The death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa

Image result for the death of murat idrissi

The death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa

Dutch fiction

Original title De dood van Murat Idrissi

Translator – Sam Garrett

Source – personal copy

Now the last visit to a writer I have read before on this year’s Man Booker Longlist. I read Tommy Wieringa novel a few years ago but never reviewed it he has had a number of his books translated to English. He studied history and journalism at university. He had a number of jobs as a light seller and on the railways before he became a full-time writer. His breakthrough came when his third novel Joe speedboat won a big ditch book prize he has since then 18 more works. This is the short book on this year’s longlist at just a hundred pages but as you can tell by the cover and title it is a powerful little novella and maybe one of those books that should notice more than it was.

It’s her uncle’s fault that she was born in Holland. In 1975, her father arrived in France from Targuist – that was all fairly easy back then, hos brpther convinced him to travel on to holland. They worked in shifts at the Hoogoven mills, and shared a room in Beverwijk. They married and were laid off during the steel crisis in the early eighties . Life beat them down. Her uncle rose to his feet again , her father remained lying, he was the weaker of the rwo.But her uncle was dead and her father was still alive.

The iuncles death is part of the reason for the trip and shows how they started out in Holland by chance.

The book is the tale of Two Dutch women whose families are originally from North Africa who has decided to take a trip back to their parent homeland Morrocco. The two Thouraya she is as you would say is the pretty on the beautician and driving force of the two girls the other Ilham is the larger girl and worries she will have to settle down as her parents want her to as a usual Morrocan wife. The two arrive and immediately when having to hire a bigger car an Audi car. The two even as tourist feel that they are second class citizens due to there cultural heritage. They end up in a tight squeeze when a charming young man Saleh he takes it on himself to help and guide them around Morocco where to they meet in a seedy part of the town Murat and his mother and realize their savior has a price to his help them and that is to take Murat back to Europe he was once in France but was then set back. So these two unlikely traffickers have to bring this boy/man back to Europe in their car. But a cruel twist in the tale leaves them scarred for life about what happened to the young man in the time he was with them.

The two custom men don’t eave you past, they simply ignore you. Two cars in front of them, a mercedes is pulled out of line .

“Okay baby”, Thouraya says “Here we go ” sheputs on her film star face, and in a soundless dream they cruise past the customs officals , left and right. Before them them suddenly , there are twice as many lanes of asphalt . “Was that it ?” Ilham hears her own strange , high voice.

The two get through with Murat so easily at first little to lnow what will happen later on !

The shortest of the books on this Man Booker international list may actually have the most inside it as it tackles so many issues. Personal identity the two girls show the two sides of peoples cultural heritage Thouraya shows those that try hard and blend and move in and her friend likes to still keep her heritage but both initially view themselves as Dutch it isn’t to they get to the cultural homeland they then see how they may be western but will forever be Morrocan at heart. the four character incapsulate the vicious cycle of trafficking the two girls drawn into bring Murat to Europe to fulfill the immigrant dream of riches and a better world and life escaping the poverty of his home and then there is Saleh those who make a life of getting people in whatever way to Europe with little care for how it is done. For a book under a hundred pages it touches the soul of the reader and shows them the dark side of trafficking in a personal light in the story of four people that maybe are the voice of the thousands trying to get to Europe from North Africa.

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Winstonsdad Annual Man Booker prediction post

I have let the days lip by mainly as I have just worked four 12 and half hours shifts in the last five days I have just got home and have decided too do my man booker dozen this year it will be nine books I have read and mostly reviewed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End by Karl Ove Knausgaard

I have chosen first the one I have read but not reviewed and the first of two books that sees the end of a series. It is a huge book that rambles on and follows the time the first of the series comes out and has some large digressions around the title and some other writers I like it but missed reviewing it. My reason the end of epic series an Epic book from a writer that is overhyped but so readable when you read him he makes the mundane so compelling.

 

Nocilla Lab by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

The second book also sees the end of a series this one is the end of a trilogy this has three stories and all are different styles of writing and was to approach prose like the rest of the series it shows how Mallo is on the wave of new writers from Spain.This is one of two from Fitzcarrldo.MY reason pushing the boundaries and experimenting with what stories do using various styles

Tell them of Battles, kings, and Elephants by Mathias Enard

A short novel that images what would happen if Michelangelo had gone to Constantinople to design a bridge to go over the Golden horn and he also falls for the East another slice of West meets east from Enard. My reason  a clever reimagining of history

My Name Is Adam_TPB.jpg

 

 

My name is Adam by Elias Khoury 

A writer called Elias Khoury discovers a manuscript from a man he briefly meets and it is about a piece of history from the other side he wrote in an earlier book. A writer viewing his homeland from the other side in a way.

 

Among the lost by Emilano Monge 

A Mexican novel about the hinterland that is the people crossing the border reimagines as hell like the world through the eyes of two lovers as the let you into their horrific world. My reason an interesting hell like vision of the journey of the trafficked in Mexico and those who do the trafficking

 

ResistanceJulian.jpg

Resistance by Julian Fuks

The tale of two brothers who are the kids of a family that had to quit Argentina and move to Brazil this is the first of two books from charco I have chosen they have been bring some interesting books out in the last year. My reason this is is partly Fuks own personal hostory he is the son of exiles as well.

Image result for trout belly up rodrigo

These interlocking stories follow a man trying to set up a trout fishery in the middle of the Guatemalan countryside away from the violence of the cities there. Another gem from Charo press My reason compelling stories that show a gritty world of the trout farm and those connected to it.

 

Published on 24 September 2018, paperback original with flaps, 180x120, 115 pages

Now, now, Louison By Jean Fremon

A close friend of Louise Bourgeois images here life piece bits he got to knew here over the year he showed her works. MY reason from a small press this is the reason I love translated fiction those unusual gems that small publisher bring out.

 

The Capital

The capital by Robert Menasse 

An EU bureaucrat for culture is given a job to celebrate culture in Europe as well as a number of stories that all link together. My reason a wonderful satire on Europe and the city at the heart of it

My three wild card books I havent read but feel may be on the list

Tentacle by Rita Indiana

Vernon Subtext two by Virginie Despentes

White shadow  by Roy Jacobson

I may read the list when it comes out on Wednesday it depends on what is on the list and what finds I have to buy the books on the list.

 

Mama’s boy by David Goudreault

 

Mama’s boy by David Goudreault

Quebecian fiction

Original title –  La Bête à sa mère

Translator – JC Sutcliffe

Source – review copy

This is the second of two books from the Quebec based publisher Book*hug . This was David Goudreault debut novel he has written novel and poetry and is also a songwriter he was the first Quebecer to win the Poetry slam world cup. he has written four novels and this is his first to appear in English. He leads creative workshops in schools and detention centers all across Quebec. He has won a number prizes this won the Grand prix literaire Archambault.

My mother was always committing suicide. She started out young, in a purely amateur capacity.But it wasn’t long before mama figured out how to make the psychiatrists take notice, and tp get the respect only the most serios cases warranted. ELectroshocks, massive doses of antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics and other mood stabilizers marked the seasons as she struggled through them. While I collected hockey cards, she collected diagnoses.Thanks to the huge effort she put into her crises, my mother contributed greatly to the advancement of psychaitry. If It weren’t for the little matter of patient confidentiality, I’m sure several hospitals would be named after her.

The first paragraph opens your eyes to the relationship with his mother growing up.

This is one man’s journey to find his mother after he was placed in care and spent his teen years in a series of various foster homes have made this man the character he is today and now he is trying to find his mother. As her mental health problems sent him into care. The book opens with an indication of how bad his mother was when he says she was always trying to commit suicide. He uses various names as the book unfolds during the story and shows the good and bad sides of foster care each family he has a nickname for them usually about the way the family is with him or they act. He isn’t the most well-adjusted person a man of his upbringing and surroundings. At one point we see him kidnap his girlfriends cat in a jealous rage they had only been together a few short weeks. HIs turning out of the care system and taking drugs and getting tattoos and his first steps into becoming a man. The narrator has a dark side that we as a reader should really hate but at times, we can find him charismatic. He finds a job using lies to get near to where his mother lives to try to find that right moment to return to her life. As he waits and recounts the mother he remembered and the woman now.

I celebrated my eighteenth birthday by spending half of my first welfare cheque on a tatoo. For humans- unlike cattle- marking your body is a sign of liberty. I’d learned this during my hours online. I needed something original, something unique that really represented me. I got a tatoo of a big Chinese character on the back of my neck. Strength.That;s what the tatoo meant. It was impressive

He spends his first real money very unwisely on a tatoo but it is also a sign of  his struggling and what he needs to move forward

This is one of those books that as a reader whether you like it or hate it will hinge on how much you like the narrator of the book. I put him between Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman on the scale of how much you could dislike this character he has a skewed view of the world as we would see it here in the UK he is prime for being on the Jeremy Kyle show. A rollercoaster ride an insight into how being in care effects you as a person it shows how he hasn’t formed normal social interaction and the views he shows also show a lack of proper role models in his life . A powerful voice if hard to read at times once again another outstanding read from Quebec. The book could easily be transferred to here in the UK the experiences and the life he has had could be the same of man a young man in the UK that has gone through the struggling social care system.

Nocilla Lab by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

Nocilla Lab  by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

Spanish fiction

Original title – Nocilla Lab

Translator – Thomas Bunstead

Source – review copy

There are two books that finish a series of novels that could be in the Man Booker longlist when it comes out in a few day and thet are The end by Karl Ove Knausgaard, I read but never got around to reviewing this epic book and the end of his cycle of books. Here we have another the last in the Nocilla trilogy by the Physicist turned writer Agustin Fernandez Mallo. This is the last of his series that was herald as a new style of writing in Spain when the books came out and lead to him become part of the Nocilla generation.

True story, very significant too, a man returns to the deserted city of Pripyat, near chernobyl, a place he and the reat of the poulace fled following the nuclear reactor disaster 5 years before, walks the empty streets, which, like the perfectly preserved buildings, take him back to his life in the city, his efforts as a construction worker here in the 1970’s were not for nothing, comes to his own street, scans the tower block for the windows of his former flat, surveying the exterior for a couple of seconds, 7 seconds,15 seconds, 1 minute, before turning the camera around so that his face is in the shot and saying, not sure, not sure this is where my flat was, the gazes up at the forest of windows again and says , not to the camera.

The odd opening of the first story has a rrapid feel to the writer writing it as we read it.

This book differs from its previous two books as it is less jumpy in its style what we have in this is three tales two novellas and a graphic novella if there is such a thing. What the first story is about a couple who are on a trip around the world the story is made up of little stories about their travels and the places they have been around the world until when they are in Thailand and the boyfriend crashes this is where we get this recounting of there travels mixed with books he has read especially Music of hance by Paul Auster where the main character Juliet spends a year traveling in her Saab but gets to pick up a man who leads her life down a different path and this is maybe what Mallo is trying to capture the book is a single eighty page sentence that captures the travels in the now although they were in the past and gave the writer time to write his trilogy the title of the collection is Automatic search engine which is maybe how Mallo’s mind works at time a series of jumps that rabbit hole of googling discovery and if you are sat recalling a trip the net would add the dimension it does here a sort of padding to the story . the next story follows a couple around Sardinia this tale is simpler as it is more on the mundane side of life those little everyday events. as the travels follow the project is this the same couple? The last part is a graphic novel where the writer himself is the main character.

10.

In the days that followed, without straying far from the area we’d been exploring, we returned the car and hired another, a slightly larger Lancia. I can’t remember the model.

The weather stayed stormy, and once or rtwice we got caught on beaches.

The second story as tyou see with this brief extract has a very different feel to the first story a simple mundane tale in a way.

It is another interesting book from Mallo he has really tried to break the mold of what fiction is in a way he is like his science background experimenting with how stories work first here with a stream of words a Beckett like babble that comes together as a man tries to outpour what has happened to him I was reminded of the Beckett piece, not I, I have the sense it would work in the same way when reading at a speaking speed.  The second is almost testing if you tried to make a story as mundane as possible with just every day a sort of modern take on the kitchen sink drama of the sixties where a trip to Sardina comes down to the everyday events of life. The last is an autofiction take on the graphic novel. This book isn’t as adventurous as the earlier two but in a way is maybe the most accessible of the series for that. I hope it makes the longlist for me this is the sort of fiction we should be championing the ones that make the reader work at times.

 

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?

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)

 

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