The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

the mirror of beauty

The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

Urdu fiction

Translated from Urdu by the writer himself

Source – copy via Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Well I have raved about this Epic written by the renowned Urdu Literary critic , publisher and editor Shamsur Rahman Faruqi .He is the publisher of the well-known Indian Lit journal Shakhoon .This is his debut novel but he has in the past published a four volume study of the well-known poet Taqi Mir .The reason I held of on my review of the book is a feeling that this book would at some point get a Uk release but a few months on it seems not yet and I really want to share my love of this book .Which for me is easily the best piece of Indian fiction since and if  not even better than midnight children .

Wazir Khanam ,ALSO and perhaps better known as Choti Begam (Younger lady ) , was born around 1811 .She was the third and youngest daughter of Muhammad Yusuf ,maker of plain gold ornaments .She was born in Delhi but Muhammad Yussuf was not native to Delhi .His ancestors were from Kashmir .How and when these people reached Delhi , and what befell them in Delhi is a very long story .

The intro to the book explains where Wazir came from .

The novel is set just as India is changing the East India  company is gaining a foothold and the Mughal’s are still about  but their power is on the wain .We see this world through the eyes of Wazir Khanam ,she is a rare beauty and a rare women .Through the book she takes two lovers , also has two husbands along the way gives birth too a number of children among those is  Dagh a well-known poet .But this is his mother’s story she is a women that has lovers from both sides of the India she lives in both  British and Indian .She is almost a new women, not a figure we have been portrayed in other books about Indian  in this time ,no this is a strong-willed women that loves her life and her world and likes to be in control of it as much as she can .She first meets and marries a charismatic English man  called Blake, so  she moves away from Delhi but the marriage ends when he is killed and she returns to that  city .She then meets Nawab Khan and she also has many other lovers .This also sounds like a well lived but actually Wazir life is a battle and a lot of her loves end badly .But she loves her world the world she lives in is moving from the regal Mughal empire into the commerce and chaos at times of the British and the East India company .We see a world of painters ,carpet makers ,the desert of India  to the valleys of Khasmir and finally the chaos of the Metropolis Delhi through one women ,her husband ,lovers and children .We she her effect on the world a ripples in time and the people she touched and her family touch move in this changing India ,rather like the children born on the stroke of midnight in Rushdie’s midnight children Wazir and her family and friends move the world  of their time .

It took a great deal of argument before Wazir could persuade Marston Blake to approve the name Badshah Begam for their first daughter ,He refused to consider any other name than Sophia ,a name that identified her as a Christian .After a great amount of discussion in the first instance , he agreed to Masih Jan a name that was vaguely Muslim and could also be taken as Christian .

She cross the western and Asian world so well at times and fought for what she believed in

Well as you see this book some how captures a world now gone and little written about  .Faruqi is like an Indian dickens ,or even Hillary Mantel the lives touched in this book are the ones you don’t know a lot about ,the ones just down from the top Nobel men ,high-ranking officials but not the big ones ,but people near the top and how this women effect them and her .He captures a world I  loved that of the Darlymple books. But he brings it  to life of the page .I feel the fact he took six years to translate from his original Urdu book to this  English translation has made every word seem as thou they were written originally in English it is flawless .I feel this is maybe the greatest Indian novel and feel my heart sink that it isn’t even getting an Uk issue you can buy it via Amazon and I strongly urge you to buy it as like me you will no doubt be blown away by its beauty and world .Faruqi really weaves 19th century India he said in an interview his love of Urdu poetry at the time lead to the figure of Wazir and as he wrote he check up facts and built the story that way .I really enjoyed the arts and crafts described in the book from poets to carpet makers their jobs and lives opened up .

A naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Naked_Singularity-398x600

A Naked singularity by Sergio De La Pava

US fiction

Source – review Copy

A Naked singularity  definition

A singularity is, roughly speaking, a region of extremely high density into which matter or light is attracted. While Steven Hawking Eric Weisstein’s World of Biography has proposed that physical singularities can occur only inside Black holes where they cannot be seen, physicists Kip Thorne and John Preskill believe observable (“naked”) singularity can exist

Source Wolfram 

Sergio De La Pava

Is a New york based Public defender ,he had spent nearly a decade writing this book and then five years and numerous rejections from publishers lead to him getting  a self publishing deal ,then the book grew slowly as word of mouth til first Us publisher Chicago university press last year and now Maclehose press have given the book a full publishing deal .The book arrived wrapped and with a letter from Mr  Maclehose telling  me ,how important they felt this book is ,this started me worrying ,was I worthy to review this book  ,but I was chosen so must have been .

“Fine ,if you define proof stringently enough ,I suppose I can’t really prove that unicorns don’t exist ,yet I perfectly reasonable in not believing in them .But all that is beside the point as it relates to our rat friend .Because whether god exists or not ,there is still such a thing as justice .Justice exists ,and this rat is getting what it deserves under its mandates .This rat is evil .

I loved this passage summed up a lot .

The book itself follows the life of one man Casi he is a public defender in New York rather like the writer himself .Casi is 24 ,his caseload as a public defender is mainly immigrants ,their case give him much sorrow ,but he has also won all his cases .He is a sensitive soul ,but is slowly losing faith with the system ,The book like the definition is heading to a point a situation  where his perfect life may take a twist ,where Casi and Dane  his friend  try to work out how to talk about the perfect crime and how to do it .Then we also see his home life the neighbours including one that endlessly watches the Honeymooners just restarting every time he reaches the end of the show as he feels all life is in this one show  . Which leads to numerous discussions about the characters in the show particularly Ralph the main character played by Jackie Gleason .Here is a clip of that show for those unfamiliar with it  which I was but loved watch a couple of episodes .

Then we also hear Casi  talk about philosophers and life in general like many 24 year olds do what is life ? What does it mean ? then there is  also Boxing and boxers particularly the Peurto Rican boxer Wilfred Benitez.I ve upload a link to one of his most famous bouts with Sugar ray Leonard .

There is also a collection of different styles of writing ,court records ,letters ,poems ,recipes in fact loads of content .

David hume was his favourite Alyona once said .This was during one of our first real conversations ,at the end of which I think we exchange keys to our respective apartments although I almost immediately misplaced his ,I said I guessed there was nothing wrong with Hume provided it was acknowledged that Descates was the man .At the end of the conversation I went home and made this list

1.Descartes

2.Kant

3.Wittgenstein

4.Kripke

5.Lewis

6.Hume

Casi’s favourite Philosophers fromstart of chapter 22

So as you see this book is complex ,this is the modem New York ,not the one I know from watching Woody all or early Spike Lee films .This city is huge and its hard to pindown So Sergio hasn’t he has tried to show ones man journey through it as completely as he can .There is a number of ways of writing huge books Epic sagas ,Catching a moment and expanding it out .Pava has chosen to use one mans life and use it .Sergio is the anti creative writing writer for me ,because this book does everything your told not to do ,not make your book to long ,don’t mix style and keep to a simple story arc .No this book  is long, it mixes styles in a mix tape way he uses the best of what he has ,what he knows you feel with a lot of the legal based documentation is very close to real life ,Given his job is also a public defender (one of the things I feel after reading this is a greater insight into the New York Justice system ).Digression is something that he does superbly and realistically ,I for one am a person that can easily go from point A  to point K then back to point A .So to the rub what is the book like as a whole well I tried to think of other books yes there maybe is something of Deillo’s underworld in the scope and Of course I have seen numerous mentions in review of Infinite  Jest but having not got far in that book I can’t say .I fell the book is neared the new US TV shows like breaking the bad ,The Wire and The Sopranos .I could see a show with Casi as the leader character ,but the only think they would have to dumb it down because this is more complex than any of those series and is maybe what America has been trying to grasp for a while the current Great American Novel (I always view this not a one book more as a collection of books that catch the current Zeitrgeist ,which this does ) America is now a mixing pot of people and De La Pava has caught this wonderfully .

Best of the world under 40 in English translation

Best writers under 40 2013 list

~(not British but from round the world )

Well as one would expect the chance of the best of British under forty list coming out today from Granta in the new magazine has been eagerly awaited and discussed .So I decide I try to do a list of writers from round the world that have been published or shortly due to be published in English.This is actually quite a task ,because usually you have to be a acclaimed or won a prize to catch the eye of a editor commissioning  translations ,this means the writers I consider newish to use in english say Santiago Gamboa ,Christoph Simon or Mickhail Shishkin all fall out side the under forty classification .But in the end I have found some wonderful writers from round the world myself and a few suggested by Tony as well .

Winstonsdad rest of the world best writer under 40

faces in the crowd

Valeria Luiselli

reviewed he début in English Faces in the crowd and have read a follow-up collection of non fiction pieces sidewalks ,she is my new writer crush for sure she loves wandering round like myself .She is definitely one to watch .An interview with her 

traveller of the century

Andres Neuman

well short-listed for both  the IFFP and BTBA this year with this novel .Is one thing but the other he is actually considered a great short story writer as well ,we have a lot to come from Andres here is my review and Gary’s interview with him.

pron

Patrico Pron

I first mention Pron when he was one of the writers and other stories was working with in the first year .but he was taken up by Faber who are publishing his first novel in English later this year -“my fathers ghost is climbing in the rain “a writer returns home as  his father is dying .here is a piece he wrote for paris review .

7ways

 

Matias Nespolo

He is a another talented Argentinian writer ,his book Seven ways to kill a cat was translated by the wonderful Frank Wynne .Here is a piece from Granta about him 

Daniel Kehlmann measuring the world

Daniel Kehlman

Now this is one that shocked me I have yet to read him but his books been on my radar for a good while and shocked he was eligible ,here is a piece he wrote praising  his translator Carol brown Janeway .

how the soldier repairs the gramophone

Sasa Stansic

Is one of the new breed of German writer to have come to Germany from Eastern Europe in his case Bosnia and start writing in German .Both Rob and Lisa loved this book ,Here is an interview with him from rumpus

Juli Zeh dark matter

Juli Zeh

Juli is another German writer I had on my radar for a while she is among a group of talented female German writers Judith Herrmann and Jenny erphenbeck being other they both just fell outside the under 40 ,here is a review and interview with her tanslator  from Lizzie

Helene-Hegemann

Helene Hegemann

Now this is a controversial choice as by this piece in the new york times shows  ,I did like the book it has a strange arc and is quite unique and she is so young here is my review of Axoltl roadkill.

HATE A ROMANCE

Tristan Garcia

I think we all admired the style and subject of  hate a romance on last year IFFP prize ,Tristan is not just a writer but also a philosopher as this piece shows and here is a review of hate from my blog .

hhhh laurent binet

Laurent Binet

Well he missed our IFFP shortlist but this début from him HHhH has set people talking about what makes a novel and also set many heads turning with its stunning cover .here is my review and interview from the new statesman

beauty and the inferno

Roberto Saviano

Yes he is under 40  ,I know Gomorrah his debut has been round for quite a long time ,the best non fiction writer from Italy at the moment here is my review of beauty and the inferno from last year ,and an interview from huff post .

superman is an arab

Joumana Hadda

A lebanese poet and writer I first read about online via arablit via this profile  I think ,but n=known for poems and essays on the arab experience I hope to review her soon rather than later .oh and she is just over 40 but want to add a female arabic writer .

Dreams from the endz.326x500

Faiza Guene

Another young writer of French Algerian origin she has had two books translated so far to English ,I hope to read her later this year as she has been on wishlist for a good while .she writes about growing up poor in paris her is a piece from the guardian about her 

the tobacco keeper

Ali Bader

Another writer I had on radar since I read a piece on the wonderful Arab lit again(if you’re not following this blog you are missing the chance to find the Arab lit world opened up ).two of his books have been translated in to English .The last was published in 2011 .

risa wataya

Risa Watya

IS a female Japanese writer ,she has women the Kenzaburo Oe prize with her most recent book isn’t it a pity ,which will be coming to us in English soon .I ll thank Tony for this one I not to sure but a nice piece from the official j lit site her about her 

auto fiction

Hitomi Kanehera

A high school drop out  from Japan published her first book age 21 ,best known for Autofiction which I have had from library but never got to ,this is another from Tony .a profile from a few years ago that isn’t behind paywall of ny times .

The-White-Trail

FFlur Dafydd

A Welsh language writer and singer ,she is best known for a piece for the Seren collection of tales from Mabinogion series from the famous Welsh myth  her is a profile of her from Seren .Thanks again to Tony for this one .

Well there you go I given you a few alternatives from Wales to Japan ,from Algeria to Argentina also I link to three list .

Granta spanish writers list 

Granta best brazilian link

Beirut 39

Though some of these writers haven’t had a full novel published in English it is worth noting them for the future .

 

Hear the wind sing by Haruki Murakami

Source – library

Translator – Alfred Birnbaum

 

Haruki Murakami’s debut novel like pinball 1973 which i read earlier ,it is quite hard to get hold of ,only being published in Japan in english translation ,this is also the first of the rat trilogy ,which includes pinball 1973 and wild sheep chase .

well this book focus on the meeting of the narrator and the rat ,the narrator is a young man who is stuck in limbo between adulthood and teen years meet the “rat” the nickname of  Nezumi in j’s bar ,he is slightly older than the narrator and is a drop out  ,the bar is focus of most of the book it is run by j a chinese man and is what might be called a spit and sawdust pub in the uk ,a place’s full of the dregs and drifters of life .So these to start a friendship that carries on through the other books in the series .there is also a thread about a fictional american writer called Derek Heartfield ,this is writer seems a mix of some sixties writers a sci-fi writer another thread is the narrators relationship with a women this from in a triangle of relationships like in some of his later books .the book covers a period of about three weeks .

I first meet the rat three years before in the spring .We’d both entered university that year , and the two of us had gotten pretty bombed .So I have absolutely no recollection what could have possibly thrown us together for that ride after four in the morning , in the rats shiny black Fiat 600 .I guess we had a friend in common .

The narrator remembering first meeting with the Rat .

Well what to say about this book I so wanted to read the first two books of Murakami not sure why ,to complete his books maybe ,or to see why they are not available in english .I m still not sure why there both available more widely in English .Well I m still not sure ,ok there not top-notch Murakami ,but on the other hand there not as bad as Murakami thinks they are ,this is a little more over the place than pinball 1973 was ,the fact names are missing and you tend to jump from situation to situation can be a bit jarring at time ,the fact you know how these two meet and a bit more info about the rat is handy as he crops up in the other two in the series and also in dance .dance ,dance .If you want to see how Murakami started on his path as a writer I would read this, if like me you want to complete his works read it .Like a number of earlier books Birnbaum is the translator he is a good translator ,whether his later translator Jay Rubin would be able to work his magic on this I don’t know if it is needed .the book is only a 120 pages and in full size print would maybe be 80 pages so an evening s read .I will be reading wild sheep chase next to complete the trilogy of the rat .

Have you read this book ?

Young Hitler by Claus Peter Hant with James Trivers and Alan Roche

  

 

  

Young Hitler Claus Hant

NOTES- 

Claus Peter Hant is a tv writer from Germany that worked for many years on der bulle von Tolz a german police series set in bad Tolz the clips i watched were a bit like pie in the sky .He has had access to the most complete collection of material relating to the life of hitler in the institut fur zeitgwschitche in Munich  and has used a number of years research to compile the material for this book ,which he has written with the help of two english writers (James Triver and Alan Roche)  in english ,as he would struggle to get it published in germany . 

The book – 

We start of with the young hitler in wien (vienna) as a struggling artist ,with what would seem an opened mind but as we progress we see his standpoint become narrower and narrower as things happen to him and he starts to fail as an artist and not be taken seriously ,also you hear about the idea for a supreme Reich of german speakers the tattooing of the arms of gypsies is mentioned ,then one day he just disappears and sells his books ,next time we meet him is on the eve of the first world war he is in the army and is a lance corporal he has to do some menial jobs like paint the officers mess and is disgusted by his fellow solders loose morals and the way pets are being eaten ,he then wins an iron cross for his bravery ,which he thinks is tainted by how it was awarded .The last time we catch up with hitler is post first world war in a mental hospital for his nerves and extreme views that seem to have wildly change ,he is released and travels to munchen (Munich) which is utter chaos with warring on the streets as political movements struggle ,he joins a group devote to honouring the old northern european tribes that happen to have a swastika as their symbol . 

Dolferi was fixated on this “Reich” the fantasy Reich instilled in his mind by his favourite history teacher in school ;an empire that would unite germanic Austria with Germany . 

“tattooing a number on the forearm of gypsies “said elephant “would make it far easier identify them as with automobiles “. 

two quotes from the first part of young hitler in pre world war one vienna the ideas that made nazi party were being planted . 

  

My view – 

This book worried me when i first got it ,but was heavily compelled to read it to see what turned hitler in to the monster he became ,i also saw it as a wonderful bookend to the film downfall which i enjoyed almost completing the circle of a life .Hants writing is wonderfully clever and transports you to pre war vienna ,through the war and the horror of the trenches to the chaos of post war Munich .There is a wonderful insight in to the time and the making of a monster its like a huge jigsaw puzzle you can see the parts slipping into place ,the appendices and research for this book are vast you can see the time taken to make this as realistic as possible a truly special be of narrative non fiction writing . 

Links – 

quartet site  

young hitler page 

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