The Door was Open by Karine Khodikyan

The Door was Open by Karine Khodikyan

Armenian short stories

Original title ԴՈՒՌԸ ԲԱՑ ԷՐ

Translator  Nazareth Seferian

Source – review copy

Something I have enjoyed the last few years is the books from Armenia that Glagoslav has been great to read as there are so few books from Armenia around to read. So we have another Armenian writer here Karine Khodikyan she has been a teacher and Journalist, also edited a couple of magazines, and was also the deputy culture minister for a period of time. She has written plays which has been staged around the world and hosts a tv show on Armenian  TV and is currently writing a humorous Detective novel this is her first work to be translated into English.

Every time, one second before she took the key out of her bag, herfinger seemed to be covered in frost, and each time it seemed certain that the yellowish metal would touch her finger and chafe some of the skin. But when she opened the door and the emppty darkness of her corridor rapidly embraced her with greed, she wpuld feel like she was growing acquainted with her own grave. and when she would sticj her hand into darkness woth the same rapidity to find the switch and turn on the light, she would onece again feel assured that being alone with death would scare her.

The opening of the door was open paints that darkness that is felt in the tales.

The stories all have female characters at the heart from the opening tale the title story of the collection with a story of women and her growing fear of an attack by a serial killer that is killing single women the man bare-chested she mocks him coming to her until an open door and a sudden noise makes her feel somewhat different. Then in Etude, we have a warring couple a husband and wife that are arguing but the wife is always the one coming out on top in their arguments due to her superior language skills. But my favorite tale of the ones in this collection was the smell of bread and death the story of a family history told through the smell of bread being made a family of gravediggers told from the grave. Then we have a monster under the bed at the heart of a childhood tale. But elsewhere death lingers of these dark tales a collection that is a great intro to an interesting writer.

The first time he realized that his family was different had been before he had even turned five. He would libe a few years more and turn twelve before he fully understood, before that wet, cloudy day when his father did not even look in his direction as he said in an unusal voice(or as he would consider later, a guilty voice), or perhaps one could say he asker,

“Come with me..”

But there was still time left before that day would arrive , and Avet, who was not yet fivem would never forget the loneliness that invaded him when he realized that his family was living in that town with the stigma of being different,No he didn’y trmember which grade he was when he was when he read the word “stigma” in a textbook for the first time and relaized that he had found it. His family stigma..

The stigma of being the twon gravediggers hangs over the family in the story The smeel of bread and death.

the collection has a female voice and perspective even when the characters are male it shows the female as in Etude it is the wife that is the stronger character. But there is also darkness and melancholy all over these tales from childhood scares of a monster under the bed. To a half-naked serial killer going around killing single women. Then the stigma of coming from a family of gravediggers there is a veil of darkness over these tales but they draw the reader in. Khodikyan has a way of blurring time so the reader feels as though they’re floating in time at times. The vivid prose style comes through at the time with a richly descriptive style at time sticky dark floors the translator has done a great job keeping such passages that add to the feel of darkness in the stories. I keep saying tales as there is at times a feeling of dark fairy tales in the collection. Have you a favorite book from Armenia?

Winstons score +B a great intro to a new writer

 

Elegy for Joseph Cornell by Maria Negroni

Elegy for Joseph Cornell by Maria Negroni

Argentinian fiction

Original title -Elegia Joseph Cornell

Translator – Alison A. deFreese

Source – personal copy

Here we have another great female writer from Latin america the Poet Maria Negroni had translated the bio of the artist Joseph Cornell written by Charles Simic. She had won a Guggenheim award and a pen award for her poetry as one of the best books when it was translated into English. What she has done is a tribute and elegy to the artist that defies genre it is prose biography poetic all in one almost like his boxes where a collection of found pieces that fit together when put together. Another gem from the Dalkey archive literature series who else would bring out a book that is only 90 pages long and probably is less than that when the space in the book is removed.

Notes for a short Biography 1

The man loved getting lost in the city in which he lived. He was born at 1:13pm. From a blue heart insofe a seashell that someone had left in a hotel room. We know that his mother loved to playing the piano and that his father sold fabric, that several children lived in the house – including one that was paralytic – and that they all played together on Utopia Parkway. These were earthly games with the semblance of prayers – as are all games – and children threw themselves into their play as if they were magians and trapeze artist or flea trainers in the mythical circus of their yout. The children had grown now, and the man worked alone in the basement.

The first of a number of small bio snippets the reference to his brother he looked after all his life and the solitary adult he became

This is a collection of vignettes poetic pieces that flow between a bio of Cornell life snippets such as his love of wandering the city he loved New york comparing him to other great Flaneurs such as Baudelaire, Nerval, and Proust.His single solitary lifestyle a man that to many was an enigma.The grey man of New York a solitary figure wandering the streets, The second thread is around his paintings and his avant-garde films. The little vignettes that either describe the film or are an ode to those famous pieces of his like Children’s party, the Aviary A third thread is a tribute to his collecting items a list of things he owned. This is one of those books that is hard to describe itis a tribute to a unique man with a work that is a patchwork of styles.

The Duchamp Dossier

It’s a cardboard box in which, for years, Joseph Cornell collected small keepsakes from his friendship with Duchamp, The box contained 117 items of various types. The French artist empty tobacco pouch, two cleaners for his famous white pip, a napkin from Horn & Hardart(one of those automats that was all the rage in the 30’s and where they almost certainly met), letter, photographs, postcard of the mona lisa, several yellowed notes in his handwritin, gallery posters and even dry cleaning receipts which reveal Duchamp’s unusal habit of sending evertything to the dry cleaner, even sock and handkerchiefs

The box was put on display for the first time in 1998, on the occasion of the Joseph Cornell/Marcel Duchamp: In resonance exhibition held in the Philadelphia Musuem of art.No one can explain how Cornell managed to acquire such “Mementos”

A piece about a box , but  nod to his habit of eating junk food all his life such as Automat cafes

I was aware of Cornell mainly through reading up on Jonas Mekas the last few years a filmmaker Avant Gardelike Cornell that knew Cornell and inherited his work when he died. At the heart of this book is the man Cornell a man who wanders New york finding collecting items to use art at some future point. The book is a journey a walk through his life but we only pick a few snippets of his life this is his box. The box for Joseph Cornell is a collage to the man a mix of style and genres. If you like Cornell this will appeal to you if you are a fan of experimental fiction this would appeal to you.

Winstons score – A+ these are the gems I write this blog for books that challenge us as a reader and defy genre !!

 

Love in Five Acts by Daniela krein

Love in Five acts by Daniela Krien

German Fiction

original title – Die Liebe im Ermsfall

Translartor – Jamie Bulloch

Source – review copy

It is always nice to revisit a writer that the first time you read them wasn’t what you thought they were well Daniela Krein is such a writer I was sent her debut novel Someday we’ll tell each other everything which when I finally read it I Loved like this novel it focus on relationships and also was set in former East Germany. Krien is also a documentary filmmaker who grew up in former East Germany and has lived in Leipzig where this book is set since the late 90’s. The book focus on five people from Leipzig and how relationships and families work in the 21st century and tackle tough subjects like children dying.

Every evening she waited for Ludger to come home.The tempering job took up his time like no other project and he often got back late. While she waited, she cooked, read made telephone calls or stood by the window, never forgetting thaft everything she was doing was merely killing time. The tension only ended when she heard his key in the lock and Paula wondered whether  it was really just down to the apartment and its emptiness

Just after they are married she has a void will the children fill it for Paula .

As I said the book has five stories that are all set in and around Leipzig where Daniela Krein lives. They start with Paula and her husband and children. She met what was an eccentric guy but when they married he became authoritarian her husband is a traditional head of the householder but when they lose their daughter Joanne her husband blames his wife for the loss of their daughter as he struggles with his grief and lass out at her.  so leaves her and goes Abroad leaving the fragile Paula trying to rebuild her life and find some love in it after a double blow of both the void of her daughter and now her husband !. Then we meet Judith a doctor and Horsewomen.  I liked Judith she is a woman that is a rider I have to say I’ve meet a few Judith over the years one of these horsewomen that is more interested in Horse than men really but we see her navigate the world of Online dating and the ups and downs that brings along the way. She is also a good friend of Paula so linking the stories together. Then Brida who like Paula is connected to Judith as she is a patient of Judith she is a writer but is at a crossroads of her life where she has to choose whether it is love or writing the path she should follow! there are two more stories but I will leave them for you to follow.

Judith lights a cigarette. She gets up and opens the window, then writes;

Dear succesful, striking, masculine man, empathy is the ability to read another persons feelings. Anybody claiming to have empathy “in spades” strikes me as suspicous.

She addsa winkering smiley and clicks send

Judith smokes serenly, not hastily like those nictoine addicts. In search of her preferences she chose non-smoker and no desire to have children. She  generous about age. They can be betwen thiry-five and fifty-five, although a fifty-five year old must have quite a bit to offer to make up for the age difference. She’s a doctor, she’s familar with the problems men can have over fifty. By theb a hard sustained errection is an improable bonanza. Like a lottery win. But she doesn’t do the lottery

Judith looking on line for love and the men she meets !!

I enjoyed her first book although at the time I remarked on the cover art this cover I like it captures the strength that is just below in all the women in the book in this series of interlinking stories of modern life and love in Leipzig. The book is more on the inner turmoil and not so much full of action but more the inner lives behind closed doors as we are drawn into the lives of these five women all connected. Thou set in Former East Germany this isn’t much of a theme just in the background of characters at the fringe of the stories. A look at the modern world for German wives, singletons, sisters, and well Horsewomen !! Five viewpoints that see the both sexual, emotional, martial, and work lives explored. I have to agree with another review I read that said about Jamie’s translations he had translated the first book from Krien. They hadn’t disliked a book he has translated I agree with that sentiment plus his translations never seem overly clunky they flow. Have you read either of the books from Krien that have been translated?

Winstons score – A It is  a solid book about modern women’s lives.

Meeting in Positano by Goliarda Sapienza

 

Meeting in Positiano by Goliarda Sapienza

Italian fiction

Original title – Appuntamento a Positano

Translator – Brian Robert Moore

Source – review copy

I move to Italy and a book by Goliarda Sapienza a piece of auto-fiction set on the Amalfi coast. Sapienza starts her life in a small Italian town before moving to Rome to study at the academy of dramatic arts. She then had a successful career as an actress as firstly in Pirandello plays then as a film star, which is how she meets the main character in this book as they were scouting locations for a film. She then concentrated in her later life on her writing she had a number of works published her life but what is considered her masterpiece the art of Joy was published after she died as at the time it was written the female character was considered to unrestrained in her life.

Everyone was held spellbound as she walked down the strps to the dock where a skiff waited for her to push out to sea. Or when upon her return, at no later than one o’clock. Nocola – the son of Lucibello, called the monkey, the oldest and most audacious ex-fishermen in Positano, who like the rest of them had switched to renting beach umbrella and lungersx – helped her down from the boat, and with admiring eyes followed her steps on the carpet of wooden planks which made a snug living room of the ancient , rocky bay.

Every time, Nicola was left breathless by that “Thank You” barely whispered from two harmoniously shaped lips, perhaps too full to be perfect. The teenage boy couldn’t help but stareuntil she went out of view, slightly hurrying up the large steps through the feverish and bustling crowd, the men all in trunks, the women ion their beach outfits, too colorful to bear the contrast with her sober sarong o her trouser pants.

The opening shows the power this mystrious women “the princess ” whart caused her sorrow .

The book starts in late 1940 when Goliarda scouting for a filming location take her to the small town of Positano and the princess a woman of mystery to all those that live in the town Goliarda connected with this older woman and what started in a friendship that lasts over thirty years and what we have here is the story of these two women growing closer over the years as the story of Erica life from her family that had been nobles hence the people of Positano calling her the Princess. A sorrowful life of love in various forms from a lover that she never had  Ricardo she wants him to love her but he never did so she then fell into a marriage with Leopoldo a connection of her father that turns out to be a controlling man that stifles Erica. What we have is a sketch of a life that is weighted down with regrets and mistakes all set against the beauty of the Amalfi coast and also the changes in post-war Italy.

The next morning, obeying her enticing command as if it had come from a goddess- and trying at the same time to laugh at my childin=sh side always straved of fairy tales – I push open the heavy, dark curtains and then the light muslin drapes tinted gold by the sunruse. The french doors of crisp glass open onto a terrace completely covered in red flowers that have fallen from a bougainvillea. My bar feet slide happily on the terra-cotta floor. I’ll stop wearing shoe, too, I think with conviction , even if it’ll make me come accross as a real positanese snob like her .

Her  freiend had a real air about her another suimmer spent in positano

This is another of that rediscovered writer that we have seen a lot in recent years from Natalie Ginzburg, Tove Ditlevsen strong female writers that deserve a wider audience, and here is another on that vein. I want to read Art of Joy when it came out as it sounds like a great read so when I was offered this I decide to try this out and I was right this is a simple story of a friendship. of a woman that had a life so different from the writer of the book but also as the story of her life unfolds The Princess grows close to this modern woman Erica that is what is so great and real in this is how different the two women are it is a story of two women who if not for chance would have never met but then they form a thirty-year bond. Maybe if you missing a certain Italian writer here is a book that could fill the Ferrante gap a sun drench tale of two women from different worlds. A great rediscovery from an interesting writer that sadly died over twenty years ago.

Winstons score – -A  The tale of two women is tounching.

Shadow Booker Shortlist 2021

Well we have read all the books between us in the shadow jury and had a successful first-ever zoom chat to discuss the books and it was clear there we had only a few titles of this year’s longlist that we all really loved and for a change they were the same books we all seemed to champion and like this list, this year has a scope but the books although diverse in the style of writing from memoir, verse, vignettes, short stories, nonfiction fiction, sci-fi, historic, autofiction and a novel for a novel prize!

So what are our choices here they are-

David Diop (France) & Anna Moschovakis
– At Night All Blood is Black (Pushkin Press)

Benjamin Labatut (Chile) & Adrian Nathan West
– When We Cease to Understand the World (Pushkin Press)

Olga Ravn (Denmark) & Martin Aitken
– The Employees (Lolli Editions)

Adania Shibli (Palestine) & Elizabeth Jaquette
– Minor Detail (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Maria Stepanova (Russia) & Sasha Dugdale
– In Memory of Memory (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Andrzej Tichý (Sweden) & Nicola Smalley
– Wretchedness (And Other Stories)

Our journey of books takes us from a Sudan soldier in world war I. Then a  book about science and those odd little tales of how things come about. Then a crew of a spaceship both human and android is interviewed about what makes us what we are. A footnote in history that saw a girl’s life change is recalled then and now. A flat clearing turns into an epic about a family but also about art during the 20th century. Then there is a story of breaking free of our roots or is it! Three of the publishers here have supported this blog with books over the years. the other was new to me at the start of this years prize we will be rereading discussing and deciding our winner watch this space guys !!!

The little man from Archangel by Georges Simenon

The little man from Archangel by Georges Simenon

Belgian fiction

Original title – Le Petit Homme d’Arkhangelsk

Translator Sian Reynolds

Source – review copy

A quick break from all the booker longlist books and another of the series of books that Penguin over the last few years have been retranslating from the great Belgian writer Georges Simenon. This is the 11th book from these books I have reviewed.  Here is a novel that shows how diverse his style was a crime novel but more a commentary on those values that simmer under the surface in small french towns and how when a meek mild-mannered man can get s=caught up through one simple lie. This book has been a radio drama on radio four and with a change in the origins of the main character, it was made into a film in 2007. This among critics it is considered to be one of his best books!

He makes the mistake of telling a lie. He sensed this is the moment he opened his mouth to answer fernand Le Bouc, and it was really inly from timidity and lack of self confidence that he hailed to change the words that rose to his lips.

So he said

“She’s gone to Bourges.”

Le boue,as he rinsed a glass behind the counter, asked,”La Loute still there, is she?”

He replied without looking up

“I suppose so”

It wasten in the morning and a thursdad, so the markjet was in full swing. In Fernand’s narrow, glass-frontedcafe on the corner of Impasse des tois-Rois, five or six men were standing at the counter. At the precise moment, it was not important who was present, but it would became so, and Jonas Milk would try to indentiry every face

The book opens with a little white lie that will snowball out of control for the meek Jonas.

The book follows a couple Jonas Milk and his gina a good wife she keeps their flat above their bookshop clean the marriage was sorted from her family to give her a settled base but there is little love companionship and a 16 year age difference. but she has one small problem her mild-mannered meek husband of Russian descent. This meek man isn’t enough so she spends the night with other men but she always returns. So when one morning when she hadn’t returned to her home when asked by a neighbor where his wife was that day she disappeared he says she had visited the local town as the days turn voices start turning toward Jonas the Russian who came to the town with his parents he went to Paris but returned to this village settled down. A man that is simple with plain tastes soon finds him at the heart of gossip and also a changing feeling as the longer Gina is away the more the eyes turn to the husband about what has happened to her. Jonas starts to feel the pressure build around him as he is trapped by what he had said as people cut him off and rumors start around him!

The left him in peace until monday, too much in peace perhaps, since it made him think they were distrancing themselves from him. Perhaps he was becoming too sensitive and ascribing to people non-existent intentions?

Having asked for news of Gina over the last two days, as insistently as if they were calling him to account, they no longer mentioned her in his presence now, and he suspected Le Bouc, ancel and the others were deliberately avoiding reffering to his wife.

Why had they suddenly lost interest in her? And if they knew where she was, what reason did they have not to tell him ?

The suspicions of Jonas grows and he starts to see the signs of the Anti semitisim and the suspicions around him?

This is different from the other books I have read by Simenon as they are mainly from the Maigret series of books here we have him looking at the way a small town can turn itself also an underlying feeling of anti Semitism that follows under the town when it turns out Gina may have not gone to the next town and all eyes turn on Jonas the Russian although he has lived in France most of his life and is French. It is a story of the undercurrents that flow in small towns like this in the post-war years where the mistrust is never far away. What happened to Gina, what will happen to Jonas. It is a perfect evening to read a glimpse into a small french town that becomes fevered rather like in Agartha christie towns there is an undercurrent against the immigrant. There are two more coming in the series of non-Maigret books coming this year. Have you read this or any of the other non-Maigret Simenon books.

Winstons score  -A  This is a perfect book for an early summer evening.

 

April 2021 that was the month that was !!

  1. The Employees by Olga Ravn
  2. The war of the Poor by Eric Vuillard
  3. In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova
  4. Minor Detail by Adania Shibli
  5. The Perfect Nine by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  6. The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez
  7. I Live in the Slums by Can Xue

I read all the books this month were on the Booker Longlist which came out at the end of March. So I went from Denmark with a sci-fi novel that questions humanity and what it is to be human through a series of interviews then a french novella about a german religious reformer The A Russian family and the artistic movements are remembered when aunts flat is cleared and a set of family memories pout out. Then a story of a women’s death is told from then and rediscovered in the now as just a footnote in history. Then tribal history is recalled in a novel in verse from a great writer in later work. The dark short stories that sometimes are very close to the bone from a Latin American writer that is a rising star. The collection of short stories that capture the ebb and flow of modern china and the migrant. The month saw one new publish Lolli editions no new countries. I had hoped to review more but time caught up with me a lot this month.

Book of the month

For one month only as these are on the longlist and we are discussing the list I will leave this let’s say there are two books from one publisher on the list and they would maybe be near the top.

Non book events

I have just caught the oscar-winning film Nomadland which I had been waiting all month to watch. A film that captured a sort of modern Steinbeck trip across the country like the grapes of wrath for a modern age The record shop opened this month so I have brought a number of new records some old favorite a Fall album a brilliant corners album. Then new records from BC Camplight and Katy J Pearson that I have heard championed on Mark Rileys radio show. THen A Marianne faithful spoken word poetry album and a retro of the works of the electro pop band Yello an interesting mix and a fair few CDs which is maybe why I have read a bit less As I had been listening to more music this month. We ventured out to the peaks a few times and I returned to swimming after a break due to lockdown. We have just had our first zoom meeting for the shadow booker which saw us join in from Australia, the US, India, and Here in the Uk but the great thing is to put a voice to people

Next month

I have a mountain of review books also just got a couple of Czech novels that have caught my eye so one of them will appear I’m sure we will be sorting the Booker shadow shortlist.

How was your month reading-wise?

 

I Live in the Slums by Can Xue

I Live in the Slums by Can Xue

Chinese fiction

Original title – the stories were published in various publications and collected here.

Translators Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping

Source – personal copy

Well, this is the second book from Can Xue or as she is known Deng Xiaohua. I have read the first was the longlisted love in the new millennium which was longlisted for the Booker I read it but wasn’t a huge fan of it I have struggled with Chinese fiction over the years but was willing to try as this was a collection of short stories and  I remember reading at the time I read her novel that it was her medium as she had written over a 120 short stories over the years. Known for her Avant-garde and abstract style of writing. She had worked as a metal worker and then with her husband started a tailoring business before she wrote more she took the pen name Can Xue early on in her career.

The Old man sat up in bed, about to bandage his heel with a rag. He had prepared the rags earlier for this purpose. He made a lot of noise tearing up the cloth. He seemed top be strong, He kept wrapping his foot until it was encased in one large package. The pig squealed more and mpore incositently. they were on the verge of leaping out of the pen. He got out of bed and stepped on the floor without putting a shoe on his injured foot. He went outside to feed the pigs. What was this all about? Whu did he let the house mouse bite his heel ? Was therre a tumor there and he was letting the house mouse perform surgery? What admirable willpower ?

The foot getting nibble and the old man then wakes

I Live in the slums is a collection of 15 stories with the longer story the story of the slums being more of a novella than a short story. As with the story of the slums, the main story is a dark tale of the Chinese underclass our narrator opens with a bone of an old man being eaten a dead man I thought but no he then wakes this is the view of the underclass and later the story goes full circle as the same thing happens to the narrator with his foot being eaten and nibbled by a mouse. The stories view the poor lost voices of Modern China from the urban sprawl to the countryside. It captures that journey of many young chinese from the country to the town.  Almost what I felt is this is the reverse of the American dream as the characters are poor in the country but also those left behind those elders struggling. Then the nightmare of the city is captured catfish pool which shws the urban sprawl destroying the places. The stories are all avant garde and sometimes make the reader struggle but also make the stories hard to describe they are more absorb by the reader.

THe slums were my home, and also the hardest place for me to understand. Genrally speaking, I didn’t make a deliberate effort to understand it. Destiny drove me from one place to anpther. I’d been underground, I’d been to the city, and \i’d lived in all kinds of homes in the slums. There was often crises in my life; the threat of death was ongoing, but I was still alive. Could this be because my ancestors were living in the depths of memory and protecting me? Oh – that boundless pasture, that eagle disappearing into the vast qi, those kin who lay on their stomachsin the underbrush! Thinking of them, I felt I knew everything and was capable of anything. But this was in my memory. The reality was absolutely different. In reality, I knew almost noting, through I had experienced so much.

Near the end of the novella the story of the slums the narrator talks of his life in the slums.

I enjoyed this collection more than I had her Novel I was reminded at times of Herta Mullers writing there is a similar richness to her writing style. also a similar abstract sty;le that takes tiome to absorb as a read this is rich in images and is more about atomspehre setting and events than narrative. The stories have lots of little nods to what is wrong in china the underclasses Building come and go the sort of chaos that follows the unending urban sprawl that has eaten the countryside and spilt people from where they were. The main novella is very dark and has a feel of Kafka an unnamed narrator a downward spiral of life. I will be trying more books from Can Xue whch is a change as before this collection I wouldn’t have picked her up. But I know feel her style is more suit to the short form. Have you read Can Xue ? where next ?

WInstons Score = B  It grew on me.

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed By Mariana Enriquez

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

Argentinean fiction

Original title – Los peligros de fumar en la cama

Translator – Megan Mcdowell

Source – Personal copy

I’m back on with the last few Booker International prize books with the shortlist been announced yesterday, the shadow jury will announce our shortlist in due course. One of the things I have really enjoyed the last few years is the emergence of a new generation of Latin American writers and in that, we have a lot more female writers to read than there were when I started Winstonsdad. This is the second collection to be published but as is the way in the world of translated literature this was actually the first book of stories to be published by Marian Enriquez. She studied journalism and Rock Journalism and was a fan of Stephen King and HP Lovecraft when growing up.  Both masters of the Horror short story. She has also written four novels her last won one of the Major book Prize the Herralde Prize.

I found the bones after the rainstorm that turned the back patch pof earth into a mud puddle. I put them in a bucket. I used for carrying my treasures to the spigot on the patio where I washed them. I showed them to Dad. He said they were chicken bones, or maybe even beef bones, or else they were from some dead pet someone must have buried a long time ago, Dogs or cats. He circled back around to the chicken because before, when I was lttle, my grandmother used to have a copp there.

What are the bones who are they ?

This collection opens with a Will Oldham quote which to me was a sign I would like these stories. When the collection opens with the spirit of a dead baby after the bones are found by a granddaughter in the grandmother’s garden. These stories all hark back to those dark years of the Junta and Dictatorship. So we have teen girls using an ouija board to try and talk to those they have lost. I loved the opening of this story as it mentioned the Band Slayer who my best friend is a huge fan of this is a nod to those classic horror genres of teen girls horror films and Metal music a nod to the times. Then I was reminded of a book I read earlier this year by another story in the collection when those children that disappear start reappearing which reminded me of the Novel A luminous republic which had a group of list children suddenly reappearing this is another classic horror story and movie. The rest of the stories all have classic nods to the horror genre and a look at the times they are set in especially the abuse of Girls which crops up in a number of the stories a powerful collection.

At that age there’s music playing in your head all the time , as if a radio were transmitting from the napoe of you neck, inside your skull. Then one day that music starts to grow softer, or it just stops.When that happens, you’re no longer a teenager. But we weren’tthere yet, not even close, back when we talked to the dead. Back wthen, the music was at full blastand it sound like slayer, Reign in blood .

We started the Oija board at Polack’s houser locked in her room. We had to do it secret because Mara, the Plack’s sister was afraid of ghosts and spirits. She was afraid of everything – man, she was a stupid little kid.

The last story in the collection.

Like the later collection Enriquez, she is a master of the Horror Genre I used to read a lot of Stephen King stories in my teens and she has lifted the lid on the dark corners of the human souls and the darkest of times in her homeland this is like a collection of testaments to that time this is a theme I see cropping up time after time in a lot of literature from Argentina it seems the time has come to look back and try and piece apart what happened. This isn’t a collection that sits easily with the read no it is dark and brutal at times may be less polished than her later collection it is still worth reading. A mix of the macabre, folklore, and the dark of the times. Let’s hope her novel is as good when it comes out next year in English Our share of the Night the one that won the Herralde Prize.

Winstons score – B+  a dark collection

The Perfect nine by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

The Perfect Nine by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Kenyan fiction

Original title – Kenda Muiyuru

Translator – The writer himself

Source – personal copy

Now I reach the writer that on the man booker list that was the biggest name on the list Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’ is one of the best known and most respected African writers of his generation. He is often mentioned as a future Nobel winner in the last few years he has been high in the betting each year.  He was one of the first writers to break through and also one of the first writers to question the colonial times and what happened. I reviewed his 1967 novel a grain of wheat a number of years ago that was his best-known book he wrote in English initially before in later years he has written in his native language Gikuyu which he wrote in originally and then translated into English. Which I feel was a great idea as he has kept what must be the rhythm the book had in its original language as this is a novel in verse that has a nod towards greek classics.

Peace! May all glory be to thee, Giver Supreme, peace! May all glory be to the, giver supreme.

In some parts of africa, they call it Mulungu, but it is the same Giver.

The Zulu call himUnkulunkulu, nut he is the same giver.

Others call it Nyassi, Jok, Oldumare, Chukwu, or Ngai, but each id the same giver.

The Hebrews call upon Yahweh or Jehovah, and he is the same giver.

Mohammedans call him Allah, and he is the same Giver

The second chapter connects the story of the giver to both Islam and christian traditions

The story is the story of his own tribe a writing down of the oral history of the story of the Perfect nine the nine daughters of Gikuyu and Mumbi have had nine perfect and beautiful daughters and well there is a tenth daughter. So the news of these daughters has spread so when 99 suitors appear for them.  they are sent on quests ad challenges of strength and skill along the road to find the best set by the parents to the mountain and lands to discover, The last challenge for those that are left is to find the cure to help Wariga the tenth daughter who has been injured and needs a cure that is held by an Orge king so the suitor’s team up each with daughter and then set out this is the origins of the tribe as each daughter settles with them suitor these are all told in little verse in the book that tells of them settling such as Wantjiru, the matriarch of the3 Anjiru clan Wanmbui, Wanjiku and so on these are all the matriarchs of the clans that make up the tribe.

Wanjira, Matriarch of the Anjiru Clan

Of the Perfect nine, she is the oldest.

It is saqid she once put a curse on a hyena

But she had simply put a curse on greed.

Her face exudes empathy and goodness, and

She does not falter when fighting for peace;

She swears by her clan as she calls for conflicts to cease.

When visitors decend upon her from anywhere,

She says, “Don’t ask hunger questions. First give it food”

Her beauty makes men fight to walk beside her.

One of the clan stories of the nine and how they staert the clans.

 

This is a poetic book that has a nod toward the greek epic verses. That is also told in verse poems like Aeneid.  But there is  also the oral tradition of the storyteller around the fire. This is the history of a tribe that had been passed down from generation to generation. It is an origin story that has echoes of other origin stories from around the world. Gikuyu and Mumbi cold be adam and eve and their descendants. But also a nod to tribal histories I remember Michael Palin visit a tribe and being shown a similar history to this. It follows also follows a classic quest story a sort of quest to find something like The lord of the ring’s journey that sees the daughter’s show strength but also sees the suitors fall to one side a survival of the fittest. Myth and reality blur as the epic tells of the start of the tribe. It is very different from his earlier work but also an interesting work that embodies a tribal and vocal history that in these fast-changing times is disappearing like Hunter school which I read earlier this year tribal history is fast disappearing in this modern age where we all want to be connected and the world is shrinking but individual tribes are disappearing and histories are. So that is the tenth book I have reviewed from this year’s longlist three left!

Winstons score – B+

 

 

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