Out in the open by Jesús Carrasco

out in the open

Out in the open by Jesús Carrasco

Spanish fiction

Original title –  Intemperie

Translator – Margaret Jull Costa

Source – personnel copy

 

Well the drums rolled off in my forehead
And the guns went off in my chest
Remember carrying the baby just for you
Crying in the wilderness

I lost track of my friends, I lost my kin
I cut them off as limbs
I drove out over the flatlands
Hunting down you and him

The sky was big and empty
My chest filled to explode
I yelled my insides out at the sun
At the wide open road

It's a wide open road, it's a wide open road.....

I went for a early Triffid's track a band from perth in Australia a desert city source 

Jesús Carrasco is a rising star of spanish literature , this his first novel won a number of prizes ,including being the book of 2013 by readers of the spanish paper El Pais .Grew up in Toledo , his father was a teacher , he studied physical education .But when he started working start as a advertising copy writer .This is his debut novel and a star of the Frankfurt book fair where it sold rights to most of Europe .To tie in with the book a few weeks ago I picked my five favourite spanish readers for Harvil on their blog . Oh and he has one of the best writer moustaches in years !!

From inside his hole in the ground , he heard the sound of voices calling his name , and , as if they were crickets , he tried to pinpoint the precise location of each man within the bounds of the olive grove . The desolate howling of fire-scrotched scrub  . He was lying on one side , knees drawn up to his chest , with barely enough room to move in that cramped space .

the opening lines of the book .

So Out in the open is the story of one young boys escape from his home , but then he has to fight to keep free first evading the people trying to find him . Then the world around him barren desert like  plains , hot sun and people struggling for food .What faces him is how to live and get by in this world .All he has known is violence , does he carry on the circle of violence ? But will a night in this world with an old goatherder change the young boy , what does he gain from the old man and what does the old man gain from the young boy ?

Tiny and dark in the midst of that still-greater darkness , he wondered if he might find something useful on the imaginary line he was following due north . Perhaps some fruit trees along the road or fountains of clean water or endless springtimes . He couldn’t really come up with any concrete expectation , but that didn’t matter .By heading north ,he was travelling away from the village , away from the bailiff and from his father .

He just wants to head north to find a new different place .

Again like last few books I have reviewed it is another nameless character , in this case also in a timeless place .This suits this book as it harks back too , some classic spanish literature in some ways the boys quest so to speak has since early days of spanish literature been a motif , the boy is maybe hunting for a life that is different the same way Don Quixote hunted windmills .The brutal nature of the book remind me of another spanish classic The family of Pascal Duarte by Cela , which sees another violent life and world  .Of course looking further afield it is hard mot to mention McCarthy’s The road as they both see people trying to survive in unfamiliar brutal world . This is a book full of the violent nature of life but so wonderful written it draws you into this dark hinterland .

Have you a favourite book that isn’t tied to a place just about nature of people ?

Fall of man in Wilmslow by David Lagercrantz The death and life of Alan Turing

Fall of man in Wilmslow by David LagerCrantz

Swedish fiction

Original title – Syndafall i Wilmslow

Translator – George Goulding

Source – review copy

 

 

Will you say that we were heroes
Or that fear of dying among strangers
Tore our innocence and false shame away?

And from that moment on deep in my heart I knew
That I would only give my life for love
Brothers in arms in each others arms
Was the only time that I was not afraid

What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade?
When we cast off these khaki clothes
And go our separate ways
What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade?

I felt Billy Bragg’s  song Tender comrade about gay soldier in the war was a fitting song for a book about Alan Turing !

Now Lagercrantz is a new name as he has written a number of books including ghost writing I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic the biography of the Swedish footballer . This is his first book to be translated into english and is like a taster of what is to come as he was chosen to take over and finish the fourth book in Steig  Larsson’s millennium . Which is coming out later this year . So we get to see a new thriller writer from Sweden . For me the main buzz of the book dropping through my letterbox was it was set in Wilmslow I grew up in Cheshire and never knew it was where the real Alan Turing had died .

He did not like his job . He did not like the salary , the walking , the paperwork , or godforsaken Wilmslow where nothing ever happened . It had got to the point where even now he felt nothing but emptiness .

Corell arrives at the Turing’s  bored of Wilmslow , but is just getting himself started on his toughest case .

The book is a police investigation and biography  of Alan Turing  rolled into one really . The book follows a police detective Constable Corell is trying to discover more about a man who is found dead in his home in the sleepy town of Wimslow .A man is found after dying eating a poison apple . The man is Alan Turing one of the best minds of his genrations a war hero that was never appericated in his lifetime . As Corell starts to piece together Turing life and how he ended up in this sleepy town . The further down the road he gets the darker the past is and the more confused the present becomes .

Turing appeared to find the dream interesting . Corell gathered that the mathematician had a special interest in dreams . He had after all recorded his own dreams in three notebooks , and this conversation also gave rise to a sense of intimacy , and the offence was committed once more .

Corell discover everything about this Genius Turing that has been found dead on his patch !!

This remind me of the film Enigma which mixed history , the second world war , mystery and Bletchley park . The book is like a crime novel but we learn a lot more about the life and times of Alan Turing ,also his rise and fall during and after the war . Add to that the bizarre way he died a poison apple could he have been killed if so whom by ? the story has a great rhythm Corell is more like a guide we see the story unfurl at the same time he does .For me the connection to places I know so well . I must have been passed his house a hundred times during my life not knowing it was his house an old school friend even found an advert from a few years ago when the house was last sold and showed me . I know it is hard to step into the shoes of Steig Larsson , is David Lagercrantz a good choice . Well from this one book yes he seems to pace his story well which for me when I read the millennium series was part of what I enjoyed you were drawn into a world and Lagercrantz has done this in this book .I look forward to see what and where he is taking Lisbeth so if you are waiting to read The girl in the spider’s web ,why not try a bit of post world war two drama .

What are your thoughts on writers carrying on series after the original writer has died ?

 

A perfect crime by A Yi

a perfect crime A Yi cover

 

A perfect crime by A Yi

Chinese fiction

Original title  -Xiamian Wo Gai Ganxie Shenme (下面我该干些什么)

Translator – Anne Holmwood

Source – Review copy

 

 

live in a town called Millhaven
And it’s small and it’s mean and it’s cold
But if you come around just as the sun goes down
You can watch the whole town turn to gold
It’s around about then that I used to go a-roaming
Singing La la la la La la la lie
All God’s children they all gotta die

My name is Loretta but I prefer Lottie
I’m closing in on my fifteenth year
And if you think you have seen a pair of eyes more green
Then you sure didn’t see them around here
My hair is yellow and I’m always a-combing
La la la la La la la lie
Mama often told me we all got to die

I choose a murder ballad from Nick Caves murder Ballad album another teenager going round killing people . source 

I said when this one arrived it was the first Chinese novel I had read the blurb of and thought I would like . I’ve not really hate the other Chinese novels I ‘ve read for me they miss what I want to see and that is the experience of living in a mega city or living in a country that is so in flux and yet so traditional in other ways . A Yi was a police officer for five years then turned his hand to writing first as editor at Chutzpah a lit magazine and he then moved to Xiron publishing where he set up a literary imprint “Iron Gourd ” he has written numerous short stories and has his own blog in China .He was on a list of 20 future literary giants in 2010 .

it struck me with an incredible force that she was letting me kill her . It wasn’t my decision to make . She was the one in charge , walking in front of me , leading me up the stairs towards her death .

“Why are you still wearing your cap ?” She said

“It’s part of the plan ” , I said

She didn’t understand , so I repeated . “It’s part of the plan ”

He is rather delude in some ways !!

A perfect crime this isn;t that at all ,of course the perfect crime is the one where the person doing the crime doesn’t get caught ! This book follows one teenager as he kills the Aunt whom he shares the house with and then tries to run away and get away with the crime .He kills her stuffs her in a washing machine and then decides to run . He some how in a country of billions manages to get capture where he is interrogated and sentence by the court  and then … Why did he kill her , why did he run ? The book follows a bleak teen into a bleak world .

My body kept sinking and I had to fight for the right to rest . Sometimes my poor hands would let my feet take the burden , sometimes the other way round .

“I need a pee ” I shouted at one point , the response to which was the sound of clanging from outside and then “go on then ”

In the middle of the interrogation after he is caught .

The book is told in short choppy chapters you see he is a writer that is maybe more at home with a short story eac h chapter is self-contained . Yet tell a part of the whole story  from the early stages to deciding to kill his aunt the killing then we see how he runs off in three chapter then we see the judicial and police process from the teenager view point . The whole story is told in the first person .This shows a brutal crime and the outcome . A Yi style is trimmed and brutal , he hasn’t hidden Chinese  police and justice systems behind rose-coloured glasses , no this shows the brutal nature of justice in China ! Now the cover mentions Kafka , Camus  among others . For me I was reminded of communist writers like Herta Muller a book like the appointment which like this book shows the inner working of the bureaucracy of Communism .But it is also about a world that is being lost clashing culture the aunt generation and the hi speed ,hi tech world of the teenager .A novel that lifts the veil of growing up faceless and in this case nameless in a nameless city that could be any one of a thousand small cities in china !

Have you a favourite Chinese novel ?

A gothic soul by Jiří Karásek ze Lvovic

 

 

 

A gothic soul by Jiří Karásek ze Lvovic

Czech fiction

Original title – Gotická duše

Translator – Kristen Lodge

Source – review copy

 

I’m your only friend I’m not your only friend But I’m a little glowing friend But really I’m not actually your friend But I am

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch Who watches over you Make a little birdhouse in your soul Not to put too fine a point on it: Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet Make a little birdhouse in your soul

I have a secret to tell From my electrical well It’s a simple message and I’m leaving out the whistles and bells So the room must listen to me Filibuster vigilantly My name is blue canary One note, spelled L-I-T-E My story’s infinite Like the Longines Symphonette It doesn’t rest

I choose birdhouses in your soul as I used a lightbulb in my review as a metaphor for the narrator .source 

I love it when Twisted spoon bring a new book out as they seem to choose books that firstly would never see light of day in the uk , secondly are important in the context of where they are from . Here again they have published a book from the Czech decadence movement .A counterpart of the French books at the time this book has a much darker feel than the French decandence movement books I have read .Jiří Karásek ze Lvovic was a novelist and critic .He found the modern review a well-known magazine of the time that published the best French and Czech decadent movement writers  .

But he didn’t die

He arose from bed even paler than before . The sound of his voice was more somber . He looked even more terrifying . His eyes now disturbed anyone who looked into them .They lacked luster .They harboured a secret that seemed accusatory , though it could never be expressed in words .

His struggle is beyond words in the world around him .

The book is the story of a nameless narrator and his struggle in the world he is living a world that is caught under an empire that has changed from the world he knew. He wanders the town seeing these changes around him  .As much as it is his story it is also the story of the city he lives in which is Prague the city at night jumps of the pages .He seems to be struggling with life and death as the book goes on the world around him seems to dissolve to the struggle with in him .He is the last of his line losing faith in the world around him .He even goes to churches to try to find solace but struggles too .

He left the church .

Where he wandered after that , he could no longer remember .

Today everything that had occupied his soul back then was revived .He knew he would not be able to escape the dank tomb of the past into which he had descended , to free himself from the enchanted circle of overwrought blood and nerves in which he had unexpectedly become entrapped from this atmosphere could not be approached without incurring punishment .

A torture soul which even the church can’t save .

This is one dark book a man’s soul is on the line and we see how he struggles with it .A way to look at the book is the context of when it was written in 1905 the world has just entered a new century . The Habsburg empire is harked back to a lot the book  this of course in hindsight is showing the first ripples of the start of world war one . The narrators worry about his own world and the city of Prague maybe show the greater picture a world that has grown a modern age the is fast approaching them . This shows how one man gets caught in the world in flux  and like those early lightbulb he is trying to light his night , his dark places  but maybe is about to burn out! .

Have you a favourite book from the decadent movement  ?

 

 

The salmon who dared to leap higher by Ahn Do-Hyun

The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher

The salmon who dared to leap higher by Ahn Do-Hyun

Korean Fiction

Original title – 연어 이야기 (연어 그 두 번째 이야기)

Translator – Deborah Smith

Source – Review copy

 

 

“War Of Man”

The little creatures
run in from the cold
Back to the nest
just like the days of old
There in the safety
of a mother’s arms
The warmth of ages,
far away from harm again.

Ears ringin’
from the battle fire
The tired warrior
aims a little higher
The black falcon
or the little sparrow
The healing light
or the flash of the barrel.

I choose a song from Neil young his war of man ,which has an eco message behind it .

When this book dropped through the letter box the other week , I nearly put it too one side till I saw it was translated by Deborah , whom I have spoken with on twitter and had a brief chat with at LBF and did talk about this book as i finished it a few days before  .Although the cover was appealing as well . Ahn Do-Hyn has won numerous prizes in Korea including the so-wol poetry prize which is one of the best known poetry prizes in Korea .He studied Korean literature and this is his first book to be translated into English .

Silver salmon had managed to avoid becoming a meal for the fierce eagle .

And yet , something strange – rather than the giddy relief of having cheated death , he feels a pang of sadness at having escaped unharmed . Because the salmon who had been caught – the one who’d swum by his side ever since they left their home river ,

Silver salmon escapes the clutches of a fish eagle .

This book is part of a series of novels that are marketed in Korea as Adult fables (thanks to Deborah for that ) .The salmon who dared to leap higher is the story of one salmon’s journey  the silver salmon  as we follow them from the sea up the river he came from .The journey is a perilous one that sees many of the salmon’s swimming along side . We are told little stories of the companions along side  . The fish have to avoid eagles and bears as they try to get to the river head . Of course the book is more a fable of modern life in Korea and the river maybe is the everyday journey in life of Koreans they are maybe the salmon’s trying to reach the river head and mate have children etc .But also the world around them and the human world .

Bag-of-bones salmon was also in possessions of exceptional memory . His mind was like an enormous storehouse where all manner of facts are filed and preserved .Circling over the riverbed ,he mutters to himself , “Yes , the rapids have increased in height by 35 centimetres since we leapt down over them ”

The salmon remember the world through a sort of collective passing of tales almost their own fables .

I read this in one sitting , which for me is the sign of a book of  120 pages I have actually really enjoyed . This is a fun fable , I initially compared it in my head to Jonathan Livingstone seagull and yes the salmon of the story journey through its life is similar too Jonathan’s journey . But for me this is maybe more based in Korean culture , I was reminded of one of the other books I read from Korea on the Blog please look after mother and maybe this is the same story in a fable manner the salmon as a whole are trying to reach a point but some get eaten and some just can’t make the journey and this is maybe mirroring modern Korea where the country has jumped so quickly in the last fifty years since the end of the korean war .But also serves as a remind of the natural world around them .I feel Deborah did a great job of what must be a poetic book in the original Korean a lyrical feel to the story in english .I must admit I do love the cover art as well and the book has some great illustrations through the book capture the novella well .

Have you a favourite fable ?

Voice Over by Céline Curio

Voice over by Céline Curio

French fiction

Original title –  Voix sans issue

Translator – Sam Richard

source – Library

 

“Secret Meeting”

I think this is full of spies
I think they’re onto me
Didn’t anybody, didn’t anybody tell you?
Didn’t anybody tell you how to gracefully disappear in a room?

I know you put in the hours to keep me in sunglasses, I know
And so and now I’m sorry I missed you
I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain

It went the dull and wicked ordinary way
It went the dull and wicked ordinary way
And now I’m sorry I missed you
I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain

I think this place is full of spies
I think I’m ruined
Didn’t anybody, didn’t anybody tell you?
Didn’t anybody tell you this river’s full of lost sharks?

i ‘m sorry longer than usual lyrics but The national are a band I love and the line at the end a river of lost sharks maybe encaptures this book and the world described this book is a secret meeting in her mind !

Well we reach the second book in the project Lisa and I have to look back at some of the past books from the Independent foreign fiction prize as it turn 25 years this year.This book was shortlist in 2009 and was the debut novel of french writer Céline Curio. Who at the time she wrote this book was living in new york and working for the bbc .She has since written three other novels and a few non fiction book .

There isn’t a sound in the apartment . She is on the couch , the apathetic man has gone , it’s early afternoon . Around her are littered empty glasses and gorged ashtrays . In the toilet , she fins a Heinken bottle standing in the corner . The mess is even worse in the kitchen :

Detatched lives lead to no one helping to clean up and messy lives and homes !

Voice over isn’t the exact translation of the title the title is voice without issue which makes no real sense but to me it does in a way when you’ve read the book . The book is named by an unnamed narrator that actually does a job where you need no name .She is one of the voice of the main train station in Paris as an announcer . The story is the story of her life the love she has for a man she has seen . But he has another lover . She is then approach by another man a friend of the man she is in love with that likes her .

She’s done . The actress has covered her mouth with her hand .She doesn’t feel anything in particular , only satisfaction of having said exactly what she wanted to say at the moment when she wanted to say it . She stands up ,There is nothing to add . To continue would be superfluous . Their two hands shake .They won’t see each other again .

She watches the film and almost falls into it as she watches it ,connecting with the star .

I liked this book , but I can see where people wouldn’t as it light on details like names these are just voices we are listening too . There has been much mention even in the american BTBA 2008 about the comment on the back of the book by Paul Auster . Know I initially ignored it as he is on the same uk publisher as Celine Curiol . But when I finished the book part me thought does she know him ? As this book has although very french a tinge of the new york fiction of a writer like Auster . I was reminded of his work on the film Smoke .which rather like this is a collection of stories about love loss and modern life without much commentary about the people just glimpse . This book looks at modern life and the detachment that can bring people do we need to know the narrators name ,well no do we know the name of the people we see every day these days often no we know them just by sight in the years since this book was written just six I wonder if the world of this book has become more so than when it was written ?

Have you read this book ?

 

Arab Jazz by Karim Miské

Arab Jazz

Arab Jazz by Karim Miské

French fiction

Original Title – Arab jazz

Translator – Sam Gordon

Source – Review copy

 

it was back in ’32 when times were hard
He had a Colt .45 and a deck of cards
Stagger Lee

He wore rat-drawn shoes and an old stetson hat
Had a ’28 Ford, had payments on that
Stagger Lee

His woman threw him out in the ice and snow
And told him, “Never ever come back no more”
Stagger Lee

So he walked through the rain and he walked through the mud
Till he came to a place called The Bucket Of Blood
Stagger Lee

I choose Stagger lee a traditional Lyric based on an actual murder by Lee Shelton in 1895 .

Well I’m a bit late in reviewing this as I finished it earlier in the year but I need to clear my backlog of books I’ve read and this one is a book that is so timely .karim Miske is not just a writer but he also makes Documentaries in France .On subjects such as Deafness and one about the common root of Jewish and Islamic religion which given the setting and subject of this book shows he has interest in the interaction between people and religions .This is his first book to be translated into English .

She is upright , tied fast to the other side of the railing  with white electrical cable . He moves towards her big blue eyes staring into the abyss . It is though he is seeing her for the very first time , as if death alone could show him her face in all its soft benevolent beauty .

The body is found , I found this so well written and translated by Sam Gordon .

Now I ask you to take a close look at the cover of this book it wasn’t till I read the first few pages of this book I went back and had a look at the cover again and saw a number of parts I had missed . well the story starts when aa young woman is found dead .But not just that she is tied to a railing when , she is found dead in and also heavily mutilated . Now this body happens to be above a pork joint in the middle of the 19th arrondissement which is a mix pot of Modern Paris with a cosmopolitan mix of people living there . We get two detectives that have to throw aside the views when they initially are assigned the case and delve into this powder keg that wouldn’t take a lot to explode to find the killer .But not just that find the killer and hope it doesn’t set of a chain reaction because of who they find .The case takes them to the two sides of modern life The ultra modern hip hop a band that was once made up of various people from the are and then the darker side of Islamic extremism .

A local rap group . If I remember rightly , the four members were Moktar and Reuben – the guys the girl mentioned – as well as Alpha and Mourad .. I’d put good money on them being Bintou and Aicha elder brothers . Nowadays they’re fully paid up regulars at the Salafist prayer room along with Moktar .

The lives of this group went various ways in the modern Paris where Rappers and extremist maybe grew up in the same room .

Now given the events of earlier this year .Is it this book maybe not the Houellebecq we should all be reading ( I know if you don’t read french like myself we are having to wait for the Houllebecq )  .I have said before I am not the biggest crime fan but when crime novels are well written and use the world around them . They can be wonderful bits of social commentary from Steig Larsson with the abuse of woman .The modern crime novel can tell us a lot more about the world around the crime and this is the case in this book which in a way captures the world in Paris just before the Charlie Hebdo , as the two brothers who commit the attack had lived in the 19th arrondissement  and had been radicalized by a preacher in that district . So the world that the Detectives  Rachel and Jean are investigating isn’t so far torn from the real world .

Can you think of any Crime novels that capture a place and social situation well ?

 

Exiles by Çiler İlhan

Exiles by  Çiler İlhan

Turkish – short stories

 

Original title –  Sürgün

Translator –  Ayşegül Toroser Ateş

 

Source – review copy

Wear something bright and turn away
Imagine girls behaving in that way
Why don’t you pack your bags and leave?
Look here’s another bruise I didn’t see

You can’t say, it doesn’t really matter
This isn’t T.V., he isn’t William Shatner
Oh, I’ve told you before

These days, you look so pale and thin
Wave down the bus and let’s be rid of him
You’ve spent this night beside your T.V. set
Remember when you used to laugh at it, you laughed a bit

You can’t say, it doesn’t really matter
This isn’t T.V., he isn’t William Shatner
Oh, I’ve told you before

I choose a song from my youth that struck me about how tv heroes hitting women don’t make it ok .

Another book from Istros and this is another EU literature  prize winner .Çiler İlhan is a Turkish writer . She started of studying political science and then hotel management .Taking up a career in hotel business ,whilst writing in her spare time .She currently works as editor in chief for Conde nast traveller in Turkey and lives in Istanbul  .She has won prizes in Turkey for her short stories , this is her first collection to be published in english .

The three of them suddenly came into my room one night . I saw that my favourite brother , the youngest of my big brothers , had a cable in his hand ! He wrapped it around my throat before I could ask what was going on . he started tightening it .

An honour killing told from the victims point of view in My brother

One word left my mouth after reading this collection WOW .This collection of short stories , well I call them flash monologues myself as Ciler draws the world around her from the American army being in Iraq across the border and what that brings to Turkish life .Then for me the most powerful part of the book is a collection of voices around Honour killing of a sister by a brother  and the way we see this incident from all sides brings the horror to full view .There is a series of recurrent themes  like Batman being a women in Turkey and Iraqi  as the book is divide into five sections with the titles Exile a short one story section crime revenge and cry make up the three middle sections each with stories that are mirrored in the other sections here .and a final section called return with a story that mirrors the first section .

Some kind hearthad brought us a whole load of leftovers and we were full . In good spirits , I mean . Us stray dogs can’t always find something to eat . Some days we just cannot , you understand , but that day we had ; lucky us .And as we what nothing else to do , we were chillin .

Baby girl has another of the themes in the stories dogs and stray dogs .

The power in these collection is the clarity of the voice behind the stories .The stories as I say are very short but the power is in that the punch isn’t drawn out it just smacks you in the face and lets your jaw drop .I think the EU lit prize page about this book winning the prize has it when it quotes Einstein “A formula should be simple as possible and not simpler ” .I was reminded in a way of Alan Bennetts talking heads ,but these have much more impact to the reader these are the espresso of the lit world short and very strong in taste .I think yet again istros has discovered a powerful voice from a country where we have so few translated into English . More important than that a great short story writer ,I struggle with short stories but this for me is the sort of collection that works for me I love recurring themes and the subjects touched in this collection are ones I want to know more about . Have you a favourite book from Turkey ?

Death in the Museum of modern art by Alma Lazarevska

 

Death in the Museum of modern art by Alma Lazarevska

Bosnian short stories

Original title – Smrt u Muzeju moderne umjetnosti

Translator – Celia Hawkesworth

Source review copy

 

Easter, 1916

I HAVE met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,

A view from another besieged city with WB Yeats Easter 1916 when the easter uprising happened in Dublin .

Well its a bit late as I’ve been slow on my bloggging this year but now we have another edition to the East european reading month . Later this month I am of to see a couple of other writers from Istros books at London book fair .Anyway Alma Lazarevska is a Bosnian writer who lives in Sarajevo , this city formed part of her first collection Sarajevo Solitaire .She is also a teacher of writing and happened to teach Andrej Nikoladis another Istros writer before his family left Bosnia .This book won the best book in Bosnia when it came out .

At last the crossing was agreed . The young man who brought the good news did not bang roughly on the door . Nor did he shove her small thin person arrogantly aside , as all the others before him had done , barging into the flat without taking off their boots ,He had timid eyes , which she recognised , and bowed before she confirmed that she had understood when and how the crossing wold take place .

The opening of Dafne Pehfogl crosses the bridge between there and here .

Death in the Museum of modern art is a collection of short stories that capture both life the alma Lazarevska saw in the time Bosnia was at war . This is caught so well in the first story , which to me partly in its title harks back to Ivo andric the great Balkan writer Dafna Pehfogl crosses the bridge between here and there .Covers the war but also in its title maybe the here and there is then and now in a way as we follow someone in the middle of the war trying to get from  point a to point b .Then there is also a dry wit ,like in the story greetings from a besieged city a pun on the postcard greeting , but the story also looks at books translation and being in a besieged city .Another story touches on the myth of the area a tale of the real Kasper Hauser who of course is the subject of the Werner Herzog film starring Bruno S .

“Who was Kaspar Hauser ?”

“Hauser turned up in Nuremberg in 1828 , saying hardly more than a few words , unable to write anything apart from his name , and eating nothing but bread , drinking nothing but water . At first it was assumed he was a tramp , and then he was thrown into the gaol and became an attraction for scholars …

The secret of Kaspaer Hauser looks at his story again from another angle .

I’ve mentioned three of three of the six stories I will keep the other three for you to discover .I love the way Susan the boss of Istros is bringing us such vibrant voices like Alma Lazarevska , yes she has won prizes but in other ways if it wasn’t for Istros we wouldn’t be getting these insights into Balkan life .Think how few books we got before they start publishing a few every year .This collection captures the feeling of being caught in the besieged city the first story Dafna Pehfogl crosses the bridge remind me of the short film I had seen a while ago Torzija which follows a choir trying to exit the besieged city via a tunnel whilst a cow also gives birth  after being spooked by the war , whilst they wait .Such is life in this book yes war is there but also life continues .Have you a favourite book from the Balkans ?

Tigermilk by Stefanie De Velasco

 

Tigermilk by Stefanie De Velasco

German Fiction

Original title – Tigermilch

Translator – Tim Mohr

Source – Library book

Berlin im Licht

And when you go for a walk, the sunlight may be enough, but to light the city of Berlin, the sun is not enough.
This is no little hicktown.
This is one helluva city!
If you want to see everything you can,
You have to use a few watts!
So what then? So what then?
What kind of a city is it then?

Come, turn on the lights so we can see what there is to see!
Come, turn on the lights and don’t say another word.
Come, turn on the lights, so we can see for sure what the big deal is: Berlin in lights!source

I choose Kurt Weil his songs reflect the darker side of life on the whole and here is one about Berlin

Now every IFFp longlist there is a few books I haven’t come across with hundred plus books out a year in translation , even I miss some so when this was on the longlist I didn’t know what to expect .Stefani De Velasco was born in Oberhausen to spanish parent she studied Political science at Bonn .She now lives in Berlin , were the book is set .This book was here debut novel it won Prenzlauer Berg Literature prize .

We dump the chocolate milk down the toilet , chocolate milk is for children . We drink tiger milk this is how you make it . Pour a little school cafeteria milk , a lot of maracuja juice , and a decent slug of brandy into a muller jar . Jameelah stirs it .

This is tiger milk a very German idea , my old  German girlfriend loved nutella and eggs on toast

Now Berlin has had many great books written about it ,the city has also been a character in many books .This is a book of modern Berlin the melting pot of cultures and races that live there now .The book follows two girls on the verge of womanhood , Nini and Jameelah have just broken up for school for the summer and are all set on losing their virginity By practice .But they choose a dangerous path by going to the red light district and picking up random men to learn about sex , maybe learning in the wrong way as they just view them as meat really  .All this discovery is fueled by The tigermilk of the title a mix of milk brandy and other thinks they drink from jars (now seen in every hipster bar in the uk ) .This summer sees the girls grow but also witness the darker sides of life and sex . There attempt to practice maybe doesn’t make perfect and also different cultures

I don’t know why we ended up on Kurfursten of all streets and with the men there , i don’t know any of that , I just know that we always thought nothing would ever go wrong, nothing would happen , as long as we didn’t go anywhere alone , never alone .

The closing lines struck me how we sometimes look back in regret but maybe experiences is a thing we all need .

This book is a gem really , I’ve not read to many Bildungsroman that have females as their lead characters .Nini  and Jameelah both reflect the new face of Berlin with both there families came to Berlin from outside Germany .These two street girls so to speak are this generations Christiane F like the kids in the book and the film, set around Banhof zoo in the 1980’s .What De velasco and Tim Mohr in his translation has done is bring the streets to life through the eyes of these fourteen year old girls .A book for me to sit next to the great books about berlin like Berlin Alexanderplatz and films like Wings of desire .So a great choice for the longlist , I love discovering new voices and this is another great new voice from Germany .

Have you read this book ?

Previous Older Entries

May 2015
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,568 other followers

%d bloggers like this: