That was the month that was Jan 2019

  1. My name is Adam by Elias Khoury
  2. The wicked go to hell by Frédéric Dard
  3. Among the lost by Emiliano Monge
  4. The sound of waves by Yukio Mishima
  5. Katalin Street by Magda Szabo
  6. The last summer by Boris Pasternak
  7. Sometimes I lie and sometimes I don’t by Nadja Spiegel
  8. Soviet milk by Nora Ikstena
  9. A long night in Paris by Dov Alfon

So I managed 9 books under review this month nine countries including one new one country in  Latvia. No new presses this month. My reading started in New York and then Palestine. I then took a few nights in a French prison with an undercover cop and a spy put who was who. Then I joined some Mexican people smugglers that live in hell like world then romance in Japan. WOrld war two and one in the next two novel one about the falling out of the Nazis and the second world war on a single street in Budapest and then a man goes to his sister and remembers the last summer before world war One. Then female stories from Austria. Then Last years Peirene about a woman and her daughter getting by in a small rural time in exile in their own country. Then a modern thriller in Paris from a former special service and editor of a national paper.

Book of the month

Katalin Street

Katalin street by Magda Szabo something about the voice of the characters and the way it showed the effect of the war on one small piece of the world and the three families that were once so close end up all over the place living and Dead. The children show the world in the eyes and their friends as there positions change through the years.

The month itself-

I’ve decided to give a monthly recap of small life events and other things not book related. This month well today was my first day of driving in real frosty conditions I still nervous for the first snow drive. I also managed my first motorway drive when I visited my father the other side of Birmingham and had a good hour and a half on the motorway.  I’ve been driving two months and have done 1600 miles in my little silver car. The month saw a return of a couple of old tv  series on to tv. The first Sliders a sci-fi series that saw four characters travel to parallel earth this is similar to other shows like Quantum leap which came before this show saw someone  travel in their own life in this show the premise was what if things like the wild west lived on or the Soviets took over or you were a star. Then the other another retro show Rumpole of the Bailey were we see Leo McKern as the Poetry quoting a fan of the Q edition of the Oxford book of English verse a picture of a world maybe gone now. He plays the down at heel barrister hero of the underdog and working criminals. McKern playing of him is like Bretts Holmes Suchet Poirot or Guinness Smiley one of those actors that defined the character making it hard for anyone else to play him. Although there is a new series on the radio has a new Rumpole in the form of  Benedict Cumberbatch . Now a snippet of Music and I have been listening to a lot of the go-betweens a later comer to them I saw a great documentary on Sky the other day that follows the history of the band over the years to the sad loss of one of the two lead singers.

What has your month been like?

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Among the lost by Emiliano Monge

 

Among the lost by Emiliano Monge

Mexican fiction

Original title – Las Tierras arrasadas

Translator – Frank Wynne

Source – review copy

Some of the best books I have read in recent years have been from Mexican writers they seemed to have been an explosion of great writers from the from Yuri Herrea, Valeria Luiselli and Guadalupe Nettel. So when I got chance to read another rising star of Mexican fiction Emiliano Monge is a political scientist journalist and writer. His works have featured in the 25 best-kept secrets of Latin American literature and Mexico twenty this is the second of his books to be translated into English Arid sky was translated by restless books. But this has been translated by Frank Wynne which I have long been a fan of his translations.

After a brief silence, Epitafio brings his left hand to his pocketand, as he takes a was of banknotes to give to the boys, he feels a pressure in his bladder. I’m pissing myself,he thinks, handing over the money, then, unbucklinghis belt, he adds; how about we say same place, next thursday? Fine, we’ll be here, promises the older of the two boys, who dragging the younger boy by hand, heads back into the jungle.

As his body empties, Epitafio watches how the two boys hop overa root and how they pull back the curtain of liana.But he does not see the two disappear beyond the wall that separates the clearing from the jungle, because at that moment the petrol genartor belches again and he looks anxiu=ously at the old truck: Fucking hell …I’ll have to wake her up.

His first times in the jungle he is nervous Epitafio

 

 

 

This is a love story in the middle of the hell that is the world of being trafficked through Mexican jungle. Although it is described more of Dante like a trip through hell. The two main characters Estela and Epitafio are the lovers that grew up in a lonely orphanage became lovers then the world tore them apart on too two sides as we see their worlds of brutal trafficking of kids and adults where life can be swift and brutal and for the woman here harrowing. We see there lives as they often have no names just a jumble of words stuck together as a description of them like Estella who is called shewhoadoresepitafo . He Epitafo forced by the head of the gang into a marriage, not to Estella has a wife and son constantly tries to get in touch with Estella but in this hinterland of Mexico his mobile phone rarely works and the vehicles he uses are broken and old so he catches glimpses and seconds with his old lover. Will, they ever escape the hamster wheel of hell that is their lives to be together again.

Two metres from IHearonlywhatiwant, in a nest build unto the rock face, two hatchlings cheep and the sound attracts the attention of this woman, who, on seeing the nest, shifts her thoughts to another person, thinks for a moment about Cementeria: back in El Paraiso, they were responsible for feeding the chickens.

turning back from the sheer drop, estela stares at the fledglings and once again wonders what happened to Cementreria ,where she was all that time she was missing, and why the hell she tookher own life. But her minds quickly accepts that now is not time to think about such things, and her friends suicide is once again replaced by thpoughts of Epitafio: Fucking hell …I didn’t even respond to your message!

I bet you’re pissed off

A brutual world weere they lose friends but estela still after all thinks of her man !!

This book uses the divine comedy as a sort of companion to describe the hellish world the two lead characters find themselves in this is shown by the frequent Dante quotes through the book. I also read he is a Joyce fan as he is one of a group of this is shown to me in the Names of some of the characters which in a way echo Joyce’s way of combining words in Finnegans Wake. This is a grim world that hasn’t been shown through rose colour glasses this is a brutal world where the migrants are the currency for those taking them to the north and the end of the journey for that get to the end that is or those that like Estella and Epitafio are born into this world and never really have a chance to escape this world. A powerful view of his home country wonderfully translated by Frank who has a great intro around names and words used in the novel.

Happy Christmas from all at Winstonsdad

 

I want to wish you all A Happy Christmas from Me Stu. I enclose a pic of all the ways to say it around Europe and wish we get to stay with our European friends next year and the Brexit fails.

That was the month that was October 2018

  1. A school for fools by Sasha Sokolov
  2. Midnight in the century by Victor Serge
  3. Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte
  4. The Dwarf by Par lagerkvist
  5. Inspector Cadaver by Georges Simenon
  6. Tropic of Violence by Nathacha Appanah
  7. Cult X by Fuminori Makamura
  8. A vision of Battlements by Anthony Burgess

This month saw me reviewing 8 books on the blog from seven countries one new press the Manchester university press with the Irwell editions imprint for the Anthony Burgess reissues they are doing for his rarer books. I managed to take part in both the NYRB fortnight and 1944 club last month even a crossover with Kapputt. My journey this month took two stops in Russia with a surreal novel around a school and another about being exiled in Stalins russia then an insider’s view behind the Nazi regime. Then a Swedish novel in Medieval Italy about a dwarf pulling the strings of those around him. Then to a distant french island and a son looking for his real mother after that we followed a boyfriend trying to find his girlfriend in a cult then we ended up with the first reprint of what was Anthony Burgess first novel he wrote which had been out of print for forty years. A good month.

Book of the month-

A Vision of Battlements

A Vision of Battlements By Anthony Burgess is my book of the month I think this is the first time for a while I’ve not picked a translation but in Richard Ennis Burgess has a great anti Hero and the duller side of world war two stuck on Gibraltar with drunk troops and a major that has delusions  of grandeur just a great book that shouldn’t have been out of print for so long from one of the great British writers.

Next month-

I hope to take part in German lit month but maybe not as much as previous years I have a few review books to read but the new Murakami and Marias I have out from library need to be read this month.

Anthea Bell RIP

Anthea Bell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today the translation community got the sad news that one of the best-known Translators of the last fifty years had passed away. Anthea Bell is a name readily known too. She had translated a lot of the books I read pre-blog so was a translator. She was best known for her work on the Asterix series. She said in an interview “It’s all about finding the tone of voice in the original. You have to be quite Free”. Klaus Flugge said of Anthea -” Anthea has a talent that not every translator has for catching the mood of a book. Some are a bit more wooden and some try to take too many liberties. She has a knack of hitting the right style and atmosphere,” I was a huge fan of she had featured in a dozen review of her translations over that last eight years of the blog. I had picked my three favorites from the blog.

A minutes silence by Siegfried Lenz – One of the Gruppe 47 writers that post-war set alight German Literature. This is the tale of a doomed romance between a teacher and Pupil.

The glory of life by Michael  Kumpfmüller – The book tells the story of Kafka’s final days as he falls for a younger woman first on the Baltic coast then through Berlin.

Journey into the Past by Stefan Zweig – the tale of Ludwig and his love for a married woman was a novella that Zweig worked on for y=twweig translations were simply stunning works of translation. I also enjoyed here Sebald Translation.

Have you a favorite Bell translation?

Warwick women in translation prize Longlist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it is the second year of the Warwick women in translation prize

 

The 2018 prize is once again being judged by Amanda Hopkinson, Boyd Tonkin and Susan Bassnett. Last year the inaugural prize was awarded to Memoirs of a Polar Bear (Portobello Books, 2017), written by Japanese-German writer Yoko Tawada and translated from German by Susan Bernofsky.

 

The competition received a total of 53 eligible entries representing 22 languages. The longlisted titles include 9 novels, 3 collections of short stories, 2 memoirs and one work of literary non-fiction, and cover 9 languages, with German, Polish, Croatian and Swedish being the most represented. 10 publishers have had their titles included on the list, with Maclehose Press, Portobello Books, Fitzcarraldo Editions and Norvik Press submitting multiple nominees.

I have linked to my reviews of books I have read great see so many books I have enjoyed I have read over half the list and may try a coule of the books I havent read yet which books Have you read

The full list of longlisted titles is as follows:

 

Bang by Dorrit Willumsen, translated from Danish by Marina Allemano (Norvik Press, 2017)

 

Belladonna by Daša Drndić, translated from Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth (Maclehose Press, 2017)

 

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017)

 

Go Went Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from German by Susan Bernofksy (Portobello Books, 2017)

 

Hair Everywhere by Tea Tulić, translated from Croatian by Coral Petkovich (Istros Books, 2017)

 

Land of Smoke by Sara Gallardo, translated from Spanish by Jessica Sequeira (Pushkin Press, 2018)

 

Letti Park by Judith Hermann, translated from German by Margot Bettauer Dembo (The Clerkenwell Press, 2018)

 

Maybe Esther by Katja Petrowskaja, translated from German by Shelley Frisch (4th Estate, 2018)

 

1947 by Elisabeth Åsbrink, translated from Swedish by Fiona Graham (Scribe Publications, 2017)

 

Of Dogs and Walls by Yuko Tsushima, translated from Japanese by Geraldine Harcourt (Penguin, 2018)

 

River by Esther Kinsky, translated from German by Iain Galbraith (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2018)

 

The Emperor of Portugalia by Selma Lagerlöf, translated from Swedish by Peter Graves (Norvik Press, 2017)

 

The House with the Stained-Glass Window by Żanna Słoniowska, translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Maclehose Press, 2017)

 

The White Book by Han Kang, translated from Korean by Deborah Smith (Portobello Books, 2017)

 

Vernon Subutex One by Virginie Despentes, translated from French by Frank Wynne (Maclehose Press, 2017)

 

that was the month that was Sept 2018

books read –

  1. in every wave by Charles Quimper
  2. Endless blue sky by Lee Hyoseok
  3. Lost Empress by Sergio De La Pava
  4. Drive your Plow over the bones of the dead by Olga Tokarczuk
  5. Explosions by Mathieu Poulin
  6. Eleven Prague Corpses by Krill Kobrin
  7. Everyday life by Lydie Salvayre
  8. The dog by Kerstin Ekman

I managed to review a number of books from seven countries and from all around the world. I traveled from a man struggling with the passing of his daughter then to Korea and  Manchuria in the pre-war years. A dazzling novel of modern America and two people at different ends of modern America. People turn up dead in a valley in a distant area of Poland. Then we imagined that Michael Bay is actually a visionary and challenging filmmaker with themes behind his films. Then an expat Russian in Prague solves a number of deaths in the city. A city he isn’t a fan of either. Then a secretary sees a new arrival as her enemy or is it more than that is she losing her mind !! Then a feral dog grows from a pup to an adult away from man but is slowly drawn back by one man and his old grey dog.No new publishers but a real selection of styles of writing and types of fiction from short Borges stories through Poetic prose of suffering and then the chaos of modern America caught on the page through various forms of writing.

Book of the month- In every wave by Charles Quimper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This short but powerful book has a man trying to capture what happened when his daughter drowned. His marriage then falls apart and he only feels at home and near her on his sailboat as he tries to relive that day to see if it could have ended differently.This is one of the most touching books of recent years.

Discovery of the month-

My non-book discovery is the Sky arts series treasures of the British Library where a number of Stars four so far have visited the library. They get to choose six items that relate or have inspired them from people they admire or events they what to visit and the library have found piece connect to them. Like Nicola Benedetti when she gets to touch Beethovens tuning fork an item that has been touch by many great figures in classical music.A series that show the power of Libraries and preserving the past.

Next month-

I  am struggling with life at the moment so have found reading hard the last week or so but I am planning to read a couple of NYRB books for Lizzy Siddal’s  NYRB book fortnight. Then a couple for German Lit month. I have the Latest Javier Marias on order from the Library and have a few old Dalkey books to read. I just want to get my general Mojo back and my reading back to normal.

 

What is up

Just a little overwhelmed with reviews sorry

I’m back Where to go now oh and a few new books !!

I am returning to reviewing tomorrow after nearly three weeks away, I’m rested up but also thinking of what my blog means to me. It has open so many doors over the years that I wouldn’t have opened without this blog. I have met so many people. That I had in a way become lazy about what I wanted and that is to make this the place for translated fiction and this means I have to maybe be more critical when I am reviewing books. I was listening to an open book about Literary criticism  . It made me think yes I love Translated fiction and in a way, for many years I have been the cheerleader for this cause. But after nearly 800 books I feel I need to guide and let people know more of what I think of books I had started this in small ways recently with a Llosa review that I was a little less cheerleader and more objective as I felt readers be better with other books by him to read first! I view this blog and my position as a gatekeeper of translated books but also translators and the publishers the whole team that gets the books out there. I have my own goals for the blog the first is the 1000 review mark.Also, the 100 German books mark to reach and of course the hunt for new countries and publishers is an ongoing quest. For me this is my hobby and passion a way to get cnnect to fellow lovers of translated fiction and spreading the love for world literature. I hope to spread the love but also be a beacon to the new readers by guiding them to what to read. I needed a break after nine years just put the blog in standby and stick the charger on well it charged quicker than expect and with an Epic autumn due of long books. Including the Jan Brandt Against the world a novel that references german from the 70’s to the present day.  I got today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which arrived with French Poets Philippe Jacottet Obscurity his only novel. Tip Marugg a Curacao writer a book that sees a man watching the day dawning and uses a magic realism style. Werner Kofer an Austrian writer compared to Bernhard for his use of Satire. Noemi Jaffe memoir follows the journey she took with her daughter to Auschwitz following in her mother footsteps.

The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato

The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato

Argentian fiction

Original title –El túnel

Translator – Margaret Sayers Peden

Source – personal copy

I was kindly sent this a few years ago by Annabelle of the blog Annabookbel here review is here . I had left this on my shelves to long Sabato is a writer I had wanted to try for a while, I ‘m always wanting to find older writers from the countries I have a lot of reviews for to add depth to the reviews so everything isn’t shiny and new and I could add depth. Sabato is a little like the well known English novelist as he was both a scientist and a writer the two cultures as Snow called them. He had a PHd in physics but at the same time he was talking in the evening to Surrealist writers and starting his own writing life. This was his debut novel and was considered a fine example of Existentialism at the time it was written has got good reviews from Camus.

In the annual spring art show I had exhibited a painting entitled Motherhood. It was painted in the style typical of many of my earlier works: as the critics say in their unbearable jargon, it was solid, soundly architectural. In short, it has all the qualties those charlatans always saw in my canvases, including a “profoundly cerbal je ne sais quoi.” In the upper left-hand corner of the canvas  was a remote cene framed in a tiny window : an empty beach and a solitary woman staring at the sea. She was starring into the distance as if expecting something, perhaps some faintand faraway summons. In my mind that scene suggested the most wistful and absolute loneliness.

The detail Maria saw in his painting Motherhood that lead him to follow her.

 

The book is the story of a Painter Juan Pablo Castel he is now writing his account of what lead him to Murder. The woman he killed Maria Irbane he became obsessed with. The story starts when he has an Exhibition and finds a woman looking closely at what is one of his favorite paintings “Motherhood” it’s not the fact she is looking at the picture but at one detail he put in the painting that he felt no one would notice but she had. So when she leaves the exhibition he decides on impulse to follow her. This leads him to meet her as he finds where she works and then engineers a meeting. But there is more to Maria than first meets his eye, he figured here for a single woman, in fact, he discovers her husband but also the fact she has kept her own surname and this sends Juan in a paranoid downward cycle. As the ideal image he had of this woman and the real person fall further apart he gets stuck in a tunnel that leads to the events that meant he had to kill her.

Again she stared at me as if studying me, but said nothing.She fixed her eyes on a distant tree

In Profile, she did not remind me of anything. Her face was beautiful, but there was something hard in her expression,Her hair was long and chestnut coloured. Physically, she seemed not much more than twenty-six, but there was something about her that suggest age, something reminicant of a person who had lived a long tim. Not a gray heir or any physical indication but something underfined, surely spiritual.It may have been her expression, but how physical can an expression be ?

Early on in the relationship he spots something not sure what but something in Maria.

This is a classic story of obsession one mans dream view of a woman is shattered. Juan Pablo Castel reminded me of a lot of character I have read in other books that seem stuck on a slippery slope. Blaugast the character fro the Leppin Novel that falls into a world of sex and depravity like Castel is on the path to disaster. Both the main characters in this book are people you wouldn’t like in real life Maria is never fully honest with Juan and is maybe in a perverse marriage. I also wonder if there is more to Catel story we may have clues like the detail in the picture of Motherhood. Had he mother issues and the detail was there to find someone like his mother as they would only notice that detail? There is a real sense of the clinical world Sabato was used to there is a clipped nature to the prose an observant feel to the prose more non-fiction at times than fiction.

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