Shadow Booker Shortlist 2021

Well we have read all the books between us in the shadow jury and had a successful first-ever zoom chat to discuss the books and it was clear there we had only a few titles of this year’s longlist that we all really loved and for a change they were the same books we all seemed to champion and like this list, this year has a scope but the books although diverse in the style of writing from memoir, verse, vignettes, short stories, nonfiction fiction, sci-fi, historic, autofiction and a novel for a novel prize!

So what are our choices here they are-

David Diop (France) & Anna Moschovakis
– At Night All Blood is Black (Pushkin Press)

Benjamin Labatut (Chile) & Adrian Nathan West
– When We Cease to Understand the World (Pushkin Press)

Olga Ravn (Denmark) & Martin Aitken
– The Employees (Lolli Editions)

Adania Shibli (Palestine) & Elizabeth Jaquette
– Minor Detail (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Maria Stepanova (Russia) & Sasha Dugdale
– In Memory of Memory (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Andrzej Tichý (Sweden) & Nicola Smalley
– Wretchedness (And Other Stories)

Our journey of books takes us from a Sudan soldier in world war I. Then a  book about science and those odd little tales of how things come about. Then a crew of a spaceship both human and android is interviewed about what makes us what we are. A footnote in history that saw a girl’s life change is recalled then and now. A flat clearing turns into an epic about a family but also about art during the 20th century. Then there is a story of breaking free of our roots or is it! Three of the publishers here have supported this blog with books over the years. the other was new to me at the start of this years prize we will be rereading discussing and deciding our winner watch this space guys !!!

Birthday books and other arrivals

I’ve had a busy last three days was meant ot be off for my birthday but ended doing a couple of hours of work helping to cover lunch breaks for my colleagues on a couple of days off. Then with the other day off the boiler was playing up so the plumber came round but it took most of the day for him to come so I haven’t read much as I have taken Amanda on a couple of drive out round chesterfield and a little in the peaks and had a couple of walks as she is fed up of being at home as she is shielding through corona any way I’ll be back to reviews on tues. I have quickly done a couple of stop-gap posts for the next few days first some book porn lol.

The first two books I got for my birthday one from Amanda and the other from my in-laws. Both are ones I think maybe on the booker list at the end of the month. One a Japanese novel following a woman looking back on events in the countryside in her youth. The other is an Arabic book prie winner who follows six people’s stories in an unnamed Arab country talking about their lives and it is from Oneworld a publisher that has had a few books on the list recently.

Next three books I’ve been sent You’re not dying won the German book prize in 2009 nine and is a novel following a woman’s recovery from a life-changing illness and she rebuilds her life. Andrea Victrix is a Catalan dystopian novel about a man waking after being frozen for 85 younger than he was in 1965 when he was frozen in time what will he make of 2050? Then the latest in Penguin quest to bring out all the books from Simenon this latest is a man covering for his wandering wife. I have reviewed a number of books from him and have a number more to review over time from here.

I love Nordisk cover art here is their latest tale of a couple that both work at the same paper that sleeps together one night  is a critic the other a journalist. As we see the aftermath of that event.

Then a pile of books I have brought myself Caverva from Juan Filloy one of the lost gem of Argentinean writer I have reviewed another book by him but this one appealed as well, The Snapshot Claudio Magris is a collection of short prose pieces that he wrote for an Italian newspaper for a number of years. Then  Alain Mancklu latest is set in his homeland and home town but in the seventies, I have enjoyed every book I have read by him over the years. Alindarka’s children follow two children in a camp as the leader tries to turn them into Russian instead of speaking the native language Belarusian.I saw this reviewed somewhere and it appealed to me. The last is from Istros the Fig tree follows the post-war life of the family of Jadran that follows it from the fifties the early years of Tito to the break up of Yugoslavia and the aftermath of this.

Other arrivals is the latest Viynl from the wedding present a collection of their hits rerecorded semi acoustically over the lockdown. One my favorite bands I love this album. Also a cd from former Nick Cave guitarist Mick Harvey. An album with Mick Harvey and C R Barker of the poetry of Edgar Bourchier a touching collection of poems set to music evoke world war 1.  What have you brought or got sent recently guys?

 

That was the month that was Feb 2021

  1. Under the Glacier by Halldor Laxness
  2. Game of the Gods by Paolo Maurensig
  3. Our Circus Presents..  by Lucian Dan Teodorovici
  4. waiting by Goretti Kyomuhendo
  5. Why we love women by Mircea Cărtărescu
  6. The imagined land by Eduardo Berti
  7. Tower by Bae Myung-Hoon
  8. The pear tree by Nana Ekvtimishvilli
  9. A Musical Offering by Luis Sagasti
  10. The No World Concerto by A G Porta
  11. The art of Losing by Alice Zeniter

SO far I have reviewed 24 books this year. 11 in Feb where the journey started with a novel from Iceland about a church go stray and the man sent to see what had happened. Then a story of a man from a humble background that became a great chess player. Then a group of men and women that are trying to take their lives in the most elaborate way a blackly comic work from Bulgaria. I went to Uganda and a young girl recounting the war from her family’s point of view was also the first work from Uganda I have covered. Then the great Romanian writer Micrea  Cărtărescu on some of his loves and women he has known. Then an imagine china from the  Argentinean writer Eduardo Berti. We then have Korean sci-fi but is also social commentary in the tower a state in a supersize tower block. Then we go to Georgia and a school for learning disabilities that is falling apart and has abuse at its heart seen from a pupil that has taken a young boy under her wing. Then a book that has a v=collection of stories revolving around Bach Goldberg variations another from Argentina and then we had a Spanish writer that had been friends and written with Roberto Bolano his only work in English two intertwined lives but who is writing about who? Then a truly epic saga of three generations of an Algerian family that comes to France and returns when the granddaughter returns and shows her family snapshots of friends and family that have aged fifty years before their eyes. So I went to ten countries with Uganda being a new country to the blog a rare event these days. There was also a couple of new publishers the feminist press and Plymouth university press. I also made the decision to score my reviews on an a to e scale moving forward.

Book of the month

I loved Luis Sagasti first book he is a writer that seems to make the reader think beyond the stories he wrote but also draws you into them these all revolved around music the Bach Goldberg variations but also a bizarre tongue in cheek story of a giant organ being built that causes an avalanche. I did have to check up that story was only fiction, lets hope we get more from this writer.

Non-book-related events

Well, the lockdown has us all not doing a lot. Amanda and I have been catching up on the second series of Stranger things which we had fallen behind in watching. I still love all the 80s references and the nod to the films of the time in the show itself. I watched a short film by Guy Maddin the Canadian director is an underrated filmmaker. Apart from that, not a lot else to report. Rather same as with last month I am now on three nights so won’t return with a review to Thursday.

Month ahead

Well, I still haven’t read a book from Arabic this year so I will try to do that otherwise it will be mainly books to fill in the gaps of what I hadn’t  that could be on the Man Booker International longlist which comes out at the end of this month. Any thought on what would make the longlist? What were your highlights last month?

Happy christmas from Winstonsdad

Happy Christmas from all at winstonsdad , well me Stu hoping everyone has a bookish Christmas this year and what an odd year it is we have one day to visit family but with my job I am at work Christmas day afternoon I am use to this after all these years we will have a full trimming meal Boxing day and speak to the family on the phone or via webcam. I hope to fit a couple of posts in before the end of the year and my books of the year and records of the year round-ups in. I have been jumping between books the last week but have finally decided to take the usual route for me this time of year and that is to big an epic book to finish the year and start off next year. This year it is an Italian prize-winning  novel the catholic school by Edoardo Albinati it came out last year and I did read about fifty pages at the time but hadn’t the time to read it so I started it today and have already managed a couple of hundred pages relaxing this afternoon.

 

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you have a great and safe festive period and look forward to chatting and seeing post over the next year.

Winstonsdad goes to Bi-weekly reviews

I have struggled as Mentioned before with reviews this last year so I have decided to be a lot more organized than I ever have been as I am struggling to review books it goes in blocks then nothing I have tried to just do the reviews ad hoc but this year. I have lost my usual rhythm so I decided the best thing as I managed to write two reviews a few times in one day. So I feel I will be doing a review on Mondays and Thurs moving forward if I get a chance to add reviews I will and this means if I get a spare evening I can do some other posts around books that I used to do years ago. I will be posting this Thursday. I usually have Thursday off work strange thing is this week I am working but am working this week but will have a post ready for the long-running #translationthurs hashtag I started years ago. Well on to no book things The one thing I have gained during this covid madness is a love for Nostalgia tv it’s one of the beauties of the modern age with Apps and nostalgia tv channels we have a lot of old tv shows back. SO recent watches have been V the series, The original and rebooted Battlestar Galactica now don’t worry I will be turning into a sci-fi book blog no just love a bit of 80s/90s love even my taste in music has been listening to old vinyl I been buying on Thursdays at our local flea market and our monthly record fair and the record store days means I have a lot of new records from this era to listen too. I also hope to be on Twitter a bit more than I have been this year. What have you been doing new due to Covid. We all need to keep safe and well this winter. The pic is a local statue of one of Chesterfield’s famous residents Stephenson of Train fame just seemed his measuring stick was apt for this post. Also struggling with the new WordPress format so different from the previous one which I had used for the time I have blogged anyone else not keen on this new format at mo?

The Shadow Booker international shortlist

Our shadow jury of bloggers and reviewers of translated fiction has completed our reading of the International Booker 2020 longlist, and has chosen our own Shadow Shortlist.

In alphabetical order of the original author’s name our chosen six books are:

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar (Farsi – Iran), tr. Anonymous (Europa Editions)

The Other Name Septology I-II by Jon Fosse (Norwegian – Norway), tr. Damion Searls (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (Spanish – Mexico), tr. Sophie Hughes (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Japanese – Japan), tr. Stephen Snyder (Harvill Secker)

Faces on the Tip of My Tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano (French – France), tr. Sophie Lewis & Jennifer Higgins (Peirene Press)

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Dutch – Netherlands), tr. Michele Hutchison (Faber & Faber)

Firstly, we would like to congratulate the judges on choosing a very strong longlist. There are some stunning books on the list, and almost all of them, including those that missed out on our shortlist, had their champions among us. The books didn’t always make for an easy read – some are quite graphic in their depiction of violence – but certainly a thought provoking one,

You will see that four of our choices overlap with those of the official jury.

The Adventures of China Iron impressed many of us, but couldn’t quite squeeze on to our list. Instead we chose the cleverly connected short stories from Faces on the Tip of My Tongue.

When we were predicting books on the longlist The Eighth Life was the novel we most expected to see given its undoubted popularity both in the Anglosphere but also internationally. And we had expected it to make both the official and our shadow shortlist. Somewhat to our surprise, it missed out on both – the magic of the hot chocolate clearly doesn’t work on everyone.

We were though more surprised, and disappointed, at the exclusion of The Other Name from the official list – Jon Fosse’s trademark slow prose is stunning, and it makes for a very different reading experience from the others on the list. It is a timeless novel, and we fear the jury’s not unreasonable focus on novels relevant for the Covid-19 era may have counted against it. But with the next volume due in the autumn perhaps Fosse will make next year’s shortlist and he’s also overdue the Nobel Prize.

At the other end of the spectrum, the officially shortlisted Tyll didn’t spark much enthusiasm in our panel. But the one provoking the strongest reactions was Serotonin: several of the books on our shortlist are brutal or visceral but parts of Houllebecq’s novel simply felt gratuitous. Only three of our judges finished reading it and none of those were terribly impressed by its inclusion on the longlist.

We’ll now embark on the period of further re-reading, reflection and discussion to choose our winner. We wonder if we and the official jury will see eye to eye as we did in 2018, or reach a different view as we did last year.

(Thanks to Paul Fulcher for writing such an eloquent, and perfectly summarized, post for our shortlist decision. You can find him on Twitter at @fulcherpaul and on Goodreads here.)

Winstonsdad  I am pleased with our shortlist I had just about bar a few hundred pages finished the longlist I am behind on review but have enjoyed this year list there have been some eye-opening and shocking titles that show the wider nature of literature in translation I will review the rest of the longlist before we announce our winner I am now aiming to get to the 1000 reviews in the next few weeks.

That was the month that was January 2020

  1. Home and Exile by Chinua Achebe
  2. Letters of blood by Rizzia Rahman
  3. Billiards at the Hotel Dobray by Dusan Sarotar
  4. Maigret and Monsieur Charles by Georges Simenon
  5. Shadow Child by P F Thomése
  6. The females by Wolfgang Hilbig
  7. The Glass slipper by Shotaro Yasuoka
  8. The Hungry and the Fat by Timur Vermes

There we are I had hoped to get a couple more reviews done but I have just finished four-night shifts so I have to make do with eight reviews this month I shall get a few more in next month I Hope as I have a holiday booked in as Amanda has a significant birthday. This month I went from Africa then Bangladesh. The war in Europe from the first tale of Jews in Slovenia and then Maigret last book a father coping with the loss of his child a man coping with the loss of the females around him and a lot of sexual feelings. Then a collection of post-war Japanese stories and then the second novel of German satirist Timur Vermes. I visited seven countries one new press well not a press an imprint from seagull books. The Library of Bangladesh I hope to get a couple more from this collection soon.

Book of the month

It was a very tight month with this and Billiards at the hotel Dobray tie with me The Hungry and the fat does what great writers do they take an idea here what will the west do with the increasing refugee crisis that is ever-increasing here what Timur did was imagine the border shutting and a mass camp forming and then what happens if these hundred no Millions of refugees. As they decide with the help of a model and her refugee fiance to walk to the border and see what happens will those fabled gates open or remain shut a powerful work. Then a flip of a wonderful reworking through one mans story of his experience as a Slovenian Jew in the  holocaust as he returns to his home town which is Dusan the writers own town and the Hotel that is the centre of the town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

None book events-

I said in my recent Music post. I brought the new Pale saints reissue. I Have been listening to this and enjoyed the mini gig on the radio from Warmduscher. I on whole have had a quiet month this month post-Christmas. I also started back at the gym after a pre Christmas break. What has your month entailed?

Next Month

I have a Swedish novel from a Swedish greek writer set in world war two that involves a retelling of Homer’s work from a teacher from her memories of the work that also seems to echo the events of the Germans occupying the island in the present. Am nearly finish the latest peirene Novel as they turn ten this year and their books been a fixture on this blog. This latest book seems an Italian novella that has a man that has taken himself away from the world high in the alps discovering a foot in the snow. In the world, he shares with his dog a cantankerous beast as his only companion. Then a Hungarian novel . What are your plans for next month?

 

Some recent arrivals and xmas gifts

Well, here we have the fist of a few new arrivals. I haven’t read lullaby yet but when I saw this copy of Adele the follow-up book to come out in English was unread in the local Oxfam and I haven’t read the Raymond Carver collection which was the first collection that came out by him as a writer. He was the master of the short story.

Then I have a gift from my darling wife the second Murakami diary to come out it is a hardback whereas the first one that came out a few years ago was a smaller pocket type diary it has all the publication dates of Murakami’s works, Cycle of the moon, and Japanese holiday. She also got me the recent Gregor Von Rezzori novel to be published, Abel and Cain. An episodic work that covers the post-world war years through the second world war to the sixties. I have had my eye on a while so when Amanda got it me for Christmas I was really happy it will be one for German lit month this year,

Then another find in the flea market a copy of Boswell’s London Journals. where discovered for the first time in 1920 and published in 1950. where among the earliest of his writing to be published. I have been a fan of his writing for a while since I was young and hadn’t read this but had his life of Johnson years ago so I have been buying a few other works he wrote and this is the latest to the collection of his works.

Last, is Tyll by Daniel Kelhlmann Who I thought I reviewed but turns out I didn’t I did read F by him but think I was in such a rush with the iffp reading when it was longlist that year as I struggled to get the books it missed a review anyway this is meant to be his best book and use a fable-like quality to tell a story that is historic but with echoes of the modern world?

 

 

Winstonsdads Dozen books of the year 2020

Well it is the 2nd January and I am revealing my books of the year in no order these twelve are the ones that at the end of they year I felt had touched me most over the last twelve months.

1. Now, Now louison by Jean Fremon 

The French gallerist Jean Fremon tries to get into in the life of the renowned artist Louise Bourgeois with this miz of inner monologue, personal history, and antidotes another gem from Les fugitives.

2. Aviaries by Zuzana Brabcova 

I now move onto the last night novel by a Czech writer. That captures a darker underbelly of a fragmented Prague of bums homeless people and Chavs

No photo description available.

3. The years by Anne Ernaux 

Just brilliant this should have won the booker but it is a Fineline between fiction and memoir as she looks back on her life and how she dealt with those ups and downs we all have in our own lifetimes.

4. Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen 

A look at the out fall of an attack on a normal everyday man and what happens when you have a severe brain injury.a short gem and another from a very small publisher.

 

Termin front cover.png

 

5. When death takes something from you give it back Carl’s book By Naja Marie Aidt

This touching memoir of her son who lost his life in shocking circumstances. Carl deals with a mother getting over the loss of her son at such a young age.

6. The train was on time by Heinrich  Böll

A long-overdue reissue of the debut work of Heinrich Boll on a train to the front there is a man daydreaming and remembering the war at the same time,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Doppelganger byDaša Drndić

Two novellas from the late Croat writer Daša Drndić her we see that love can be found in older age but we all have that baggage we carry and this is the case in these two getting together.

8. And the wind sees all by  Guðmundur Andri Thorsson

Here we see a mere moment caught from the whole of a village. The local choirmistress Kata is a stunning red dress head to choir practice . As we look behind the curtains in the small fishing villages we see the inner lives of those there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. 10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak

It is a shock that two books from the Booker shortlist have made my best of year. This glimpses the life os a prostitute through those she knew in her brother and her life before her time in the brothel what drove her there in a series of smells and tastes that she had known throughout her life.

10. Ducks Newburyport by Lucy Elman 

I am one that tends to avoid hype but this 1000 page novel is the inner monologue of a midwest housewife living in the trump era rying to work out in a way how they got there where they are. A long journey but worth taking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Falstaff: Apotheosis by Pierre Senges

A reworking of the Falstaff character and his place in literature by the underappreciated French writer Pierre Senges someone we should all try I think.

12.The Trap by Ludovic Bruckstein 

Romanian fiction to round off this years best-of list and a look at a bygone world of villages that were full of Jewish life a lament of a world that has gone by. This is a lost gem of Mittel European writing brought to us from the great Istros books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well if there is a theme in these books it is to do with narrative om a whole they all challenge what is narrative for us the reader. I think this is what draws me so much to translated fiction and small press. Her is a huge thanks to those who have support this blog over the last twelve months.

The two Nobel’s go too

Its that time of year and a treat today we have two Nobel Laureates one for this year and one for last year. we see if a year away has meant the academy gone in a new Nonanglophile and feminist direction that has been mention in recent years. The first winner for the last year 2018 is Olga Tokarczuk for her encyclopedic writing. I have reviewed her book Drive my plough over the bones of the dead Here is an interview with her

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hen for this year, 2019 we have Peter Handke A favorite for many years to win although he has courted controversy in some of his view but I loved every book I have read and he has also worked with Wim Wenders on a number of films including the goalkeeper anxiety a classic film. Here is a review of slow homecoming by him and an interview IT is from a german paper but worth reading

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