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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When the Levee breaks a Grief unleashed

I have been quiet for a couple of weeks on the blog front. I should have asked myself why before what happened happened. I am a very English sort of bloke, I try and keep the stiff upper lip and keep my self to myself. I have always struggled to talk about feelings and emotions.  I have kept my feelings on the whole during my life to myself. It started when my parents split and I was nine and I held in my emotions to myself, over the years I tend to build them up. In the past, I had Mum and My step mum Milly to chat to but now there is a void, even walking Winston would at times help me clear thoughts. This lead to what happened the other day when a small event at work became a catalyst for an outpouring of my emotions that I struggled to get back under control after an hour of crying I finally got back in control. But just I then looked back over the last few months from Mum dying which I never really come to terms with there is a sea of if and whats. So much I wish I said and done over the years but never did and now I can’t. Then My darling wife is struggling with pain which I wish I could take away but try and be there for her as much as possible. Add to this a failed driving test a few days before the third anniversary of my step mums passing. My job can be stressful at times and this had all come together and  I cracked. Now I have to try and open up and unburden myself. I had a similar incident fifteen years ago, I was unaware then and now I didn’t see this coming well I had been getting tearful more than normal at silly things and hiding behind jokes at times. I have been to the doc and now am going to talk to someone. I have to try and come to terms with mum not being here and build a new way of talking to people. Anyway, I sit feeling numb and fragile and hope that books will be as ever my companions and help me. I will be back tomorrow with a review. Sorry but in writing this I have maybe taken a step towards unburdening myself.

7 years bloganniversary let’s go to Spain

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The wordpress app told me at weekend it was seven years since winstonsdad started its trip around the world of Literature. In that time I have managed to review 635 books from 103 countries a real tour of the world . I miss the old days of blogging when it seemed new and fun but the recent move and a new library have spurred this old blogger on to carry on so we start off with the next spanish lit month which is next month. I have five books I plan to read one is reread.

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First up is two books due out from Harvil secker The first from a new star of Spanish Literature DIvorce is in the air by Gonzalo Torne one for the fans of Ferrante and Knausgaard says Harvil . Next is On the edge by Rafael Chirbes one of the great writers of recent times from Spain he won two of the biggest prizes in Spanish literature.

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Nocilla dream is the reread of the pile a wonderful odd collection of short snippets like a trail of photos with stories made up about them. I enjoyed it on the first read but felt a second reading would be worth it for this collection .

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Next up is Loquela by Carlos Labbe the chilean writer is compared to Borges and this is a warped love story and detective novel in one . One of those books that challenges the reader.

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Lasr but not least is the won derfully witty Sky over lima which sees two writers in Chile write and start a love affair in letter with the famous Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenz .In what started as a plan to get his latest book early turns it a love in letters .

Have you any plans for Spanish lit month ?

How do you keep your blogging fresh after a number of years ?

Arno Who? Library stash a whole heap of german books

Arno Schmidt

I Promise I will review a book next but as ever time has runaway this evening so , I decide to show you the nine books I just ordered that had come to the library today , I’ve a few more in the pipeline . First off this is one of two I really got excited about when I ordered it from the library ,The eggplant republic is a book by the writer that has been compared to Joyce amongst others Arno Schimdt is best known for his epic novel Zettels Traum (which is huge and is currently being translated into English and is due out on Dalkey Archive a some point in the next couple of years) .This book is about a journalist visiting  a jet power island .I can’t wait this is one of the names I want on this blog .

Christa wolf

What remains is a collection of stories by the late East german writer Christa Wolf , the title story is described as a East German writers journey into a Kafkaesque world .

Marie Jaolowicz Simon

Gone to Ground by Marie Jaolwicz Simon a true story ,She disappeeared into Berlin in 1941 removing her yellow star and becoming someone else for the rest of the war .I was reminded of a film I saw years ago were a Jewish boy joined the Hitler youth in Berlin during the war Europa , Europa I think it was called .

Juli Zeh

I had tried  a previous Juli Zeh book , but didn’t get into it so left it , but this love triangle story of a couple that are  learning to dive whilst on holiday  and the wife falling for the diving instructor .

W G Sebald

Sebald talks about the six writers the influenced him as a writer in this book , I read all his novels as they came out and not read a book by him for a few years,so this will be one I will savour I think.I may also find a new writer to try from his six writers .

peter stamm

Another novel by Peter Stamm , I reviewed seven years a couple of years ago ,I like his sparse style but only just got round to him again .A women who became a widow in a car crash and has horrific injuries trying to get her life back together.

Bernhard Aichner

The story of Blum whose husband is killed by the men he is investigating , this sends her on a killing spree as her dark past is unlocked . A crime novel for German lit month .

Joesph Brodsky

One of two none German books for after German lit month Watermark is Nobel winner Joseph Brodsky prose piece about his visit to Venice .built around 48 short chapters .

Claude simon

Another of the Noveau Roman writers Claude Simon conducting bodies another experimental novel .

So one of my two surprise finds from the library the other is even better than Arno Schimdt .

Spanish teeth for sale quote for sunday

Mariner reading on pink background - Yiannis Tsaroychis

Teeth and books seem an odd pairing but my current Spanish lit month read is about Teeth and selling Teeeth the latest work by  Valeria Luiselli the story of teeth . So here is a Quote I enjoyed .

HYPERBOLIC LOT NO.9

Our penulitimate lot , ladies and gentlemen , exludes an air of mystical melancholy . The tooth itself is crocodilian , but its aura is almost angelic . Note the curve , it os like a wing in ascent . It’s owner , Mr. Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges , was a man of average height . His short , thin legs supported a torso , which was at once solid and svelte .His head was the size of a small coconut , and his slender , flexiable neck . He was a pantheit . His eyes used to flit from side to side , useless , impenetrable to sunlight but ready to receive the light of beautiful , good ideas . He spoke slowy , as if searching for adjectives in the darkness . How much will you bid ?

How much would you pay for Borges tooth ?

 

Hello I’m back and lets get ready to blog

Now why start this post with Hitler as potrayed by Bruno Ganz .Well whilst I’ve been away ok my mind was elsewhere .I sadly lost my wonderful stepmother last week , but was thankful for the time spent with her and my dad more than in recent years , then this last weekend I rested and started turnong my mind back to the blog .But also to as Simon of Savidge reads does ever so often a state of the blog post came to mind .Partly set  on this track by reading The Ogre by Michel Tournier a 1970 Prix Goncourt winner .I remember the early days of this blog when I read just books I found and read everything I could lay my hands on at the Library .This lead to my blog maybe having the widest range of books in its early years , recently I feel as thou I ran out of steam I let things go I loved .Things I started I have let slip when I should be running and curating these things . I started both translation thurs on twitter and the shadow iffp both of which I have let slide this last year . I will be bringing t the fun back to this blog and to me in general I feel a weight has been lifted something in the back of my head that had been on my mind for over a year has gone now so I can set my body and soul  back on the blog . I started with Bruno Ganz as this is  clip well-known a clip to break free of being a world cinema film , like Je’t Aime by Serge Gainsbourg or Lisbeth Salander from Steig Larsson books . All these have broken out of the groove . Why well to me they appeal to something in all of us a base instinct  , not to a critical discussion on lit in translation , world cinema or world music . No they grab you Bruno Ganz as the angry Hitler losing control appeals as we would maybe love to get that angry or even to blow our tops that way , hence the number of spoof videos around the net .Serge singing we would all love to be the lover like him , or the blood and guts like Lisbeth . That is what I need to do not say how this book is in a large scheme of literature or discussion of the finer points of its merit” no” , there is plenty of quality magazines or books out there . I have a number books in this line western canon etc and  I get the LRB . But no to me the point of this blog is to be like that annoying kid in class that always had the latest music, that at time you went it isn’t for me , but then went home listen to and went damm this guy is in the loop . A cheerleader for translation anything but a bloody bore on the place of a book hell who the hell am i to say that  about it !! sorry I feel I was heading this way my reviews have been boring and maybe me just doing the motions , I not been trying to have fun to worried about word counts and maybe trying to seem like I know what I am on about , I don’t always 500 books in every book to me is still an adventure and an escape maybe I not been putting that across enough .So let’s go discover books together , lets find lists of great books around the world and start a collective cheer around the world .I will allow the feel shadow IFFP announce the winner tomorrow as I feel my part is to small this year to do it

TTFN Family comes first back soon !

I have two mothers My mum lives in Wales and My step mother  Millie ( I hate that word step just never sounds right ) ,any way Millie is very ill at the moment . So I’m taking a break of at least the rest of may and possibly the first week of June . I have left the shadow IFFP jury for this year as I just haven’t the mind to talk about books at the moment in any depth .I’m going up and down the country a couple of times a week  to spend as much time with a much beloved parent that has brought a lot to my life in the thirty plus years she has been in it .So as you imagine time has been squeezed some what the last couple of weeks and rather than carry on with silly small post or half hearted reviews which is something I don’t want to do . I will still be round twitter and have a few days in scotland at end of the month to charge my batteries .I really want to cry when I hear sun kill moon’s words at moment

My day at London Book Fair

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Now this is London book fair , well part of it . I was lucky to get an invite to come and spend the day from Susan at Istros books at The Croatian writers stand .I got there just in time for the opening of the stand by the Croatian ambassador .

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Where he mention the events over the next few days and the wonderful list that Peter Elborn and the British Croatian society which featured all the books from Croatia translated to English although a few more have appeared since it is a wonderful list one I will be using to find a few books to read .Now the first event at the stand was a reading from the Bulgarian writer Alek Popov , who’s first book Istros published Mission London my review of this book.

20150414_120755He was reading from his second novel to be translated into English Black Box a dual story of one man in New york a Bulgarian abroad and a man returning to Bulgaria to find a man named Kurtz (Yes a connection to Heart of darkness /Apocalypse now ) . His new book is to be published by Peter Owen  , I will have a review soonish as I managed to get a copy from them  .At this point I decide to wander the fair although having made the unwose decison on new shoes for the day hop round the fair would be a better . I took chance to say hello to some people I know via twitter .Catherine Taylor from English Pen , Victor from Haus publishing , he told me about a great book they are due to publish this year about Thomas Mann and the decision he made in 1936 to writer a letter about the Nazi Regime and send it to a paper in Germany .I also had a nice long chat with Alan the blogger from Words of mercury . I also finally meet Malcolm from Oxygen books that publish the city lit series of books but is also doing a project for the arts council in the south-east promoting books in translation .I eventually got back to the Croatian writer stand before the next event .

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The next event was the launch of Farewell cowboy by Olja Savičević , this was the first of two launchs of the book here and in the evening at the embassy .Olja read from here book in Croatian then the passages she had read were read in English by the translator Celia Hawkesworth .The book follows a sister returning to find out more about her brother’s death . I have read the book twice and will be reviewing soon. I managed later in the day to grab Olja and have a short chat with her about the book .

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Then after the reading we had two types of traditional Croat Spirits Rakija one is made from Honey Medica and the other from Mistletoe Biska .Then we all departed to the evening reception and launch for the book at the Croatian embassy , so as I said to my wife I was in Croatia ,which did worry her that I had run off til I explained i was still in London .

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So The ambassador Dr Ivan Grdešić, introduced Olja and Celia again and we had another reading and then some wine and Fig cake to celebrate the books launch .Then Olja, Celia and Susan from istros books were all filmed by the Croatian News team as they were going to be on last nights news in Croatia . I was amazed that writers still make the news and arts is still held in such high regards to be newsworthy in Croatia . It was a double celebration for the ambassador his son-in-law had won this years European union literature prize that day 

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Thanks to Susan from Istros for the day and all the lovely Croatian writer union and publishers I meet on tuesday

Not letting black dog win without my big white dog

Damm I did it again I have been stuck at home for the last six weeks and feel this maybe has brought on a bit of depression I have had it in the past .Once took meds for it and had counselling as well .I should know the signs better but like the post hour ago shows sometimes I just need a reminder that with out the big white boy to walk I need to check my blog posts .Winston was the main thing that kept my head straight and like today I just get a little fed up six weeks doing very little or not going far has messed up my blogging routine my reading and most of all given me too much time to think . I said when my boy passed I would keep going and that I must do .So thanks for kind comments on earlier post and Twitter .

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So as he would maybe have been looking at me and saying what you doing dad . Viva la translation !!

Taking a break

After much thought recently about what this blog is .what I need to do outside the blog in my own life where I have a job I love but gives me less than the living wage dreams going  pot .So I’ve decide to take a break from blogging .I need spend time improving my arm , getting back to work .To be honest a large part me thinks what is it all worth I wishing the  blog would lead elsewhere but maybe as the piece on
bbc by Will GomPertz about culture shows I’m not middle class and let’s face it I don’t have the right accent and passion only gets you so far so I decide to spend some time and effort on my own life and maybe one day return this could be a few days or weeks .

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