Catching the old how to adding depth to my blog and a new site from english pen


I love translation as every one knows ,but part of the problem with me and the blog is constant thinking I think most days about how to do this that and the other .Mainly just way to improve how and what I blog ,one of the main thing I feel is lacking is depth in the content I have reviewed a lot of books in translation but the coverage tends to be in the last five years .I constantly feel there is gaps ,no Albert  Camus ,One Jorge Luis borges story ,One Umberto Eco novel ,a couple of Grass ,not enough African fiction in Translation  and so on and so on the list is virtually endless as is the job of this blog .It’s great reading the Current but for this to work as a real resource I need to add depth to the books under review ,so I need to start adding a few reread books  in my reading pile  and plundering my piles of second-hand buys  in an attempt to build a canon of world lit fill in my gaps in reading ,form a network of how literature has evolved world-wide how book a in say Argentina has had a visible effect on book b from Iraq say ,in building this knowledge and connections here it will make a better resource ,that said I struggle to avoid new reads ,a point I was discussing with Dan from Utterbiblio the other day but as this year I seemed to be reading a book or two more a month ,I will try to fit these older books in .My question is how do you avoid the shiny and New and do you endlessly by books and then have them on shelves for months and months ?

In other news English pen has launched a new website on books in Translation called world bookshelf in partnership with Foyles here ,A number of the English pen associated books mentioned on the site can be found here under review .Like The ravens to name one ,it also has a blog attach to it with post by translators ,the first post is about the rise in translation ,the small rise we as readers need to help climb to an acceptable level of books published in translation ,for me 4.5% isn’t enough we need to get folks reading the wonderful books on this site and out there and let publishers know they can translate more .

The one that got lost winston’s books


Well it was a mystery a postcard from the post office arrived the other day three pound something owed in postage so with Easter and work I didn’t get chance to sort paying it til Tuesday and then when I arrived home from work today found this had arrived . I had to laugh that this book lost luggage had lost its postage en route to me .The book is the story of four brothers spread across Europe with the same father but different mothers all called Christopher or a variant on that name but they don’t know each of yet ! El Mundo called the An astonishing literary artefact

Happy New Year -this is a new year that was the old year

winston taken last new years day

Well it’s that time of year again New years day the time to make resolutions and plans for the coming year and also a chance  to look back and digest  how the last twelve months have gone  on the blog and reading wise for myself .

Last year was a strange one it felt for me  , I drifted in my blogging. But when I got my year-end report from wordpress I was surprised what I had done  and after reading Sue’s post .I thought well it was a busy year really and maybe I just relaxed as a blogger and gone with my natural flow .So highlights of last year was doing the two shadow juries the first was the man Asian one last January with Lisa in charge ,with matt ,sue ,mark and Fay .Then I took a leaf out Lisa’s book to start a shadow IFFP jury with Rob Lisa Mark Simon Tony and Gary .I loved doing both these and am at moment stuck in the middle of this years Shadow Man Asian jury .I also started Spanish Lit month with Richard to highlight Spanish language fiction from all round the world .That’s not to mention Henry Green week .I also loved joining Lizzie and Caroline in German lit month ,once again and the fact it brought a chance to  enjoyed a new chunk of Germanic literature .So in looking back on my year I did a lot really, made lots of new blogging friends and help promote fiction in translation which is the main aim of the blog these days.

So 2013 another year resolutions reading and blog wise ,I have debated doing a post a day and I know it be hard to keep up my job and life just isn’t able to support a post a day so my resolutions is to try to post a little more and maybe do 50 more post than last year which equates to a post every other day or so which seems achievable .I have previously tried to set reading totals but I m leaving them behind I feel my reading is at a constant level and pushing it to read more will a. spoil my enjoyment of books as I rush trough rather than saviour them , I really need to add load more books to the unreviewed pile (close to 60 books already on it ) .Another blog resolution is to try over next twelve months to clear pile of books I ve read but not covered on the blog so far ,hopefully doing a few more posts will even this out and cut the pile down .challenges I will be doing some more challenge of my own next year and joining in a few along the way I m sure I prefer month or week long  challenges to year-long ones hence I ve not signed up for any this time again .So my first challenge is Tony’s January in Japan I ve one book read and currently on my second book .

So a very happy new year to you one and all and may the year be a very bookish one for you .

Best Music ,Tv AND Fillms 2012

I thought be fun to go through some of my music Tv and film highlights of 2012 ,I do worry as I get older having passed 40 this year .My taste are getting quite nostalgic ,this year saw a whole heap of new albums by artists I have loved for year ,so new music been harder to find ,I mean I could not by the two new Neil Young albums could I now ! any way here goes –

Best music 2012 –

I did in the middle of the year have start a music blog partly for the reason I stated my worry of becoming middle-aged and boring in my music tastes ,so here are a few albums I have enjoyed in the past twelve months .

Father John Mistry- fear fun –

The first album under a new name released by J Tilman the former drummer from fleet foxes ,This album saw a change in direction from his earlier solo efforts which where nearer fleet foxes in tone ,this album saw him move towards a more rocky , country rock feel ,also a darker tone to his lyrics .As seen in this video .

The Beachwood spark – The tarnished Gold

A band that disappeared for year but this was first time I had heard of them in this album that saw them return after eleven year ,an album of laid back california rock in fact at times you’d think it was a lost Laurel Canyon classic .As you can see in this video .

Bill Fay – Life is people

I think this is my favourite of year ,you have ask what took him so long this was his first new music in Forty years .But boy was it worth the wait a voice that has age like Cohen ,waits or the late Johnny Cash .Fay lyrics are simple affairs but you find they stick in your head all day after you’ve listened to him .As you see from video something spiritual I found in his music .

Reissue  of the year -A R Kane the singles

I couldn’t find the tapes I had of there early albums, so this reissue was welcome for a band even in there day were overlooked but in their  own way were very influential over ambient dance and shoegazing music .

Other mentions –

Neil Young – Psychedelia Pill – there first Jam album and some great guitar solo’s but maybe not his best lyrics .

Bob Dylan – Tempest – Any new dylan album is a must to me ,but must admit this one has stuck on ipod all year ,which is longer than his last few .

Best Tv programmes –

Well I don’t really get to follow series these days ,with my job shifts mean it is very rare I get a day of the week where I’m not working at some point over space of few weeks ,which makes following series quite hard but I have a couple that I have followed by catching up on line .

Elementary –

When I first heard there was going be an US version of the uk series Sherlock .So when I was Johnny Lee Miller and the casting of Lucy Liu as a female Watson ,was exciting .So I watched the first one and yes it is a bit to like other us drama’s like CSI and House ,but it has one great factor they don’t and that is the frantic Johnny Lee Miller who captures a former drug addict Sherlock so well a man with a past but also a little manic .Great see Miller in a role he is suited too an underused actor I have always thought .

Sherlock  –

the second series of Sherlock built on the first series ,I loved the new take on the hound of the Baskervilles a wonderfully clever twist on the original story .

The story of film an odyssey  –

A journey through film making .I enjoyed how Mark cousin mixed both historic and thematic tones in each episode to build a history of the cinema world-wide ,this did leave me with a list of films I need to see needless to say .

Best Films 2012

Well I don’t often go to pictures so most of the films I watch tend to be when the reach sky so my list will be films from earlier this year .

Tiny furniture –

The debut film from Lena Dunham ,ok it was out before 2012 but I got to it this year and loved her quirky and odd view of the world as a daughter returning home after college facing up to the next step in life ,whilst having parties and meeting a cast of odd characters .

Ted –

we went to cinema to watch this as Amanda and I very rarely agree on films we like but this was a wonderfully funny film about what if a ted came to life and how he deals with his kid growing up ,made me laugh all way through and any film with Sam Jones the flash Gordon from the camp classic is worth watching .

That’s it lots I want to watch when they reach tv or I get them on dvd ,moonrise kingdom and beasts of the southern wild being two .

What have been your music book and film highlights ?

Winstons coffee plus a song for April fools

Well as you all know I turned 40 two weeks ago and  these last two weeks been filled with reading for shadow independent foreign fiction prize this is first time in a long while . I have had a set books that I have  had to read it strange as it has focused my reading and also up my daily page count (I always try for 100 pages a day some days I do others I just don’t have time too ) as I needed to read 100 plus pages a day to get the books I had not read from the longlist done in the four weeks I had til shortlist comes  out as this years list is full of chunky books so I ve been relaxed about blogging and it has suited me I worried too much in the past about how often I posted and tried for daily post but these lat few weeks have shown less is indeed more as I have up the word count on my reviews from an average of 500 now up to 700 I feel this is part of my new-found confidence in my blog and the passion behind the blog which is fiction in translation .Previously I set the bar high and tried one to tie one to many strings to my bow .I know that doing what I do now is the best for me and my own confidence in the blog as a vision of what I want to pass on which is my love of translation ,as for shadow IFFP reading my last two reads the Amos oz scenes from village life then Aharon Appelfeld blooms of darkness both Israeli writers which have touch me in different ways maybe because both writers have had a number of books out so have developed a style of their own which shines out from some of the other books on the list .Also remind me how much I like Hebrew literature which has always been a favourite area of world literature for me .I wonder if other people find being given a list of books and working through them helps focus there minds and blogging style .I missing bloggeista this year as I have lot things I want to do but I think a weekend is to short time to get things in place and as I ve said small steps and fewer posts but more quality in the post I write is the way forward ,so at last a positive view from me I love my blog and have fallen back in love with blogging again .I may also thank my fellow shadow judges for both the IFFP and man asian our chats on twitter and via e-mail have inspired this blogger more than you will ever know .Any way enough with the blog it is april fools day a day for joy and laughter I ll; share a track from Jake Thackray the northern Noel coward or English Jacques Brel  he was a singer songwriter who wrote humorous and thought-provoking songs .I recently got his jake in a box which is 8 pound on i tunes a real bargain I think .so I give you sister Josephine a nun that isn’t what she seems .

So what you been up too ?

How do you find inspiration for blogging ?

winstons coffee waterstone’s 11 what not one translation !!

Well sure you’ve seen around the blogosphere these last few days post about the Waterstone’s 11 for 11 debut novels due out this year or already out .Well I m disappointed as not one of the debuts is a translation ,as ever books in translation are not considered for this list .Well I thought for those who may like a few tips on debut books in translation I give you a few books that are due out and are debut’s or reissuses worth looking into  –

The coming by Andrej Nikoladis – A debut from the european literature prize-winning Montenegrin writer .A detective investigating a crime in a small town is drawn in to an odd world as the library burns down and you take a trip through the past and a medieval heretic that announced the second coming  also events that might happen . from the  new publisher  Istros books .

The brothers by Asko Sahlberg – the first of Peirene press year of small epics a book from finland about brother that thought on different sides of the war of 1809 between  finland and russia ,Meike calls it a historic novel in miniature form .

Trieste by Dasa Drndic A women waits to meet her son she hasn’t seen for sixty odd years after he was conceived under that nazi regime as part of the lebensborn project for pure Aryans .an inventive novel that use many styles of writing  and one that has been on my wish list since its first mention last year . I have mention this before but its publication was put back out next month .

Faces in the crowd by Valeria Luiselli  a mexican novel set in present day Mexico city with a 21st century Emily Dickinson and 1950’s Philadelphia  and the tale of lost Mexican Poet one of the most exciting voices from latin america and has been compared to Roberto Bolano another great voice from Mexico .due out may .

The family of Pascal Duarte by Camila Jose Cela – Not a debut but one of spain’s most highly regarded writers and a noble winner nice to see Dalkey Archive bring him back .A  murderer looks back on his hard life of poverty hatred and depravity whilst on death row .

The islands by Carlos Gamerro .I reviewed an open secret by him recently now and other stories are publishing his next book Felipe felix is given a mission that makes him remember the Falklands war and find a witness to a crime for a manganate .If it is half as good as open secret it will be excellent

I burn Paris by Bruno Jasienski  a controversial book in its day that lead to its writer being deported from france ,a man poisons Paris water supply and we see how it affects the population a classic of polish lit in english for the first time from twisted spoon  .

Winstons coffee Austen fear

Last night I was sat in bed with Amanda ,We started to watch a programme from the other night called unfinished .This was  part of the BBC ‘s on going  season of  Dickens related programmes for his 200th anniversary .What we got was a general show mainly focused on the last dickens novel the mystery of Edwin Drood ,which was shown earlier in the week in a new tv version that had been finished by the screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes ,she had written her own ending based on the feeling she had for the book and its characters .Of course since it was written there has been many books written completing and others wondering what might have happened .Well I m rambling here other parts of the show focused on other books and painting that haven’t been finished .One of these was the last Jane Austen novel Sanditon ,I vaguely knew of this book .But knew little or nothing on its plot which is about the beginnings of a new seaside town called Sanditon and is told by the people who live there using her usual style of insight and social commentary  .I have read three of her novels when in my late teens early twenties so nearly twenty years ago and I was neither a huge fan or disliked them at the time,main reason for reading them was the girls seemed to like her books and it maybe gave me something to talk about as a shy youth  with the fairer sex ,but  I have never gone back maybe because I have a fear of her as I know that to  so many people her writing is important and her books mean a lot to them and I’d hate  to go back and not like her works  .But this book has grabbed my attention I like it when I here a little bit about a book and I grabbed like I am now to go out and buy it .the main reason is  I ve always had an interest in how seaside towns got where they where and how some flourished and others like it seems in this case others were destined to fail .Who like some of the characters  made this happen as on the whole it seems to have been a single or small group of people who lead to the growth of a number of seaside towns .I feel this may be a Book door back to Austen for me as she is a writer I want to like and get to know again , plus I recently brought a nice hard back of pride and prejudice cheap and have been dying yet on the other hand  scared of reading it ,I feel this is a male think with female writers of this time so as this is a rambling type post where I let my thoughts out on subjects. I wonder are there male writers that women are scared to tackle ? and if other male readers have women writers that give them a worry ? 

winstons coffee and muffin – plugged in


Well after a week away for blog and google reader ,Facebook  for most part ,I feel refreshed and ready to face the blogging world again .I had a busy week at work til thursday and then I’ve had the weekend with Amanda we went to Sheffield on friday and I called in there Waterstones which is much large than the one than we have in Chesterfield .So here are the books I got .

Dona Flor and her two husbands by Jorge Amado – Brazil’s most famous writer of modern times ,a women loses her first husband,she  remarried and then her first husband reappears on her first night with her husband .I liked sound of this one in the shop .

Petersburg by Andrei Bely – This was mentioned on a radio show the other week and I remembered it was one I had noted a time ago as to read .So this new penguin edition seemed a great buy Vladimir Nabokov choose it as one of his five favourite books .He is often called the russian James Joyce .

Cairo swan song by Mekkawi Said – the other day I noticed my supply of Arabic books had run down in last couple of years so this is a welcome addition to that pile short-listed for the Arabic booker prize in 2008 .Mustfa tells the story of himself and his friends growing up in modern Egypt .

I brought the fourth book at tesco the other day as Amanda saw a book she wanted and I saw this one .

The savage altar by  Asa Larsson – this is the first in the Rebecka Martinsson series ,after I enjoyed until thy wrath be past .I looking forward to seeing where this story starts .


I also visited the local Oxfam on saturday and brought three books –

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino – A Japanese thriller ,every one is 1Q84 at mo .I’ll try something else and I liked the sound of this very dark sounding book .

Malgudi days by R K Narayan – I had this from library as part of a collection of four of his books but didn’t get to read it so this was a good find as I love the world of Malgudi Narayan drew in his books .

The hard life by Flann O’Brien – I keep saying to Kim mainly of reading matters I need to read some irish fiction so got another of O’brien to read he is clever and funny but sometimes I find him a little hard to get hold of and I like that when I m reading .

Have you read any of these ?

What did I miss ?

Winstons coffee

Well ten days have flown ,I ve been on holiday from work and wanted a rest from cyberspace ,next thing I know it is ten days later .I ve had a great week thou watch some of my D.V.D  box sets (both the bbc versions of smiley books ) ,got caught up listening to the radio four production of life and fate by Vasily Grossman ,such a well produced and acted piece .It moved me so much I went out and brought it to read my self on friday .My reading has mainly been taken up with Peter Nadas epic parallel stories .So as I sit here thinking there’s a lot to catch up on in cyberspace .

How has your week been ?

winstons coffee

Well its sunday I ve just done my BBAW links for my nomination .I ve had a busy week at work ,but that said I managed to get a bit of reading done all said ,I found a new crime writer I love the Polish writer Marek Krajewski his Eberhard Mock has been a revelation to me ,Krajewski is a master of description so I feel I ve spent a couple of days in 1919 Breslau not 2011 Derbyshire which is good the weather has been terrible here this week.I went to town yesterday with Amanda and pick some books up from Oxfam and a half price copy of the new Julian Barnes which is longlisted for the Booker prize .Amanda went to Bakewell yesterday so we had some Bakewell tart for our supper last night ,the original tart is so much tastier than the other ones you can buy from elsewhere in the country .so that’s been part of my week ,I m keeping  an eye on the hurricane and hoping people are safe.

How has your week been ?

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March 2023


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