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 ?

By night the mountain burns by Juan Tomas Avila Laurel

 

 

 

By Night the M B front cover CMYK

By night the mountain burns by Juan Tomas Avila Laurel

Equatorial Guinea fiction

Original title – Arde el monte de noche

Translator – Jethro Soutar

Source – review copy

 

“Memories Can’t Wait”

Do you remember anyone here?
No you don’t remember anything at all
I’m sleeping, I’m flat on my back
Never woke up, had no regrets

There’s a party in my mind…And it never stops
There’s a party up there all the time…They’ll
party till they drop
Other people can go home…Other peoplle they can split
I’ll be here all the time…I can never quit

Was hard to find a lyric but talking heads for some reason seemed right and a song about memories .

Well this is one I had read last year but put to one-sided and never got too , which doesn’t mean I didn’t like it the opposite really I loved it at the time sometimes if I leave a book too long to get to I never do .So last few days I flicked through it again and remember what I enjoyed about it after it made the IFFP longlist .Juan Tomas Avila Laurel is one of the voice to speak out against his countries harsh regime .A well-known blogger in his country , he worked as a nurse .He chose to stay in Equatorial Guinea ,when a lot of his fellow writers left .He eventually left in 2011 after he went on hunger strike to tie in with a visit from a Spanish minister  .

If there were too few people on our Atlantic Ocean island , too few strong people , we obviously wouldn’t be able to fish in canoes .There would be no need to ask a woman to have malanga soup ready at particular hour of particular afternoon , and nobody would sing to pull a half made canoe to its final destination

The island works together at times .

Now By night the mountain burns is one of those books that feel as thou it has been around for years in its style of writing  because the world we see maybe hasn’t changed for years .laurel draws on the small island of Annobon which is part of the country but also maybe shows more what is wrong with the country as it is smaller and poorer  .But rather like Fois book bloodlines is cut off from the surround world a world caught in amber .In this case it is an island where some of the past still lives on in myths and traditions . But the island is faces many other problems as Cholera and fire have both broken out and are spreading like wildfire .This is all told to us through the eyes of one of the youngest members of a family the young grandchild of a family  .So will it be fire disease or the old superstitions that drive the family out ?

They made the dead man a coffin and in the afternoon they went to bury him , following the procedure I described earlier . All the children who lived on the streets of the funeral procession were shut up in their homes with the windows covered up , forbidden from going outside until the adults got back .

A world full of tradition and the fear of what cholrea have brought to the island

I really enjoyed this when I read it last year as it is what seems the second book to be translated from its country it is hard to compare it with any other African fiction as Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking country in africa . But at the time I noted down one book it reminded me of and that boom was” the last will and testament of senhor Da Silva Arajo by Germano Almeida “a book from Cape Verde a small island off Africa rather like Annobon I was  reminded as both gave  me  a feel of island life (meaning it is rather slow and often can have developed its own mythology ).A great choice for the English pen translation programme bringing us a writer that stands up for what he believes and in this book he shows us in part what is so wrong with his home country .In this book rich in its poetic language .

have you read this book ?

The bridge over the Drina by Ivo Andric

bridge over the drina

 

The bridge over the Drina by Ivo Andric

Bosnian fiction

Original title – Na Drini ćuprija

Translator – Lovett F Edwards

Source – personnel copy

This table has four sturdy legs
And a heart of very near wild oak
When others would have screamed out loud my friend
This one never even spoke

I’ve been sat upon, I’ve been spat upon
I’ve been treated like a bed
Been carried like a stretcher,
when someone thinks they’re dead
I’ve been dined upon, I’ve been wined upon
I’ve been taken for a fool
Taken for a desk,
when they should have been at school

The table in the song by beautiful south is a dumb witness of history source 

Well this has been a book I have want to add to the blog for a while . Part of what I need to do is add books like this and writers like Andric .Former Nobel winner .He was born to Bosnian Croat parents ,was rought up in the town of Visegrad where this book is set and the bridge is .He won the nobel mainly based on the value of this book it was the first of a trilogy of books he wrote set in his native Bosnia .

For the greater part of its course the river Drina flows through narrow gorges between steep mountains  or through deep ravines with precipitous banks  . In a few places only the river banks spread out to form valleys with level or rolling stretches of fertile land suitable for cultivation and settlement on both sides . Such a place exists here at Visegrad , where the Drina breaks out in a sudden curve .

The town has people living on both sides of the bridge .

The bridge of Drina is well what it says on the tin the story of this bridge that in a way links east and west . The bridge is set in the town of Visegrad . The bridge was built-in the 16th century by the Grand Vizar to connect the two sides of the town and two worlds really . Through the book we see families torn apart on the two sides of the river . The story starts with a Serbian boy  whom has been  taken from his parents  .The parents of the boys taken suffering . Through the door of everyone living in the town we see the small world there but also the larger world of the Balkans .WE see the religions of the region and how they affect the townsfolk Catholic , orthodox and muslim altogether .This is a huge book about the region through glimpse of the world through three centuries .

In all that ten days long bombardment no major damage was done to the bridge .The shell struck against the smooth piers and rounded arches ,ricocheted and exploded in the air without leaving other marks in the stone than light ,white scarcely perceptible scratches . The fragments of shrapnel bounced off the smooth firm stone .

The bridge came through world war one fairly unscathed .unlike the world around it

Now this book was written in Belgrade during the second world war .It maybe shows much of what happened after the second world war . The cracks that finally broke up the post Tito Yugoslavia can all be seen in these little stories in this book as we see the lives through 300 years which has seen many people trying to gain control of the town and over Bosnia and the wider region . from the Ottoman empire .then the interaction between the Serbs and the Muslims .Andric enters all the lives of the town he grew up these are little stories glimpse of people’s lives that he knew and must have heard of growing up in the town .Also the  folktales of the place all drawn together .The bridge is like a dumb witness to the history and the wounds left during the three hundred years in this book .Which formed scabs after this book that was maybe ripped off to bleed again by the Balkan conflicts at the end of the 20th Century .This is my second book for east European month and maybe one of the best and earliest books of the post war eastern europe .

Have you read this book ?

Bloodlines by Marcello Fois

Bloodlines

Bloodlines by Marcello Fois

Italian Fiction

Original title -Stirpe

Translator – Silvester Mazzarella

Source – Review Copy

 

He was a blacksmith by trade; he used to live on his own.
She was a little old maid; she was all gristle and bone,
Just a crone that you might not have fancied yourself;
She was not born to attract. She was lined up for the shelf
If it were not for the fact the blacksmith loved her well,
He loved her like hell. He used to grunt and sigh, fit to die.
But from afar; for he was shy, as blacksmiths often are.

I went for an obvious choice here The blacksmith and The toffeemaker by Jake thackray  and love the comparison he was shy like blacksmiths often are , given we have a shy Sardinan Blacksmith .

When the IFFP longlist was announced I was a bit annoyed with myself I hadn’t read this one as I had loved the first book by him that Maclehose had published Memory of the abyss . It was one of those books I started and just put to one side after 30 pages last year and never got back too , not because I hadn’t like what I read, no there was shiny new ones to read .Marcello Fois is part of what in Italy is called the New Sardinian literature a group of writers that have given a new voice to the island .He has published over 20 books in Italy .

Luggi Ippolito was the first Chironi to know the history and origins of the family .He had read enough to know we all come from somewhere and he was articulate enough to be able to tell the story . His firm and steady , if not yet fully mature , voice echoed calmly through the short November days as everyone grew sleepy round the log fire .

The family origins also told in a side story to the main one .

So Bloodlines as the title maybe suggest is a story of family .But rather cleverly the English title using the term bloodlines instead of lineage .Because this is the story of a family that in a way isn’t connected by blood the Chironi family is started when Giuseppe the father a blacksmith is at the local orphanage and he sees a boy Michele and see in him what could be his son .So he adopts him and he grows up and falls in love with a woman called Michele hat he had met when younger  , but meet when older and start the family that we see through the 20th century through their eyes and there kids eyes .The story of the family that  follows Sardinia through the first and second world war .A family struggling , both with themselves and with the world around them changing  . In a world that has changed is the still a place for them in it .

Michele Angelo is solid and stout , plum as a well-fed animal . His clothes are basically light brown but see against the light , his substance almost blond  , like living expression of something as transient as fruit-growing from honeyed seed , in sharp contrast to the crow-like blackness that surrounds him .

A great example of Fois Prose and the great job of Silverstre the translator .

Epic is one word that can sum this up . An epic family saga , that remind me of Marquez in a way , but without any real magic realism .A family and how they face the world , also like Marquez this is a world disconnect from elsewhere round it Sardinia is an island so is both in Italy and not in Italy . In a way it remind me of the world my Father and Grandparents described .When they described the Irish republic they used to visit for weekend’s growing up in the 30 , 40 and 50s and the difference in the world just a few miles from their door .I feel Donegal at this time and Sardinia probably were quite similar worlds . Again I feel in love with Fois wonderfully rich prose style , in a way he is maybe a rich meal full of flavour . In regards the IFFP for me this is a shortlist book so I’ll be scoring it high in the shadow jury .

Have you read Fois ?

Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas

javier Cercas

javier Cercas

Soldier of Salamis by Javier Cercas

Spanish fiction

Original title – Soldados de Salamina 

Translator – Anne McLean

Source – Personnel copy .

 

you say you’ve got to go home ‘cos he’s sitting on his own again this evening.
I know you’re gonna let him bore your pants off again.
Oh God, it’s half past eight you’ll be late.
You say you’ve never been sure tho’ it makes good sense for you to be together.
Still you bought a toy that can reach
the places he never goes & now it’s getting late.
He’s so straight. Do you remember the first time?
I can’t remember a worse time
but you know that we’ve changed so much since then
Oh yeah, we’ve grown.
Now I don’t care what you’re doing

Do you remember the first time is a bit oike war stories our first time is often misremembered .source

 

I have read this book roughly around the time it came out and won the IFFP prize Lisa and I choose it as one of our books to celebrate 25 years od the IFFp running .With the clock running down to thursdays announcement I decide to start today with this tomorrow I have our shadow jury announcement and then thrursday will see what I have read of the longlist and what needs to be read by myself .Anyway back to Javier Cercas he is one of a number of great spanish writers that have in the last decade or two started looking at what happened during the Spanish civil war . I love this book as it in some ways captures what I enjoy most in recent Spanish language writing , even down to having the great Roberto Bolano as a character name  . Cercas has won numerous prize for his books this one in particular he has written 8 novels including two on here Outlaws and Anatomy of a moment  .

It was the summer of 1994 , more than six years ago now , when I first heard about Rafeal Sanchez Mazas facing the firing squad . Three things had just happened ; first my father had died ; then my wife had left me ; and finally , I’d given up my literary career .

Opening lines , the value of a story to a writer in the opening lines here .

The soldiers of Salamis , is really a study of how we view the past told in three parts . The connection between the three parts is the history of Rafeal Sanchez Mazas . The book revolves around an incident that happened during the civil war .Who in one day escapes a firing squad and then also nearly getting caught by a a soldier sent to search for him .The first is what he thought happened then in the following two parts more about the man that nearly caught him appear so was the original history the truth ? A writer in the present struggles with what is truth in historic fact and is all historic fact fiction in some way ? Was the man that spared Mazas Miralles the real hero of the story . A real look at hpw the events of the civil war still linked with the present and more so effected those involved .

Exhaling loudly , Bolano reminded me that he hadn’t seen Miralles for more than twenty years , and that he wasn’t friends with anyone from back then , anyone who could  – he stopped short and , offering no explanation , asked me to hang on a moment . I hung on . The moment got so long that I thought Bolano must have forgotten I was waiting on the phone .

I loved he called a character bolano .Like real Bolano he knows the other side of the story .

Well again like in the two other books I have reviewed by javier Cercas there is a thin line walked by him between truth and lies in fact between fact and fiction .This book could sit on the middle .the earlier books are Outlaws his childhood reimagined a fictional growing up story . Then in Anatomy  of a moment the attempt coup of the Spanish parliment in the 80’s is recounted more of a fact based non-fiction novel . So What do we learn , that the history of what happened in the spai=nish civil war was in some ways rewritten by those that won .There was good and bad on both sides . What we see is how history gets written or even invented or misrememebered . For me this is as near perfect novel and a fine example of what the IFFP should be there for promoting the best voices from around the world .

Have you read Javier Cercas

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