That was the months that were March and April 202

 

  1. Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree
  2. The Land of Short sentences by Stine Pilgaard
  3. Happy stories mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu
  4. Heaven by Mieko kawakami
  5. The book of mother by Violaine Huisman
  6. After the sun by Jonas Eika
  7. Paradais by Fernada Melchor
  8. More than I love my life by David Grossman
  9. Burning grass by Cyprian Ekwensi
  10. Phenotypes by Paulo Scott
  11. The New men by CP Snow
  12. Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck
  13. Contempt by Alberto Moravia 
  14. The emigrants by George Lamming 
  15. After Midnight by Irmgard keun

I missed Marchs round up just embarrassing how few books I reviewed I am reading more than ever but in march my reviewing slip and I reviewed just 6 books mainly from the booker international list I just wasn’t in a reading or reviewing mood  this follows  a long time off work with stress that start in Feb.That has only seen me return to work in the last ten days after a couple of months any way  enough about that I have a job that  has a lot of stress so sometimes you need a break. I am onwards and upwards and actually  am feeling less stress and roaring to face my 50s and so new challenges on the blog.I feeling more like blogging as  march has carried on I felt the old rhythm returning and also my own passion has returned I cover most of the booker internationals list books I am just wanting to read a wider variety of books in translation a lot of backlist and older classics the rest of the year with of course a few new titles. The books in the last few months Have taken me to India ,Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia , France , Barbados , Germany, Israel, Mexico, Denmark, Japan, Us and Uk so I read a book from every continent over these two months I think I loved most of the books I read for me the reading highlight was 1954 club I love these clubs based around a year twice a year and the four I read this time had all been on my shelves for a good while.I am looking forward to the rest of the year and now a lot less stressed if anything the best for a long time.

As for a few stats there hasn’t been any new countries these months. The was also no new publishers. I have read 42 books so far this year I’m aim to read 120 books this year and am on course. I have reviewed 31 books so far this year.

Books of the month

February

I loved the book of mother for me this is a perfect example of French Auto fiction a daughter paints her. other warts and all in a book that captures a woman whose spirit swung from tot to heart warming her ;life was of extremes.

March

Edited in Prisma app with Thota Vaikuntam

 

It was much closer for my march read book of the month as thew four books I read for club 1954 were all great books and any other month would have been a book of the month but this book has been so hard for me to review as I love it so much the subtle tale and the way it flows with its word play and the fact it captures a world not often told of an older female and at that an older Indian female add to that a realistic trans character you have a great book one of my all time favourite books.

Other none reading things-

I took a rabbit hole of you tube a lot this year I even had thoughts of blogging but now I’ve decided that this is my main aim to blog I just haven’t the confidence in myself to vlog there are some great vlogs out there I may do a post on the ones I loved one day but at moment my two favourites are better than food and leaf by leaf. I just didn’t watch a lot the last couple of months that has stuck with me. I did watch Cinemania which I had watched years ago the tale of a group of New Yorkers that just watch films all day every day often 6 or 7 a day. I also watch a number of the early carry on films on Brit box.Amanda and I spent a weekend in Stratford upon Avon which was a great break and just what I needed as it was with family we cruised the river I brought some books and we had some great food.

The Month Ahead

I am back reading Multiple books I just want read as many books as I can these days so this seems be a way of adding more pages a day anyway I have Archipelago week from the 9th I have a couple of books to read for that other wise it is the last off the booker list I haven’t read then it will be a mix of old and new I am reading Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann after that I have a book by Emile Zola lined up as for new books I am just reading The people opposite Georges Simenon most political novel.  then I have the first Chinese novel from Hanford star. I just feel it is onwards and upwards from here. What are your plans for the next month or the rest of the year ?

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After Midnight by Irmgard keun

After Midnight by Irmagard keun

German fiction

Original title – Nach Mitternacht

Translator – Anthea Bell

Source – library

I got this as I reviewed  Child of all nations by her last November and fell in love with her writing style which seems to perfectcly captures the world of being just an adult and her again the narrator is 19 Santa we are drawn into her world. This was the first book keun wrote herself after she went into exile from the Nazi regime herself as some of the novella parallels her own decision at the time to flee Germany. it also mixes the  actual events at the time such as Hitlers visit. which is set in the late 1930s follows what happens after the day Hitler visited Frankfurt  as we see the change of attitude sweeps over Germany at this time after people her him speak.it captures the country just as the madness that lead into the descent to war is just happening.

Gerti called for me at noon today, because she was going to buy a pink blouse and wanted me to come along to the shops and tell her which suited her best. Even Lisa says I have good taste in clothes, and people are always wanting me to knit them sweaters. Actually I can knit fast, and well. If I really do marry Franz, I can always earn us a little money by knitting. How ever, here in Frankfurt I’ve been moving in circles which are quite different from anything Franz is used to. I mis with high-class, rich, intelligent people here. Franz wouldn’t know what to say to them

I loved how even thou it is nearly 90 years old Sanna at times is so now.

Our narrate is Sanna she has lived with her aunt for a time but when some of the view she says about the way some of the Nazi leader talk it means that it has a knock on effect when those near her aunt and her cousin that she has feeling fall call in the police so she moves to Frankfurt to live with her half brother Alois and his wife in Frankfurt with his wife that is an artist this is also where she connects with Gerti whom has a fallen for a Jewish boy all this happens whilst we see the views of those around them harden as Hitler is due to come to Frankfurt and speak. what we see is the world she knows shrinking as those she is friends with either start to think about leaving or become entranced with the rhetoric of Hitler. Alois her brother is already at odds as his books have been banned and when she sees the effect on there wider circle of friends like Gerti’s love dieter there comes that time to decide what to do stay or go. the last few chapters also introduce an older character as they decide what they are doing.

But politics is in there air even the Ladies these days. Gerti says she supposes it’s something if you find one without a lavatory attendant who expects you to say “Heil Hitler” and wants ten pfeninigs into bargain

And now, suddenly, Gerti is weeping bitterly =, because she didn’t see Dieter Aaron today. So I have to comfort her. Why does a girl like Gerti have to go falling love with a banned person mixed race, for goodness sake when there are plenty men around the authorities would let her love? Its hard enough to know your way around the rules the authorities lay down for business, as we all know, ban be very tricky organised- and now we have to know the rules for love too

This captures the slowly creeping changes in the world but shows how hard they hit

What she does so well her is uses Sanna eyes a young woman just wanting to be a young woman at the time. Some of the bits I love is the usual teen things she is trying to do but then sees the events of the time stopping or changing what they can do.we then see how this chain of events is impacting on her life from having to leave her aunts to the time in Frankfurt when the attitudes of those around them changes as views become juxtapose and the way forward is split into accepting the status quo keeping quiet and not being able to be yourself. the other option is to flee and go into exile this actual series of events follows much of the decisions that Irmgard Keun followed herself. Her books were banned like Alois books were at the time. She also linked to actual events at the time which was Hitlwers list to Frankfurt when he spoke at the Opernplatz. It also captures the way German was changing and how some never spoke up and others used the way things were for other reasons like the events around her Aunt where was it what she said or the fact that she was falling for her cousin. Have you read her books where should  I go after this one ?

Winstons score – + b It captures the times well as the country is on the tip of entering war and the horrors that followed through a young persons eyes.

The Emigrants by George Lamming

The Emigrants by George Lamming

Bajan Fiction

Source – Personal copy

When I looked at the list of books for this roll of the club which is 1954 (Well I’m lat I reviewed three last week but I still had two to et finished and review and this is the first of those two)I really wanted to try and read books from my shelves as I have a habit of just going and ordering from the list when it comes out then forget the books and miss reading them so I decided collect what I had which was a fair few about 8 books and this was one of them and I had long wanted to review a few books from the wind rush writers whom George Lamming was part of in fact he may have been the first writer from the Caribbean to have put across that experience of coming to Post war Uk and how art felt . This book follows a group of men from all over the Caribbean on a boart to the Uk.Lamming initially taught English in Trinidad then he head to teach at a boarding school in England , he was also a broadcast on the show Caribbean voices a show that gave window to those first wave of writers like Lamming himself , his good friend Sam Selvon and Derek Walcott. This was his second book and focus much more on the experience of the emigrant.

The voices warmed to a rich peal of laughter and the Barbadian found no support for his correction. He raised himself and started with a feigned indignation down towards the Grenadian who on no occasion seemed willing to offend. The others laughed, enriching their banter about the small islanders. An altercation followed between the Barbadian and the Grenadian in which enumerate3d the virtues of his own island. The men hoisted themselves from the bunks and watched the adversaries who were not inclined to make any concessions

The boat can be weighted at time as people from the different islands clash

The book tries to capture a group of Emigrants as they travel on a boat from the Caribbean to the Uk this is the same journey the writer took himself in fact he was on the same boat as sam elevon when they came to the Uk there is Collis a writer how tries to see what is happening in proportion eight up what awaits them. Then we meet Dickson he is a teacher but he is a nervous character and sees the fear ahead of him and what may go wrong he is a real glass half empty type of person.Higgins a man with his dreams is happy to be going after see his paths blocked . As we see them head the narritve moves and gives the various feel of these and other character then we see what happens when they finally get there when the real England hits the version of England they all have had in the minds. As we see Higgins start to suffer as that intial optimism falls away. Then Dickson worst fears happen. We see what happened to many as they tried to settle in these large cities and a world that is so much different to there own.

When the strange man returned to the dec k it was highs who saw him first. He stood alone looking across the sea wondering what he should do next. He had found no real contact with the sailor, and he thought out certain way of approaching the West Indians. He scratched the back of his head, trying not to look in their direction.Higgins kept his head down thinking. He seemed to feel the strange man bewilderment, and his sympathy became more urgent. The men watched Higgins and wonder what was happening.The strange man couldn’t bear to be alone much longer. As the ship grew nearer the next stop which was England, the need for company became greater.

The boat draws closer the tense is there you can cut the air as they say.

This is a book that has a myriad of voice in it what he has tried to do is capture the Caribbean experience from every angle I this character but a lot of it is that list dream that feeling of how different the dream of Britain that they had is brought crashing to the ground when they step off that book he was a fan of Jouyce it seems and in part you c an see that here, Anthony Burgess was a huge fan of Lamming called him one of the best we have. This is a insight into a journey and experience that many people from the Caribbean took including the writer himself it is about the wanting of a better life the chance being able to Emigrate can bring but it also captures the woes and worries of this experience as well. it had a style I enjoyed it was jarring at times but I felt it worked as we jump in and out of these characters near the end we focus more on a few of the characters. It shows how hard it can be to leave behind all you know this should be a wider read book in fact all the wind rush books as they give a sense of perspective on the experience which although 70 years ago is still happening now with people want a better life !. Have you a favourite book from the Windrush generation of writers ?

Winstons score – A voices of the past caught in time of the wind rush experience

Contempt by Alberto Moravia

Contempt by Alberto Moravia

Italian Fiction

Original title – Il Disprezzo

Translator – Angus Davidson

Source – Personal copy

I haven’t read Moravia in years in fact when I thought about it how long ago it was it must have been twenty five years ago and as I have a lot of his books on my shelves when this showed up as a possible title for the 1954 club it seemed time to read him I had planned an unsuccessful Italian reading month and planned to read him years ago but that failed so I grasp this chance to read the best known post war writer from Italy , well his best works all came after the war.He was the master of examine the relationship behind those middle class doors getting to the heart of what makes relationships and men and women beat. He won most of the major prize in Italian fiction. He also was married to the great Italian writer Elsa Morante he also had a relationship with Dacia Marani so he was at the `Heart of the Italian literary scene. A lot of his books were also made into films this was as well By the Great Jean Luc Goddard I haven’t seen the film I watch the trailer and hope to catch it at some point as I like Goddard work.

At the time when I first met Battista, I found myself in an extremely situation, and I did not know how to escape from it. My difficulty consisted in my having that time acquired the lease of a flat, although I had not the money to complete my payment for it and did not know how I should get the money. We had lived Emila and I, during our first two years, in a large furnished roomie a lodging house. Any other woman woman but Emil would perhaps not have put up with this provisional arrangements, but, in the case of Emil, I think that, by accepting it, she gave me the greatest proof of love that a devoted wife can give a husband. Emilia was, indeed what is called a born housewife.

The two need money hence he takes the screenwriting job

The book is about a couple Riccardo Molten he is one of these young writer that thinks he is the next best thing but he has end up as a screenwriter on a film that is an adaptation of the Odyssey and he is married to the Beautiful Emil but she is maybe what would now be called a wag as she tries to escape her past or as he calls it her ancestral situation. So she likes the best things in life and this is how  Ricardo end up with the scriptwriting gig, to keep her with a made and with her sports car. The story follows the making of the film which he is doing for a producer called Battista whom early on spends time alone with his wife after they go in her car and he is left to follow and gets held up. Then on another occasion Emil sees Ricardo kiss his secretary. This sets up the story as it is one of mistrust as we see a marriage fall apart as one man seems to set it on a course to split.s this Happens Riccardo sees parallels in his life and the film Odyssey he is making.He is a sensitive soul that is baked in the sun as the film is made and things start to get worse as The director ask for to much in the film they are making.

As Came into y own street, I was again seized with perplexity; Emila was certainly not at home, and I , in that new flat which now seemed to me not so much strange as actively hostile should feel more lost and miserable than I should in a public place. For a moment I was almost tempted to turn back to go and spend that hour and a half in a cafe. Then with a sudden providential reawakening of memory, I recalled that I had promised Battista, the previous day, Tobbe at home at that time, so that he could telephone me and arrange an appointment. This would be an important appointment, because Battista was to speak to me at last about the new script, and to make concrete proposals and introduce me to the director

Later on he is less sure of Emila where is she.

The novel came about partly as his own marriage was in trouble. The Main thing I felt as I read the book was that old say as you sow, so shall you reap this is a classic case of the problems being in the n=mind of the main characters and getting blown out of proportions. along side so clever framing devices like the film , the subject matter of the film.I used the term baked in the sun as this is how the book felt it is a pressure cooker of a marriage ready to explode if there isn’t a gentle release.Another interesting choice for the 1954 club. it is well plotted with the four main character the husband and wIfe the film producer and as I haven’t mentioned the director Rheingold a man that makes unrealistic expectations on Riccardo around the film m and how it is to be made. This is a dissection  of a marriage it is pulled apart with a cold eye and you can see a man writing about his own as he writes around this fictional couple. Moravia portrays what it is like to be in the middle of this all as not is happening. Have you read anything by Alberto Moravia ?

Winston’s score -+B An insight into a marriage falling apart based on the writers own marriage failing.

Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

American fiction

Source – personal copy

I am on to the second choice for this weeks 1954 club and I go to America and John Steinbeck . I have long been a fan of Steinbeck I like of Mice and men at school and then in may 20s I read a few more then I decided to slow down and leave some for the rest of my life so as I turned fifty the other week it seemed right to cover him again in fact it was 2010 when I reviewed the Pearl from him here so maybe it is time to read a few more of my tar from him this jumped out as it was the follow up to my favourite book from Steinbeck Cannery row.What Sweet Thursday(the title is a reference to an old names for the days of the weeks so it is sweet Thursday after Lousy Wednesday and before Waiting Friday ). As we catch up with Doc  after the war as he returns to his home on cannery Row and sees a changed row but in some ways it is just  the same

Doc was philosophical about it.He whiled away his free hours with an unlimited supply of government alcohol, mad many friends and resisted promotion. When the war was over, doc was kept on by a grateful government to straighten out certain inventory problems, a job he was fitted for since he had contributed largely to the muck-up . Doc was honourably discharged two years after our victory.

Doc returns a couple years after everyone else

It opens and says how the war had an effect on Monterey and cannery row in either small or large parts this include Doc who was drafted as a sergeant in a vd section. He’d left an old friend in charge of his western Labs but when he returned he found it run down covered in mildew. he then discover the shop owner opposite we has changed but Mack is still there and they drink. what follows is Doc settling back into the row and seeing how the world of the row has change slightly since the end of the war. then a few chapters in we see Suzy arrive on a Greyhound bus her arrival which sees her end up on the row and at the Bear house where people notice doc seems to like here and this leads to them teaching her to drive and try to get her and Doc together bring him  some happiness but there is more to Suzy and we see what happens.

When a girl named Suzy got off the greyhound bus, she looked up and down the street, fixed her lipstick, then lifted her beat-up suitcase and headed for the Golden Poppy restaurant. Suzy was a pretty girl with a flat nose and wide mouth. She had a good figure, was twenty-one , five-feet five, hair probably brown(dyed blonde), brown cloth coat, rabbit sin collar, cotton print drsss, brown calf shoes(heel taps little run over), scruff on the right toe.She limped slightly on her right foot. Before she picked up the suitcase she opened her brown purse of simulated leather.In it were mirror, comb with two teeth missing.Lucky strikes, matchbook that said “Hotel Rosalie, San Francisco , half a packet of peppermint life savers. eighty five cents in silver, no folding money, lipstick but no powder, tin box of aspirin, no keys

Suzy arrives but she is a little down on heel her self

 

I loved cannery row the way Steinbeck caught those with no hope so well and made us feel pathos with them as characters so with Docs return after the war we capture those years between the end of the war and the baby boomer years. As we see how the war years has made some people not return and other let go and other come to the row. I said when I reviewed Simenon book set in America three bedrooms in Manhattan has a parallel in another way it follows a man falling from bed to bed and this is the row trying to find Doc a woman. Then Enter Suzy newly arrived from San Fransisco  and we see what happens when Suzy and Dc are pushed into trying to start a relationship. But as ever the `row has a nasty twists and turns to their lives.Steinbeck is great at conveying those lives on the edge of the society those we don’t always see in other books the gritty underworld of those just getting by where needing a microscope as a man of science shows how tough life is for even Doc. But what also comes across the brotherhood of the Row when Mack tries to teach suzy to drive or the way the rally round to try and get doc and Suzy together in air to help there friend feel whole.Have you read Steinbeck have you a favourite book by him ?The second stop on this weeks 1954 club and next we will be off to Italy.

Winstons score – A a gem of a story a great follow ups to Cannery row.

The New Men by CP Snow

The New Men by CP Snow

English fiction

Source personal copy

it is the 1954 club this week I have a pile of books I hope to get over the week but I start with this from the writer CP Snow I had long wanted to start his stranger and brother series of which this is one so when it was announced the 1954 club I looked at the various list around the net and discovered that this was on the list of books published that year. I looked at the book blurb and yes it is part of the series but seemed to be a self constant story. CP snow was a writer that tried to connect as he called it the two cultures of Art and science here is a book that is an example maybe of that idea as it is about science in a way as it follows two brothers as they are involved with the search for atomic fission which is what powers Nuclear power but also is used in atomic weapons. a group of scientist from Cambridge try and make the discover in the early 40s

Martin gave a friendly, sarcastic smile. I went on. He met each point on the plane of reason. He had reckoned them out himself; np one insured more carefully against the future. I was telling him nothing he did not know. I became angry gain.

“She’s pretty shallow, you know. I expect her loves are too”

Martin didn’t reply.

“She’s bright, but she’s not very clever”

“That doesn’t matter to me” He said

“You’d find her boring in time.”

I”I couldn’t have done less so up to now”said Martin

The book like the others in the series revolves around the life and times of the Elliot brothers here we see them get the chance to be involved int he search for Atomic fission. The book opens as the two brother meet and Martin has a new lady friend he introduces Lewis to his new lady friend but when Lewis dismisses this lady as unsuitable and says his brother will bore of her over time the two fall out. Then Martin as he says in the meeting with Lewis is starting to look at fission and he is called to a group in a small village called Barofrd near Warwick to study and try and perfect the research. in what is called Project Mr Toad as the group splits up into a couple of teams doing slightly different things he decides to try and reconcile with his brother and get him to join him at Barford.What follows is the journey in try to discover but also a side story of maybe someone spying. As part of the project connects with Nuclear weapons.The story is about the morals of what they did as well as s=what different characters in the book around the brothers see as the moral rights and wrongs

Though Hector Ross had left me in suspense about his intention, I did worry much. Despite our mutual dislike I trusted his mind, and for a strong mind there was only one way to open,

Thus Luke, in the midst of disapproval, got all he asked for, and went back to playing his piano. There was months to get through before the pile was refitted. He and Martin had set themselves for another wait.

It was during this wait I had my first intimation of a different kind of secret. one of the security branches had begun asking questions. They had some evidence( so it seemed though the muffled hints) that there might be a leaked

The later part of the book follows this revelation around the brother and the project

Now this is part of a series and in the middle of the series it seems but for me it did work as a standalone story of the two brothers and there journey from initially falling out the both getting involved in Mr toad as the project is called (I just loved the fact the project was called mr toad). Snow used a mixture of real facts around the discovery of fission.He also question the outcome of some of the research which lead to the Atomic bomb in a small part. Snow worked in the government around the time the part involving government officials and parts of the government feels very real in the way he portray it. The project is set in  Barford is an actual village in warship in fact I was very near it this weekend when I was away but didn’t get chance to pop and take a pic of the village sign. The rest of the series is around Lewis Elliot. I will hopefully read the other in the series. I chose this as my first for Club1954 as it  made me finally get to snow and this series I had listen to him on Desert Island disc when he was on in the in 1975 here is a link to that episode. I felt I had to read him and also the idea of science and art working closer together appeals to me and I’m sure he’d liked books like Benjamin Labatut  When we cease to understand the world a recent book (see what I’ve done there manager o link to a book in translation). Have you read anything from CP Snow ?

Winstons score – A a lost gem of English lit

Phenotypes by Paulo Scott

Phenotypes by Paulo Scott

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Marrom e Amarelo

Translator – Daniel Hahn

Source – personal copy

Now I am back on the long listed books for the Booker international. This time it is a book from Brazilian writer Paulo Scott. I thought I had reviewed his earlier book nowhere people but I hadn’t when I looked back so this is the first book I have reviewed by him he studied public law and taught it for a number of years, he was also involved in student politics and was involved in the re-democratisation of Brazil. He has now written six novel and seven collections of poetry. This book use the tale of two brother to put under the spotlight the question of race in Brazil which is something I hadn’t know a lot about or thought much about.

I was an important researcher into the so-called hierarchy of skin colours on pigmentocracy and its logic in Brazil, on the perversity of colourism, on compensatory policies and their lack of understanding among Brazilian elites, that I’d advised NGO’s in Brazil, in Latin America and the rest of the world, that I’d consulted for Adidas, oh yes that’s right , Adidas the famous German-founded company making High performance sportswear, the man was foolish enough to emphasise, as if that were the high point of my biography, and did consider interrupting him, saying like hell did I ever consult for Adidas, That I’d merely acted as intermediary for an agency that did advertising for them

This was how he was introduced but also shows how facts can be twisted and rewritten so easily.

The novel focuses on Federico and his brother Lourenco. They have a father who is black and mother that is white.The brother  have a huge difference in the skin tones and are different Federico is much light in his skin tone than his brother he could pass as white as the book opens we see him in his late forties as he is the last member of a government appointment committee that is dealing with quotas in High education as he is introduced in the opening lines we see how much he has done but also maybe a bit up himself as he complains how they talk about him getting his name wrong a small project with Adidas that they seemed to think more important but as the project he is involved with grows he starts to question what is happening he grew up in Porto Alegre and hadn’t much been touched by race mainly due to his light skin tone and the fact he hadn’t been touch  by racism as much. But when events from within his own family and the fact that som thing that happens with his brothers family makes him question the nature of race but also how absurd some of the solutions to this problem can be and how maybe a software program isn’t the answer. This is a novel that asks to question the hard question of race and also look under the skin of a nation.

It isn’t a gremlin match day, but it’s the eve of the eleventh, the last day on which let December the Gremio team won the Intercontinental cup, the Toyora cup, the day on which, every month the Gremistas, en masse, go around in the club shirts to commemorate the historic victory. As it’s Friday, it’s not surprising to see a group of friends won’t be able to meet up in the Saturday marking the occasion in advance at domestic barbecues, in restaurants, in bars, on the streets

1983 was there greatest moment the home team of Porto Alegre not much to do with the story but I am a huge football fan so I like this celebration of that moment even after decades.

I enjoyed parts of this novel and in places not many I didn’t it felt as thou the message was more than the story at times.  I didn’t connect with, but the story it was telling is an important one and maybe in the use of a family it tackled it the best way as we see how the tone of the skin of each member of the family and also how they are viewed this is the question at the start does race effect the chance but then how do you deal with it the is a section where the program is mention then a fellow member of the group talks about skin tone as thought it was like the myriad of paint tones. What he is trying to do is lift the lid on the question of race in Brazil as Daniel explains in his after word this is hard to convey from one language to the next as it is a lot about the language used and maybe this is what is missed but I am not sure I like it in parts and others it wasn’t grabbing me. This is one I may reread at a later date and see if I connect more with it but in parts this is great the opening draws you in `and things like the discussion of the software has a touch of the comic at times. Then the family events around Federico niece grabbed me. race is a hard subject to tackle and for me a white male a hard subject to write from my perspective but I can see how hard this subject and how to make the system fairer is hard to tackle as it is so complex and this is an interesting insight into it. Have you read any books that try to tackle this subject.Have you a favourite novel around race ?

Winstons- score B a brave book about race

Burning grass by Cyprian Ekwensi

Burning Grass by Cyprian Ekwensi

Nigerian fiction

Source – Personal copy

One of the things I want to try and do this year is clear my own pile of books and also read more from places I have covered less the last few years and one of these is my small collection of African writer series books I have brought a few as I have seen them so I decide it was time to work down them and I chose this which happened to be the second book on the writer list. Cyprian Ekwensi had a number of books on the African writer series list. He was born in Northern Nigeria where this book was set( the book came out of a journey where he spent times with the Fulani cattlemen. He worked for the Nigerian broadcast company and then became the director of Information for the department of Information he did this before the civil war in Nigeria. He wrote a number of novels and  short stories and he passed away in 2007. This is the first title I have read by him. He is well regarded as one of the first voice of post colonial African Literature he also

When the girl came running toward them they saw the terror in her eyes. close on her heels came a dark-visaged man , frowning and cursing, brandishing a koboko. He stopped when he was the girl throw herself against the old man’s feet and cry out to be saved.

“She is my slave!!”  he roared. “I want her back!she’s running away!”he raised the whip.

“Your slave?” said the old man, leaping to his feet. His son’s glance met the girl’s , caught the mute appeal

I love this as which son was it maybe both !!

The book follows a family from the Fulani tribe a group of wandering cattlemen . The book opens with a runaway slave girl that comes across the family and the head Mai Sunday. He knows the girls master he is a cruel master and he arranges to rescue the girl from her situation but this then cause a knock on effect as his sons all connect with this woman Fatimeh his youngest falls for her. but she and his other son then run away this leaves the youngest Rikku heartbroken the book follows Mai as he tries to help his son get over this loss but also as they live there wandering life as the move with the way they need to feed the cattle and also add to this a dove appears and there is a large number of people falling ill to sleeping sickness. we see a family drift apart but as the book draws to the end the start to draw back together.

Mai Sunday’s first sight of the village on the great river did not excite him.He had been travelling through bush which thickened day after day, sleeping in trees, eating forest fruit, preaching at little villages on the way, and now the thought of seeing Jalla doubled his pleasure.

He followed the earth motor road. At intervals along the road he noticed little clearings lined with stones. Here a traveller might stop and wash his hands and feet in the water provided and say his prayers. When he arrived at the next one he washed his face, hands and feet in the water and said a short prayer before continuing his journey. The road wound ion for another half a mile, and turning beyond a mahogany tree he saw the grass huts. There were about one hundred of the,, all huddled together, and he thought: “if ever a fire should break out here, only Allah from above can save anyone”

Mai as he head to the river and also the fact the tribe is Muslim as the enter the motor road the mix of the future and past.

Now this is one of the earliest in the African writer series and maybe is a world that isn’t there now the tribe is still there infect the Fulani is widespread tribe over north Nigeria and the surround countries. they still like in the book have a very traditional world customs and costume so in fact it is similar to the book what he does so well is capture the coming and goings of the family as they wander the bush feeding the cattle as there family had done for generations with Mai we have a classical Patrica figure  the head of a family but as we see in the opening when he rescues Fatimeh  the slave girl also how he tries to help his youngest son. this was read in a lot of schools when it came out it was aimed by Heinmann the publisher as the cut the length of the book in half from the original manuscript it works as it isn’t a flabby work it is very direct and so well paced as we follow the life of this family as they head from place to place. Have you read any of his book or any others from the African writer series ( which I believe is due to be revived soon which is a great Idea as for me it introduce me over the years to so many great voices and also brought books from countries under represented in English )

Winstons score – B a solid tale of a family wandering North Nigeria as we see the family dynamics and the world they live in.

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree

Edited in Prisma app with Thota Vaikuntam

Tomb of Sand by Geertanjali Shree

Indian fiction

Original title – Ret Samadhi

Translator – Daisy Rockwell

Source – personal copy via subscription

Well I have finally got round to reviewing this book as I just struggled how to get across how wonderful Tomb of sand is I have read it twice and still struggling with how to put it across. It is the fifth novel from the Geetanjali shree her earlier books have also been translated into English but not by Daisy. Geetanjali was brought up in Uttar Bradesh and she said the lack of available children books in English made her write in Hindi and her rich connection in Hindi( I was lucky with my shadow Jurors to have a zoom chat with daisy where she said Geetanjali loved word play and sometimes just put pieces in the book for the word play ). This is the first novel translated from Hindi to be translated into English to be longlisted and now shortlisted on The booker shortlist. I agree with daisy when she said there is a real blind spot in the UK for translated works from India and South Asia, The lose of a couple of prizes although I now know there is a new Prize in India The JCB prize Which I will now be watching for books to read from India.

Serious son got up and left. The world, wrecked by destructive humans, rematerialised all about him. The sand, defiled beer cans and plastic bags, the earth, colonised with white people, the flabby Indian bandar log, the cacophony that fancies itself music and makes nature weep, the laughing screaming stupid people, laugh, they told him; what’s there to laugh about- look at all you’ve done to this Nation! Fume fume fume. Serious Son went back to his room , fuming. And fell asleep.

The older son was said to not laugh or smile a serious young man.

Well to the book well first the title Samadhi which is a Hindi word with a multitude of means and the English title was suggest by Daisy as it has part of what the word means but also makes you think about it (For meI felt it was in a way about the sand of time running out but that was my view when first reading the title). The book allows an 80 woman she has lost her Husband at the start of the book and has gone into a slump the first hundred odd pages is her at her daughters just in her bed with Grief or I do wonder is the grief the loss of her husband or the loss of time in her life ? maybe that is just me what is captured we’ll her is the household the coming and goings around Ma as she gets to life together, there is also a lot about how her being on with her daughter which I didn’t know isn’t very common. As she  comes out of her room and starts to live again. This involves reconnecting with Rosie a Hirja( a trans woman) on the cover it says they meet after the husbands  but at times in the book there is reference to them, spend time as kids as Ma visits Lahore this is the later part of the book and is about the loss of identity when partition happened and how it had a knock on effect on Ma as Her and her daughter Beti visit. That is just part of the book add a lot of sidetracks about the locals , birds and Hindi religion and myth you see how hard this book was to get over.

A coolness descends into her heat which is pleasant, calm, not the kind of numbing chill from outside .The peace of the wall, not the carrying-on occurring behind her back. That painting behind her that makes her wonder how the breathing of the whole world has caused her own to collapse.

Ma closes her eyes, finesses her silence, stops her breathing so that no one will know  there’s one breath left: one tiny life form. Let it slip into the wall, let it slowly glide forward, let nothing get in its way to ruin its rhythm, let nothing break its stride, suppress it, make it fall off the edge

Early on Ma still in her bed viewed by Beti

I loved how this was put over in English when it dropped through the letterbox I went oh no a 700 page novel but it is actually maybe 500 page novel what they did between the Hindi version of the book and the English is add chapter breaks also the fact that in Hindi the books fill the pages this was 300 pages of tightly packed text. This is a story that was hard to get into English as it had the Untranslatable tag Daisy said the wordplay at times is hard to convey but what she found at times is that if she had to cut something another wordplay would appear in the same passaged. The book has a number of controversial stories the first is Rosie there is very few books written in India with Hijra portray or even mentioned. I did feel that Rosie was a real person that the writer may have meet the mannerism and speech it just jumps off the page. This is one of those books that is hard to put across it dislike doing into a world outside your own for a time it is Ma’s world we see the world through her eyes , add to this some great wordplay and a mix of myths this is a blend that maybe for me deserves to win the Booker prize. I felt that after the first reading earlier in the year and even more after this reading this is a book I will read again and again over time which for me is something I never think of doing. Have you read this book or any books Translated from other Indian languages into English ?

Winstons score – +A just breathtaking in the world we enter but also in the translation which draws t=you into that world.

Paradais by Fernanda Melchor

Paradais by Fernanda Melchor

Mexican fiction

Original title – Paradais

Translator – Sophie Hughes

Source – Personal copy

Well I am on the next stop of this years Booker International longest and to a writer that cause a buzz last Time her book. was on the longest but I was one of the readers that just didn’t connect with the book. I didn’t even review it well I was a bit wary of reading her again. But actually connected a bit better with this her second book so much so I may go back and reread the first book of hers Hurricane season again and see if it was just my connection to the book on the first reading. Paradais is her second book to be translated to English. Also is the second book to be long listed. Fernanda Melchor is a journalist and has written about literary journalism in the past her first book was a collection of essays . In her debut Novel see used a fictional version of a murder in her home tow. This time she is using a gated community to show the class divide ion Mexico but also how young men on both sides of that class can be swayed into crime and violence in a world full of it.

Polo never told Fatboy anything during their drinking sessions; he never shared what he really thought of him or his ridiculous fantasies about señora Marian, at least not in the beginning during their first meetings down the doc, when Fatboy would get hammered and spend hours telling Polo what filthy shit went through his head, sparing no details and without a hint of embarrassment: about the porn he watched and how many times a day he masturbated, or the things he do to Señora Marian when he finally got his hands on her.

Fatboy and Polo early on as the two drink and Franco(Fatboy) tells polo about his neighbour

The book is the story of a relationship it would be hard to call it a friendship as it isn’t really that it is two young men on the cusp of adulthood at that age were woman or men become central to your life and also drink and drugs. But these two men are on different side of the fence in there lives their is Polo he is a Gardner at the gated Paradais community (that also gives itself to the title of the book)He just draws of a better life like most working class men he is doing his gruelling job but dreaming of a better life I was remind at times of Arthur Seaton another working class man that dreams of just escaping into drink at the weekends. He also had a thing about Married woman but had some charm about him. Then we Have the other main character Franco although he is mainly referred in the book as Fatboy, an overweight loner from one of the rich families on the Paradais estate this fat boy dreams of engaging in carnal acts with his MILf neighbour. The two connected I never viewed this as a friendship it isn’t but they bond over want to escape there now and come up with a plan involving the attractive wife next door as they drink and draw up this plan.

That was the kind of grief Polo woke up to each day before the sun had even appeared at the window, just as the neighbour’s cockerel was clearing its throat to complete with hi mother’s phone alarm. Polo would grumble and toss and turn on the floor, on the sweat soaked petite his mouth dry, his eyes glued together with sleep and his temples throbbing with the headache that now never went away, no matter how many Alka-seltzers he drankHe would aim to get up as early as he could.

Polo world far different from fanboys as he struggles with drinking all night and working hard all day takes its toil.

This is a story of two losers really they aren’t the nicest characters they each have huge problems . But they also have a lot of what we all have growing up that is been attracted to older women at times, like a drink and just wanting to escape our now to find a better then. The only difference is the Franco and Polo are from Mexico where the world they see is so juxtaposed Fromm the village of Polo with the drugs and everyday violence that is the norm this is something that she touched on in her other book with the murder in the village! do you become use to Violence when it is all around. But then there his the gulf between Franco and Polos world which is a chasm difference . I can’t imagine being Polo having to leave his world and enter this world of Paradais everyday no Paradais for him . Then there is Franco maybe he is a product of his environment a fat loner kid from money that because of the world he is trapped in isn’t able to form a normal relationship and uses porn with a mix of his neighbour imagine a relationship. This is a brutal book about two men on the cusp of adulthood both not fitting in their own worlds that come together and as we have often see this is a classic cliche for a film the two loser getting together against the world but it always ends up going wrong as it dose with this plan and the two men that have come up with it.  I will, go back and read Hurricane season again at a later date. I found this easier to connect to and read it in a single sitting. They show a machoest side of life that has gone out of control and what happens when you see sex and violence in a certain way. Have you read this book or Hurricane season ?

Winstons score – +B a solid novella about being in a world of two extremes

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