What is your blogging routine ?

Hello all today I’m asking a question of you my fellow bloggers writers and that is what is your blogging routine ? I feel this last year I’ve lost a rhythm I once had and just can’t find it ,with 2014 looming large in the background it is the perfect time to push on and try and improve my posting and writing routine .My question is what time do you write , how many post do you do at a time I.E do you do all your post once a week then just comment through the week or daily .I didn’t go to college etc which may have help me work a way to build a routine as I want to move winstonsdad to the next level of being a constant blog that post regularly and keeps up with the amount of books I read which I have struggled with for the last two years .Any advice will be gratefully received many thanks for following my blog and may I note this is the 800th post on winstonsdad

That was the month that was January 2013 – a quarter million milestone

snowy treeWell the nights are starting to lighten its been a busy month here at Winston’s tower ,some how shocked how I managed to get 14 books read this month but a number where rather short .I had a number of night shifts and was off for the last five days of the month .I managed to have a little more time than normal to read .Any way favourite book of the month Train to Budapest by Dacia Marani ,which I shall review early next month ,other honorable mentions go to The eleven by Pierre Michon and the two Donald Antrim reissues I read .A good book finding month as many of you may know I tend to have tight book finances ,when it comes to what is available to spend sad to say I had to return to Amazon after nearly a year just because of cost and availability of the books I want for three books ,I hope in summer trips out to cities with Amanda will mean I can buy books in shops I want .But the other side of this is I am a huge second-hand buyer and this month saw me hit gold with a number of penguins a Roman Gary ,Andre Gide ,Henrich Boll and a Samuel Beckett novel .Which eased my conscious re using amazon as some of  these books  are out of print and will be reviewed on here which I hope will get people to find them all out as they are   all writers I feel the need to read and think other people should these are the ones that explain modern literature in France and Germany as they tend to inspire or have been read by most modern writers in these countries .So the month ahead well here at Winston towers two dates spring to mind ,the first is valentines day as a romantic at heart I’ve my book ready for the day and will be spending time myself with the darling Amanda .The other date in my diary is Amanda’s birthday which may not be so bookish as she isn’t a huge reader but sure we will have a lovely time and I ll get her some great gifts .For the blog I sit on the verge of a quarter million views in my stats sometime today or tomorrow I will pass that total so thanks to every one who visits on a regular or just once all welcome  great that you all come and visit the blog .The picture at the top was taken in the middle of the month out with Winston in the middle of the snow .

What was your favourite book last month ?

Plans for next ?


Holocaust Memorial day some suggested reading

Here in the UK it is Holocaust Memorial day .The 27th January was picked as it was the day that Auschwitz was liberated by the soviets .The day is a chance for us all to remember those who have suffered at the hands of Tyranny ,ethnic cleansing or unfair regimes .Here at winstonsdad I have read a number of books set before during and after the Holocaust both fiction and non-fiction .So thought be a good idea to suggest a few books you could try that are all about the Holocaust.

Blooms of darkness 2

Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld – Last years IFFP winner follows a young boy coming to manhood ,as he tries to escape the Nazis .Hidden in a house of ill repute .Aharon Appelfeld novels have mostly been set and about the Holocaust .

treblinka 1

Treblinka A survivor’s memory by Chil Rajchman When I reviewed this I just start with the words”just read this book .I stand by that Chil takes you through his time in The Treblinka camp and the horrors he saw whilst there .

the emperor of lies

The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg The story of King Chaim that was the Jewish head of the Ghetto in Lodz and how by being himself and make sure he kept in line with the germans saved many lives of people in the Ghetto .

Lanzmann  the patagonian hare

The Patagonian Hare – Claude Lanzmann The memoir of the French editor and film maker .He made Shoah the most definitive view of the holocaust with numerous interviews people involved .We found out how he made it .

trieste dasa drndic

Trieste by Dasa Drndic A story of a women meeting here son that was part of the Nazis Lebensborn programme ,but also mention and has a list of all the Italian Jews that died during world war two .

the last brother

The last brother by Nathacha Appanah A young boy after the Holocaust trying for a new life in the promised land and he  end up in Mauritius after  he was expelled from Palenstine .

sarajevo marlboro

Sarajevo Malboro by Miljenko Jergovic  A collection stories set in and around the Balkan conflict ,which show the horror of this recent war on the people of Bosnia .

That’s just a few of course there is  many other books out there  by the likes of Primo Levi ,Anne Frank ,Etty Hilesum and many others .The next book to be covered here on Holocaust will be Train to Budapest by Dacia Maaini an Italian novel about a friend trying to find out what happened to her friend after she went to a concentration camp set during fifties as she travels to Budapest .

This years theme for Holocaust memorial day is to build a bridge 

Also visit the main site for Holocaust memorial day 

Have you a favourite read about the holocaust ?

Who is the greatest living Prose writer ?


The world cup for the greatest living Prose writer

Well as ever the backlash of the booker winner has started and it is about the comment that Peter Stothard made about Hillary Mantel being the greatest English living English prose writer (Pleased he said that because for my mind if it was world-wide she’d not be near the top ) .So the guardian have open  thread on who is the greatest English prose writer ,well I’m wanting to  go further and ask you all who is the greatest living prose writer ? I feel maybe a discussion that is less Anglo centric be interesting as I feel the best prose aren’t from english at the moment (but that may just be me so steeped in the translation ) so what are your views ? I ll throw three names in the hat to start with –

Peter Nadas – reason able to show the complexities of the human soul and sexual desire in the written word better than any one else .

Cees Nooteboom – travel writer ,prose writer ,novelist ,poet and Holland greatest living writer a jack of all trades and quite possibly a master of them all .

Goncalo Tavares – my current writer I want to read more off and champion . the Portuguese writer is push the bounds of what is fiction unlike anybody has in English for decades .

Booker guessing 2012

Booker longlist 2012 guesses

Well I was in two minds about doing this two reasons I failed miserable last year and also I am much further away from the ebb and flow of what are the mover and shakers that are happening in English literary at this moment ,but I find twitter helps me keep up with what may be hot .I have had a love of the booker in my twenties when I read a lot of books from the lists ,so will use this years list as a guide to what I ll be buying in the next few months to read .I feel with Peter Stothard at the helm this year the list will be more to my taste than last years list .so I ll get my crystal ball out and give you my feeling for the longlist bakers dozen due out next week .

  1. Umbrella by Will Self – a change of direction for will in a way stream of consciousness writing this time but with a few familiar faces .I loved will’s early books and he should have been on a shortlist before now .
  2. Zoo time by Howard Jacobson his new one he won with his last and was writing this at the time an insight into publishing world through the novelist Guy Ableman .
  3. Capital by John Lancaster  the story of Pepys road a normal London street and via that street we see a cross-section of modern britain .as the street has all from the up and coming to the down and out 
  4. Bring up the bodies by Hilary Mantel The second part of the trilogy that started with the booker winner Wolf hall more of the life of Thomas Cromwell 
  5. Ancient light by John Banville an actor looks back at his teen years  in 50’s Ireland an illicit love affair in the fields and in the back of cars 
  6. Hawthorn and child by Keith Ridgway a couple of blogger been singing this ones praises .A middle-aged detective sorts through scatter clues an adventurous text they say ,Try Bolano I say 
  7. The casual vacancy by J K Rowling I know I may be off my head but it is her first adult book and set in an english village .I love book set in villages and would get people talking if it was there 
  8. Merivel A man of his time  by Rose Tremain ,she been on shortlists and maybe give Mantel a run for her money . Set in court of Charles II about the restoration man Robert Merivel a courtier and physician. 
  9. Pure Timothy Mo its been a long time since he had a book out over ten years I read one that made shortlist years ago be nice to see this book set in Thailand and dealing with Islam make the list 
  10. Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka a dying sportswriter tries to track the greatest cricketer in the world a spin bowler that disappeared .Mark of Eleutheropbia loved this one .
  11.  The Street sweeper by Eliot Perlman another that I know some blogs love ,Lisa from ANZ litlovers first drew my attention to it .an interwoven bunch of stories set in New York .
  12. All that I am by Anna Funder her first book stasiland was a prize winner and this is her first work of fiction set in 1933 follows a group of friends that have become outlaws due to hitler .
  13. well I going leave this blank can’t make mind up between Carey ,McEwan and strangely Amis (as TLS still seem to like him )

So what you think ?

Wonder how I will do this time ?

Great ????? novel


I decide to write a post after listening to a Guardian podcast from earlier this year ,I fallen behind with my podcast listening lately .But the podcast focused on the recent novel by Chad Harbach – the art of fielding ,this book is considered an heir to the great american novel .But maybe because it is influenced by Melville’s Moby Dick  “according to its writer .I ve not read the book but have Moby Dick ” . The fact that the so-called Great american novel may have  gone full circle and the ideas that influenced  Meville  have influenced Harbach. Maybe suggest that the great american novel is dying as the form we know spliting into other forms like Jewish american novels  ,the fact that two  books that are massive books in size ,received little or no attention ,but are on my radar and wish list the books Witz  by Joshua Cohen and The instructions by Adam Levin both complex books that maybe show american lit is moving away from the pursuit of classic Great american novel .So with the fact I feel the great european novels have maybe been written in the past Proust ,Zola ,Dickens ,Doblin ,Musil well the list is huge really but European fiction has moved away from what maybe consider the great novel for a particular country .

So what do I define as a great novel something that is part state of the nation ,part social commentary,part insight and maybe something that catches the zeitgeist .More an over view of a nation for me  Moby dick classic example a book about men ,class ,obsession and maybe america become its own nation .


Great Chinese Novel

I m sure somewhere last year I heard some one in an interview ,they said the 21st century was going to be the century of the Chinese novel .So lets start with the Great chinese novel ,any one that reads this blog ,I m sure there are a few people know I struggle with Chinese fiction ,I feel what may be classed a the great Chinese novel hasn’t been written China is so fast-moving in the last few years you feel a book that could capture the feel of one of these Mega cities .The books I have read tend to deal with social issues and the moves from country to town ,rather than a look as Chinese culture as a whole in these mega-cities and how it effect people everyday .They are great books but not what may be classed as great Chinese novel .

Great Indian novel

Now I can think of three books that may already be called great Indian novel the are midnights children ,white tiger and  a suitable girl these books are all wonderful and tackle the subjects I feel make great novels .But all have maybe still been influenced by English writing .Rather like China the urban sprawl of Indian and the complex nature of Indian society is owed a truly great novel to open it up like a post mortem on modern India   .I would love to dive into a book that let me in as a westerner  see inside these huge cities from top to bottom and also gave us an idea of the class and politics of India.

Great latin american novel

Hum some of you will be saying yes there is great fiction from Latin America .This is truE but I feel Bolano ,Mayo and  Neuman have shown the change  in fiction from latin america ,long weighted down with the feeling of having to write  Magic realism so much so that one writer felt so much this held back his fiction he killed himself  Andres Caicedo his only novel to be published next year was maybe the first Great latin American novel not classed as either Magic realism or Dictator fiction   .I finish Neuman’s  traveller to the century a wonderful book but maybe only his first step to a great Latin american novel as it was set in europe .Argentina fiction is moving  looking inward and hopefully moving slowly from their dark past to the present great writers like Figueras and Gamerro ,have both written so well on Argentina past you feel in later books they must discuss the present .I do wonder if we’ll see these books as we seem to like the books discussing the past and maybe miss books that discuss the present .

Great african Novel

Duck my head here ,I clarify I mean the great novel of Nigeria ,Ghana ,South Africa .I pick these three as the y are all countries moving forward and the great novel maybe is of a country feeling great about its self and having pride .I feel these countries are beginning to enter this and starting to show a way forward for africa as a whole moving from western ideas to African ideas .So maybe we need a great novel of africa a book that lets us see Africa through African eyes?I ve read a number of African books ,lots about villages and a few about towns but yet to see one that fills me with that feeling I ‘ve lived and learnt in these pages .

So what do you think am I just rambling or maybe is there some truth in my thoughts ?  

Where do you think the next lot of great novels will come from ?

Failing at challenges and can you help ?

Last year I signed up for a few challenges that appealed but as year went on I failed at them terribly ,so for 2012 I l be doing no challenges in fact I ll just do the odd thing here and there as I try to get my failing blog back on the rails I ve neglect winstonsdad of late .In part due some ill-health ,wanting to spend more time with Amanda and my own laziness but when I spoke last night and realised I had 20 plus books unreviewed Ive decided I need to get a routine going so in  2012 I want to get a better routine with the blog and this is a question to you all especially those who post regularly  HOW DO YOU DO IT ? any tips are welcome I have been writing a post at a time but not sure if this is best way maybe a day and write a few at a time would work what do you do ? Do you like challenges ? where am I going wrong ? I am a butterfly reader I like jumping from place to place and very disorganised .so any tips and advice be more than welcome  thanks as from jan I want get back to regular posting .

World book night top 100 lets make it a fresh list !!!

Beside the sea world book night

This years world book night giveaways are to be decided by us the public by choosing our  top ten books .I looked at the current top 100 and have to agree with Meike from Peirene it is a bit bland and from the perspective of winstonsdad the translation choices which there are at this moment ten book are what I would call the ones people think they should read or put in a list even if they’ve not read to look good (sorry needs to be said) .I love Murakami and Marquez but some diffeernt book here would be great open peoples eyes.Well Meike has suggest if we could all choose Beside the sea by Veronique Olmi  it is a lovely french gem and is one of my all time favourite reads any way ,at moment 35 votes will get it in the top 100 I ve vote so 34 would do it come on lets help the nymph and the lovely ladies of Peirene make the list ,all of us bloggers and tweeters know how much effort this publisher puts into social media and interaction with its readers more than any major publisher does .So put your hand up and say yes I want the small guy to win for once because we all love the underdogs in this country lets for once get them there  ,Meike has written a blog post about this too here ,thanks stu .I will be put up for giving away this time as I was too shy to volunteer last year .

My top ten –

Beside the sea by Veronique Olmi – reason a french gem touching and it will make you gasp if you’ve not read it !

Rings of saturn  by W G Sebald reason started my love of translation and it is a book that can be reread and still make you think .

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes – reason the first novel it has all in it that has followed since a true master piece .

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges reason he was a genius flash fiction avant grade fiction all look at this as a starting point

If on a winters night a traveller by Italo Calvino reason I love it and I know many people hate it but who can’t love a book that talks to you ?

My century by Gunter grass  – reason  short interlocking pieces covering the 20thcentury from the German master not his best but it is a good insight into Germany .

Cities of red night by William S Burroughs  – reason he was a one off writer this book has all a young guy could want from a book and men shou,ld read more !

The last brother by Nathacha Appananah – reason a unheard corner of post ww2 history jewish refugees stuck on a tropical island told touchingly through two young boys tale .

Goodbye to all that by Robert Graves – reason  my favourite memoir war is bad and read this you know it is ,a poets eye goes to war .

Walden by Henry David Thoreau – reason if more people had read this would the world be the way it is the simple life as he spent time in nature thinking whilst living in a wooden hut .

What are your choices ?

Marcelo Figueras winstonsdad talks to the IFFP SHORTLISTED WRITER ,

I m very happy to bring you a interview with Argentina writer Marcelo Figueras short listed for Thursdays Independent foreign fiction prize 2011 .Thanks to Frank Wynne his translator who mention my interview with him to Marcelo and he said he would be happy to be interviewed as well .Here are the answers .

1.How did you get into writing?

I always wanted to be a writer. Since I was even younger than The Midget! I started with short stories that I copied, illustrated and labelled as ‘novels’ and sold to family and friends. Then I tried to write and draw comics as well. My father still keeps one of those pages (a ripoff of a Burne Hogarth character called Drago, in fact) in his study. And afterwards I pestered my teachers, who in turn read my stories to my poor colleagues at school. They were all extremely kind, and never crushed my one-man industry. And with minimal variations, that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

2.What gave you the idea for Kamchatka?

I was consciously trying to write a story about what we in Argentina call The Dark Years, or The Iron Years: the period between 1976 and 1983, ruled by our last military dictatorship. Most of the stories I knew back then about that particular time (not many novels, mostly films) were unbearable, and repeated the same pattern ad nauseam: romantic young man / woman, his / her involvement in politics, that leads to kidnapping, torture, death and the inevitable coda at the law courts. And I wanted to write about the other horror, the one that the rest of us, who were not kidnapped but still were victims of violence of another sort, have endured.

3.What are your memories of the time?

My memories are a mixed batch. On the one hand, I was the typical boy on the verge of adolescence: shy, introspective, living in a bubble made of books music comics TV and movies. I played Risk a lot. I watched The Invaders. I enjoyed Houdini, the movie with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, but rejected its sad, sad ending. I fell in love every day. I danced alone. But on the other hand, I lived in fear. I knew nothing about what was happening, my family had always been apolitical. In spite of that, I sensed something awful was going on: it was everywhere, even in the air, atoms of fear mixed with oxygen and nitrogen. That was one of the main ingredients of the military Junta’s perversity: they tried to keep the appearance of normality, Buenos Aires’ streets were calm and orderly (and filled with policemen), as if nothing out of the ordinary was really happening. But people were being kidnapped in the dark, locked in dungeons, tortured and killed, and their bodies hidden in massive, anonymous graves or dropped into the sea. So something wicked was indeed happening. And my nose picked it up somehow. Even when I reached my teenager years, I was afraid of going out to the streets at night. And if I saw a policeman out there, I retraced my footsteps and avoided him. I still knew nothing about politics, but in some strange way I gathered that being young and inquisitive, I was definitely the enemy for the guys in blue.

4.How much of harry’s character is based on yourself he seemed so real?

Given that Harry was more or less my age, it seemed natural to lend him most of my experiences: the public school and then the religious one, my father, my mother (The Rock!) and my little brother (The Midget!), Risk, The Invaders, my love of books and the rest. I had a bit of a temper, too. And as I answered before, my experience of living in fear also became quite useful.

5..Do you like strawberry nesquik?

I loved chocolate Nesquik, that dark brown powder that you mixed with milk. And as the Midget, I loved it most when it had little, crunchy chocolate bubbles.

6.What does being up for the independant foreign fiction prize me to you?

Being in the longlist for the IFFP meant already a lot, and the shortlist was sheer Heaven. Even if I don’t win, being between the six best novels written in a non-English language is quite a prize in itself.

7.What does being translated into english mean to you?

It means a lot. English is my second language. Most of the novels I read are in English. (And when I say most I’m not embellishing: 98 % is a conservative figure in this respect.) And many of my all-time favorite writers are English: from Shakespeare to Dickens, from Graham Greene to Martin Amis, from Joseph Conrad (well, sort of English) to David Mitchell. Learning English was the only thing my mother really forced me to do, when I desperately wanted to drop out citing well documented exhaustion. I was a really good student, so I thought deserved a break… that luckily, my mom didn’t give me. So I’m really grateful to her. And this modest recognition in the country she admired so much feels to me like poetic justice, given that she encouraged me so much and that she died so, so young. (Not as young as Harry’s mother, but…)

8. Do you ever feel burden by Argentina ‘s glorious writing history?

I don’t feel burdened. Argentina has a great literary tradition (Robert Arlt, Borges, Cortázar and Rodolfo Walsh are amongst my favorites) that wasn’t really helpful at the time of creating Kamchatka. Because for the most part, Argentina greatest writers tend to escape from emotion, embracing stylishness and formal exploration instead. And Kamchatka without emotion would have been a table with only two legs. So I reached my hand to the masters of the form, starting obviously with Dickens. He is the one who taught me that children are more resilient than grownups. Or, to put it in the words Lillian Gish says at the end of The Night of the Hunter: “Children are man at his strongest. They endure and they abide”.

9.Which of your books would you like to see next in English?

I would like very much to see La batalla del calentamiento translated. Because it has many things in common with Kamchatka (emotions being one) but also some fantasy: a giant, a girl with magical powers and a wolf that speaks Latin (that’s me repaying my debts with Europe’s fairytale tradition), mixed with some heavy stuff taken from real life and Argentinian history from the recent past -as in Kamchatka too.

10. Which do you enjoy most fiction writing or script writing or do the two overlap?

As the frogs in Kamchatka, I deem myself amphibious. I need literature and movies to survive. One’s a solitary way of creating; the other is more of a group endeavour. And I like it the most when I can mix both in the right proportions as in a good Martini. (Shaken, yes, but not stirred!)

11.Which Argentina writers should we be watching for?

Mariana Enríquez, Samantha Schweblin, Sergio Olguín, Félix  Bruzzone.

12.What are your favourite books and writers?

Don’t get me started. I’ve mentioned some of them. I would add: Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salinger, Saul Bellow, Michael Ondaatje, John Irving, Cormac McCarthy, Alan Moore… Do you need more?

when a book sprouts from another !

A recent reading of the secret history of costaguna  set me thinking ,this book is parallel novel to Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo ,there is a clever juxtapose about this thou Vasquez is a latin american writing about events in london and Conrad was an english writer writing about latin america ,the link is the character in Vasquez book tells Conrad his life story about the events in his homeland ,this story forms part of Conrad’s book and the imagined country of costaguna .Well I decide to re read Nostromo and the old saying certain books are best read when you are old was true with this book a book that came to life more than before I felt this was mainly due to my increased cynicism with age,so thanks to Vasquez I ve rediscovered a book and writer I had partly written off as a younger man .I ll shortly be review both books .Thanks to Kirsty at oup for the lovely copy of Nostromo (love the picture on the cover )

Now I have previously read march by Geraldine Brooks another Parallel novel that worked for me ,and some Sherlock Holmes inspired stories that were hit and miss .so the question is –



In answer to the second one I d love see a book on Don Quixote maybe him as a younger man .Perec life a user manual  has loads sub plots and characters that would make great stories on their own .


Previous Older Entries

June 2023


%d bloggers like this: