Schoolgirl by Osamu Dazai

Schoolgirl by Osamu Dazai

Japanese fiction

Original title – 女生徒 Joseito

Translator – Alison Markin Powell

Source – Personal copy

I take another stop on the January in Japan tour it isn’t a long one I think I may get another book but here we have a modern classic. This book came out just at the start of world war two it is from one of the highest regarded writers of his generation. The eighth son of wealthy landowner Shūji Tsushima or as he later was known Osamu Dazai attend school and briefly university. This time in his life was hard his idol the writer Akutagawa died later on he tried to take his own life in a double suicide the woman he did it with died. He was then arrested for being in the communist party and went on the run his family got the charges dropped on the promise he would calm down he did and then started his writing career. He Wrote from 1933 till his death in 1948. This is from early on in his career and is considered a masterpiece for its use of language.

Mother, who was very busy arranging someone’s marriage, had gone out early this morning. Ever since I was little, Mother had devouted herself to other people, so I was used to it by now, but was really amazing how she was constantly in motion. She impressed me. Father had done nothing but study, so it fell to mother to take up his opart. Father was far removedfrom things like social interaction, ut mother really knew how to surround herself with lovely people, The two of them seemed an unlikely pairing, but there had been a mutual respect between them. People must have often saidabout them what a handsome and untroubled couple, without any unattractive qualities. Oh I ‘m so cheeky

THe mother tries to fill the fathers void but there is a gaping hole in the schoolgirls world it is obvious

Well, that was a long intro for a book that is barely 100 pages long and it is a small size book I read it in an evening. The beauty of this book is a simple fact it is a book where nothing really happens but you just get caught up in the day of our narrator the unnamed schoolgirl of the book’s title. It is told in a stream of conciseness style that starts with her having breakfast talking about her love of the book adverts in the paper. Going to school with the new umbrella that her mother has brought her when she heads to school there is a sense of her having a sort of self-loathing of others from ugly people she sees on the train to school to a dog as the day goes on we are let into the fact her father is dead and this means they are a single-parent family. But she also seems to grip on to her love of books at one point saying she didn’t know what she would do without them. This is a modern girl but she is caught in a traditional world and dealing with grief.

I was reminded of the lady next to ne on the train this morning with the heavy makeup. Ugh so vile. Women are disgusting. Being female, I am all too familar with the impurity found in women, it sets my teeth on edge with repulsion. It’s as if that unbearable raw stench that clings to you after playing with goldfish has spread all over your body, and you wash and wash but you can’t get rid of it day after day, it’s like this , until you realize that she-odur has begun to emante from your body as well. I wish I could die like thism as a girl

Telling lines about not wanting to grow into a woman in what at the time was a very male society in Japan!!

This is a gem of a book the narrator had hardly aged I felt although some of the things like reading a paper may now be via a phone and maybe she’d be reading Manga instead of books. but her view of the world one of a modern teen. The book has a feel of a modern book than its time. It is an insight into the drifting minds of a teen from her avoid the death of her father in the way she daydreams. This is a simple version of the modern teen world of worry she shows the conflict between trying to be herself and what they expected and grief. This is written by a man that tried to take his own life and was in a suicide pact with a young woman that could have easily been our narrator the feeling is this was someone that the writer knew or maybe just using a female voice to convey his own life his father was absent during his growing up and was brought up mainly by the female members of his extended family when younger. I have another collection of short stories by him I will be reading at some point. Have you ever read any books by Osamu Dazai ?

happy new year

happy new year all from me stu hoping for a better 2021 for us all

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 Key by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

The key by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki 

Japanese fiction

Original title – 鍵 Kagi

Translator – Howard Hibbert

Source – personal copy

Here is my first of a few post time willing for this time round for Kaggy and simon year club the year this time is 1956 and the first book I have read is from Tanizaki who I have reviewed once before on the blog so when I saw this a latter book from the writer the last book I reviewed was written twenty years before this book. which is a later book by Tanzaki in his writing life. So when it was on the list of books that had come out in 1956. I decided to order it start away. The book has been made into three films over the years.

This year I intend to begin writing freely about a topic which, in the past. I have hesitated even to mention here. I have always avoided commenting on my sexual relations with Ikuko, for fear that she might surreptitiously read my diary and be offended. I dare say she knows exactly where to find it. But I have decided not to worry about that anymore. Of course, her oldfashioned Kyoto upbringing has left her with a good deal of antiquated morality, indeed, she would dip into her husband’s private writings.

The opening lines were written on new year’s day

The book has two narrative parts the both of them in the form or a diary of an older husband who has a much younger wife Ikuko whom he is very in love with but is deeply worried about his desires for her. Then we see the other side as Ikuko tries to help and follow her husband’s desires as she tries to stop letting him know she knows what he is up too. This is an inner look at a marriage of an older man and younger women and it shows the covents of the day where the only insight into there innermost wantings and desires is via these two diaries we see him for the first time see her body and take pictures and also starts to sleep more with his wife that is over ten years younger than him. when he and his future son-in-law take the drunk wife and undress her in the bed this leads to an affair on the wife. As the husband gets Kimura to develop the pictures of his naked wife the younger man is drawn to his future mother-in-law.

I suppose he carried me here from the bath that night, put me to bed, and then, since I was still inconscious, amused himself with me in all sorts of ways. Once, when he was kissing me and roughly under my arms, i was tartled awake. He had dropped his glasses onme; my eyes opened the instant I felt their chilly touch. All my clothes had been stripped off, and I was lying on my back, stark naked, exposed to the glare of light. There was two lamps; the floor lamp and another – a fluorescent one – on the beside table

She drank to much and let him use her as he had wanted too !!

At the heart of this is the problem of the convention in marriages in Japan at the time where sex and desires aren’t talked about so when on the 1st January he starts his diary as a secret but leaves the key in an obvious place for his wife to find so when she reads and starts to act out his desires he wonders how it happens. This is an erotic work a man desires for his wife to be a certain way that she isn’t this is shown when he first sees her body fully naked and who drawn he is to her. I was reminded of the emails of the german novel love virtually where it is her a flip flop of what he wants and she secretly discovers his desire like in love virtually where the two characters start opening up. |This is another gem turned up from the year club it wouldn’t be my next choice as a book from Tanizaki I had some of his better-known books down to read at some point but this is a short gem that can be read in an evening. Have you read this book?

The Revolt by Clara Dupont-Monod

The Revolt by Clara Dupont-Monod

French historic fiction

Original title  – La Révolte

Translator – Ruth Diver

Source – review copy

Dupont-Monod studied Ancient France at university before going into Journalism, radio, and tv work and writing. She has worked at Cosmopolitan and then Marianne, alongside she worked on the radio. She has written a number of novels and been on the shortlist for two of the biggest french book prize she also hosts a weekly Literary column on French tv every week. This is her debut in English. She lives in Paris and says she has been haunted by Eleanor of Aquitaine for many years.

My mother is a self-assured woman. I have absolute faith in her. She owes this assurance ti her birth, for she is the Duchess of Aquitaine, raised amid luxury and learning, haloed by the memory of her grandfather, the first poet. For her there is no difference between silk and sapience. She managed her fiefs with an iron hand from the very start. Vassal’s rebelions, harvests, defing borders, settling disputes …. Eleanor likes to rule, and she knows every alleyway of even the smallest village of her Aquitaine

A strong women for the time loved her home and want to be in charge

Well, there was a clue in the first bit the haunting of her from Eleanor of Aquitaine as she forms the main character in this story it is told from her son Richard the lionheart. She first gets her marriage to Louis VII annulled and she then sets her sights on the English king Henry Plantagenet, but his strong women have misjudged the English king as he is a bully and he has taken a mistress Rosamunde he has also started to try and take over the french piece she has to try and find a way to remove him and this is where Richard who will become king in his place is taken part as he helps his mother gain he freedom from under her brute of a husband. This is a son honoring his mother it is a story of strong women in a time of male society a queen in lands of Kings

My mother loses her illusions two years after her remarriage. One winters evening in 1154, she is due to set sail from the port of Barfleur, on the tip of the Cotentin Peninsula. In her arms she holds her child, born a little more than a year after the wedding. His nam is William. The son Eleanor never gave Louis. And she is pregnant again.

The crew scan the skies. Low clouds. heavy swells, they shpould delay crossing. My father refuses. He has been cursing the wind for weeks. No capricious sea will stop him. His destiny is calls.”England is at the end of a civil war”, he hammers, “she wants her new king”He will be the great saviour. He must banish the looters, raze the insubordinate lords’ strongholds , recover the crown’s asset, and mint new coins. He promises power and justice, and to “Prise the goods of the poor from the rapacious hands of the pwerful” as he had announced

She ses a different side of him after a couple of years of marriage.

This is a short work and works I have struggle with longer works of historic fiction. I am one of the few people that isn’t a huge fan of Wolf Hall and its follow up. This is a similar story but the way it comes across is vibrant and springs to life the world of Eleanor women I only knew by name not her place in the world her she has used a piece of the truth and has woven it with her prose to give a powerful story of the world she was haunted by.  that has been well drawn in English by Ruth Diver in translation. It also has a son’s love of his mother this is a man that would do anything for her even kill a king. The tyrant that is her second husband is a great portrait of a tyrant a man of power who shes her as a thing more than an equal and wife. This is a great first book for my few books for women in translation month.  I must note as well this is one of my favorite covers so far this year. Have you a favorite historic work in translation?

 

Welcome to spanish lit month 2020

It has come round again this ishas been running since 2012 which actually I had chosen Enrique vila matas as a featured writer so it seems nice to return to him and also Javier Marias. Then in August we have Three trapped tigers by Guillermo Cabrera Infante. and recounting by Luis Goytisolo.

Here is a collection of links  to do with Spanish lit

I promised a few links for Spanish lit month –

El Mundo the best 25 books from Spanish 1989 (thanks Arcadia books for link their Blind sunflowers is on the List ,plus two books by Juan Marse that Maclehose is publishing soon .

Scauffi has a longer list here in Spanish a lot of Marquez on this one

The telegraph has ten best Latin American novels here,Not all Spanish but mostly

Flavourwire has another list without  Marquez of best Latin American fiction

and there is a few more links and lots of Spanish fiction on my co-host Richards Blog

You can also find many books here from Spain ,Chile ,Argentina and many others in my books read section.

Look forward to seeing what you choose !!

 

That was the months that was May/June 2020

  1. The sad part was by Prabda Yoon
  2. The brother by Rein Raud
  3. Restless by Kenneth Moe
  4. Mr Palomar by Italo Calvino
  5. The hour between dog and wold by Silke Scheuermann
  6. The End and again by Dino Bauk
  7. I remember by Georges Perec
  8. Obscurity by Philippe Jacottet
  9. Tazmamart by Aziz Binebine
  10. Grove by Esther Kinsky
  11. A House in Norway by Vigdis Hjorth
  12. M train by Patti Smith
  13. A long way off by Pascal Garnier
  14. Fate by Jorge Consiglio

 

I read 13 books in the last two months which saw me go from Thailand and a tale of modern Bangkok to Estonia and a revenge story. Then in Norway, a man tries to write a letter to a former love then Italy and an Italian man view the world in various ways. then sisters get to know each other than a former band from Slovenia. Then Perec from France finds a list of things he remembered. That leads on to a philosopher returning to see what has happened to his former master. Then a former Prisoner in Morroco in a top-secret prison. A widow goes to Italy and observes village life. A woman let her small apartment in Norway and then regrets it. Patti Smith talks about her life and then I read the last book published in his life by Pascal Garnier a regular on here. Then I finished in Argentina. I have visited 11 countries this last two months and passed a 1000 reviews.

Book of the month

Grove really touched me I have recently been struggling wife grief over my mums passing it was her birthday in June and the last three years since her passing have flown. I connected with the loss in this book but also the trying. to connect to place the Kinsky does so well.

Non-book things-

Well, I have listened a lot to the New Dylan Album. We have ventured a bit further than recent weeks to the peaks just parking and looking at views which given how little we have ventured out recently with all the Covoid thing.

next month-

Well its Spanish lit month that will be the main focus for July and then August. I will be starting with a leftfield choice!! what are your plans ?

11 not out Bloganiversary 11 years of winstonsdad

Well, it was actually a few days ago this blog turned 11 it has been a long journey recently I have slowed blogging wise but still am posting reviews. I hope to do more posts after this Covoid thing has passed. As for the state of the blog I feel I am settled I love doing reviews and these days mix review and personal choices more than I used. In the last eleven years, I have seen bloggers come and go and the world of blogging changes its quieter now as people use other platforms. But for me, it is still lively with those that remain like myself after a lot of years are like old friends. I maybe have less time to comment and spend less time on twitter than I once did but still love the buzz of a good week on #translationthurs hard believe that it runs its self as a meme ten years after I first suggested it. Moving forward more of the same I love it as much as I did when I started but in a more settled way than I once did. I  like to say thanks to all those Publishers, readers, bloggers, and book folk I have met through this blog or passed comment with blog-wise this blog has given me so many things I wouldn’t have done and hopefully have many new adventures in coming years.

shadow Man booker winner 2019

The official announcement of the winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize has been postponed until later in the summer, to give readers more time to get and read copies of the novels.

But our shadow jury of bloggers and reviewers of translated fiction has already completed our reading and re-reading, so it seems fitting to announce our Shadow Winner on the original date of May 19th.

As a reminder our own shortlist was, in alphabetical order of the original author’s name:

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)

We were collectively impressed with all of these books, indeed all six had their champions among us.

And three books in particular were so close in our deliberations and our voting that it was almost tempting to go one further than last year’s anglophone Booker judges.  But instead we’ve kept with one winner, but decided to acknowledge two books as Runners-Up.

Runners-Up:
The Other Name: Septology I-II
and
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

Jon Fosse’s “slow prose”, unfolding his story in one long, flowing stream that reads with great fluidity, took us deep inside his narrator Asle’s mind and thoughts. And we were caught up in the heady mixture of Persian myth, story-telling and magic realism of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, a true ode to literature and to the deeply soothing role books and stories play in our survival of trauma.

But the winner of our 2020 Shadow Jury Prize is:
Hurricane Season, written by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes and published by Fitzcarraldo Editions

Comments from some of our judges:

“Hurricane Season is an appropriate title for a novel that roars into the unsuspecting reader’s mind, with its long and winding sentences, and its refusal to flinch from the brutalities of its world.”

“There is anger, pain, and the understanding of the role literature plays when it comes to compassion and empathy.”

“As author M John Harrison said of Melchor’s novel ‘…she had shown me things I needed to be faced with.’ and expanded my understanding of lives so very different from my own.”

“It unflinchingly portrayed a world apart from us and artfully created another layer of distance from subject through the use of mythologized violence. That she both creates distance and ‘makes us look’ simultaneously was incredibly powerful for me.”

“Melchor’s prose, in Hughes’s stunning translation, is raw, brutal and so, so necessary.”

“As readers and intrepid voyagers down Melchor’s Dante-like vision, we are like riveted inmates, incarcerated either by law or by economics or gender, who stand to witness the depravity, despair and pain being inflicted upon this part of the world. The real evidence and reward here is not in unmasking the Witch’s killer or killers or in finding out why this happened, the true recompense of Melchor’s novel is to pay tribute by listening to the dead’s testimony,‘there is no treasure in there, no gold or silver or diamonds or anything more than a searing pain that refuses to go away.’“

And our congratulations extend to the publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions who provided two of our top three, and also now have two Shadow Prize wins in three years.

I would love to thank the fellow shadow Jury People for letting me join them I have dropped behind and have to review our winner but its be great to be involved again in these strange new times of ours.

Now it’s over to the official jury for their decision.

That was the month that was March 2020

 

  1. The Other Name by Jon Fosse
  2. Mac and his problems by Enrique Vila-Matas
  3. The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rilneveld
  4. Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq
  5. The enlightenment of the greengage tree by Shokoofeh Azar
  6. The Adventure of China iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara

Well, this month’s book journey was all from the Booker longlist. From Norway and two people with the same name in the same place. To an elderly Spanish writer whose work keeps ending up sound like other writers. Then a death leads to strange events and abuse in the Dutch countryside. Then a man tries to chase his dream by going to a place he was once happy. Then a daughter sees her family plight during the Iranian revolution and then we end up in Latin America with a classic of Latin American fiction being retold with a feminist and lesbian twist.

Book of the month

 

 

 

 

This month’s choice is from Jon Fosse he is often mentioned as a potential Nobel winner well this is the start for a seven-volume work this book worked around two people with the same name from the same lace but with different paths in their lives it shows how alcohol affects one’s life. Another Fitzcarraldo Gem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-book events. Well, we’ve had put our charity swim on the back burner till this coronavirus is out of the way.I had to have a week at home with a cough but thankfully that is all it was. At the start of the month, I managed to watch dark waters at the cinema, The telling of how Dupont poisoned one town over a number of years and hid it with side products from there wonder material Teflon. I enjoyed this it has a great lead role from Mark Ruffalo an underrated actor in my opinion.  I loved his understated role in the film Margaret a few years ago. Music-wise James the great Manchester underdogs had there first few albums come out in a compilation it appeared on Spotify this month the only miss was the song Sky falling which was on a tape compilation years ago I had the tape but lost it years ago but loved this song.There is a copy on you tube.

 

Then there was the second album from Porridge radio whose single sweet from the album  Every bad is a great ix of angst punk may be perfect for these angst times we are in.

The month ahead.

Well, I am behind the curve of where I want to be reading-wise we announce the shortlist for the shadow booker prize international. We will announce a week after the actual announcement. I am fighting to finish all the shortlist in time I have struggled with reading the last month with all the news and lockdown and this falling on my birthday and anniversary of my mum’s death which fell on the same day as Mother day. I knew this may be the case over the years but it was three years this year and felt hard. Just meant reading was on the back burner this month. But I will try to catch the slack from this month over the next few months. But the main target next month is to hit that 1000 books reviewed I hope to add a couple of new countries before I get there and wonder what will be my 1000th review will keep tuned !!

Previous Older Entries

January 2021
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Archives

%d bloggers like this: