Shadow Booker International winner 2020

Later today we see the acgtual Booker international winner announced as with other years we too the longlist this time we didn’t call any books in that had missed the list. We then voted and discussed for the first time via Zoom which gave a new dimenson to the discussion and finally met some of my fellow judges face to face for the te first time.We then voted from the shortlist of

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

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

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

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

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

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

A journey that had taken use from World war one and a revenge story told from a fresh perspective. Then a collection of vignettes and stories about science and the world around us. Then a spaceship crew human and android talk and in the end question what made us Human. Then a woman shift through her aunt’s flat but as she does build a picture of Russia through her family in the 20th century. Then a cel,lo player sees what might have been his life if he hadn’t chosen a different path in his life. The our winner –

we choose as our  winner –

Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (Fitzcarraldo Editions) TRanslated by Elizabeth Jaquette

A book that missed the actual shortlist but was a shadow jury favourite and actually one of the clearest winners we have had also the fourth book in five years from Fitzcarraldo which shows the strength of their list. A book that shows the horrors of war but also how a devastating event a woman getting attacked and rape is, in the end, a small footnote in history as we see someone from the present looking for the story of the attack which made up the first part of the novel. The book demonstrates what I love in translated fiction a look into history on a personal level and also an insight into a conflict that of the Palestine that is still occurring to this day from both sides that show the horror and lasting impact on those involved.

What has been your favorite from this years list ?

That was the month that was May 2021

  1. The Man from Archangel by Georges Simenon
  2. Meeting in Positano by Goliarda Sapienza
  3. Love in five acts by Daniela Krien
  4. Elegy for Joseph Cornell by Maria Negroni
  5. The door was open by Karine Khodikyan
  6. You’re not dying by Kathrin Schmidt
  7. Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahir

This month I started in Belgium with a story of a man that becomes an outcast in his town. Then a friendship on the Amalfi coast unfolds over the decades in a lost Italian classic.. Then a novel about five women that are all connected but also their lives reflects modern life in many ways. Then a work that has pieces glimpses of the artist Joesph Cornell a man famous for his boxes. Then we move to Armenia a collection of spooky and dark tales of women living and sometimes dead. Then a lost German Book Prize winner about a woman rebuilding her life bit by bit. Then a writer writing in a new language for the first time a life of a woman looking in on a world that she has opted out of. There was one new publisher Naked Eye and no new countries this year I am still on course for a 100 books read and reviewed this year !

Book of the month

I liked the way this book unfolded it was an interesting insight into recovery not just the body but of who we are in ourselves. Helene’s journey is like the writer herself who recovered from a stroke.

Non-book events

I watch the old Kelly Reichardt fil Old Joy two friends head to a hot spring in a slow-moving film about friendship and life that starred William Oldham. This is before I get to watch her latest First cow which is meant to be a real gem. Elsewhere there has been a lot of Dylan pieces on tv and radio as he has turned 80 this month I enjoyed a  radio play dinner with Dylan that had Richard Curtis and his two friends plus the late arrival of the actress Ellen Atikens who Richard had double booked. as his friends having their monthly  Bob meeting but this time he was meant to come a lot of talk about the man and how would you talk to a man they view as a god-like figure. Then BBC 4 has been reshowing just this weekend Tinker Tailor Soldier spy. Le Carre’s smiley work that has the great Alec Guinness I live the part where he cleans his glasses and puts them on as they interview Ricky Tarr just a split second that makes him seem like a man that knows what he is doing !! also, I brought the albums by squid and Adklut life also the old mercury review cover of Bobby Gentry’s work with twelve different singers all on vinyl.

Next month

There is a pile of books next to me a lot of review books that I haven’t got to also I will be posting in the next few days for this July’s Spanish lit month time flies. I am looking forward to reviewing Blind man and the others and have the Huge Lady Joker a Japanese crime novel coming out in two parts over the next year a truly epic novel.

What have been your highlights over the last month!

Shadow Booker Shortlist 2021

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

So what are our choices here they are-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadow Booker International 2021

I will be doing my longlist guessing post but here we have another year of the booker shadowing jury here the tenth time a shadow jury for the Boker and earlier the IFFP.

The announcement of this year’s International Booker Prize longlist isn’t too far away, and I’m sure many of my readers are looking forward to the announcement (on the 30th of March) and making plans to read any interesting-sounding nominees. However, while we’re all grateful to the judges for the time and effort they put into the task of deciding the cream of the year’s fiction-in-translation crop, putting blind faith in their decisions is another matter entirely (some years more than others…), and that’s where our Shadow Panel comes in. I recently added a permanent page to my site with details of all the judges and winners since 2012, and given that start date, you may have worked out that 2021 marks an important milestone for us – namely the tenth Shadow Panel!

 

So on this momentous occasion, whose breath (metaphorical, of course – stalking and housebreaking is firmly frowned upon around these parts) will the official judges be feeling down their necks this year? In the words of Brett Anderson, introducing the band 😊

 

*****

Tony Malone (@tony_malone) is an occasional ESL teacher and full-time reader who has been publishing his half-baked thoughts on literature in translation at the Tony’s Reading List blog for just over twelve years now. One unexpected consequence of all this reading in translation has been the crafting of a few translations of his own, with English versions of works by classic German writers such as Eduard von Keyserling and Ricarda Huch appearing at his site. After a well-earned sabbatical year from all things shadowy, he’s returned with fresh energy in 2021, ready to discuss this year’s longlist and keep the ‘real’ judges honest.

 

Stu Allen (@stujallen), the everyman of translated fiction, has been blogging for twelve years and has reviewed over a thousand books from more than one hundred countries at his site, Winstonsdad’s Blog. He founded the original Shadow IFFP Jury back in 2012, as well as the Twitter hashtag #translationthurs. By day, he works for the NHS as a care support worker, helping people with learning disabilities on a ward in a learning disabilities hospital in sunny Derbyshire. He’s married to Amanda, loves indie music, foreign films and real ale, and is pleased to be shadowing the prize for another year.

 

Meredith Smith (@bellezzamjs) has been writing about books at her site, Dolce Bellezza, since 2006. Now that she has retired from teaching, she has much more time to devote to her passion of reading translated literature. She has hosted the Japanese Literature Challenge for fourteen years and been a member of the Shadow Jury for seven. It is her great joy to read and discuss books from around the world with both the panel and fellow readers.

 

David Hebblethwaite (@David_Heb) is a reader and reviewer originally from Yorkshire, UK. He started reading translated fiction seriously a few years ago, and now couldn’t imagine a bookish life without it. He writes about books at David’s Book World and on Instagram @davidsworldofbooks. This is his eighth year on the Shadow Jury, and it has become a highlight of his reading year. There are always interesting books to read, and illuminating discussions to be had.

Oisin Harris (@literaryty), based in Canterbury in the UK, reviews books at the Literaryty blog. He earned an English degree from Sussex University and an MA in Publishing from Kingston University. He is a librarian at the University of Kent and a co-editor and contributor for The Publishing Post’s Books in Translation Team, as well as the creator of the Translator Spotlight series where prominent translators are interviewed to demystify the craft of translation. His work on Women in Translation was published in the 2020 research eBook of the Institute for Translation and Interpreting, entitled Translating Women: Activism in Action (edited by Olga Castro and Helen Vassallo).

 

Frances Evangelista (@nonsuchbook) works as an educator in Washington DC. She elected a career in teaching because she assumed it would provide her with lots of reading time. This was an incorrect assumption. However, she loves her work and still manages to read widely, remember the years she blogged about books fondly, chat up books on Twitter, and participate in lots of great shared reading experiences. This is her fourth year as a shadow panelist for the International Booker Prize.

Barbara Halla (@behalla63) is an Assistant Editor for Asymptote, where she has covered Albanian and French literature and the International Booker Prize. She works as a translator and independent researcher, focusing in particular on discovering and promoting the works of contemporary and classic Albanian women writers. She has lived in Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA), Paris, and Tirana.

 

Vivek Tejuja (@vivekisms) is a book blogger and reviewer from India, based in Mumbai. He loves to read books in Indian languages and translated editions of languages around the world (well, essentially world fiction, if that’s a thing). He is Culture Editor at Verve Magazine and blogs at The Hungry Reader. He is also the author of So Now You Know, a memoir of growing up gay in Mumbai in the 90s, published by Harper Collins India.

 

Areeb Ahmad (@Broke_Bookworm) recently finished an undergrad in English from the University of Delhi and is now pursuing a Master’s in the same subject from the University of Hyderabad. Although he is quite an eclectic bookworm, he swears by all things SFF. You can find him either desperately hunting for book deals to supplement his overflowing TBR pile or trying to figure out the best angle for his next #bookstagram picture while he scrambles to write a review. He impulsively decided to begin book blogging in 2019 and hasn’t looked back since.

*****
Now that this year’s judges have been introduced, it’s time for us to fade back into the shadows but never fear – you’ll be hearing from us again very soon. Once the longlist has been announced, we’ll be convening to consider the baker’s dozen of selected titles, and soon after that, you can expect a group response. Will it be a positive or negative one? Well, that all depends on what is chosen, of course. Official judges – over to you…

Birthday books and other arrivals

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Our circus presents … by Lucian Dan Teodorovici

Our Circus Presents by Lucian Dan Teodorovici

Romanian fiction

Original title – Circul nostru vă prezintă

Translator – Alistair Ian Blyth

Source – review copy

I return for a second visit to Romania this year and this time it is a modern writer from the Dalkey Archive series for the country. Lucian is the manager of the Romanian literature museum and also a festival of literature and translation. He has also written for the Guardian and edited a series of books called the Ego Prose in his native Romania. He has written for numerous publications and has published prose, drama, and screenplays including a feature-length one for this book.

I don’t know , why, but when I was little — it happened a long , long time ago — my father deemed it fitting ti tell me a story, an anecdote, a joke – yes, I think he told me it in the form of a joke — about a circus. So a circus comes to town (I don’t remember which town), and the poster looked something like this

The main attraction!

Our circus presents a unique act:

The birdman !

One day he flies, the next day he dosen’t

He’s not flying today!

I was remind of the Hemingway or not six word tale babyshoes for sale never worn which leads you to wonder like this joke !

The unnamed narrator of this book could be called the birdman. Every morning he steps onto the ledge outside the window as he tries to commit suicide will this be the day he jumps of the ledge or will he carry on like he does most days. This morning he is seen by a neighbour above who wonders what he is doing there. The birdman is a name from something his father said he had seen on a sign in a circus or was it something his father thought was funny. but as a child, he put a smile on his face. As he goes on he spends time ion the church and later on sees a man trying to hang himself from a tree as he saves this man carries it on his back. It turns out the man does this sees a rescuer appear and then hangs this leads to a tale of been hung with a bag of stray dogs being hung and trying to find the man hung next to them as he said he wanted to hear people say he died like a dog. As the two become friends we find our narrator had messed up his first sexual encounter after his father’s advice. he visited prostitutes after that as he and his friend or as he calls him the man with Orange suspenders. But what happens when someone really dies that he knew will this death change his outlook on life. Add to this a third friend that is trying to sleep his way to death.

Now I’m heading toward the station, for the first time truly desirous — and, what matters, fully aware — to spend the night with a prostitue. All that happen back then is in the past. My father, my mother, my brotherare far away, transformed into memories from many years. And I must admit, not even those memories are very pleasent. And so no one can prevent me now, at this very moment, from deciding for myself. There will certainly be no one waiting for me back home, seated on the toliet. And, above all, no one else will have to pay for the girl of my choice.

Haunted by what his father had told him in an ackward sex talk with his father as a teen !

These two and a fellow friend are all trying to take their lives with various reasons why they are doing it and various ways of doing it some alone some wanting to be found others anting someone close as they do. There is an air of desperation amongst them all. This reminds me of a couple of writers Beckett which of course the down and outs of Waiting for Godot come to mind as they talk. But I was also reminded of the American short story writer Raymond carver there is a similar feeling of the lost souls in the world these are scrapping the barrel of life. They just seem stuck in a loop trying to end their lives. This does have dark humor behind it at times yes the subject is very dark but the circle of the suicides are more cries for help and maybe a way of being seen by anyone. I was drawn ion by the way Alastair had translated the voice of the main character you are hooked from the first page to his life and what brought him to where he is? Another example of why Dalkey archive is so important to be kept running thanks to Deep Vellum. I wonder if anyone would be interested in later in the year doing a Dalkey archive week maybe?

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?

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