved so this is praise indeed. 

The syringe didn’t work, Damaris’s arm was strong, but clumsy, and her fingers as fat as the rest of her. Every time she pressed the plunger, it wnet all the way down and the little squirt of milk shot out the dog’s mouth and dribbled everywhere. Since the puppy didn’t yet know how to lick, she couldn’t put milk in a bowl for her, and the only baby bottles they sold in town were for humans- to big, Don Jaim suggest an eyedropper and Damaris gave it a go, but of she had to feed her drop by drop, the dog would never fill her belly. Then Damaris thought of soaking bread in milk and letting the puppy suck at it. That turned out to be the solution: she devoured the whole thing.

Mothering this small pup from milk to solid food in the end Damaris did it all with the pup.

The bitch is set in a small village on the very edge of the village and follows Damaris and her husband Rogelio he is a fisherman. We open with a description of the dogs they had own which has a brutal scene of a tail infected with maggots being cut with a machete this is a brutal intro to a hard world of fishermen and there within a remote village on the edge of the Jungle, we are told early on that Mobiles hadn’t quite reached them there in this small corner of Columbia. So when Damaris has the chance to have a female pup as a new dog after another dog had been poisoned something that has been happening a lot locally. She mothers this pup moving to another room at night so she can tend to her pups needs. Even carrying the small puppy in her bra keeping her close. But the pup grows into a semi-wild dog and ends up wandering into the jungle and comes back wound and is nursed back to health in a mother like way by Damaris but then she has pups and is a bad mother to her pups what is Damaris to do with this dog she doted on but has changed so much her biological is ticking down the pup was her child as her family observes she is all dried up at her age.

When she got home, Damaris was as happy to see the dog as the dog was her. and she petted her for a long time and only stopped after looking down at her hands and seeing they were covered with filth. She decided to give her a bath. The sun was till beating down and Damaris need to rinse the heat and sweat od her walk she bathed the pup in the washtub using the blue laundry soap and brush, much to the displeasure of the little dog, who hated water and lowered her head and hid her tail.

Another  bit of mothering but you see the dog reaction isn’t one of a dog settled as we later see!!

This is an interesting study of a wife and husband that have reached that point in their relationship. where they haven’t had children but Damaris seems to have a maternal gap that is filled when she has the pup at varu=ious times it is pointed out to her husband how she is mothering this pup and not spending time with him. Then there is the dog a bad mother and a wild spirit tempt to the jungle but not wanting to be tied down cared for but not broken to being a pet dog no this has a feral spirit. Never named but there is a vision of a standard street dog you see on many films in Latin America other dogs they had have been described as a lab bulldog style cross so a real old fashion Heinz 57 dogs. This is a fast-paced book that I read in one sitting. A  read with just  150 pages it has ups and downs and opens a small village up and the hard people that live with not much other than there dogs that others in the village will poison for various reasons. A good choice for both lit months.

The Revolt by Clara Dupont-Monod

The Revolt by Clara Dupont-Monod

French historic fiction

Original title  – La Révolte

Translator – Ruth Diver

Source – review copy

Dupont-Monod studied Ancient France at university before going into Journalism, radio, and tv work and writing. She has worked at Cosmopolitan and then Marianne, alongside she worked on the radio. She has written a number of novels and been on the shortlist for two of the biggest french book prize she also hosts a weekly Literary column on French tv every week. This is her debut in English. She lives in Paris and says she has been haunted by Eleanor of Aquitaine for many years.

My mother is a self-assured woman. I have absolute faith in her. She owes this assurance ti her birth, for she is the Duchess of Aquitaine, raised amid luxury and learning, haloed by the memory of her grandfather, the first poet. For her there is no difference between silk and sapience. She managed her fiefs with an iron hand from the very start. Vassal’s rebelions, harvests, defing borders, settling disputes …. Eleanor likes to rule, and she knows every alleyway of even the smallest village of her Aquitaine

A strong women for the time loved her home and want to be in charge

Well, there was a clue in the first bit the haunting of her from Eleanor of Aquitaine as she forms the main character in this story it is told from her son Richard the lionheart. She first gets her marriage to Louis VII annulled and she then sets her sights on the English king Henry Plantagenet, but his strong women have misjudged the English king as he is a bully and he has taken a mistress Rosamunde he has also started to try and take over the french piece she has to try and find a way to remove him and this is where Richard who will become king in his place is taken part as he helps his mother gain he freedom from under her brute of a husband. This is a son honoring his mother it is a story of strong women in a time of male society a queen in lands of Kings

My mother loses her illusions two years after her remarriage. One winters evening in 1154, she is due to set sail from the port of Barfleur, on the tip of the Cotentin Peninsula. In her arms she holds her child, born a little more than a year after the wedding. His nam is William. The son Eleanor never gave Louis. And she is pregnant again.

The crew scan the skies. Low clouds. heavy swells, they shpould delay crossing. My father refuses. He has been cursing the wind for weeks. No capricious sea will stop him. His destiny is calls.”England is at the end of a civil war”, he hammers, “she wants her new king”He will be the great saviour. He must banish the looters, raze the insubordinate lords’ strongholds , recover the crown’s asset, and mint new coins. He promises power and justice, and to “Prise the goods of the poor from the rapacious hands of the pwerful” as he had announced

She ses a different side of him after a couple of years of marriage.

This is a short work and works I have struggle with longer works of historic fiction. I am one of the few people that isn’t a huge fan of Wolf Hall and its follow up. This is a similar story but the way it comes across is vibrant and springs to life the world of Eleanor women I only knew by name not her place in the world her she has used a piece of the truth and has woven it with her prose to give a powerful story of the world she was haunted by.  that has been well drawn in English by Ruth Diver in translation. It also has a son’s love of his mother this is a man that would do anything for her even kill a king. The tyrant that is her second husband is a great portrait of a tyrant a man of power who shes her as a thing more than an equal and wife. This is a great first book for my few books for women in translation month.  I must note as well this is one of my favorite covers so far this year. Have you a favorite historic work in translation?

 

A Silent Fury by Yuri Herrera

A Silent Fury (The El Bordo Mine Fire)

Mexican Non-fiction

Original title – El Incendio de la mina El Bordo

Translator – Lisa Dillman

Source – gift

I was sent this kindly by the Pr person from And Other stories for sending her a TLS with a review of her first book in translation which she hadn’t been able to get so it gave me a book for Spanish lit month. I had reviewed his debut in English a few years ago and had meant to get back and review another book by Yuri Herrera anyway this reportage work appealed to me having lived in two areas of the Uk with strong mining connections I have heard tales of how dangerous it was here where there is a deal of Health and safety. So to read a work that dealt with a large mining disaster in another country it was appealing.

The bell never rang, the ones that were there expressly for that kind of event, even though, as the agebt from the public prosecutor office noted months later, they were indeed functioning properly

There were some who later said that they first smelled smoke at two O’clock in the morning, but it was at six that Delfino Rendon raised the cry of alarm , once he had finished cleaning the chites on level 415. He had just  extracted several loads of metal on525 when he detected an unfamilar smell and decided to go up, and then up some more , and on reaching 365 and approaching the shaft wellhead he noticed something that smelled like woodsmoke, and that the level was too hot

So four hours before they first said it fire was evident and other noticed more four hours later in accounts.

This was a personal work for the writer the El Bordo mine is in his home town of Pachuca what he wants to do was go back over all that was written and reported at the time and tease out of that the actual facts to what happened and get to the truth of this disaster the mine had many levels we are told early on each is called by the depth underground so the ten levels are named by there actual depth underground depths of 142 meters on the first floor down to the tenth level at 525 so from a handful of accounts the report into what happened and old newspapers we follow the events of that day and after the company tried to brush the facts under the carpet when the fire broke out they said there were only ten people on the level the fire was and the started to close the mine down. But in reality there was many more victims of this disaster 87 men died only seven men lived and there is no account from them just the charred remains of the fellow miners brought up and the huge injustice that caused these men to die.

A Photo published on the front page of El Univeral on March 12 shows forty-eight people (perhaps more, the image is blurry in places). Most are women wearing shawls, accompanied by boys in hats and girls in shawls, They are starring at the camera, looking very serious. None of their faces display the scenes of desperation mentioned in the story accompaning the the photo.On either side, a few men also stared at the camera while other looked at the women. The caption reads ..” Those waiting outside the mine for their loved ones to emerge”

A newspaper reported the aftermath and its affect on the wives and children of those lost in the mine !!

This book looks at what happened a century later and picks the piece of what was known but also tries to give a voice to those that hadn’t a voice at the time those 87 men died when the mine was sealed without warning as the fire raged leaving them trapped to their doom and those seven that survived six days in this underground hell as their voices or testament was never heard at the time the horror of being there must have been haunted this is a great reportage on an event we need witness piece like this to remind the future if what happened in the past this is a short book but captures the effect aftermath cover-up from the mining company involved and lasting legacy of the El Bordo mining disaster on his hometown. An interesting addition to this year’s Spanish lit month.

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