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.

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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.

That was the month that was June 2018

  1. Soumchi by Amos Oz
  2. Blood of the dawn by Claudia Salazar Jimenez
  3. Smoking Kills by Antoine Laurain
  4. Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane
  5. The Radiance of the King by Camara Laye
  6. The kites by Romain Gary
  7. Fleeting Snow by Pavel Vilikovsky
  8. King Stakh’s wild hunt by Uladzimir Karatkevich
Fleeting snow is the book of the month. I always like books that make you think after you have read them and also would consider rereading this title has both of them a journey into what is life and memory also who are we what is the meaning of our names in a way. The first Slovakian title from Istros book was a real joy as much of there books have been.
Next month
Looking forward I have a Columbian writer I have featured a number of times with what for me is his best book. The lost debut novel of a Portuguese great as the first couple of Spanish-Portuguese lit months books. I also have the 100th French title for the blog and a Baltic novel.
Non-book discoveries

Well the latest Album by Sons of bill came out a band I have been a fan of a  for a number of years. Oh and the world cup started, I have watched some games. But somehow I am still not as spirited as I have been previous years  Maybe as we move on England I may get the spirit somewhat. I have returned to work and am back on track being a bit more open and facing things that have happened. But back to the books looking forward to seeing what everyone chooses for Spanish Portuguese lit months.

Fleeting Snow by Pavel Vilikovsky

Fleeting Snow by Pavel Vilikovsky

Slovakian fiction

Original title – Letmý sneh

Translators – Julie and Peter Sherwood

Source – review copy

I now move over from France to Slovakia and the second book from there I have reviewed. Also, the first to be published by Istros press from there as they move a little further afield. They have chosen a writer considered the greatest living Slovak writer. He only wrote two books whilst communism was in control of the country. but since the regime change, he has written over a dozen books. This was his latest Novel to come out in Slovakian. He is also a leading translator of books from English into Slovak including great writers like Faulkner, Conrad, and Woolf. It is great to see more Slovakian fiction coming out.

1.B If, as the saying goes, every person is unique, their name ought to be unique too. Except that it doesn’t work like that. What is unique about say, Stefan Kovac, whose name is about as common as Stephen Smith is in english? In this country, no first name can ever be truly unique – the church and the clerks at the register office have seen to that – and if your surname happened to be Kovac the to boot, you’ve had it: you’ll end up being known as Kovac up the valley, or Kovac the shepherd. Slovak is a garrulous language, we don’t mind throwngin an extra word here and there, but even with additional piece of information, does a name convey anythingunique about a person?

the second part of the first story about how come the name is but also how they use extra wrds to identify a stefan Kovac who is ours ?

This is a book that has five interweaving stories at its heart. This is a fragmented book almost like a snowflake with the five points coming out. The first story is the tale of a man at the end of a long marriage that seems to be losing his mind early on we hear he is called Stefan Kovac but has now taken the name Cimborazka and is a self-declared Cimborazka. The second story tells us about a pair of step twins and talks about the soul. The third starts with an avalanche and the fourth story strand a scholar called Stefan, that has recently had a book about North American Indian languages in the US. This fourth links to the first story and where we have a talk about certain US place names that may have Native American origins. The fifth strand finds someone looking through old photos. The strands of the stories cross and the link they are about life, language particular Slovakian and old age. The loss of memory in old age. The snow is the metaphor in a way for so much in this book memories fade like snow old age leads to dementia which is like an avalanche that clears that top layer of one’s memories leaving what was under.  There is a sense of the fleeting nature of life art tines and what makes us as people who is Stefan Kovac a name we are told early on is as common in Slovakia as Stephen Smith is here.

1.J My real name is Cimborazka but I haven’t told ayone. What would be the point ? It would be the same changing your phone number: your friends will remember your new number but the will still use it to ring the same person as before, the same idea of a person. But I don’t want to receive letters addressed toDear Mr Cimborazka, which would be like addresssing a different person each time. Cimborazka is a clean blank sheeet; a reminder that I am a person – not an entity, just a being, albeit a human one. And that every human possibility is therefore still open to me each and everytime. It is a silent, secret challenge to honour my name

What is a name like the first quote another on identity as Kovacs becomes Cimborazka or does he .

This is a meandering book about the nature of life in a way questioned in many ways. Language and how it is used the short passages that make this book up reminded me of the little snippets in books like The book of Disquiet or Zibaldone thou this has more narrative and a central figure that of Stefan Kovac is he the same person, or a step twin or just another character. As in the end all the strands end in one final passage as a couple talk about how many words are in Slovakian and then as they wander on to find a disk on the ground showing distance to place and maybe placing them back in their world with a thrown word over the fact that Vienna is only 57 kilometers away. This is a writer in his old age trying to write a series of themes that must have been important to him in his life like Slovakian for a translator which is a language he mentions for how many more words there are in it. What we are what he has written about what lies after the writer’s life is gone or like the snow what remains when it has melted just the memory of it.

Daša Drndić, At true great of European fiction has passed.

The pic is of Dasa when I meet her the day at the IFFp in 2013 when her first book to be translated into English. Trieste had been shortlisted for the prize. I had a good half hour chat that evening with her. She told me about how the Italian edition of the book Trieste had a tear-out section of the list of names of Jewish people killed in Italy and the idea was that people could take out a name they knew and over time as the pages went like the losses of the people the book became unstable like the loss of all those voices on society. This is a perfect example of the power of her as a writer. I have reviewed the three books she has been translated into English they are Trieste, Leica Format and Belladonna. She also paid me the highest compliment in say she had read my blog, although I could do with an editor she said. She also commented a few times on the blog which for me was touching. Her books dealt with big subjects and showed the brutal heart of Europe a writer that needs to be read. I’m sorry to hear of her passing today and remember a warm summers day I meet her a number of years ago. Her words when her last book was up for the Croat book of the year sum her views up well.

We live in a very sick time, in a time that destroys spirit, thought, freedom, individuality, joy, beauty, knowledge, and love, and at the same time destroys ourselves. Just like a carcinogenic pancreas, whenever it eats the bodies surrounding it, it disappears alone. To those who write this topic to pretek. Within this globally collapsing, decaying world (the world), floats countless stories of small and large, known, unknown, for literature more than enough. After all, those who read (and increasingly reads a leafy, quick and easy digestive book with enough additives to absorb the original flavor of ‘material’) are at least at times privy to their voyeur passion, a foolish fool, in English called the ‘pacifier’. So the everyday life remains cloudy, and the imaginative readers are unaware of their existential limbo.(a google translation but gets the spirit of her words)

 

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