Happy 9th blogiversary

 

 

 

 

 

I like the App tells you now when the anniversary of the blog. Well, mine was last night nine years have flown with 832 books under review on the blog averaging nearly a hundred books a year over the course of nine years also a total of 1568 post over that time as well a post every other day over the course of the nine years. I have enjoyed many things through this blog and have met many people over the course of the last nine years. I move on to the decade of this blog next year I want to try and add a few more countries and maybe get nearer the 1000 books under review. Many thanks to all that comment and like the post over the last nine years.

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The blind spot by Javier Cercas

 

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The Blind spot by Javier Cercas

Spanish Essay

Original title -El punto Ciego

Translator – Anne Mclean

Source – review copy

I am loving the fact that in recent years there has been more and more non-fiction lit book been translated into English. This time it is one of my favorite Spanish writers Javier Cercas. I have featured his novels on the blog before four of them all of which have made me question what a novel is? This is in part the question he answers or tries to answer in this book. This book is formed from a series piece he had read or written before thus formed into a book-length essay on various aspects of the novel.

In 209 I published a book , called The anatomy of a moment, which at the time the Majority if Spanish readers did not consider a novel; I myself, althoug I knew or felt that it was a novel, would not allow my editor to present it as one. Why?

Anatomy explores a decisive momnet in the recent history of Spain. It happened the last time we Spaninards practised our national sport, which is not football as tend to think, but Civil war or , failing that a coup d’etat; at least until very recently; after all, up until very recently all experiments with democracy in Spain were ended by Coup d’etat, to such an extent that in the last two centuries there were more than fifty of them.

I loved the football piece in this opening to a chapter about his book on the 1981 coup attempt.

The first thing that captures in this book is the cover which depicts the great white whale of Moby Dick and is the same cover as the Spanish version of the book. The points that Cercas fix on is one the Blind spot of the title in the Novel. That is the question in some books that seem central to the book that can go unanswered the perfect example of this is Quixote where Cercas points out, the question is Don Quixote crazy or Not. Other examples are for Example in Kafka trial what is Josef K exactly accused off! Waiting for Godot the blind spot is Godot himself. The more Cercas mentions examples the more I thought of myself I thought of the blind spot of what is happening to Europe in regards right-wing politics in Dasa Drndic Belladonna(I choose a fellow Maclehose book as this for me was an example I thought of when reading this piece.) Then he also asks the question which I have asked at times and that is about his book The Anatomy of a moment and how you classify a novel like this which walks the line between being reportage, history, and fiction. I go back to the word I was told there is in Slovenian for just good writing that defies categories. He also mentions books like HHHH and in cold blood, also New Journalism which was started by the likes of Tom Wolfe and expands this into a third novel for on top of the two that he had heard Milan Kundera. These are the digressive novel like Quixote and the second the realist novel with books from Zola and Dickens. Cercas says the third movement is writers like Calvino and Perec as he says Postmodern Narrative and may the anatomy of a moment belongs here.

Let’s get back to the question of form.

Vargas llosa considers himself a realist writer, This means in short, that each one of his novels aspires ideally to cinstruct a fictious reality as powerful and persuassive as real reality, a hermetic world fabricated out of words in which to enclose the reader under lock and key to make him live through a vicarous experince. That is Vargas Llosa objective, and to that objective the moral framework and formal arrangment of all his novels are subordinated.

A piece about Llosa and in particular his debut novel The time of the hero

As you can see I loved this essay series as it was one of those books that made me as a reader want to discover more about the books discussed in the essays. But also in a way found some answers to my own blind spots as a reader of Cercas work and that is how he views his own worker, in particular, The anatomy of a moment which for me when I read it eight year ago this week early on in the life of this blog was one of the books that drove me forward as a blogger as it was such a clever novel and since then it has led to  a quest for me as a reader to push the boundaries of what we call fiction in the books I read  and also what drives us as readers. Also to what connects books from different places like Cercas highlights here  with the blind spot is an example of a thread that can link a lot of great books together from around the world.

 

Winstons books a few old favourites and an English classic

I haven’t done a new book post for a while so I will bring some recent purchases and a couple of review books.First two for review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First up is the latest translation from French writer Antoine Laurain. Smoking kills is the tale of Fabrice a headhunter in France that is trying to give up smoking in the wake of a ban on smoking at work. As an ex-smoker I will find this fun and I have reviewed the four other books by Antoine Laurain in recent years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next from Canadian publisher is the second book they have been published by them from Eric Dupont Like life in the court of Marane this is a complex book that weaves tales from the last century. He has been called the Quebec Marquez. I read his debut in English and am looking forward to this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now a couple of books from the Yale University series and A Margellos world republic of letters. This is the only novel of the great Polish writer Czeslaw Milosz he won the Nobel prize and is maybe fading out of sight a bit he was a lit critic that struggled with the decadent world of the west which is a theme in this novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another from them is this novel by French writer Hedi Kaddour set in the Tunisia of 1920’s following a group they  have an influence over the local society a mixture of French, Arabs and Americans present a clash of cultures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I had ordered this at the library but it seems to have got lost in the system so when I spent a while ago on some books from Waterstones and got a free ten-pound voucher. I decided I would get this book as I only have a couple of the Man Booker list to read this is a mystery built out of the death of French writer Roland Barthes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No don’t fall back in Horror but I am on Holiday in April down In Devon with family. I couldn’t think of which books to choose so decide to read a British classic and this is the one that I decided on as its length means I will probably not need to take any other books. But I more than likely will buy some whilst on holiday.

 

 

3 from Maclehose and a Lithuanian crime novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am showing some recent arrivals for the blog first we have three books from Maclehose press. First off is After winter by The Mexican writer Guadalupe Nettel I have featured her book The body where I was born   This is a novel set between Prais and new york, two people on either side of the Atlantic have troubled lives until they meet.Nettel is regarded as one of the best Mexican writers around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up is another writer from Latin America, that has also featured on the blog. this is the latest from Juan Gabriel Vasquez, he has featured three times on the blog. This is his most ambitious book The shape of ruins based on an actual event in Columbian history just after world war two, this event and one of the characters involved also inspired Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his book one hundred year of solitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last book is the one I am most intrigued about. One clear ice-cold morning at the beginning of the twenty-first century by Roland Schimmelpfennig. Is the first novel from the renowned German playwright. It follows a wolf as he wanders one cold morning into the Heart of Berlin and sees the morning through his eyes. An unusual sounding book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we have The music teacher the latest book from Noir books a publisher bring the best in Lit from Lithuania. This is their first crime novel. A small town police investigator who had an affair before with her music teacher. She is now investigating the murder of a teenage girl and her ex-lover now a local politician is putting pressure on too close the case.

Winston’s Library raid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I fetched a few books from the library yesterday. Her they are first off an epic I had to pick up off the shelf as it was a former IFFP winner Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen is Ponders dark matter studies and world war tow with one of those wandering epics I hope to get it read but just amazed to find a Dalkey archive at the local library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up is another favourite writer Emmanuel Carrere has been on the blog before and I was grabbed by this as it uses the story of luke to mirror the writers own life in a way, he is such a clever writer Carrere he could pull this off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One other thing I do want to do this year is adding a few more books from Africa and Cassava republic have published this Nigerian novel that is a coming of age tale in Northern Nigeria against a backdrop of extreme religion and politics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great writer and one I have reviewed four times before on the blog Manuel Rivas. Jonathan Dunne his translator has his own site on the origins of words which is worth reading Stones of Ithaca  .He has also published the other Rivas books small station books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Bassani has been on my list for a while so pleased to get a copy at the library doctors secret gay life in 1930’s Italy is brought into the open and a touch of antisemitism into the mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A French classic reminds me that I have the French art of war to finish this book focus on one period also covers in that book the `1958 French Algerian conflict.

What have you got from the library recently?

 

2018 Stu’s reading plans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a new year and the time of year when all us book bloggers make our reading plans for the coming year. Well, a few old favourites blog-wise,  will still be on this bloggers list to do. I will be doing another Shadow man booker this year. I want to do another Spanish lit month with Richard. I have a number of books waiting for this year event. Then, of course, German lit month. I have already filled my shelves ready for next year event. For me these three events keep me ticking over I love a challenge. I have seen a number of lists of books coming out. But I always just happy with the books  I get sent and if anything else catches my eye book wise I tend to get them these days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope to remember John Steinbeck over the year as it will be 50 years since his death, I have a number of his books on my shelves I’m not doing a readalong or week but would happily help anyone that wanted to do. Books on my TBR I am looking forward to are the open letter books from last year I have brought and still have to read four of them. The invented part, island of point Nemo, Tomas Jonsson bestseller and Chronicle of the murdered house. River by Esther Kinsky is another great looking book from Fitzcarraldo. Before that, I need to clear a backlog of about five books from last year. I am already one book into this year reading this year.I intend to try and reach 100 French books on the blog and also get to 900 books read and maybe add three or four more countries to the blog. What are your plans

Winstons Dozen my favourite books of 2017

I read and reviewed more than in the last couple of years so have decided to pick 12 books of the year.

Brothers by David Clerson

 

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Two brothers go on a quest to find the father in a mythical coastal world. The older brother has an arm missing, the arm is his younger brother with his stumpy arms and legs. One of the first reads of this year and one of the funniest and strangest books I have read.

Havoc by Tom Kristensen

Danish modernist novel one mans downward spiral from journalist to drunkard. A lost gem of European modernist fiction coming out in 1930. Partly inspired by the writer’s own life.

Summer before the dark by Volker Weiderman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fictional meeting of Stefan Zweig and Joesph Roth in Ostend in the summer of 1936 two men at the height of there fame. Both their lives will take different roots after this meeting.

Compass by Mathias Enard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lament for a lost world of Syria and for a lost love as a man goes through a sleepless night as Franz dreams of Sarah and his romance alongside their travels.

The Major Refutation by Pierre Senges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An imagined thesis that discredits the discovery of the new world another quirky book that has had a champion it like a lot of the books on this list.

Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer

Post east german history told through the oldest profession and the characters involved in that industry as they go from simple german girls to digital and woman of all nations. Another Fitzcarradlo novel on the list.

Hair everywhere- Tea Tulic 

A family saga told from the daughter in fragments of stories as her mother is dying of cancer another wonderful choice from Istros books.

Belladonna  by Dasa Drndric

A novel for today a warning of ignoring the rise of right-wing rhetoric as a retirng academic looks back and forward on his life. from one of my favourite writers.

The ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila

The Ultimate Tragedy

Ndani story in postcolonial Guinea Bissau is the testament to what many young women have to do in her position to get by working in a family homemade to join the church and avoid the advance of the male head of the householder.

That’s how whales are born by Anxos Sumai

THAT’S HOW WHALES ARE BORN

This follows a young woman who had escaped to study whales in Mexico but her mother ill health bring her home to her Galician home and the secrets of the past.

Three days by Thomas Bernhard

A film he made years ago has a companion book a wonderful insight into a great writers feeling. I still love the lines I am a story destroyer.

The house of remembering and forgetting by Filip David

A man remembers his survival of the death camp and recalls it all after visiting an exhibition. I have loved the six peter own istros titles this year but this was my favourite of them.

A common thread in these books is families, loss, past and remembering. In the year I lost my mum this list maybe reflects my journey and how books help us get over things. What have been your books of 2017?

 

 

the 1500th post here are some books !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s post sees the blog reach the landmark of 1500 posts after 8 and half years of blogging. SO I added some recent arrivals from publishers and libraries. The first book is from Comma press is the latest addition to there collection of short stories from a particular country or city.  This time it is the Georgian capital Tbilisi where we are reading from. A new country for this blog. So I’m looking forward to reading ten voices from this former Soviet republic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next book is from one of my favourite publishers Fitzcarraldo. This book is a perfect example of why I like Fitzcarraldo there book choice are so in my own taste of Lit. This book follows a German woman who has arrived in London and is finding it hard to fit in.So she spends time wandering along the river Lea. Observing the characters places and photos of the place linking to her own earlier life near the river Oder in Germany. esther Kinsky is also a translator into German from English. She has worked on books by Thoreau and Iain Sinclair! I feel this may already be one of the books of 2018 for me if I can wait till then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now four books from the Library. This is always the time of year,  when I start trying to fill in a few gaps from the previous year’s translation from those publishers I don’t get sent books from or ones I’ve missed. So from the top right clockwise. In every moment we are still alive by Tom Malmquist follows Tom’s girlfriend Karin is rushed into hospital whilst being pregnant the worst happens she dies and Tom is left to raise his daughter Livia and cope with his Grief. Anna by Niccolo Ammaniti is a novel set in a world where most of the people have died after a virus has killed most of the people and even basic services are starting to fail. Anna is trying to look after herself and her brother. Then the second book from Michel Laub to be translated into English. Poison Apple follows a man’s journey after he misses the only Nirvana gig in Brazil due to military services his friend take his then girlfriend and the become an item is this one moment to blame! Ghachar Ghochar is a novel from Vivek Shanbhag that deals with families sudden climb up the class tree in India and struggling to get by. Many thanks for sticking with me through 1500 posts here is to the next 1500!!

Two new shorts and a german seagulls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m off for a night out later so not time to do a review. So I have chosen to show a few recent arrivals at Winstons towers. Sweet Potato. The first is from new publisher Honford Star. The collection from Kim Tongin is an insight into the first fifty years of the 20th century in Korea a time before its rise in power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pushin press has a new collection of stories by the mast of the short story Chekov in a new translation from Nicolas Pasternak Slater the nephew of Boris Pasternak. There are thirteen stories in the collection including ones such as a day in the country, The lady with the little dog and the kiss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now some purchases first is a collection of short stories from Robert Wasler from a few years ago. I have read one of his books but now how well regarded he is as a writer. The book covers most of his life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then two books by the late Swiss writer Urs Widmer. The first the Blue Soda siphon is an adult fairy tale that follows a man returning to his childhood in the 40s then his younger self, going forward to the 90s and the gulf war. In the congo follows a man that works in a retirement home where his father has just moved in and it follows the discovery his father wasn’t a boring man as he thought he was.The journey takes him to Congo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A trip for a grandfather and grandson to China goes slightly wrong. when then grandfather dies the grandson carries on writing back to family fantastic tales of what they were doing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then a second book for the tbr pile from German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Tumult follows his life and the world from 1963 til 1970 as he was a left winger, spend time in the Soviet Union and Cuba. the last four books are all from Seagull books.

Winstons books some New arrivals a epic Basque novel

Well its been a good first week of Pushkin Press fortnight, I reviewed Four books and I was so pleased to see my fellow blogger joining in with there own choice. Well a break for the weekend and some new books at Winston’s tower are here –

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first up two from Alma  Death on credit is a later novel by the well-known but controversal French writer Louis Ferdinand Celine , a story of a doctor taking in the poor and darker sides of Paris . Then we have Cheese about a Clerk in a cheese company that makes a slight over order leaves him with tens of thousand of cheese to get rid of and he hates cheese him self this seems like a great comic work .

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Next two from Daniela of Europa Jerome Ferrari is a writer I have twice visit on the blog with where I left my soul and The sermon on the mount , which won Prix Goncourt like his earlier books this book takes a look at good and evil in the world here in pre war Germany . The is the first book since we maybe know his wife is Elena Ferrante , but Domenico Starnone was also thought by some to be the writer of the books , he is a fellow neopoltian  writer a story of a marriage also worth mentioning  this is translated by Jhumpa Lahiri .

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Next to Holland and a Dutch debut novel about Van Goch that tries to go behind the man and discover what he really was like. An interesting idea as we all have ideas of what he was like .

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Next the first of a number of books from Maclehose as part of a new series celebrating writing from around the world for their first ten years. Bella Donna is the latest from Dasa Drndic the Croatian writer , I have reviewed her two previous books Trieste and Leica format . Belladonna finds a man in old age trying to work out how we got here from what happened in the past the madness of the world we live in that has left him a true intellectual struggling. I’m looking forward to this as I really like her writing style and the way she picks apart the  world .AS I said last week I want to do some event for Maclehose tenth anniversary and for the fact they have been a support of my blog for a long time .

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Jacob the translator of this book contact me , the book follows a long lost story The Major refutation is a lost book about a voyage that didn’t find a new world and came back to tell the truth.

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Last but not least I treated myself to this epic basque novel that follows a couple through the decades from the fire and passion of trying to be independent then setting into their every day lives a look at what it is to be Basque .

 

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