Translation Laureate ?

Just a quick thought after listening to open book the radio four show about books .Where they had three children’s laureate on talking about the work they had done promoting children’s literature .This set me thinking why isn’t the a translation Laureate ? We talk about not knowing what to read or books getting under promoted now if everyone could get behind one person a well known writer or figure in the lit world and they could advocate the beauty and variety of fiction in translation and do this around the country get a grass roots surge of people really showing interest in literature in translation . What do you think ? Who could do this great task ?

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Stoner ,stoner how many translations could be discovered like stoner

Well unless you’ve been under a rock for last couple of years .you won’t have missed the rise and rise of Stoner a slow climber a writer book it is said ,I enjoyed it but maybe not as much as others the style had the soft spoken style you find in a number of European writers ,this as I start considering a review of stoner , set me thinking of how many stoners are out there either translated and out of print or not even translated ? For me the answer is more than we imagine every year sees a few gems that have been waiting for a publisher to take a dive to translate or a publisher to reissue people like pushkin press , Peirene ,NYRB , Dalkey archive and twisted spoon have in recent years all discover gems Walser ,Zweig , Fallada , Vanderbeke to name a few of many .I’ve been buying and looking at books towards my century of translation project and am amazed what has been translated and fallen out of print .So let’s hope the next stoner is a translation and sets about a wave of rediscovery of lost writers from around the world ?
have you a writer in translation you think should be highlighted ?

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Humbooks 2014 my choices for Lisa

Well a very happy Christmas from Winston and I .I am virtual gifting books again this year was so happy when I got an E mail from Lisa saying she would love to be partnered with me this year to swap virtual books around this christmas tree so I have thought long and hard of something different to give Lisa SO here are my choices for Lisa –

Public-Enemies

Public enemies by Michel Houuellebecq and Bernard Henri-Levy

I have read and not reviewed this book  as i want to fully read it twice before reviewing it and think like me it is one Lisa will find a lot in ,the book consists of a series of e-mail exchanged between these two great intellects ,they talk about everything but it is a lot about themselves and the books and ideas they love a unique glimpse into the French mind . Also the Houellebecq section was translated by Frank Wynne .

Khirbet Khizeh by s Yizhar

Khirbet Khizeh by S .Yizhar

I have reviewed this book a few years ago on the blog it is considered a classic of modern Hebrew literature it follow a troop of seven men as they attack a small Palestine village in the Israeli,this is one day in the conflict a short intense shot of the war ,S Yizhar went on to serve in the Israeli government and did also write the epic Days of Ziglag ,which hopefully will reach us in English someday soon and I’m hoping that if Lisa loves this she will join me in reading the 1100 page book that follows seven days in the conflict and is considered the best book of modern Hebrew literature (a question is why we will have to wait over 40 years to read when it comes out in English ?)

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Pascal Garnier

My last choice isn’t a single book but a selection of books from the darkly witty late french writer Pascal Garnier .I have reviewed two so far and read the other two available in english .I think Lisa will love his dark humour and the world he describes ,my favourite was A26 a brother and sister fight the oncoming of the modern world as best they can .

Now I will be cheeky and choose two for the host of this event –

For Emma

encylopedia of snow

Encyclopaedia Of Snow by Sarah Emily Miano

I did pick this as my book that needs a wider audience a few years ago on Kim’s reading matters blog .Miano was a student of Sebald at Uea and this was her debut novel it takes the form of a journal that has been found in the snow about snow a collection of piece poems clippings form a great piece of digression fiction in the style of Sebald

For Guy 

raid and the blackest sleep

Raid and the Blackest sheep by Harri Nykanen

For Guy I struggled to find something but then remember I had review a noirish Finnish crime book over a year ago that Guy might enjoy Raid and the blackest sheep follows a criminal that is a hitman but with a moral code and in this book is sorting out some wrongs at the time I compared him to the Saint but he is darker .Also I will do a bonus for guy as I know he loves noir crime and that is to point him in the direction of the podcast down these mean streets ,a podcast I have been following for about seven months that plays old radio detectives .What makes this one stand out is the guy that runs it gives great info on the shows and it also has a killer jazz intro to it .

So once again Thanks to the site Freelang  one worth looking at many great piece on translations and will give you free translations

TRANSLATION
AFRIKAANS geseënde Kersfees
ALBANIAN gëzuar Krishtlindja
ALSATIAN gleckika Wïanachta
ARABIC ميلاد مجيد (miilaad majiid)
ARMENIAN Shnorhavor Surb tsnund
AZERI Noel bayraminiz mubarak
BASQUE Eguberri on
BELARUSIAN З Божым нараджэннем (Z Bozym naradzenniem)
BENGALI subho baradin
BOSNIAN sretan Božić
BRETON Nedeleg laouen
BULGARIAN весела коледа (vesela koleda)
BURMESE Christmas nay hma mue pyaw pa
CATALAN bon Nadal
CH’TI joïeux Noé
CHEROKEE ulihelisdi danisdayohihvi
CHINESE 圣诞快乐 (shèng dàn kuài lè)
CORNISH Nadelek lowen
CORSICAN bon Natale
CROATIAN sretan Božić
CZECH veselé Vánoce
DANISH glædelig jul
DHOLUO bedgi sikuku maber
DUTCH vrolijk Kerstfeest
ENGLISH merry Christmas
ESPERANTO gojan Kristnaskon
ESTONIAN häid jõule
FAROESE gleðilig jól
FILIPINO Maligayang Pasko
FINNISH hyvää joulua
FRENCH joyeux Noël
FRISIAN noflike Krystdagen
FRIULAN bon nadâl
GALICIAN bo Nadal
GEORGIAN gilocav shoba axal wels
GERMAN frohe Weihnachten / fröhliche Weihnachten
GREEK Καλα Χριστούγεννα (kala christougenna / kala xristougenna)
HAITIAN CREOLE jwaye Nowel
HAWAIIAN mele Kalikimaka
HEBREW חג מולד שמח (hag molad saméa’h)
HINDI Krismas ki subhkamna
HUNGARIAN boldog karácsonyt
ICELANDIC gleðileg jól
IGBO annuri Ekeresimesi
ILOCANO naragsak a paskua
INDONESIAN selamat Natal
IRISH GAELIC Nollaig shona
ITALIAN buon Natale
JAVANESE sugeng Natal
JAPANESE merii kurisumasu
KABYLIAN tameghra tameggazt
KHMER រីក​រាយ​បុណ្យ​ណូអ៊ែល (rik reay bon Noel)
KINYARWANDA Noheli nziza
KIRUNDI Noheli nziza
KOREAN 메리크리스마스
KURDISH Noela we pîroz be
LAO souksan van Christmas
LATIN felix dies Nativitatis
LATVIAN priecīgus Ziemassvētkus
LIANGMAI mathabou Christmas
LIGURIAN bón dênâ / bón natâle
LITHUANIAN su Kalėdomis / linksmų Kalėdų
LOW SAXON vrolik Kersfees
LUXEMBOURGEOIS schéi Chrëschtdeeg
MACEDONIAN среќен Божиќ (srećen Božić, formal) / Христос се роди (Hristos se rodi, informal) / Навистина се роди (Navistina se rodi, as a reply to the informal greeting)
MALAGASY tratry ny Krismasy / arahabaina tratry ny Krismasy / arahaba tratry ny Krismasy
MALAY selamat hari natal
MALAYALAM Christmas ashamshagal
MALTESE il-milied it-tajjeb / milied hieni
MANX Nollick ghennal
MAORI meri Kirihimete
MIZO Krismas chibai
MONÉGASQUE bon Natale
MONGOLIAN zul sariin bayariin mend hurgie
NORMAN jostous Noué
NORMAN (JÈRRIAIS) bouan Noué
NORWEGIAN god jul
OCCITAN bon Nadal
OROMO baga ayyaana dhaloota Kiristoos isin ga’e
PAPIAMENTU bon pasku
PERSIAN کریسمس مبارک (Christmas mobaarak)
POLISH wesołych świąt bożego Narodzenia
PORTUGUESE feliz Natal
ROMANI baxtalo Krečuno
ROMANIAN un Crăciun fericit
RUKIGA Noheiri nungi / webale Noheiri
RUSSIAN с Рождеством Христовым (S rozhdestvom Khristovym)
SAMOAN ia manuia le Kerisimasi
SARDINIAN bona pasca’e Nadale (logudorese) / bona paschixedda (campidanese)
SCOTTISH GAELIC Nollaig chridheil
SERBIAN Христос се роди (Hristos se rodi)
SHONA Krisimas yakanaka
SILESIAN Radosnych godów
SINDHI Chrismas joon wadhayoon
SINHALESE suba nattalak wewa
SLOVAK vesele vianoce
SLOVENIAN vesel božič / vesele božične praznike
SOBOTA dobro dedek
SPANISH feliz Navidad
SRANAN switi Krisneti
SWAHILI heri la Krismasi
SWEDISH God Jul
TAGALOG Maligayang Pasko
TAHITIAN ‘ia ‘oa’oa e teie Noera
TAMIL கிறிஸ்மஸ் தின நல் வாழ்த்துக்கள் (Krismas dina nal vaagethoukkal)
TELUGU Krismas shubhakankshalu
THAI สุขสันต์วันคริสต์มาส (souksaan wan Christmas)
TONGAN mele Kilisimasi
TSWANA (SETSWANA) Keresemose sentle
TURKISH Noeliniz kutlu olsun
UDMURT Shuldyr Ymuśton
UKRAINIAN З Різдвом Христовим (Z Rizdvom Khrystovym) / Щасливого Різдва Христового (ʃtʃaslyvogo rizdva Hrystovogo)
VIETNAMESE Mừng Chúa Giáng Sinh
WALOON (“betchfessîs” spelling) djoyeus Noyé
WELSH Nadolig llawen
WEST INDIAN CREOLE jénwèl
YIDDISH אַ גוטע ניטל (a gute nitl)
YORUBA e kun odun Keresimesi
ZULU UKhisimusi omuhl

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 .

The Black spider by Jeremias Gotthelf A Halloween german lit month treat

the black spider

The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf

German Gothic Fiction

Original title Die Schwarze spinne

Translator – H M Waidson

Source personnel copy

Jeremias Gotthelf was a swiss pastor and writer ,His actual name was Albert Bitzius ,he was educated in Bern wre he founded the second oldest Swiss fraternity ,before becoming a pastor and then in his thirties he took up writing .He used the Bernese countryside and his strong religious beliefs in his books .

Christine had been gleefully watching everything outside in the field .The sun might burn hot as she worked at the heavy labour ,but the spider hardly burned any more at all .

The devil made his mark  on her .

The book focus on the people in a Bernese village ,we start at a farm where a baptism is in full swing ,then we get an unbaptized baby that  is kissed by a hunter and this kiss cause a black mark to appear and she is touched by the devil this Christine .So there is now a pact between the village and the devil that leads to years and years of godless behaviour ,when at some point this falls apart a plague of spiders swarms around the village  and they now need god to come back and save them .That is the barest bones of this tale it is a real quest between good and evil between god and the devil in tit many faces .

Next to the church was the inn , for these two institutions so often stand close to one another , sharing joy and suffering together , and what is more , in all honour .

But are they hand in hand

Well that is it in part this book has a really twisted narrative style one could almost say it has an old testament feel to it selling pone soul to the devil and it having a bad outcome all sounds like the wrathful god of the old testament  .This at times seems like a Sunday sermon that he may have told round Halloween to scare the kids and adults into god fearing Christians ,But that said Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil and he did make some great music ,.But we also get a feel of traditional Germanic folk tales with figure like the hunter and a knight appearing in the story ,also the selling of a soul to a devil has been a recurring motif in a lot of German fiction around this time and before even Faust for Example .Then there is also the way Gotthelf describes the village the church and the inn next to one another has a slight feel of temperance movement and is the godless behaviour connected to the drink .This has been a great read for Halloween one for a dark evening and a quick check to see if there isn’t a spider about to jump on me like Robert smith in the video .I read the Oneworld classic copy of this book with a 1958 translation ,I know NYRB classics has just issued a new translation which I hope to read and compare as I felt the choice of words and way the story unfold was a little stayed at times .

Have you a favourite Halloween read ?

 

Nobel Prize for Literature 2013 is Alice Munro

Well it’s that time of year again when we stare into the world of Literature and try to guess the winner of Nobel prize it is like shooting minnows in a swimming pool many names mentioned this time the usual Nadas ,Murakami ,Djebar and Munro .New Names like Alexievich ,Fosse and Marias this year who knows the betting seems to point to Svetlana Alexievich as favourite a late run on Thoig’o and Djebar at this time half hour before this time Nobel have provide an Embedded feed here

Thanks for Lisa for heads up on this

The winner this year is Alice Munro The short story writer

Here is her Wikipedia page 

And a link to the short story the bear came over the mountain on new yorker here 

Winner of Harvill secker Young Translator prize

young translator

HARVILL SECKER announces winner of 2013

prize for young translators

 

Lucy Greaves, who holds an MA in Literary Translation from the University of East Anglia, is the winner of the 2013 Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize.  Lucy attended the TimesCheltenham Literary Festival last night to accept the prize.  Receiving her award from Harvill Secker editor Ellie Steel, following a special translation slam event in honour of the prize, Lucy said: ‘I’m shocked and delighted to have been awarded the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize. This was my first ever piece of literary translation from Portuguese, and I never imagined I’d win! I feel very fortunate to have this incredible opportunity to develop as a translator and I’m really looking forward to working with Margaret Jull Costa on the BCLT mentorship scheme.’

 

As the winner of the prize, Lucy Greaves receives £1000 and a selection of Harvill Secker titles.  She will also take part in a six-month mentorship scheme with translator and judge Margaret Jull Costa, in association with the British Centre for Literary Translation.   In November she will travel to The Hague to participate in The Chronicles programme, which brings together young authors and young translators as part of the Crossing Border Festival.

The chosen language for the 2013 prize was Portuguese and entrants were asked to translate ‘O sucesso’, a short story by Brazilian author Adriana Lisboa. The prize was judged by authorNaomi Alderman, translator Margaret Jull Costa, literary journalist Ángel GurríaQuintana and Harvill Secker editor Ellie Steel. This year’s runner-up is Annie McDermott.

The winning story is published online by Granta www.granta.com and will be available to read from Wednesday 9th October.

The judges commented: The field was very strong, and we were impressed by the imagination applied by all our entrants, and the variety of interesting ways in which they dealt with the mood and humour of the piece. Adriana’s wonderful story appears simple, but it presents various challenges which must be handled deftly by a translator. We chose Lucy’s translation for its elegant sentences and her perceptive capturing of the story’s youthful energy and coming-of-age spirit.’

There were a total of 92 entries from 9 countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, UK and USA.

Lucy Greaves lived and worked in Colombia, Peru, Chile and Switzerland before going on to study an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia. She now works as a freelance translator from Spanish, Portuguese and French, and she is based in Bristol, UK. When not translating, she teaches skiing.

Description: Description: BCLTlogoRGB.jpgPlease visitwww.harvillseckeryoungtranslatorsprize.com for more information.

THE AUTHOR

Adriana Lisboa

Adriana Lisboa was born in Rio de Janeiro. With degrees in Music and Literature, she is the author of ten widely translated fiction titles, including five novels, a collection of flash fiction, and books for children. She was hailed as a new star of Brazilian literature after the publication of her 2001 novel Sinfonia em Branco (‘Symphony in White’), which received the prestigious José Saramago Prize. In 2007, she was selected by the Hay Festival/Bogota World Book Capital as one of the 39 highest profile Latin American writers under the age of 39. Her latest novel, Crow Blue, will be published in the UK by Bloomsbury in October 2013, translated by Alison Entrekin.

THE JUDGES

Margaret Jull Costa (translator)

Margaret Jull Costa has been a literary translator for nearly twenty-five years and has translated many novels and short stories by Portuguese, Spanish and Latin American writers, including Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, José Saramago, Javier Marías, Bernardo Atxaga, Alberto Barrera Tyszka and Luis Fernando Verissimo. She has won various prizes for her work, most recently, the 2012 Calouste Gulbenkian Prize with Teolinda Gersão’s The Word Tree, for which she was also runner-up with António Lobo Antunes’s The Land at the End of the World.

Naomi Alderman (author)

Naomi Alderman grew up in London and attended Oxford University and UEA. In 2006 she won the Orange Award for New Writers, and in 2007 she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and one of Waterstones’ 25 Writers for the Future. She is the author of four novels: DisobedienceThe LessonsThe Liars’ Gospel  and the Doctor Who tie-in novelBorrowed Time. Naomi broadcasts regularly, has guest-presented Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and writes regularly for Prospect and the Guardian. From 2004 to 2007 Naomi was lead writer on the BAFTA-shortlisted alternate reality game Perplex City. She’s written online games for Penguin, the BBC, and other clients. In 2012, she co-created the top-selling fitness game and audio adventure Zombies, Run!. This year, she has been named among the twenty most promising young British writers by Granta on its prestigious once-a-decade list.

Ángel Gurría-Quintana (journalist)

Ángel Gurría-Quintana is a historian, journalist and translator of Spanish and Portuguese. He has written for the Financial Times since 2003, specialising in literature in translation. His work has also appeared in the Observer, the Guardian, The Paris ReviewBrick, granta.comand the translation blog Three Percent. A regular presence at the Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty, his translations from Portuguese include the stories by Beatriz Bracher, Bernardo Carvalho, Milton Hatoum, Reinaldo Moraes and Cristovão Tezza in the compilation Dez/Ten (2012). More recently he co-edited and translated the forthcoming anthology, Other Carnivals: New Writing from Brazil (Full Circle Editions). He works at the University of Cambridge.

 

Ellie Steel (editor)

Ellie Steel is an editor at Harvill Secker, where she publishes authors Manuel RivasKarin Fossum and Andrey Kurkov, among others. She is the coordinator of the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize and editor of the ‘A View from This Bridge’ blog atwww.internionalwriting.co.uk

I will be reviewing the New Novel in English By Adriana Lisboa tomorrow on the Blog

Taxi by Khaled Al Khamissi

taxi

Taxi by Khaled Al Khamissi

Egyptian fiction

Original title -Hawadith al-mashawir

Translator – Jonathan Wright

Source personnel E book copy

Khaled Al Khamissi is an Egyptian born ,writer he has written two novels so far .He studied Political science and university .This book thou published in 2006 /7 .A ;lot of what is spoken in the book seems very much still to be the case in Egypt .

‘People wonder why the economy’s screwed up,’ the driver said. ‘It’s screwed up because of people. Would you believe it, a country like Egypt, the people here spend more than 20 billion pounds a year on telephone calls. Twenty billion pounds, I mean, if we didn’t talk for two or three years, would Egypt be different?

Khamissi, Khaled Al (2012-03-15). Taxi (English edition)

 

Taxi is made up of 58 stories or is it voices ,from all round Cairo the voice of the taxi drivers of Cairo ,their  stories paint the city from top to bottom from the upper echelons to the lowest street people ,what we get is a clutter city  but city wanting to move forward ,of hard-working souls and corruption and uneven lifestyles come across .The from seatbelts to cinema ,Iraq ,Palestine and Israeli all crop up in the chats note in the stories .But at the back of it from time to time is the police corruption and the president at the time Mubarak   looming in the background as we see these windows of Cairo tell the tales to a unnnamed man in the taxis .

‘The whole story was business on business. The big guys imported seatbelts and sold them and made millions . The Interior Ministry issued one ticket after the other and collected millions. The wretched cops on the street would stop you and say: “Where’s your seatbelt, you bastard?” and you’d have to slip him a fiver, and if he stopped you when an officer was there , it would be twenty pounds. I mean, everyone benefited.

how they ended up with seatbelts in the city according to one driver ?

Well this book still seems fresh not seven years on yes the modern Egypt has moved quickly ,but one feels from the bits we see on the UK news that the basic problems that underlie these stories and people in the stories are the same .The city comes across as a place of divide but also great characters . I was reminded of the book written about a tube train and its passengers that had great snippets of of there lives .Also the book has a non fiction feel at times ,you never quite sure what has been heard and what was made up ,I feel maybe from what I’ve read about the book one thing we maybe have missed in Jonathan Wrights great translation is dialect that part of the book that if you live in Cairo maybe opens the book even more like a Londoner would gather more from an east end dialect and a city boys speaking but that aside I felt it was a great view into Cairo just before it blew up and maybe in here are a few clues too why it happened .

What is your favourite book on Egypt ?

Stories by Sergio Ramirez

stories

Stories by Sergio Ramirez

Nicaraguan fiction

Translator – Nick Caistor

Source – personnel copy

Sergio Ramirez trained as a lawyer ,he worked in Costa Rica in the early 1970’s for the central american university then went to West Berlin to start a writing scholarship ,he was  also was vice president of Nicaragua he has had numerous books published and was a leading figure for the sandinista  as a member   group of twelve people who support the movement in the fight to free his homeland  .

My shoulders had broadened , my waisted had slimmed down , and my legs had firmed up .Scarcely four years after that big bully had kicked sand in my eyes ,I was a different man ,Ethel one day showed me a photo of the mythological god Atlas in a magazine . “Look” she said , ” he’s just like you ” Then I knew I was on the right track and would one day fulfil my dreams .

From the story Charles atlas also dies .

Stories is a collection of eight stories ,we travel from his home to the Us and Old west Germany .We meet a young man who has fallen in love with body building via the works of Charles Atlas and then is shocked to discover how his hero has fallen ,I was reminded in this story of the film  Geordie with Bill Travers where a Scottish boy meets a body builder (Charles Atlas )he had followed only to find a broken man I wonder if this was the inspiration for this story ? as the film was from the fifties ,Next is Jakie O  about  to visit his homeland of Nicaragua and set a country club on edge but is all it seems ? an ageing baseball player  occupies another story   ,also the perfect game of baseball  is another story  ,,a family in West  Germany end up with a Latin american student as the rented Santa Claus  over their festive period !

The news that Jacqueline Kennedy was to visit Nicaragua caused a great Commotion in the smartest circles .What passes for high society felt both immensely flattered and at the same time confused ,left in the dark as to the whens ,where’s and hows ,that is , when Jacqueline (Jackie to us ) would be setting foot on our soil

Is she coming from the story to Jackie with all our heart .

As you see there is some with in these stories  ,A look into the lives of ordinary Latin Americans and there dealing with them  both at home and in the wider world  with a chunk of satire and a wry eye at people’s views of the world .He maybe isn’t so well-known these days , but Ramirez was a major voice in central and latin american literature in his day  and a large political figure as well .I have also his novel a  thousand deaths plus one has sat on my shelves for a number of years but will being get read for next years century of translation project .Have you read him ?

Russian stories by Francesc Serés

russian stories

Russian stories by Francesc Serés

Spanish fiction (or russian !)

Translator from Catalan Peter Bush

Translator from Russian Anastasia Maximova

Original  title Contes Russo

Source – review copy

Fransesc   Serés is a Catalan   writer he studied fine art and Anthropology at university ,after this he became a writer he has publish over ten books of novel and short stories in Spain and has also produced a number of stage works . He is also a professor of art history and a Russophile .

Consequently , if it weren’t for this confession of mine , nobody would know that Elvis Presley gave a concert in Moscow’s red square.

Yes , you heard me , a concert in Red square in 1958

It was one of the many demonstrations of strength the superpowers made during the cold war .A stupid one , but it was ,at the end of the day , a demonstration of strength .

Well imagine if the King had played in Moscow .

Frnacesc Serés happen in his love of Russian literature this lead him to coming  across a unmined wealth of lost , writing that hadn’t seen the light of day outside Russia .He gathered together 21 different stories from five new to us in the west  writers spanning the history of modern Russia .We start in modern Russia Ola Yevgueniyeva born in 1967 writes about Putin’s Russia stewardess contrast their world and the places they go and how their world is changing .Also a wonderful story of a chess match between an old gent and a young girl almost showing the change in modern Russia from the older player to the younger player .Then we move back through time with each subsequent writer .The next writer  Vera-Margarita she evokes the soviet past story of red square mentions of Lenin and Stalin .Then we get to Vitali Kroptkin and my favourite story Elvis Presley sings in Red Square ,did you know that Elvis had song in Red square in 1958 well he had new KGB files show ,a fun look at what could have happened had the King played in Russia .Then  we have Aleksandr Volkov he wrote of the post world war two soviet regime also how bizarre the state could be at times given the story about Voromians ,I liked this because it was just them remove the name and it is at heart of a number of incidents involving separate races with in the soviet sphere .The last writer Josef Bergghenko takes us to a pre world war two soviet times .

Voromians are pleasant , the odd one even looks at her as if he regonises her . one couple are called Var and Mirtila , like so many they ask her where they will be taken .She can’t think what to reply

A group that have been moved by the purges .

Sounds wonderful doesn’t it well it is amazing to discover these unknown writers ,ha nearly had you no the book is entirely made up by the writer francesec  Serés it is an homage to soviet writing but also a look into maybe what might have been written .He manages to pull it off with great style each writers piece do seem as thou they are from a different voice they are completely from the hands of Fransesc  Serés he has playfully mixed styles of contemporaries of the figures he is writing about so you get sense of these writers writing in their time echoes of kafka the fun of Bulgakov  .A book for fans of Russian literature but also the likes of Borges .I also discovered an interesting interview here it is in Spanish but comes across reasonably well via google translate .

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