Wildlife and Weekend reads

image

A busy day at work saw me going round a local wildlife park with people I support so for this world lit blogger I saw animals from many of the places I have blogged about over the years here you could stroke the  wallabies .It was nice for people I look after to see animals so close up .There was many chance to get so close to all the animals at Yorkshire wildlife park it was lovely to see the people I look after so happy to see them .So now Im home and thankful for a Weekend off here are my weekend reading choices .

image

Two books from writers I have read before I have the first two books of what is a loose trilogy by Andrej Nikolaidis under review on the blog and of course the first book bt Mathias Enard The zone we brought into this year’s shadow iffp so the next book street of thieves is one I’m looking forward too .So what are your plans for the weekend ?

Advertisements

Eastern Europe month March 2015

File:EasternBloc BorderChange38-48.svg

Now I do like a  good reading month, so far  I have run two Spanish Lit months and now want to do an Eastern european reading month , i tried and failed to do a Polish one a few years ago so East Europe seems a better chance more countries more writers .What countries you may ask  , so all the countries in this picture  , or them since the split of the eastern bloc so this map shows it just before the split ,of course there is many more countries now .I for one have a huge collection of books from the former Eastern Bloc countries waiting to be read also some of my favourite pulishers, publish from their Istros books and Twisted spoon  .Have you a favourite country and writer from the former Eastern Bloc ?

 

 

More bloody foreigners lunch

hardys brasserie

Well Last month when I was in London Daniela from Europa editions and Susan from Istros books mentioned this event was happening and it would be great if I could come ,as I can usually only afford one trip to London a year I had to turn them down ,then Daniela said they may have the money to get me a train ticket to come for the Lunch .I said I’d love too and thanked them very much ,so yesterday I boarded the train to London arrived just about in time as we ran a bit late ,dashed across london on the tube to Baker street and then  walked to Hardy’s.

a dark song of blood

Three of the writers from the event the night before were there .Ben Pastor ,whom I only got to talk to briefly is Italian writer ,who lives in America and her books are about the German Detective Martin Bora .Her latest is A dark song of Blood   ,her books are published by Bitter Lemon Press who are this year celebrating ten years of publishing Frank their publisher was saying ,they had put their first book out ten years ago .

The art of killing well

Now I got more chance to talk to the other two writers ,I was sat away from the writers  initially but swapped seats ,sat next too Jake Kerridge ,who is the Crime reviewer for the Telegraph on one side and then Andrej Nikolaidis on the other ,opposite was Marco Malvaldi ,I have just read his book the Art of Killing well ,that Maclehose press ,Europa editions have brought out another book by him game for five in their World Noir series  .Marco was quizzed about the food by Barry Forshaw who was sat next too him ,Marco was Polite but this lead into a mention of how Pellegrino Artusi the character of his Book the art of Killing Well ,he was a successful businessman whom later in his life decided to write a book about the food he loved ,because he loved eating and had a wonderful cook but then discovered no-one had written down how to make these dishes  .So Pellegrino spent time travelling round Italy writing this book ,which he initially published as a book for his friends then for friends of friends then an Italian publisher got hold of this book and ask to publish it ,it became an instant bestseller and was in nearly every Italian household at the turn of the century .Marco book is set just as Pellegrino has finished his journey round Italy and is spending the weekend at the house of a Baron ,whilst there the Butler is killed and Pellegrino helps find the killer .I also quizzed Marco about his thoughts on the forthcoming England italy match over the weekend .

the-coming-front-cover1

Now to the last writer ,but actually the first I spoke to on Arrival I saw Susan from Istros book she said Andrej Nikolaidis was outside so I went and had a smoke with Andrej and introduced myself ,I have reviewed both his book The coming and The son  , he also wrote a piece for my Thomas Bernard week about his shared love of the Austrian writer Thomas Bernard  .Andrej spoke to me about Bernard ,football ,putting together his playlists for his books which I had put together on a playlist on spotify .The meal was lovely I had a game terrine followed by Roast pork and finished off with a Chocolate fondant and coffee .I then spent afternoon wandering across London with Susan and Andrej ,talking books ,Tirana ,Kadare ,Russia and the Ukraine some  great stories from Andrej about writers and events around Europe some of  which  were quite eye-opening .We also bumped into two other writers from the Balkans (Not every day you bump into the cream of European lit  which had just arrived for an event today called Balkans day and we finished off with Moroccan mint tea in the cafe near Istros books office at red lion square  chatting away .A lovely day which for me showed the power of books in translation ,the way on one level we can all connected via novels about crime as Violence is violence wherever !  Many thanks for the Art council with out whom I wouldn’t have been able to have come yesterday .

Winston’s year the books

Well it’s that time of year when people start putting across the best of list .I have decided to do my best of year ,given the focus of the blog it is going be just translations ,I will not I have read The luminaries and lowland both on a lot of best of list I liked both but haven’t got round to reviewing them yet ,so I’m not mentioning them .As for other books in English not translated my favourite by far is The boy from Aleppo who painted the war by Sumia Sukkar the first I ve read around the current Syrian conflict .So to the top ten of 2013 .

the mirror of beauty

The mirror of beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi 

I reviewed this yesterday as I want it fresh in people’s memorey the rest of the list is books I have loved but by far this is my book of the year .An epic following the mother of a well-known Urdu poet in 19th century India and actually in an update to my previous review due out in the UK may 2014 .

My review 

the son Andrej Nikolaidis

The son by Andrej Nikolaidis 

A son wander around the port town of Ulcinj and thinks about his father and the history of this town .Andrej shared his love of my next book in the list  and its influence on this book .

My review Thoams Bernhard the loser Faber Finds

 

The loser by Thomas Bernhard 

Glenn Gould in Vienna blows away two music students and we see the aftermath of a touch with a Genius on two people’s lives .

My review 

ten Andrej Longo

Ten by Andrej Lingo 

A short story collection based round the ten Commandments ,around the dark underbelly of the city of Naples .This also reignited a real love of short stories in me ,more about that at a future date .

My review

TD-covers

Mother departs by Tadeusz Różewicz

A son looking back on his mother ,growing up ,world war two and his brother from the foremost living Polish poet .A wonderful mix of prose and poems .

My review 

my fathers' ghost is climbing in the rain

My fathers ghost is climbing in the rain by Patricio Pron 

Certainly if i had a side prize for the best title of the year this book would easily walk off with it .A son returns to Argentina and discovers more about his father than he thought .

My review 

A man in Love

A man in love by Karl Ove Knausgaard 

I love the first part of this collection and had hopes it would carry on and was surprised part two was  even better Karl now with kids and a struggling writer in the fictionalized version of his life ,can’t wait for part three next year .

My review 

Brief loves that live forever

Brief loves that live forever by Andrei Makine

I have loved his other books a glimpse at soviet summers of the past and fleeting romance and lives .Makine back on form here .

My review 

parrots Flippo Bologna

The parrots by FlippoBologna

A gem of a book about writers and a book prize we meet three unnamed writers at three stages in the career as they wait to see if they have won the big book prize .

My review

sidewalks

Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli

A collection of non fiction writing from the wonderful Mexican writer mainly on the journey of discovery like looking for a grave in Venice .

My Review  

 

A century in translation

Well I’ve been inspired by Simon from stuck in a book who for a second time in 2014 is doing a century of books challenge reading a book from very year of the 20th century well when he announced it herehere .I had a think and decided I would like to try and do the same with books from around the world so I been busy looking around the net and think this will be possible there is a vast amount available as e books if you spend time looking pre 1950 .I’m looking forward to this as it feels like a return to what I did when I started blog before getting on the new book hamster wheel and hat is bringing the best of the world I could find myself to you my readers so in the next two years I’ve given myself two years as I feel some years will be hard to find every year will be the publication year of the book in its original language .so in the next year names like Roberto Arlt,Armando Palacio Valdes ,Horacio Quiroga ,luigi Pirandello ,Henri Barbusse ,Rene Bazin and Osmau Dazai to name a few will be featured as I show how literature around the world developed over the 20th century ,

20130916-132748.jpg

Raven by Vasyl Shkliar

Raven by Vasyl Shkliar

Raven by Vasyl Shkliar

Ukrainian fiction

Translator – Sj Speight and Stephen Komarnychyj

Orginial Title – Залишенець.

Source – Review Copy

When I was offered chance to read Vasyl Shkliar ,I was happy after reading about him and what he does .Vasyl Shkliar is considered the father of the modern Ukrainian novel .Vasyl Shkliar was born in Hanzhalivka in the centre of Ukraine ,his grandfather was a Cossack Warrior ,who too like this novel fought in the Ukrainian Uprising  against the Soviets in 1920 .Shkliar went to a school in a nearby town and spent his summers like many youths in his day working on the farm .He eventually went to university and became a journalist ,whilst doing this he was covering the assassination of a well-known Chechen leader .This later became the basis of his first novel  which in part was based  on this event .The Black Raven was published in 2009 and won the Ukrainian book award that year .

Veremii’s gang has reappeared in the Hunskyl forest and comprises of 80 infantry and 30 cavalry ,with two maxim machine guns and 5 lewis guns .The bandits  made a sudden raid on Zlatopol in broad daylight ,robbed the local executive committee telephone exchange and captured the chief of police ,who , by some accounts is believed to work for them .It is known  that it is the custom among the bandits that when the leader dies one of them takes his name ,but there is  reason to believe that the chieftain ,Veremii was not killed and continues his bloody business .Efforts are being made to confirm this .

The authorised officer ,Diakonov

One of the reports from 1921 from the soviets .

 

The book Follows A gang of Ukrainians that are fighting against the Soviets in 1921 .The gang is led by a man they call the Raven ,he was a former Tsarist officer ,he is described as thirty years with a black beard and long black hair with deep-set eyes and uncompromising .The group of bandits he leads is about 300 infantry men , 75 cavalry and heavily armed bandits ,they operate in zvenyhocodka ,Cherkassy and shpola forests .We see this band of men causing trouble in these regions we follow their  story as they initially do well ,but then things start to go wrong ,  but at the end of every chapter we follow the soviet attempts to capture these men ,in the form of reports as  ravens gang as they wreak havoc .We see how the gang gets on .We follow the highs and lows of this uprising against the Bolsheviks .we feel the dirt and hunger at times ,the power struggles ,mistrust and also how good comrades can be .Also what it meant to be a Cossack !

Raven passed through villages ,forests and fields to reach the Bohunovi farm by evening .Which was just at the edge of the lebedyn forest .It had grown dark early for ,which was laid up at Yevdosia’s Saint Varvava had increased the night , but not the day ,The silver German pocket watch ,which the raven took out of his pocket .

Indicated it was only 5pm  night had already begun to fall

Things get hectic and the raven is constantly moving later in the book

 

This book was very eye-opening as I had never heard of this uprising in Ukraine against the soviets ,but also the divides it caused to everyday life .I also felt this book given the time it came out and the fact the Shkliar was writing the book for 13 years before it was published ,just as the face of modern Ukraine was developing .Although he has said it wasn’t about the events at the time of writing but the fact the history had echoed the present .Now to the spin on this book it has caused sparks ,a polish director refused to be involved in a project to film the book  ,I believe this film is still being made as an interview here shows and also a number of people protested it winning the national book prize .Now I am not overtly political and just found it a ripping good historic novel about what where brave men trying to fight to keep the country free .If you like corners of unknown history and want to discover a totally unknown writer in the west I suggest this is the book for you .

Leaves of the Banyan tree by Albert Wendt

leaves of the banyan tree

Leaves of the Banyan tree by Albert Wendt

Samoan fiction

Source – personnel copy

When Lisa  of anzlitlovers announced Indigenous writers week AI wanted to find something unusual ,I search and searched and eventually found Albert Wendt a Samoan writer of German heritage ,Leaves of the Banyan tree is considered his best book ,it won the New Zealand book of the year in 198o .He has taught at various universities around Fiji and Hawaii ,has now settled in New Zealand .He was made a companion of New Zealand order of Merit in the queens Honours in 2013  .

Although the arrival of the papalagi had brought changes to the bush they too had been slow .Even when men used more efficient Papalagi tools the bush sooner or later crept back over their feeble clearings ,The tempo of change had quickened in Tauilopepe’s own lifetime ,But out of the recent attempts to conquer the bush only Malo ,the first Sapepean to realise the rich profits to be made by using Papalagi implements and knowledge ,seemed to be succeeding .

Tauilopepe sees how he could make the leaves of banyan work

 

So leaves of the Banyan tree ,is the name of the book but also a plantation  started by the main character in the book Tauilopepe  ,that during the book is started in Samoa’s sapepe island  .The book is a family saga that of Tauilopepe and his family  ,we meet him as a youngster now time frame isn’t mention a lot til later in the book when we find out about Samoan independence which was in 1962 so the book starts in the 1920’s it far to say .We are on the island of Sapepe we see Tauilopepe grow into a man and take a wife then have a son the second part of the story follows the sons story ,we see how Samoa copes with its new-found freedom .A lot of the story revolves around family  Tauilopepe has a desire to break the shackles of being Samoan ,he wants to rise and be equal  by the Papalagi (the people of white European origins that still tend to hold the power in Tauilopepe time ).But in doing so over time his family falls apart and he maybe loses who he is as a person .

I am a product of my own imagination .I am also as another writer has put it ” a product of our times” .A product of history and whole movement propelling our country towards an unknown future ,or shall I say ,I am the future .If I am evil then our whole history has been drifting toward evil .I cannot feel what other-worlders feel because I am free of that world ,I won our little game because of that and because of the time and place .

Tauilopepe nearing the end looking back on what his life has been .

Now to me Samoa meant the rugby team ,I knew very little else about this small pacific island and its people ,so Wendt’s  book opened a door into a new world .Wendt beauty is the fact he has kept the book, real with  the use of a lot of Samoan words like Papalagi ,Lavalava (the traditional dress in samoa ),tatau (a type of tatoo ),siva (a dance ) and so on the is a welcome index of these words at the end to check the context of them .What he has is a classic view of a world in Flux Samoa is struggling to catch up with the outside modern world ,this is mainly viewed as New Zealand ,Tauilopepe is an example of how some could tackle this new world ,but his is also a cautionary tale of how to tackle this word ,as he lose his sons .The Samoa painted is a world of traditional values trying to cope in a modern world ,will these families so close for so long survive ,will the age-old traditions survive  ,even will Samoan ,with the outsiders using English ,Samoans going to New Zealand to study .I’m surprised this book isn’t better known as Wendt is a talented writer ,I for one will be downloading his other books over time .

Have you a favourite Indigenous novel or book from the pacific ?#

ilw-2013

Old Masters by Thomas Bernhard

Old master by Thomas Bernhard Penguin

Old Masters by Thomas Bernhard

Austrian fiction

Original title – Alte Meister. Komödie

Translator – Ewald Osers

Source – Personnel copy

Well usually I start with a bit of a biography  about a writer .But I have already twice before mention Bernhard’s Life for those who want to know more  there is loads online to examine about him .Also in recent weeks I have watch a couple of pieces on You tube with Bernhard in .Well all this research has for me firmed Bernhards place in my mind as one of the most important post war writers in any language  ,as later in the week when I review his non fiction piece My prizes his memoir and a couple of speeches .Bernhard was a one-off and that what makes his fiction so unique ,but also as my earlier piece written by Andrej Nikoladis showed an influence on many present day writers .So to Kick off Thomas Bernhard week (I am a day late but maybe at some point I’ll tell you why I ve been away recently ).

Although I had arranged to meet Reger at the Kunsthistorches Museum at half past eleven ,I arrived at the agreed spot at half past ten in order ,as I had deided to observe him for once ,from the most ideal angle possible and undisturbed ,Atzbacher writes

The opening lines of the Old Master

So old master actually has a subtitle A comedy ,on the whole it is a little lighter and maybe more accessible than some of the other books I have read by Bernhard .We meet Reger ,his is a critic ,a music critic to be precise .He spends every day sitting in the Viennese art museum on the same bench opposite a painting of an old man by Tintoretto   (we get a whole spiel  on how he manages to get the same bench every day his friendship of sorts to the guard that has like Reger been in the same room for a number of years so makes sure this strange man gets his seat everyday ) Any Reger has summoned his friend to meet him Atzbacher ,he is a philosopher yet to be published .What follows is the usual Bernhard traits Reger of course hates the music on the whole he reviews ,we find out why he spends everyday watching the same picture .But we also have some humour great descriptions from Reger of the difference of nationalities as they visit the museum how each has a way of going round  and viewing the pictures .What we meet is two men slightly (well a hell of a lot really ) fed up with the status Quo .For Reger you could have the narrator of the woodcutters or the loser (a book  that was mentioned by Nikolaudis in his post and one I will be reviewing later this week as well )  .

My father was an unmusical person ,he said ,my mother was musical as I believe ,even highly musical ,but her husband over the years had riven her musicality out of her .My parents were a frightful couple ,he said they secretly hated one another but were unable to separate.

Reger on growing up ,maybe why he is a music critic now .

Michael Hofmann summed up Bernhard by saying his books had no moving parts .That is it these aren’t action books more books of thoughts and Bernhards favourite subject to Kick” the Art society” the pretensions folk  ,the hierarchy and of course top of the list to be kicked is Austrian art .Bernhard is like an old curmudgeon he blows and puffs ,but in his case what he writes is so engrossing and yet again this is the case with the Old Master its easy to see Bernhard in his characters both Reger and Atzbacher seem to have traits of Bernhard the man .He like music and Choose Glenn Gould as a character in one of his books ,in fact the loser .He also has had Philosophy as  subject in a couple of others .As for the writing it is his usual style of full on the book is really a 250 page paragraph ,he blurs at times it is hard to tell who is talking as I say I often feel Bernhard characters are just a mouthpiece for him so at times it gets blurred who is speaking but in this case it doesn’t matter its like coming back from a great night out you remember something brilliant was said but you struggle to remember who has said it .I was asked at the start of this project which to suggest and at that time I had said the woodcutter ,but now I think this book is a great entry point for new readers of Thomas Bernhard .

20130529-164953.jpg

Have you read The Old Masters ?

New blog translating Turkish literature

I happened to have seen this link to a newish blog that is translating Turkish Prose and poems to English .As I feel there is never enough in English from Turkish it’s great to see a translator putting her work Online lets hope she gets some interest and some more fiction and poetry comes to use in English .
go and visit word prism

20130623-163302.jpg

Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli

sidewalks

Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli

Mexican non fiction (essays /travel)

Original title Papeles falos

Translator Christina MacSweeney (Nooteboom intro by Laura Watkinson )

Source review copy

When you see a book in the forthcoming season from a publisher you often cross your fingers and hope you are chosen to review it and that was the case (I know I could ask but not one for this if any PR folk read this and would like me to request books more I will just let me know ),Faces in the crowd by Luiselli was one of my books of last year and one I have mentioned to a number of people as a book to try .So when this dropped through my door I was pleased to be reading her wonderful writing again and also to sample her non fiction style .

Joesph Brodsky (1940-1996)

Searching for a grave is ,to some extent ,like arranging to meet a stranger in a cafe ,the lobby of a hotel or a public square ,in that both activities engender the same way of being they’re looking at a given distance ,every person could be the one waiting for us ,every grave could be the one we are searching for .Finding either involves circulating among people or tombs ;approaching and scrutinizing their retrospective features .

The opening paragraph sums up the search for his grave so well .

 

A  mark of how good this book is ,for even thou it is a short book, it has managed to get a wonderful forward by the great Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom(worth reading especially as Laura has translated it ) .The book is a collection of  ten  essays mainly on travel .WE move from her home land of Mexico cycling round mexico city ,sharing a smoke with a guard late at night in her current home New York and my favourite wandering a Venice graveyard in search of the grave of Joseph Brodsky .Brodsky and Flaneurism is a sort of thread through this book .The original Mexican title False papers maybe alludes to an earlier Mexican books by the like of Alfonso Reyes .

I, who have rather fruitlessly attempted some of these thing ,now have the joy of being an offical resident of one of the most literary of cities ,though neither through the blessing of a graceful pen nor the fidelity of the muses .And ,worse still not even through the sweat of my brow and fist ,but beacuse of a terrible …..

Valeria talks about how she got where she was in the very last section and her ending up in New York .

The book is similar at times to the her début novel ,The link between past and present she used to such great effect is again in evidence especially when she wanders the grave yard and pass other poets writers and thinkers in search of that great sage of Venice Joseph Brodsky .A sort of surreal Mexican take of the Flaneur  instead of a city of the living we wander a city of the dead using the graves as signposts to the writers grave she is seeking out .Strangely in a later  essay ,this signpost motif is repeated as obviously wandering a city short vignettes are sparked by the sign post she passes so we  see a stop  sign connecting Rousseau and Walser,a pedestrian crossing the poet Salvador Novo .A new stopping point on the world-wide journey of the Flaneur and psychogeography as a writing style all the names we associate with this scene are mention Starting with Rousseau through Walter Benjamin (whose epic unfinished arcades project I am just slowly working through my self ) ,Brodsky who watermark itself an ode to Venice has brought Valeria herself to Venice to write and ode to him and the dead of that same city ,through Sebald and in the last piece a mention of herself .

Do you have a favourite book from the Flaneur oeuvre ?

Previous Older Entries

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  
%d bloggers like this: