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 !!

Mac and his Problems by Enrique Vila-Matas

Mac and his problems by Enrique Vila-Matas

Spanish fiction

Original title  –Mac y su contratiempo

Translators – Sophie Hughes and Margaret Jull Costa

Source – personal copy

So now on to the second post booker longlist read and it is a writer that has been featured on the blog three times before and his previous book Dublinesque won the old IFFP Shadow jury in 2013. He is a founder of the order of Finnegan named after a pub in Dublin a group of writers meets every Bloomsday to celebrate Joyce. This is another work of metafiction that works on a number of levels. This is his latest work to be translated to English.

I’m fascinated by the current vogue for posthumous book, and I ‘m thinking of writing a fake one that could appear to be “posthumous” and “unfinished” when in fact it would be perfectly complete, Were I to die during the writing process, the book really would be my “Final, interrupted work<” and that would, among other things, ruin my great dream of becoming a falsifier. Then again, a beginner must be prepared for anythingm and I am just that, a  debutant. My name is Mac

The opening lines and the diary is to serve as an entry to the book he is thinking of writing

This on the surface is the story of a man entering his retirement and deciding to write daily diary about his world and the world around him > The Man Mac has long held the idea of being a writer and since he know has a lit of time on his hands which means he finally has chance to write although his wife Carmen has a suspicion this will all amount to nothing. But mac push on as it is one of the hottest summer in Barcelona his neighbor Starts to wonder why when he gets a collection of short stories from his Neighbour Sanchez that he wrote a number of years ago these stories all to have echoes of other writers as he reads the.collection it mirrors his own life and then his life is getting repetitive the problem is to make is a well-read reader and the works all start to have a feeling of other writers and we see the real and fiction worlds blur and the writers writing blur. As mac dives further into a world of literature as the heat rises his life becomes more like a novel and his diary is having the feeling of a novel, not a diary.

A little early-evening prose. I’ve had my three customary afternoon nips and consulted the horrorscopr in my favourite newspaper. I was astonshed when I read this in the box for my sign. “For Aries, the sun in conjuction with mercury suggest brilliant intuitions that will lead you to belive this prediction and think it;s especially for you

Whoroscope! This time the prediction really did seem to be meant especially for me as if peggy day – the pseudonym of the lady responsible for the horrorscope – had some how gotten wind of my mistake last week

Here is one of the firstg example of how he reads more into things and blurs lines at times

I like this in Parts I love that Vila-Matras is always so enthused about other writers and the works he is a writer that use books and literature as a springboard for his works her it is the danger of writing a diary but having a wish to be a new writing talent but as the book unfold it. We see a man that is drowning in words and novels but as the book goes on the old stories mirror his present and his diary is in the trouble of drowning into a void of fiction as his life cross from the real to the fictional. I felt this was a great idea for a book the references to those great writers the book feels like an idea too far if you know what I mean it has so many twists and turns it isn’t just as snappy as some of his other books which I have loved but I may come back at some time reread it and read a lot of the books and writers that the tales are meant to be like to maybe grasp more of the story. An interesting idea that maybe could be revisited at some point. What did you think of this one ?

Man Booker international 2020 predictions

Well, it is that time of year and I look into the looking glass of books I have read and books I may have heard of as I pick my twelve books to make the Man Booker shortlist 2020. I always will stick to my own taste in books as I make this list. rather than what will make the list but it shows my taste.

Red Dog by Willem Anker trans Michiel Heyns

I read this last year it is a true tale of the life of Coenraad de Buys a real-life character that was an advisor to Xhosa chief and also friends to the missionary Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp. This is a story of a man that saw his father die when he was eight years old leaving him very little. He sets forth and the boy grows into a man. He is a trekker and man of the veldt. He spends time with his wives and various mix of children from his three wives over the years. There are little passages that show his world growing. His life is epically told not since I read Peter Carey’s true history of the Kelly Gang has a book captured a violet on edge world so well.

Loop by Brenda Lozano trans Annie McDermott

Over the last few years, Charco has been opening the doors to Latin American fiction with inventive and different books . Here is an example of a book that goes nowhere but is everywhere a woman awaiting the man her mind wanders here and there. The loop is a collection of snippets I was reminded of the first time I read Sebald in this book it is full of different references and ideas an interesting and different read.

Faces on the tip of my tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano trans

Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis

So we have thirteen tales in this collection. It seems to want to capture the loneliness oddness and quirky nature of the French countryside. Here it opens with a narrator talking about a lake cycling to it this lake in the middle of the nowhere I was reminded of the lake well old quarry that was filled with water near where I grew up, then we meet the local loony as they say I was reminded of a chap the guy in the story had lost his family the guy. this captures the quirky countryside that is is in France here but could easily be in the dales, Cumbria or Northumbria.

 

Love by Hanne Ørstavik trans  Martin Aitken

Love is maybe a strange title for this book as it is about love but maybe the distance in love. The story is about a mother and son. The two the Mother Vibeke has moved her and her Son Jon too a distant village as she has taken a new job as an Arts officer. A lot of her story is about what she likes books trying to find articles that have been talked about at work. There is a sense as the narrative jumps between the two of them that there is a distance in the relationship it is a matter of months since they moved there. I read this a while ago as the US edition from Archipelago came out a couple of years ago.

 

 

 

Under pressure by Faruk Šehić trans  Mirza Puric

This book is made up of a number of stories in different styles of writing they have fragmented that capture what is the story of the fifth army as they fight and also in those downtimes in the war in the Krajina area where 200000 people were forced from there homes. We have an intro that uses the river Una The smell of the river and the birds on the river. Faruk used a working-class voice in places this book is a testament to the men he fought with and is maybe one of the best works about the Balkan conflict to come out.

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann trans Ross Benjamin

The first I haven’t reviewed but I have two-thirds read this book as I decide to read a few longer books partway through to review if they made list straight off. So this is based on a mythical jester figure from German Folklore we follow his life but it has many echos to the modern world.

Eight life by Nino Haratsichwili trans Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin

another part read for me is a sweeping epic that covers the 20th century from a Georgian family point of view from all over Europe it shows the century in one family’s tales. I hope it makes the actual list it has been a while since a real epic novel made the list that was Nadas’s parallel stories this is another book that captures that communist and post-communist worlds very well.

 

 

 

 

Snow, Dog, Foot by Claudio Morandini J Ockenden

This is one of those novels that when I started seemed to be one thing. It centers on one character Adekmo Farandola he is a hermit that has lived most of his life in the high Alps by himself. He only heads down occasionally to the local village and over the years he is going less and less this adds to a sense that something is odd about Adelmo. He loves the village band but is more hesitant than the previous visit this time as he gets closer to the village. He returns home but still feels the new mountain ranger is watching him at a distance. Peirene turns ten and this is the first of this year’s new books a gripping twisting Italian tale of a talking dog a hermit and a long-dead foot.

Billiards at the hotel Dobray by Dušan Šarotar trans

Rawley Grau

The Hotel Dobray of the title was one of those imposing Hotels that many small cities and places have around Europe. This is settled in the town of Sobota which is in the northeastern corner of Slovenian between three countries it was occupied in the war by the Germans they left the Hungarians in charge of the town. The story is told from one man’s story which in a way is a wider story of the town. I loved this the first book from Slovenia to deal with the Holocaust and yet again proved why I love Istros books so much.

Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen trans Matt Bagguley

The full title of the book is Termin An inquiry into the violence in Norway. The book is only 80 pages but what we see in the aftermath of a violent attack on one mans life. Kjetil Tuestad was a normal man working in the Stavanger shipyard as an electrician. He had married his wife Ann and they had decided to settle down in the small village of Hommersak a place that was growing as the oil boom was in full swing at the time. that was all in 1998 and in Midsummer night he was found beaten on the outskirts of the town. The actual injuries are listed three fractures to the jaw his teeth completely bent the wrong way. This is what I love about the world of books in translation. Here is a short novel that hits you around the head as we see the aftereffect of a violent attack on one man and his life.

The Memory police by Yoko Ogawa trans Stephen Snyder

I haven’t read or got this one but it is one I have intended to get at some point as I have loved her other books and I feel she is a great writer and one that could be on the real longlist.

The Fallen by Carlos Manuel Alvarez trans Frank Wynne

I have read this through once and will be reviewing it next week it is set in modern Cuba and shows a family unit that is barely holding together and what has brought them to this point it tells the story from every member of the family’s point of view.

There we are I could include a couple of more Fitzcarraldo and a couple of Maclehose books as well but they could be on the list when it comes out in the week. What are your thoughts? I will be reviewing the longlist as part of the shadow jury as I decided to rejoin the jury after a couple years away from it.

Happening by Annie ernaux

Happening by Annie Ernaux

French memoir

original title – L’événement

Translator – Tanya Leslie

Source – review copy

I have reviewed two Annie Enraux books before on the blog the first A women’s story and then The years both of which I really enjoyed she has a real talent for bringing her own life and events pop off the page. She has been writing mainly books around her won life since the 1970’s she has won numerous prizes for her books. Although this is a shorter work and is based in 1963 the year she had an abortion this was written a number of years later. It still has the same descriptive and insightful view into her world.

I wasn’t the least bit apprehensive about getting an abortion. It seemed a highly feasible undertaking, admittedly not an easy one, but one that did not require undue courage. A minor ordeal. All I needed to do was ffollow in the footsteps of the mryiad women who had preceded me.Since my early teens I had gleaned many stories of abrotions, taken from novels or inspired by local gossip through hushed conversations. I had acquired some vague idea of the methods yo use – a knitting needle, parsley stalks, injections of soapy water or violent horse rides – The ideal solution being to find a quack doctor or a back street abortionist; both chargfe extremely high fees although I had no idea ow much. The previous year, a young divorcee had told me that a doctor from Strasborg had rid her of a child, sparing me the details except that “It was so painful I was clinging to the bathroom sink” I too was prepared to cling to the sink, I didn’t think it might Kill me.

She knew a bit but not the horrors that could happen as it is just whispered in the background of society.

This is one of those books that needed to write and read as it shows the importance of choice to women. Written a number of years after the events she recalls what happened to her in the early sixties. She is the daughter of a working-class religious family just starting to taste the freedom of the early days of her university career and the summer before. She has an early encounter with a man just called P in the text he was studying political science she had met in the summer holidays in Bordeaux this was her first sexual encounter. Her memories of the time are of seeing the film the rape of Sabine women and her saying it had come to mean one thing. I was there and I didn’t know I was becoming pregnant. When this occurs she must find one of those back streets abortionists as with the Uk Abortion was banned in France until 1975 with the Veil laws. So she finds out the details of one of these women but is it the right thing to do ? Does she know what she was doing? This is all brought about in the present as another casual account many years later had lead Annie to have a test for HIV.

I can’t remember how long it took her to insert the probe. I was crying.It had stopped hurting, now I just felt a wieght in my stomach. She saidthat it was all over, that U was not too touch it. She had stuffed a large was of cotton wool between my thighs in case the waters broke. I could walk and go to the bathroom normally, It would come away in a couple of days; If I didn’t I was to call her. We both drank coffe in the kitchen. She too was glad it was over. I don’t recall handing over the money

The actual event described by Annie as sehe recalls it many years later.

This is a wonderfully written piece about what must have been a harrowing decision to make at just 23 new to the world and also maybe a touch Naive as she hasn’t had much of sexual awakening as yes this is the sixties before the swinging part of it. This is a society far different from today’s this is a world of clandestine whispers about who to see and then find the women in question this has been covered in fil and tv in recent years from Mike Leighs Vera drake and on Tv where one of the Midwives grandmother is a back street abortionist both show how dark and clandestine this world was here and in France. Both also showed how dangerous it was to have an abortion before the laws changed. This shows the effect on one young woman now and back then. Another gem from this french writer that needs to be read it can easily be read in an evening as it is only 77 pages long.

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.

my reading goals for 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been busy most of Christmas I was lucky to have three days off Xmas Eve to Boxing day. It has given me time with Family my in-laws and there two latest foster kids came Christmas day and Boxing day I traveled to spend it with my dad which was a long day with a hold upon the drive back. I then did two long days work and time has caught up with me I return for two twelve hours shifts tomorrow and new years day. So I will be posting my books of the year after the new year and my first new review in the new year. Anyway, I have never been one for reading goals but as for a second year, I have just missed the 100 reviews in a year I need some motivation.

My first goal is to get to a 1000 reviews on the blog that will be 30 books time I have given myself a deadline of my birthday in the middle of march to get there. I feel this total has loomed in fact in a way that has made me worry about getting there. I felt it would be a let down after that this goal had been reached.

100 reviews in a year this has been my goal for the last few years I have reviewed more than a hundred in other years but since I changed job I struggle to get a good blogging routine in place. I have let my routine slip this last few months after doing thirty posts in a month which I got a routine in place doing the post in advance. I need to be more of a planner in regards to the blog.

I saw that Tony messenger is doing this and it grabbed me as an on running idea and the is reading books from 1980 as it is 40 years since then. I feel this is one I could run with for the next ten years and those early years of me reading novels. There is a couple great books turning 40 years Midnight’s children and in the name of the rose to name two I hope to get half dozen through the year.

Booker international Bingo I hope I get lost of people to join in on this fun twist on shadow jury by getting more bing lines and calls for reading more books. I had planned to read this year’s longlist like last year and wonder what will make the list.

Hopes I hope to add a few more Arabic and African books this year than the last few years.

It has been fun 2019 and I have read a lot of exciting books many thanks for following me over the last year. I hope to bring you more reviews and fun ideas in the coming year. What are your reading plans for the coming year?

Lives and Deaths essential stories by Leo Tolstoy

Lives and Deaths essential stories by Leo Tolstoy

Russian Fiction

Translator – Boris Dralyuk

Source – review copy

It has been 8 years since I read the new translation of War and Peace by Tolstoy so when I was offered the chance to review a collection of stories by the master that revolved around life and death. I couldn’t say no when I was offered the chance to read these for new translations from Boris Dralyuk. The stories are mainly from later in his writing life the earliest is from 1859 the latest is from 1905. The main story in the collection is the Death of Ivan Ilyich a novella the pother three stories in the collection are Three deaths, pace-setter, and Alyosha the pot. all center around death.

The announcement was bordered in  black ” It is with deepest sorrow that Praskoyva FyodofovnaGolovina informs relatives and friends of the demise of her beloved spouse, Member of the appellate court Ivan Ilyich Golovin, which occured on 4TH Febuary 1882. The funeral will be held on friday at one o’clock in the afternoon”

Ivan Ilyich had been a collgue of the assembled gentlemen, well liked by all of them. He had been ill for several weeks; they had heard the illness was incurable.His position had been kept open, but itwas assumed that, in the event of his death, Alekseyev would be appointed to replace him.

The opening of Ivan Ilyich that sees him=s death notice and we then see what haopened in the weeks before.

Well,  the main part of this collection is the Death of Ivan Ilyich. Ivan is a Judge and has a settled life the story opens with people reading a notice of his death but then we see the events that lead to his death. He has just moved into a new house when he has a fall and gets pain on his left side, Then he starts to have a bad taste in his mouth as he gets worse one of his friends Peter sees his friend is getting worse. His wife Praskovya is well to put it one way more of a lady who lunches and has her own life and is only trouble when Ivan’s illness affects their activities together. Ivan questions after he gets the word from the doctor that he is going to die why it is happening to him. We have the three deaths of a noblewoman a lady is traveling on a coach and at the posting station is seen by a doctor who says she won’t make it home but she wants to be home to die. Uncle Hvedor an old coachman is dying in the common room of the posting station. we have a tree dying as the third death. The Pacesetter is set in a stable and told from the point of view of the horses in the yard. Then the last story Alyosha the pot about a quiet young man called the pot after he broke a pot when he was a youth and is a meek soul.

Alyosha was the younger brother. They nicknamed him Pot because one day his mother sent him to the deacon’s wife with a pot of milk, but he stumbled and fell, and the pot broke. His mother gave him a whipping and the boys teased hom, called him “Pot” .The nickname stuck – Alyosha the Pot

Alyosha was a thin little felow, with lop-ears (His ears were like wings), with a big nose. The boys used to teasehim, shouting “Alyosha’s nose is like a dog on a hill” There was a school in the village, but Alyosha didn’t have much time for it

THe youg mannamed pot is a meek young man in his lfe.

I hadn’t read Ivan Ilyich before so was pleased to have read this new translation from a Judge that in many ways his life with a wife that is caught up in her own world and a man that has maybe been to up himself that hadn’t seen his impending death coming it brings up the question of what our lives are valued for and even we think we may be entitled to live longer that is not always the collection the other stories show three different deaths from the highest and lowest of society to that of a tree. Then we have the goings-on of a  stable told from the horse point of view his imagining of their social world is interesting then the quiet Alyosha life is summed up in a mere ten -pages. The stories show how he viewed death change from the earliest story three deaths which were written nearly thirty years earlier than the other works the later maybe shows how when we get to view death differently the older we get.

The Rebels by Sándor Márai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rebels by Sándor Márai

Hungarian fiction

original title – A zendülők

Translator  – George Szirtes

Source – personal copy

When I was looking at the list of writers and books published in 1930 I saw this and remember I had it on my Shelves, in fact, I had read embers before I started blogging which is Sándor Márai is his better-known novel in English, I brought this to read this was his first novel. He was born into a Nobel Hungarian family. He traveled growing up spending time in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Paris. He did consider writing in German but chose to write in his native Hungarian. He wrote more than fifty books in his lifetime he has only had a fraction of his works translated into English.

For ther years Abel sat in the middle of the third row from the door. Erno was stationed behind him, Tibor to his right in the front row. That’s how they spent three years . One day at the beginning of the fourth year ABel was staring blankly ahead, bored with physics, slowly surveying the rows of other desks when his gaze settled on Tibor who had his head in his hands oblivous to evrything, absorbed, reading a book under the table. It wasn’t that Abel was particularly taken by the sight, nor was he the subject of some miraculous instantaneous illumination.

The boys at school and the gazes between them.

The rebels is set in a small Hungarian town that given that it is May 1918 is empty of male role models as we meet four boys that are just about to Graduate from School. Of course, this means that they may have to join the other missing males of the town at the front. There father range from a religious Zealot to a Colonel that expects his boy to do his duty. So these four Abel, Tibor, Bela and Erno decide they aren’t following there-fathers and brother that have gone to the front. They buy cloth to make a costume to wear and they rent a room to hideaway in. This club is their way of growing up as they try to be adult in there costumes and parading in front of one and other. There is a feeling of homoeroticism the same feeling you get in the novels of a writer like E M Forester, in fact, the growing relationship between the boys and the background of war remind me of the homoerotic undercurrent in J L Carr A month in the country as the bodies return and the try to set it aside in the club world this was like the working on the church and trying to forget the horrors of world war for the two characters in A month in the country.

The boys – this gang – in whose midst he suddenly happened to find himself, who seemed to have materialized around him, were not entirely what he would have chosen. He never dared to confess this to anyone. He was ready to sacrifice his life to the gang because the gang would have sacfificed theirs for him.The military ethos of his father had somehow percolated through to him and excerted a certain inluence. All for one and one for all.That “one” was Tibor.

There is an echo of three musketeers here with the all for one one for all !

This is an early book from this writer but he has so many more books to be translated into English. He had spent time in London in the twenties so I imagine he would read Foresters books maybe even have been aware of forester there is the same feeling of homoeroticism that he has in some of his works the sort of male friendship that all-male school or university get. He also captures the fear of the war on the youth of the day 1918 as the bodies come home the time has ticked as this is May and the have the club but then someone appears that could end the boy’s plans of being in their own world. It’s about rebelling against the expectations of society the fear of war also about discovering one’s self. an interesting second choice for the 1930 club! have you read this book?

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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