Nine moons by Gabriela Wiener

Nine Moons by Gabriela Wiener

Peruvian non-fiction

Original title – Nueve Lunas

Translator – Jessica Powell

Source – Review copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa


The neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa

Peruvian Fiction

Original title – Cinco esquinas

Translator – Edith Grossman

Source – Library book

I returrn to anpther writer that has featured on the blog a few times. Mario Vargas Llosa has won just about every award out there including the Nobel. He has written about twenty novels with all being translated into English. He has written in a varitey of styles over his years writing. This is his latest book and is an interesting view of how writers write in their later life. He has in his life tried to be president of his homeland when in the early 1990’s he ran for president only to get defeated by Alberto Fujimori. This book is set in the years after that election.

She didn’t say anything, but closing her eyes, she leaned to one side and found her mouth that had started to kiss and  gently nibble her neck, ears, and her hair. She raised her hands, held the braidm and ran her fingers through her friend’s hair, whispering “WIll you let ,me undo you braid? I want to see you with your hair undone and to kiss it, darling” Arms entwined, serios now, they left the terrace and , crossing the living room, dining room, and a hallway, came to Chabela’s bedroom

The Miami weekend and this is just not very convincing to me is it just me ?

The book follows a scandal but not the one you at first thing the books open when two female friends awaken after a party in the same bed and discover a sudden attreaction to one another Mariesa and Chabela become attract this culminates in a weekend away in Miami. Now the book then diverts to the offices and the editor of the scandal paper Exposed a man called Rolando Garro. Now this man is maybe worst than all we have seen in the UK muckrakers no this is a paper that just sets out to cause trouble. So when he comes to Enrique the husband of one of the two woman a welalthy industralist. This is the point you think it maybe be the girls no it is pictures of the man himself at an Orgy that Garro has shown him. So when Garro turns up dead havuing been beaten to death suspicion falls on Enrique as it does all the people featured in the rag over the last while. He is arrested now the other husband the rwo are best friends come to help his friend and avoid him falling into the hands of “the doctor” a character based on one of Fujimori’s henchman of the time that ran the intellegance service now these two men dislike him for the way he looks more than the fact he is a violent tortuture. Will the girls secret be found out , will the husband get free will the mruderer be found ?

When Enrique saw Rolando Garro walk into his office, he felt the same distance as the first time. Garro was dressed in the same clothing he has worn two weeks earlier, and he walked swinging his arms and coming down hard on his heels of his high platform shoes, as if wanting to come up in the world. he reached his desk – Enrique hadn’t stood to receive him – and extended the flaccid wet hand that Enriqye remembered with revulsion. It was ten in the morning: He was right on time for their appointment.

Garro a slimy man with no redeeming features like the worst of Fleet street rolled into one .

This isn’t his best book it hasn’ t the feel of earlier books like Aunt Julia which I read years ago. Or even somethung like Bad girl which he wrote ten years before this.. No this is partly a look back at those years when he could have been president. Would he have allowed eposed to carry on ? The doctor a henchman for his opponent and winner of the election is the bad next to Garro a man with no redemming features.. These character all work for me the Lesbian relationship just seemed a bit well like a man writing about what he may have loike to have seen two women he may have known at the time do. The blonde and the woman in Biegee is the way they are described. I have always put Llosa in the Pamuk and Saramago group of winners those that constantly write good but not great books each may have one or even two great books. This isn’t one of thos thou it is a late book of a great writer and in that it is a writer looking back at the time he could have made a difference in his country. In those parts it works and as ever Grossman makes the book flow. In others it is a bit weaker than his earlier books.

Blood of the dawn by Claudia Salazar Jimenez

Blood of the dawn by Claudia Salazar Jimenez

Peruvian fiction

Original title –  La sangre de la Aurora

Translator – Elizabeth Bryer

Source – Personal copy

I am always trying to add new voices to the countries I have read books from. I have read four books from Per but they are all bt Male writers so when I saw this one from Deep Vellum by one of the leading female writers from Peru I decided I would give it a try. Claudia Salazar Jimenez studied Literature in Lima and then In new york. She has since living in New York set up a Peruvian film festival and a creative writing workshop. In an interview, she states that her books problematize the limits between history and literature, the point of enunciation of official historiography and the inherent relationship that both disciplines have with the language in this sense, both novels are inserted into the genre of historical fiction , works that controvert the mechanisms by which operates historiographical discourse. Talking about her two novels including this one. 

How many  were there it hardly matters twenty came thirty say those who got away counting is uselesscrack machete blade a divided chest crack no more milk another one falls machete knife dagger stone sling crack my daughter crack my brother crack my husband crack my mother crack exposed flesh broken neck machete eyeball crack femur tibula crack faceless earless noseless swallow it crack right now eat it up pick the ear up off the floor

Just a breif pice of the passage of the masacre gives a sense of the horror i was remind of the lines Brando spoke the horror the horror of war in Apocalyase now

Blood of the dawn follows three women through the early years of the conflict that happened in Peru between 1980 and 2000 between the government and the shining path. This is also a theme in the two of the other books I have read from Peru The blue hour and Red April but both were from a male perspective. This has a woman Marcela a teacher drawn to the dream of helping the poor of the country she becomes a terrorist. Melanie a young photographer who has been left here by a lover who left her to escape to France. and then we have Modesta a poor woman the exact person they were fighting for but she loves her family. All three of the voices intertwine. But the book opens into the violent side of the conflict when in the early pages we have a vivid and bloody retelling of an actual event that of the massacre of Lucanamarca where 69 people lost their lives this village is Modesta home and the aftermath of this event and the effect on three women is told in the book.

I got a call from a reporter who has just got back from the central conflict zone. Usually he has a calming unwavering air, but today he is annoyed, iffitable. His voice is almost enough to make the receiver tremble. I sense he’s being careful not to shout but can’t help raising his voice . They’ve never edited a story of mine in such an outrageous way. Not ever, Mel. It looks like orders from higher up.. They smudge the blood on the paper so it won’t spatter the city of drizzle. It has already splattered, even if they don’t want to see it. National security, they argue.

The violence is tamed down to the wider public after time.cenors so often blur war in the public eyes.

This is a gem of a book given a clear and vivid voice to three women who were touched by the horrors of the violent years that happened in Peru. The opening pages of the massacre capture a real sense of being caught up in the horror of this event and the rest of the book shows the outfall of this violence at the personal level of three women drawn together in the violence and each damaged and changed by it. This is what great historical fiction should do capture the true horror of what was horrific times but here told from a point of view we never really hear from the female involved and caught up in the violence just by living in the wrong place. Another strong female writer from Latin America I have covered so many in the last few years.

The dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa

dream of the Celt Mario Vargas Llosa

The dream of the Celt  by Mario Vargas Llosa

Peruvian Fiction

Translator – Edith Grossman

Original Title -El sueño del celta

Source Library

Just other two yyears ago after he had won the Nobel prize for Literature I reviewed his novel the bad Girl which I enjoyed ,this is his latest book published in Spanish in 2010 ,this translation was published last Year and done by the Wonderful Edith Grossman .Mario Vargas is easily the most well known name from Peruvian fiction this book is his 15th novel in a career that dates back to 1959 and the start of the Latin American Boom .

When in Liverpool with his cousins ,Roger sometimes conquered his timidity and Asked Uncle Edward about Africa ,a vontinent whose mere mention filled his head with Jungles ,wild animals and interpid men .

The first time we see the draw of Africa on Roger Casement

This book focus on the well Known Irish nationalist figure Sir Roger Casement ,I say well-known before I read the book I knew he was associated with Ireland had been executed by the british and he was part of some sort of scandal .So to the book Yes Roger Casement was from Ireland and the book takes you through his youth there then to time spent in Africa ,Peru and the amazon basin then back to Ireland .The book is about a man’s journey  Form Idealist , British Diplomat to Disillusioned ,humanitarian and Irish freedom Fighter .We see  this youth In Ballymena (just thought mention this it isn’t a large part but my step mother is also from this town in Northern Ireland ) he is a quiet and quite shy young man growing up much different to the figure he later became ,Then in his late teens  joining the British government as a diplomat . Where he ends up being sent to Congo ,where he see the horrors of the dying embers of the slave traders and How the white Europeans treat the natives ,whilst in Congo he meet two well-known figures in History ,the Explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley and the Novelist Joseph Conrad .Then he is sent to sort out and report back on a dispute in Peru involving the Local tribes of Indians Seven in all and The rubber company .The Indians have decided they need more rights ,because we see people whip and mistreated for not following the company lines or doing what was expected .Following all this he returns to Ireland where his views on his own home land and nation have changed radically and he ends up on the Gaol waiting to be killed  .Well  a lot as you see ,oh and he was gay and tend to like younger men than himself (rather well handle by Llosa it is easy to make this the main theme of the book ,which it could but this is a book on the wrongs of Empire really ) at a time when this was against the law .

O what has made that sudden noise?
What on the threshold stands?
It never crossed the sea because
John Bull and the sea are friends;
But this is not the old sea
Nor this the old seashore.
What gave that roar of mockery,
That roar in the sea’s roar?

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

John Bull has stood for Parliament,
A dog must have his day,
The country thinks no end of him,
For he knows how to say,
At a beanfeast or a banquet,
That all must hang their trust
Upon the British Empire,
Upon the Church of Christ.

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

Instead of a second quote I choose to put two verse of the W B yeats poem about Casement which is also quoted in the book

So I suppose like me reading this book on the blurb , the first name that came to mind with this book Is Conrad ,Yes it is similar settings but this is more a view of the natives downfall through a European eyes that Conrad’s books are ,I was also reminded of the recent novels by Bernardo  Atxaga  seven house in France  which I review  here and other book dealing with  the horrors in the Congo at roughly the same time as this book .Another book Ithat sprung to mind was the last but one book by Juan Gabriel Vasquez which I also reviewed on here The secret history of Costaguana another book which set in Latin america and based on a Conrad novel .Vargas has tried to show through one man the wrongs of empire and also how empires are able to fall .The horror of the treatment the locals around the world is eye-opening to you as a reader ,but also to Casement and lead him down a new path seeing these horrors .

Have you read this book ?

The Blue hour by Alonso Cueto

The Blue Hour by Alonso Cueto

Peruvian fiction

Translated by Frank Wynne

Alonso Cueto like his fellow Peruvian writer Santiago Roncagliolo is another rising star of spanish language fiction from Peru .Although older than Santiago he went to university in the Us .He complete his first novel in 1983 ,he is editor of the debate a peruvian magazine  and section in the newspaper El comercio and teaches at two universities .The blue hour is his first book to be translated to English .It won the Prestigious Premio Herralde de novela previous winners include Bolano ,Vila-Matas and Tsyzka .

They’ll recognise me or my wife Claudia .My wife Claudia .It feels strange calling her that as thou she was a stranger .The arc of her name reminds me of a rainbow – at least that’s what I told her last night .

Adrian on his wife .

The book is about the civil war in Peru the battle with the Shining path that last Ten year .Told through the story of Adrian Ormache ,a succesful lawyer from lima a man on the up a well-known man the son of the famous Colonel Ormache who had led many successful operations during the war against the Shining path .But all that is about to change as his mother dies and the is a dark secret in his fathers past .His view of his father is changed beyond belief the shining Naval officer he saw as his father turn out to be a torturer and rapist ,the solders he left to killed at will .Then there is a women his father had an affair with Miriam a prisoner  who he may have let escape ,what has she to tell Adrian .He starts to trouble who he is ,after he is so wrong about who is father was and then wondered why his mother did nothing .We see a patchwork of lies,brutality ,misery and violence face Adrian in his search for the truth .Will him and Claudia and his two lovely daughters ever be the same .

Suddenly in a rush that surprised  even me ,I remembered something else .I wasn’t sure whether it was something I had actually heard or something I  simply imagined.I dimly remembered that just before his fight with Guayo ,Chacho had told me that when she ran away ,Miriam wa pregnant

I jotted down

7 possibly …..

Adrian making a list of what he needs to find out .after his mothers death .

Well its easy to compare this to Red April Santiago’s book I mean they are both about the shining path ,both writers from Lima ,both are very realist writers yes it be easy but they are different in so many ways .  this is a book about families as much as it is about  Peru ‘s recent past ,the relationships we find  in families Father  to son ,mother to son ,parents to children  and husband and wife and what happens when war ,lies and sex get in the way of this oh and throw in a pretty young women from the other side .You may be feeling sorry for Adrian after reading what I put in the second paragraph , but don’t he isn’t going through this pain to cleanse himself .No he is shallow lawyer wanting to climb greasy pole  and is worried how these revelations will affect him in the eyes of his peers a .He is the classic guy that want to find something out but only to hide it away at a later date a classic anti-hero and a bit of a bastard rather like his father and maybe as the books goes on you see more of the father in the son ,We also learn that in a big city like Lima where the book is set ,there are many different people all within a small area and you may even be connect with the ones on the bottom if your near the top  .If  I want to compare him to a latin american writer .I think Cueto is closer to Juan Carlos Onetti in style Onetti a writer of existentialists movement a pessimist in what he  wrote of life in all its myriads and the man Cueto wrote his dissertation  on  is maybe the writer I most see in his work that and some of LLosa how of course being the most successful Peruvian writer must be an inspiration to all current writers .

What Peruvian fiction you read ?

Do you like books with a narrator you may not like ?#

Red April by Santiago Roncagiolo

Source – library

Translator – Edith Grossman

Santiago Roncagiolo is a peruvian writer ,grew up in the city of Arequipa ,his father is well-known political analyst in peru ,which meant he lived for a time growing up in exile .He has lived in Barcelona  since 2000 ,due cleaning jobs at first then spots of writing for papers like El Pais ,red april is his first novel to be translated into English.he has so far written five novels ,and he has one of his books filmed in spain .

Red april is set in the year 2000 in the small town of Ayacucho ,during holy week a serial killer is found to be on the lose ,this is at the time peru is just coming out of an extreme regime and  the terrorist group shining path .This leads to suspicions growing through the town .The government send a man from lima to investigate the crime and find the person committing the crimes .this man Felix gets tangled up and finds people that he is talking to die as the lines between the past and the present blur ,people s connections to the past come to light and he struggles to get to grip with what is happening .He finds the past is still ever-present in people’s thoughts .Also is the shining path still operating even thou the government says it isn’t these are all questions that need answers .

“Felix ,eight years ago ,if I went out they would kill .Not now .The dammm terrorists killed my mother ,they killed my brother ,they took away my sister so the damm solder could kill her afterward .since the president took office ,they haven’t killed me or anybody else in my family .You want me to vote for somebody else ? i don’t understand why ?

Felix faces people’s pasts as he tries to find the truth .

This book isn’t one I would normally choose as I m not huge fan of  thrillerish books but as it was on the Independent foreign fiction shortlist ,I thought I d give it a whirl and as Llhosa was the only over peruvian writer I d read I thought  d like to try one of the younger generation of writers post -latin american boom writers ,I like Santiago’s honesty about his homelands dark recent past and tackle it well using the present and a crime now unconnected to the past as a way to address the distant past .Felix is a great character like the typical outsider he sees thinks different and also has an open mind but he does get involved far to easily ,he has an eye for the ladies and this makes him vulnerable at times ,as he starts his relationship with a young women called Edith that isn’t all she seems at times .The book is gruesome in places as we see the actions that happen during the conflict on both sides the tremendous loss of life and the shattered life’s left behind mothers without children ,children without parents .I was reminded at times of Bolano in the style of writing and the way he use the story to tackle the past .the book was well translated by Edith Grossman as IO would expect she does a lot of latin american literature .

Have you read this book ?

Do you like books that tackle difficult subjects ?

THE BAD GIRL BY Mario Vargas Llosa

Well I had this down to rea on my around the world in 52 books list .Having read a couple many years ago by him ,after seeing the aunt Julia film which had a great performance from Peter Falk .Well if you didn’t know Mario won this years Nobel prize being the first Nobel winner from south America since Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982 .Mario Vargas Llosa was born in the Peruvian provinces in late thirties ,he went to military academy the subject of his first novel ,his books are both historic and have modern-day setting he often uses his own life experiences in his books .

The bad girl follows the life of Ricardo ,we meet him as a teenager in the 50’s in lima a love affair with lily or as in the title the bad girl starts and ends due to the difference in class etc ,Ricardo does well in his studies and ends up in paris working as a translator in numerous languages ,this is in the sixties so there is a backdrop of the city in the sixties with its protests and bohemian atmosphere ,Ricardo meets Comrade Arlette ,this women reminds him of lily in so many ways they have a passionate affair ,the book continues on the same path him traveling to different cities and meet women with the spirit of Lilly and having increasingly passionate and kinky love affairs .this takes us through london ,Tokyo back to peru and ending up in paris ,all this with a sparkling cast of friends including a mute boy .We see the history of times hippies ,seventies and Japans rise .

My only contact with Peru ,for by now I rarely saw Peruvians in paris ,continued to be the increasingly desperate letters from uncle Ataulfo and Aunt Delores always sent me regards in her own hand ,and from time to time I would send her scores for playing the piano was great diversion in her invalid life .

Ricardo family struggles at home in Peru unde General Alvarado’s dictatorship  .

Now I loved this Llosa has a real flow to his writing that draws you in bit by bit ,there is a lot of sex in this book but it is well written and helps the plot also gives you the true scope of the affair or affairs there is a question whether it is the same women or different women with the same spirit this isn’t answered but I felt form a man falls for the same spirit in different bodies ,the affair is a life long passion the encompasses the world ,these part the cities and times they were written really feel like they are from Llosa own life and that he’d been in paris and in London and Tokyo during the periods described in the book .Worthy nobel winner yes his books are always readable and  meaningful .Like Aunt Julia that was made into a film I could see this novel-making the move into a great film .The book is translated by Edith Grossman ,she has previously tranlated 5 of his books previously as you’d expect is perfection from the best translator of Latin American fiction

Have you read him ?

have you seen the films made of his books ?

March 2023


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