Summer reads in Translation my choices

Well the last few weeks have seen a few Summer reading recommendations in the weekend papers .A discussion the other week after the rather banal Guardian one lead to a question of doing our own well ,I’ve let the dust settle and chosen a few translations that are out now or due out in the next month or so .

the walk

The walk by Robert Walser

Now Serpents tail has issued some more great stories from the ever-growing in reputation Robert Walser .This collection is meant to bridge the gap between the earlier works and the later Microscripts .I ve read his Berlin stories that I ll be reviewing for German lit month and all I’ll say now he is worth trying for any one wanting to fill in gaps in German lit inter wars .

let the games begin

Let the games begin by Niccolo Ammaniti

I m reading this myself at the moment ,it has a dark wit and some bizarre storylines and as I said when I first heard about this book we don’t have enough books about man eating hippos !! out next month


21:37 by Mariusz Czubaj

A polish crime novel by the Lovely Joanne and her Stork Press ,we meet Profiler Robert Heinz as he tries to track down a killer of two young men with the number 21 and 37 written on them ,also please note this is on offer on Kindle at the moment .

russian stories

Russian Stories by Francesc Seres

21 stories from relatively unknown to the west Russian writers ,we see modern Russia through the eyes of various girls in and around St Petersburg ,then go back further through each of the five writers in the collection to get a unique insight into Russia past and present .

the son Andrej Nikolaidis

The son By Andrej Nikolaidis

We spend the evening with an unknown narrator as he wanders round the city of Ulcnj ,The narrator a writer is at the crossroads of his life his wife is gone ,he has fallen out with his father and during this evening we see him take his life apart and also the place he lives .Very Bernhard at times this one and a real gem from Istros books .

parrots Flippo Bologna

The Parrots by Flippo Bologna

I ve reviewed this already here ,A great comic satire on Book prizes and writers .

Other titles on my radar

These are books already out I’ve them ready to read hopefully over the summer at some point myself .

All is silence by Manuel Rivas

The infatuations by Javier Marias

Man in love by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Every Promise by Andrea Bajani

What’s going on in the world of translation !

Well it’s been a while since I round-up some Gems and news I’ve come across in the world of translation .So after a week away from the blog it seemed a nice way to ease myself back into the old routine .First of is one of two new publishers that have crossed my path in recent times A publishing house called Deep Vellum ,set in Texas ,they have three title coming soon I believe ,the first is a collection of short stories from Mikhail Shishkin ,I shall be reviewing The light and the dark by him soon and from that could see his short stories being quite tasty pieces ,Sergio Pitol the Mexican writer and translator is the second writer ,he has won the prestigious Cervantes prize in the past .Lastly they are publishing A member of the Oulipo group of writers Anne Garreta ,she was first member  to be  born and chosen to join the group after it was founded ,She has won the Prix Médicis in 2002 for her book not a day


Next up is a remind I think but their first book is due very soon and it is the New York based New vessel Press the first book is The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra by Pedro Mairal a man who was a mute spend six decades paint the history of his village on the shores facing Uruguay ,when his sons die they find these scrolls .This reminds me rather of the story of the outsider art of the American Henry Darger who spent year writing an epic saga called the Vivian girls .The book is due out as an Ebook on the 15th July one for the Dairy I think !!.

This week saws the winner of the Oxford Weidenfield Translation prize announced –

Tess Lewis for Lukas Bärfuss, One Hundred Days (Granta)
Louise B. Popkin for Mario Benedetti, Witness (White Pine Press)
Sam Taylor for Laurent Binet, HHhH (Harvill Secker)
Frank Wynne for Alonso Cueto, The Blue Hour (Heinemann)
Philip Boehm for Herta Müller, The Hunger Angel (Portobello)
Mike Mitchell for Jean-Pierre Ohl, The Lairds of Cromarty (Dedalus)

hunger angel

The winner  was The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller  here is my Review  .I may also draw your attention to another book from the shortlist  ,here is My review of The Blue Hour ,A book overlooked I feel as it is better than the more well-known Red April also set in Peru .


Also a reminder for the forthcoming Thomas Bernhard week .I have a specially commissioned  piece this Thursday that I have been lucky to get from another writer about his love of Thomas Bernhard .

Doctor I’m stuck in a world of English and US fiction can you help ?

I had this idea a couple of years ago for a book clinc and never did anything with it then Kim from reading matters mention a similar thing ,so I gone back to think about doing it more seriously this time ,its two years on and my knowledge base has expand on world literature in that time ,so I now feel I can do this probably .so like any doctor I ll be the translation doctor ,you come to me with a book you’ve loved in english and I ll go away and give you a prescription of a book in translation that may not be the same but will have similar themes so if you tell me what the book was about and maybe the themes in the book you liked and I ll put the time in and recommend something that touches the same themes or plot or if your very lucky both .

I ll give and example that isn’t really mine I must admit it is one that Meike from Peirene press frequently gives for reading the wonderful beside the sea and that is that is you loved the book room by Emma Donoghue ,you will see similar themes in this book .

Another from me would be the books of Roger Deakin ,his style is very similar to the German writers W G Sebald’s  book rings of Saturn I feel if you loved his  books you will get on with Sebald’s prose as they have a similar style .

So help get this start either leave a comment on a book you loved or e mail me and I try and help out otherwise to get ball rolling I just make up the first few books submitted .

The Italian Job

These are books for my Italian week which I ll be starting to read next week and posting week after and for the year-long books in Italy challenge Have a couple of other Italian Noir novels on way from Library so looking forward to spend time in Italy this month well at least in Books .The two I’m most nervous about are Foucault’s pendulum and if on a winter’s night a traveller .These two are meant to be challenging to say the least .I will also be doing an Italian cooking post about the food and wine I love from Italy .Also at end be talking about the translators and what they brought to the books .

So have you read any of these ?

What yopur favourite Italian dish ?

the long song by Andrea levy

Andrea grew up in britain after her parents came here in the empire windrush in the late 40’s ,a subject she touched on ,in the novel small island .She didn’t start writing til here 30’s and since has had a rise with every novel this is her fifth and is shortlisted for the booker .The novel drifts us back to the Jamaica of the 1800’s where slavery is still in place and the slave July we follow her life from her birth after her mother was raped to her entering service for a vicious english women Caroline Mortimer ,where she is beaten and stab with pins and other things on a regular basis for no apparent reason or little provocation .Meanwhile in the outside world there are great changes underfoot rebellions and just glimpses of freedom for the slaves . to the arrival of a new overseer with a new way of treating slaves ,kindly with is slightly more liberal view of doing the work .

July threw herself upon the floor ,held the dress aloft and yelled, missus ,the dress spoil! Them mash-up your dress .It messed up ,it mess up .Oh beat me ,missus come on beat me ! the dress spoil ,spoil,spoil come tek a whip and beat me I beggin you missus .

July expecting a beating from the violent mistress caroline .

Now this is written in a style of Jamaican english or patois that was spoken by the slaves a relaxed english .July comes across as a highly realistic character that has a hard life and you feel her injustices and triumphs along the way .Levy seems to want to bring some of her own family’s history forward and had done maticlious research for this novel in Jamaica and the uk looking back on records of the time and the slaves life ,Which she described in an interview I heard as a hard task as there was a lot of side information number jobs etc but little or none on how the slaves felt at the time .what Levy has done is capture a young girls struggle to womanhood in the most difficult of circumstances .A book for anyone interested in the history of the time and how slaves lives really were on the plantations

This is one of this years booker shortlist .


world cup is coming

Well I ve had two books through the post this week and brought one myself the books are –

World cup wishes by Eshkol Nevo-the israeli writer  is the grand son of a former israeli minister,the book follows for friends to france 1998 ,which was a great world cup the first truly global cup .it follows their journey through the traumas and bonds that have kept them together since they where kids ,Nevo got high praise for his last novel Homesick ,looking forward to this book ,as i start getting excited for the world cup .

Offside by Tom Palmer -this is the third in a series of books that follow Danny Harte a football fan and detective ,this time he travels to Ghana on the case of   a corrupt agent ,this book is designed for young readers and the african football angle appealed to me when Sarah at bookrabbit offer it me ,plus i don’t read a lot of teen books so this will be a real change and again is wonderful for world cup build up .

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges -well Argentine is a hot bed of football so ,a book by their greatest writer seemed apt ,Borges wrote truly unique prose hard to classify ,but without a doubt a huge influence on latin american and world lit .

Are you looking forward to the world cup ?

footnote –

Persephone biannually

Also in the post this week was my first ever Persephone biannual .The twice yearly magazine from Persephone books a great short story from Irene Nemirovsky from their new collection out soon ,also was lovely to see Claire at paperbackreader on the bloggers page ,deserved she does so much to promote this lovely company and there beautiful books .



Early this morning ,we were woken to a banging at the door ,my darling wife went downstairs and was greeted by the  postie saying take this its heavy ,i ask the wife what it was when she came back upstairs she said oh more books again .I wondered what books it could be as wasn’t expecting any ,then saw Faber on label and remembered i won a comp on twitter a few weeks ago ,as those of you who know me i am on twitter all day every day nearly lol . So i quickly opened the parcel and discovered tho complete collection of  the Faber firsts that came out last year to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Faber and Faber .this great collection of Faber’s shows Faber’s wide range of books –

William Golding – Lord of the flies – I read this when young ,but have been wanting to go back to it at some point after hearing about  John Carey’s new bio of Golding ,i want to see if the book has change in the twenty years since i read it .

P D James – Cover her face – Not read any James ,I have enjoyed the tv versions of her work  over the years .

John McGahern – The barracks – This is a new name to me  I ve read the blurb on the back of the book and its set in Ireland ,and sounds quite good .

Sylvia Plath – The bell jar  – This is one i read as a teenager as well and had mislaid my copy over the years so is a welcome edition to my bookshelves

Peter Carey – Bliss – I feel bad I ve not read this as a huge fan of Carey’s work I feel iI should have read his debut ,so this is going near top of tbr ,expect a review soon

Kazuo Ishiguro – A pale view of the hills  – i had this on tbr pile after reading nocturnes last year i decide to read some more of his books again ,

Paul Auster – new york Trilogy – i read this last year from library the same edition and like the cover design so will be please to have it on my shelf as i really enjoyed it as i have with many of Auster’s books ,this book set in new york a collection of three stories with a detective theme .

Orhan Pamuk – The White castle – I read this last year also ,an italian sailor is sold as a slave in arab world ends up educating a sultan ,wonderful  storytelling ,I would recommend this book to any one .

Hanif Kuriesh – The Buddha of suburbia – I ve not read any Kureishi ,I  remember catching a couple of the tv version of this years ago as David Bowie had written the music for it . shall see if the book is better than the show ,which bar the music was a little silly at times .

Rohinton Mistry – such a long journey –  The debut of the Canadian based indian writer ,i ve enjoy one of his other books ,so will be reading this as well .





 There been few parcels ,this week at Winston towers .a great selection of books –

The private memoirs and confessions of a justified sinner & contributions to annuals and gift books by James Hogg

 These were both sent to me by the lovely bookrambler ,Jannette edit the contribution book by James Hogg was a poet and novelist and one of Scotland’s treasures ,I have only read a slim volume of his works ,and am looking forward to these a true classic scotts writer .

Young Hitler  by Claus Hant

This is a non fiction novel by a german scriptwriter Claus Hant ,who has work on this over a number of years ,whilst working on a hugely successful tv show der bulle am Tolz (the bull from bad Tolz ) a comic police show .I m sure this book is going to cause some controversy ,but Hant says he wants to discover what made Hitler the monster he became .

The queen of  Palmyra by Minrose Gwin

A debut novel  set in Missippi in the early sixties it involves race secrets growing up in the segregated era ,this partly comes from Rose’s own experience as a child growing up in the sixties .


This book is part of a project from hay festival and Beirut ,the project  involved writers from all over the arab world submit work ,they only had to be under 40 ,this project follows the successful bogota39 project which help launch the   career of Junnot Diaz among others .link to the hay page –beirut39


books books books

After reading the books i got a few weeks ago i decide to call in again return the books i ve read and found the translated fiction stand was still there so got a lot more books to read with a group of nights coming up ,i need some nice short novels to read every night .the books i got fit in to three categories

  • japanese
  • the sailor who fell from grace with the sea by Yukio Mishima -this reads a bit like lord of the flies mixed with peter pan and is part of the vintage east series .
  • scandal by Shusaku Endo – this is probably japan’s second most well-known writer behind Murkami ,a catholic writer is accused of visiting ladies of the night most enter seedy Tokyo to face his own demons
  • african
  • The purple violet of Oshaantu by Neshani Adreas -a debut novel part of the Heinemann african writer series this book is about women and village life in Namibia ,which will be interesting i work with some one from Namibia .
  • Neighbour the story of a murder by Lila Momple -a novel set in Mozambique about a raid from south africa and how it affects life this book is also from the African writer series .
  • the beautiful screaming of pigs by Damon Galgut – A conversation on twitter remind me to seek this guy out a south african ,up and coming ,this was his breakthrough novel and strangely  also set partly on Namibia about a man facing his past and actions he has done .
  • classics
  • Le Bal by Irene Nemirovsky -I read suite franciase a few years ago ,this is set in the parsian society of the 1930’s about a girl trying to ruin her mother whom she hates
  • the actual by Saul Bellow it must be ten years since i read a bellow a beautiful writer and one of the great post war american writers ,this is the story of Harry Trellman a complex character .

A great selection ,some new names and some old names .

windmills for the mind

windmills for the mind

late last week i won a competition on windmills book blog it was to match a drink to a book ,my tagline was “reading on the road to a string of espresso’s ” .The prize was a six of windmills great books –

  • Thing I’ve been silent about by Azar Nafisi – growing up in iran during islamic revolution ,I think this will be a great follow on to Tehran lipstick and loopholes I read earlier this month .
  • Red dog red dog by Patrick Lane -a book set in the fifties  follows a family over the course of a week as secrets unfold ,on the backdrop of depression and a tough life .
  • Land of marvels by Barry Unsworth – the booker winners latest book follows Somerville an archaeologist on a dig just a the first world war starts ,sounds great
  • The finest type of english womanhood – Rachel Heath – two girls meet in south africa  in 1946 one from a quiet background the other from a wold background they find there lives changed as they spend time together
  • Good to a fault by Marina Endicott Clara’s life is changed by a family ,this is a new writer to me and a new voice from Canada.
  • last off is -bad vibes by Luke Haines which i have read and reviewed on here

 many thanks Harvey and windmill books for this prize .

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March 2023


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