Winstonsdads reads of 2019

Well, 2019 has been a slow reading year than recent I just managed 90 reviews so I’ve chosen my ten books of the year in no particular order here are my top ten books of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Die, my love by Ariana Harwicz I was sent three books by Charco press all could have been on the list but this fits the rest of the list as it is fragment glimpse of a wifes world falling apart in rural france a strong female voice.
  2. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin I had the first chance to double review a book in a new translation. Hofmann version brought to life the world of Franz Biberkopf as I said if John dos Passos Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski has a bastard child it would be Biberkopf and his world.
  3. One clear ice-cold January morning at the beginning of the twenty-first century by Roland Schimmelpfennig Germany leading playwright writes a debut novel that is a state of the nation glimpse of modern Germany from those who have come to the city from around the world.
  4. Fleeting snow by Pavel Vilikovsky, a novel about memory and how it works in interlinking stories that twist around each other as the five tales in this book can and may not be linked it is a wonderful fluid book that is a unique book.
  5. The blind spot by Javier Cercas a collection of essay around fiction but the title piece about the blind spot we never see in books mainly around Moby dick is an interesting essay.
  6. Zero by Gine Cornelia Pedersen I have a soft spot for books that chart the decline in peoples lives and this is a wonderful female voice we follow fragments of her life from her teens to his twenties in modern Norway.
  7. In every wave by Charles Quimper if I had a book of the year this is it and a theme in these books it is fragment narrative this is the story that follows a family break down following the loss of there daughter by drowning.
  8. Tell them of battles, kings, and elephants by Mathias Enard a wonderful meeting of east and west in old Constantinople we follow Michelangelo on an imagined journey there.
  9. River by Ester Kinsky One German woman’s time in London walking along a river leads her into the past and other rivers another book of fluid and fragment proses.
  10. The Last days by Jaroslavas Melinkas A collection of stories that echo a Soviet past. Where in the tales rooms disappearing, a woman aging the wrong way an interesting discovery
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Nocilla Experience by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

Nocilla Experience by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

Spanish fiction

Original title – Nocilla Experience

Translator – Thomas Bunstead

Source – review copy

I had the third part of the trilogy of novels from Agustin Fernandez Mallo. It reminded me that I hadn’t reviewed the second part after reading it so a quick rereading today Christmas eve. He is one of the leading lights of Spanish fiction and his books test the barrier of what fiction is this is similar to the first book Nocilla dream which I reviewed a couple of years ago. He is a writer that mix styles and almost cut his piece into small chunks. Here some chapters are only a few lines long, other glimpses of personal stories.

Henry Darger died at his Chicago home in 1970, having played out what is the strangest, most solitary episode in the history of art. He believed to have been born in Brazil in 1892. When he was four he lost his mother, who died giving birth to a girl who was later given up for adoption . Henry never met this sister. Soon after, bith Henry and his father were admitted to mental institutions. Henry’s diagnosis was that “His heart is not in the right place”.He never saw his father again after that.

Darger maybe a perfect example of the Loner a modern man before Modern men appeared he wrote a 15000 page book no one read!

How to describe a novel by Mallo it is a hard thing as it is ideas stories and concepts in one package. But with this rereading, I got into the rhythm of his writing. It is like when I was young and used shift through the radio stations and dipped in and out of shows. I loved listening to the shortwave and the old Russian and US propaganda stations and This reminds me those years clips of stories like clips from the book at bedtime. Marc a Spanish man reads old agriculture guides and sorts mathematical formulas and lives in the present via the net a lonely man may be a reflection of the modern man. interrupted with clips of dialogue from Apocalypse now another lonely man as we have martin Shaws words as he waits in Saigon for that fateful mission. Then we have a Us soldier that has a son that is born in Iraq when he is station there John Smith has an Iraqi son. Then we have a number of connections to Henry Darger and his work around the Vivian Girls. Darger, I knew off after seeing a documentary a number of years ago I imagine Mallo may have seen the same documentary was largely unknown in his own life only when he died it was discovered a 15000-page work off written and drawn of this world he had invented and a great battle there. He also references a song by Sufjan Stevens a singer I love and one worth checking out he has one song about Darger A later number of chapters in the book see a Mexican Chico as he makes his way through the US after crossing the border.

Marc consults the Philips agricultural guide 1968. The section on “Cowsheds and other outbuildings” Contains a description of how to put together a toilet for a washroom to go with the milking stalls. He turns the diagram around to see how to adapt his toilet to his hut. He can’t concentarte, His mind keeps being drawn back to a theory he’s pndered for a number of years now, one which fits into something bigger anf broader, which he calls socio-physical theory. The sphere of action, the testing ground, would extend no further than 2 or 3 blocks around the roof terrace. The neighbourhood contains everything he needs comestibles, mundane conversations and seasonal clothing made from polyester. The theory is intended to demonstrate in mathematical terms that solitude is a property , a stat, natural in a btter sort of human being and , to the end

Another nod to modenr men and the solitude in Marc a man using old gudies and gripped in theroies of the world around him.

I fell in love with Mallo style this time around. I struggle with the first book but this time I got his style the jumping in and out of lives is a style I have seen in various films of the last twenty years Magnolia is a good example as it also mix facts at time like this does with a number of interviews with the cream of indie music over the last twenty years maybe the questions are similar they are about what makes each of them whether they are still punk or the impact etcetera. Then Shaw’s lines from Apocalypse now which sees the opening dialogue he had to extend bit by bit as he is in Saigon. Then we have other facts scattered through the book about the likes of Alan Turing, Malcolm Gladwell, and ancient sayings. Mallo tackles the modern way of viewing the world where we tend to jump from here to there as we get stuck down Google tunnels at times. As I said it is a work that drifts but maybe behind it all is what it is like to live in the Modern world.

Rapture by Iliazd

Rapture

Rapture by Iliazd

Russia fiction

Original title – Voskhishchenie

Translator – Thomas J Kitson

Source personal copy

I’ve been admiring the Russian library series since they came out a couple of years ago they have such eye-catching cover and the books themselves as works of Russian literature are all very interesting. So I decided earlier this year to buy a few of them this was the first. Iliazd or Illa Zdanevich as he was known . A Georgian born Russian exile writer. His own life is as interesting as his novel is, He was an Exile in Paris a writer this was his second novel and came out in 1930. But he also an Avant-garde artist a to the likes of Picasso, Chagall, Miro, and Max Ernst. He has a number of solo exhibitions at the Pompidou and Museum of modern art after he died. There is a great intro to the book that describes him in late life living with thirty cats and in a huge sheepskin coat herding these cats as he took them out around Paris. There is a great intro I recommend reading it

So on account of her useless qualties, because of the mountains, and thanks to the back of beyond, Ivlita’s lot was becoming more complicated and confused, although thus far she herself suspected nothing. And for that reason, the girl’s exostence remained just as dull and even as ever nothing more than a reflection of the seasons.

Ivlita is considered useless but is a real beauty in Laurence’s eye a simple man himself.

This is a story of one man’s story that of a draft dodger Laurence. A man that has tried to avoid the draft by going on the run in the Highlands as he heads on the way he finds a beautiful woman Ivlita in a wooden house and decides to liberate her as he sees it. They end up in the cave in the mountains but over time he is drawn into a gang of revolutionaries that make him do increasing acts of violence like casting bombs. He is a man that has been caught by there dreams. But is it his battle of there battling he went on the run to escape violence and he worships the young now pregnant women he brought to the hills as he heads back to the city to get money and do the attacks but is he with the right women is he doing the right thing?

Laurence was wary of being rousted out during the night, since he couldn’t be certain the highlanders weren’t concealing beneath their courtesy a resolution to assault him, But he needed to sleep inordinately after blundering two whole days in the woods and drinking so much now; he was also taking account of the acute possibility that gendarmes would be searching the vicinity for him (while, as it happens, the townsfolk had swiftly headed home after the murder).The cretins stable, then, was an impregnable fortress.

Laurence finally arrives in the highlands but is still looking over his shoulders to see if he gets caught ?

This is an interesting novel. It is a simple adventure story in a way a man on the run falls for a woman is a classic adventure story line. His acts of robbery and terrorism and daring adventure have echoes of earlier books. For me, Buchan and those writers of early spy fiction from Conrad and Le Queux came to mind. Laurence is a sort of early anti-hero caught up in what is around him like Hanny in 39 steps. there is something of an old-fashioned tale there. But there is an undercurrent of a writer trying to experiment. Here dead characters returning almost a sense of that magical nature of the countryside a sort of early magic realism which is maybe a nod to his artistic world. Then there is the exile question of what the revolution brought. to a simple man like Laurence got caught up on the run but is lead into the frontline by others in the gang!! then there is also a sense of speed in the writing no full stops is something you as the story rolls like a juggernaut what will happen to Laurence in the end? An interesting book from a writer that was banned in the Soviet Union now finally in English after eighty years. I love the cover of this book and all in the series such an eye-catching design.

Have you read a Russian library book?

Transit Comet Eclipse by Muharem Bazdulj

 

Transit Comet Eclipse mc

Transit Comet Eclipse by Muharem Bazdulj

Bosnian fiction

Original title  – Tranzit, kometa, pomračenje, kucajte

Translator –  Natasa Milas

Source – Personal copy

I enjoy seeing writers whose books I have enjoyed having more books out in English. I read Byron and the Beauty when it came out a couple of years ago. I have met him briefly when I was in London a couple of years ago when we had a mint tea in Red Lion square with Istros books Susie. He has now moved to Belgrade to live after a number of years living in Sarajevo. He has written over nine novels and been translated into twenty languages this is his third book to be translated into English.

The land through the looking glass, tis is how I always thought about Moldova. I always have optical instruments on my mind, I think about mirror a great deal, maybe that is why this very thung crossed my mind. On the other hand. I didn’t think in this manner about Bulgaria. It’s simply as if something mysticalwere floating over Moldova. Tnje people were different, it wasn’t just the language. If I say that bulgaria is underdevolped or primitive, it is clearly like this within the world that I find familar. Iytis similar enough to other countries that Icould compare it to them, even to Bulgaria’s detriment. Moldova is difficult to compare ith anything,that’s how different it is

Moldova another linking factor in the three stories described here in the first novella in the collection Transit

 

The book is made up of three novellas linked by motifs of Elippise, transits or comets. The book opens as we Ruder Boskovic a Jesuit scientist who is traveling in the company of an English ambassador James porter from Istanbul to Petro grad. The journey for Ruder is to catch the once in a century transit of Venus. We capture his description of the hinterlands of Eastern Europe as he feels Moldova is darker than anywhere else at night. But breaks in the journey means he never gets to see the transit. But later in his life, he sees a poem dedicated to an eclipse. The next story follows a young Moldovan student Marie Alexander she is encouraged by her father to make more of her self. She was born the year Halley’s comet made its 75-year visit to Earth. She meets a Bosnian called Bosko  who opens her eye to what the West is like. You see what is coming but she follows him and ends up in Dubrovnik in bad company. The last story is a story of a writer. It is hard not to picture this as a shadow version of the writer himself. He is in America as the famous total Eclipse that happened in 1999 is due to take place as he is studying journalism and looking back at the place of his birth Dubrovnik that is also the place of birth of Ruder Boskovic. But is the place where he interviews a young Moldovan girl Marie Alexander that had ended up working in a club there. As the writer has his eyes opened by Paul Auster’s New York trilogy.

Marie Alexander woke up early. Bosko was still asleep. Occasional snoring came from his bed, probably what had woken her. The sound wasn’t pleasent, but it moved her. That’s love, shoe thought, when you like the ugly things about the person you love. It was then that a strange thought passed through her head. Will I like his snoring in twenty years? she wondered. I will, she thought quicklu and quietly dressed.She tiptoed over to Bosko bed and stared at his leeping face. He was frowning.She discerneddark bristles on his cheeks and his chin , which had seemed smooth last night. The sleepy body started to toss around as if he felt her gaze.She didn’t want to wake him.She left the room in silence and closed the door

Marie imagines a future that is shortlived as she is with a man tthat isnt’t what he seems!!

This tackles a number of things mainly wanting to go to the west from the east. But it is also a nod towards Paul Auster a writer the Muharem has translated into Bosnian. We have a series of interlink novels where the first two are separate tales, similar locations. But different ages see one man trying to capture a once in a lifetime event in the west and a young girl following her father’s dream of a better life in Paris. are all tied up in the last story a writer that looks back at both of the two previous tales sharing his place of birth with Ruder and then having interviewed the young Marie at a sex club in that same city as we see her dream broken. These are like the events mention short lives and a glimpse into life like a comet Marie want to burn up the sky but are only visible for a brief moment like her dream of going to the west or Ruder dream of seeing the transit of Venus or a journalist missing the eclipse as he sits learning about journalism much further west. Muharem has captured what is the dream of many in the east but also the nightmare that is the reality of it with Marie’s story.

 

1000 lets get there asap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year has been a hard one outside reading and reviewing books. I have managed to review by the end of the year 90 books which is down on other years. But next year is the tenth year of running winstonsdad I have reviewed books from 115 countries in that time. I have been to a good few book prizes and other books events. This last year or two I have slowed down as life has caught up but also thinks like passing my test two lessons a week for well over twelve months till I passed last month has eaten into my time to read and review somewhat. Anyway, a new year is fast approaching and I am trying to get the blog to 1000 reviews next year. to mark ten years of the blogging. I can’t believe thatr in ten years I have nearly read a 1000 books given that I don’t review all the books I read I am near reading a thousand I say but I am never one for keeping track of these things. Anyway a quick post just let you know in the next year there may be more reviews than this year.

Temple Bar by Bahaa Abdelmegid

Image result for bahaa abdelmegid temple bar

 

Temple Bar by Bahaa Abdelmegid

Egyptian fiction

Original title – Khammarat al-ma’bad

Translator – Jonathan Wright

Source – personal copy

So we move from Lampedusa yesterday across the med to North Africa and an Egyptian Novel mainly set in Dublin. As I have felt I haven’t reviewed enough Arab fiction I have gone out and got some recently and this is the first of those I am reviewing. Bahaa Abdelmegid is a lecturer in English literature at Cario University. He himself was a student in Ireland at Trinty College at the same time as the character in his book Moataz. Not entirely Autobiographical in an interview at the time the book came out he wants the hero of the book to be like those in Passage to India or A Death in Venice.

As soon as she had gone, the landlord and I went up to the room. He was aman in his seventies, but well-built, with sever features, a powerful voice, and white hair like his mother.He showed me how to use the gas meter saying that you have to put fifty to cook a meal and warm the room for two hours, fifty pence to use the electricty for a day and fifty pence to have a shower.The more energy you cosumed the , the more you paid. I remembered reading in the Cario newspaper Al-Abram that Ireland imports natrual gas from Egypt through an underwater pipeline.

The cost of his digs adds up bit by bit as he is told how far fifty pence will go in the meters.

Moataz has got a scholarship to Trinity college as he is doing a Ph.D. on the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. He has a family that has very high expectations of him. So the trip to Dublin has given him a breathing space in his world. He arrives and is sent to a boarding house with an old fashion landlord that tells him he will have to pay fifty pence for this fifty pence for this. He nearly ends up on the street early on when his father is late putting money in his account and leaves him penniless. He wanders the streets and sees the ghost of Ireland great writers as he wanders like the hero of Joyce Ulysses Bloom and Stephen did. Moataz is a man haunted by those women he left behind failed romance and the woman he meets in Dublin and is drawn to them. He struggles forced in the middle of the day to sell flowers to make ends meet. He also ends up in Trouble with the law in Dublin which leads him to head out of town. The trip out of town has a lasting effect on him he heads North to Belfast and the troubles in the north. A different city from Dublin he says full of politics and struggle but leaves it calling it his O beautiful Belfast as it was where Heaney studied at Queens. He eventually returns to Cario and marries but is a man changed by his time in Dublin.

The beautiful women of Dublin

When I started at Trinity college in Dublin, I couldn’t work out the university women. I couldn’t tell whteher they were conservative and shy,or whether they just didn’t welcome freindship with a young foreign man. They didn’t speak to me and I couldn’t find the right words to start a conversation with them. Pergaps I was shy too, perhaps I  had litttle knowledge of women ot too many miscinceptions of western- that they were easy and available , so why was it difficult to get to know them ?

Moataz and his experience early on with the women of the university before he met Simone!

I choose this book just because it is a book about a subject I love that of Culture clash seeing a place you know well through another cultures eyes. I spent a lot of time in my youth in Ireland mostly around Belfast but have also spent time in Dublin. This is like Heinrich Boll’s book Irish Journal or Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas one that is an ode to the country and the writers that haunt the city of Dublin especially Joyce. Although the modern multinational Dublin we see through Moataz eyes is a far cry from Bloom’s Dublin his view of the city is similar crossing the Liffey, flower sellers and underlying sexual desires. Bloom and Moataz share that repressed nature one remembers Blooms description of the woman on the beach in Ulysses that is echoed somewhat in Moataz meet Simone. He also captures the time this is just after the Good Friday deal but at this time the bombing of Omagh happened which is touched on a bombing that touched our family as we have relatives in that town as well that had friends effect by the bomb. A short book easily read in a day but one seep in the writers love for Ireland and the writers but also the effects of that town on a young Egyptian writer.

Lampedusa by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta

Lampedusa.jpg

Lampedusa gateway to Europe by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta

Italian Memoir

Original title –  Lacrime di sale

Translator – Chenxin Jiang

Source – review copy

Its take a while to get to this book. I did stat it when I was sent it last year but it got put to one side as I got caught with other books. Which was a shame as I was enjoying the few pages I had read? The book is written by Pietro Bartolo the doctor in the Island Clinic on Lampedusa. Where he has treated and helped many of the refugees that have arrived on the coast from North Africa. He was helped by RAI journalist Lidia Tilotta in writing this book.

One red shoe on Favaloro Pier. That one shoe and so many others like it lie there, scattered like pebbles in a trail thatleads nowhere, breaking off abruptly like the migrants”hope of coming ashore in a different world. Those shoes appear in my nightmares. So do all the little pendants, necklaces, and braclets on all the tiny bodies I examine. It is my job to unzip them, one by one, from those horrible green bags.

Pietro haunt by those dead childs bodies he has to see day after day.

The book is formed of a number of short memoir pieces as Pietro as he describes the world he lives in where he runs the clinic on Lampedusa. Where he has treated and seen most of the quarter of a million refugees that have arrived on boats to this small Italian Island over the last 25 years in a growing number. From the deaths hitting home in the second piece which talks about the one read shoe that he sees on the beach. For me, it evokes the famous words from Hemingway bay shoes for sale never worn. a single read shoe is all that is shown of a life lost at sea. Then we see his own life his father and the boats they took to sea in. Two women in another tale Faduma and Jerusalem one from Somalia and the other a younger one from Eritrea as he tells there tales Faduma 37 seems much older paralyzed struck by the emotional and mental trauma of her life. Then Jerusalem 15 thinks she may be with child but thankfully this young girl tyha\t thinks she is a woman isn’t. Each is touching brutal images a bay found attached to the mother still by the umbilical cord both buried with a teddy that Pietro had put in it. One man and his island trying there best to get the best care for these new arrivals but struggling under the sheer numbers at times.

Faduma: aged thirty-seven, Somali. Jerusalem: aged fifteen, Eritrean. The list grows longer. My USB drive fills up every day with names and faces of women, some of whom are adults, other little more than children. Mothers, daughters, wives. I catalgue their names and preserve their stories with merticulousness of an archvist.

I do this because I do not want them to be forgotten. I travel all over Europe telling their stories , and I want to give each of them the space they deserve. I do not want to leave any of them put. I hope their gripping tales will help people to understand what is happening . They have certainly helped me understand what has changed over the years, and what kinds of problems we can expect to confront.

The tale of two women and their world is what Pietro is trying to keep alive when he talks to people or here has written about them.

There have been a few books about the situation in Lampedusa but this one is very touching from a man that has been at the heart of the crisis that is facing Lampedusa. The mix of his own past and the present flesh out him and those near him. This is a man that has sen a trickle of people from around the world tries to enter the promised land of Europe via boats some not even getting there in overcrowded boats or just being too worn down by getting to the coast of North Africa. Form Africa and places like Syria. His clinic has been a become of hope but as the local mortician, he sees everyone as he records all the people he has seen over the years to his USB. A crisis that hasn’t really been given the full coverage of the Horrors they have to endure. I remember the shock of the Vietnam boat people ok the journey was long but these short journeys are so dangerous and the dream isn’t there for most. I

That was the month that was Nov 18 and a break from blogging

  1. The tidings of the trees by Wolfgang Hilbig
  2. The end of the mission by Heinrich Boll
  3. River by Ester Kinsky
  4. The Giant dwarfs by Gisela Elsner
  5. Tell them of Battles, kings and Elephants by Mathais Enard
  6. The last day by Jaroslavas Melnikas
  7. Vic City Express by Yannis Tsirbas

I managed to review seven books last month four german novels for German lit month. Then a french novel from an old favourite and two new writers to the blog from Lithuania and Greece. One new publisher Barka books.

Book of the month

 

Tell them of battles, king and Elephants by Mathias Enard

This slim novella is a perfect mix of fact and fiction he has taken actual events like Leonardo visit to Constantinople to design a bridge. Then added the fiction of if Michelangelo had taken the same journey but also found love and his eyes open by the east. A companion in a way to Compass as it touches the same ground of west meeting east.

Non-book events

Well, this has been a dreadful month for personal reasons it started on a high of me passing my test in the first few days but then a personal event has led to me not reading as much as usual as I need spend time with Amanda as she needs me at the moment. As we have to get over a large loss for our family I am not in the mood for reading much.

So I haven’t blogged for a few days and I start some nights tonight and then Amanda and I are in Tamworth with her family for a few days due to what has happened. I am back at work straight after that. So I won’t be posting anything for maybe ten days or more.

Vic City Express by Yannis Tsirbas

Vin city Express by Yannis Tsirbas

Greek fiction

Original title – Η Βικτώρια δεν υπάρχει

Translator – Fred A Reed

Source – review copy

It has been five years since I have featured a book from Greece, in fact, there are only three books on the blog. A quick look at Complete review shows there aren’t many modern greek novels out there. So I was pleased to get sent this slim novella by a young Greek writer Yannis Tsirbas. This book was shortlisted for the Greek national literature award. This book was part of the idea behind the well regarded greek Film Amerika square. The book has been published by Montreal based publisher Baraka books a few months ago.

I look him over and can’t resist the impulse to egg him on. I keep listening to his voice over the monotonous clicking of the train.

“And does it ever stink, pal! Hash and piss. They toke up, if you get my meaning, all along Heyden in old buildings just before Fillis street you get high just walking by . They kae a drag and then cut a slash right there on the sidewalk. Snort; then piss it off. Moroccans, Algerians, people like that. They’re the ones with dope; grows wild down there. And  the exact spot the Algerian was pissing the night before the Pakistani lays out his bed sheet and sells underwear the next day; see what I meean?”

The train passenger listens to him rant early on here.

This book is set on a train ride in the north part of Athens as we follow two passengers on the train one a loud mouth talking to the other about what he sees has happened to the Vic city as he starts talking about the place he knew and how it has changed in recent years with all the people that have come to Athens via Turkey. The shops they have opened and what they have changed about the Vic city. His fellow passenger keeps interrupting as we see him clearing the emails from his spam box these little glimpses of capitalism and the usual emails we all get for such things as HIV test and restaurants still being sent even thou there is an economic downturn. The book is formed as outburst each chapter is a separate monologue from one about kids at the school another start with having not eaten for a few days only a discarded sandwich and each of these tales are drawn back to the angry man’s bile about those immigrants he sees everywhere. The man tries to defend his position but as his words get harsh describing the immigrants as a cockroach. A stark view of modern Athens and how the economic crisis has brought the city to its knees but also drawn deep lines of hatred in some peoples hearts that see the city another way.

Three days. Since I ate. Three days. A cheese sandwich missing a bite. Some kid dropped it. Bang, a slap from his mom. And into the garbage. I fished it out. Ate it. Three days. A cheese sandwich. Head spinning. One step forward. Stop two steps; stop again. I’m at the square. Hungry. Thristy. Fountain. Water. I ask for money, Stretch out my hand. Ten Drachmas. Twenty. Nobody gives if you’re young. Dizzy. I remember what food was like. Hunger is like a dream. Taste of food.

Another voice describes there hunger in the chapter Happiness is a sandwich

 

Fred Reed says this book was inspired in some ways by the rise of the Golden Dawn movement in Greece a far-right party that had grabbed the populist view. The book is Greek but the beauty f the narrative that Tsirbas has used with no names and even the places are not fully seen as Athens landmarks. Means this could be anywhere in Europe where the right-wing Populist that have been taking power or gaining power. The way the Angry man talks about people you have heard many times before around Europe and here from UKIP to the national front in France. The man’s bile is so well caught as he describes the way these folk views the world full of hatred and the fact they see the world as one way, not another. They Blame immigrants for the countries woes. The book is only 90 pages and backs a punch I read it in an evening. A fresh take on the economic problems in Greece as they ride on a train.

The last day byJaroslavas Melnikas

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The last day by Jaroslavas Melnikas

Lithuanian fiction

Original title – Rojalio kambarys

Translator – Marija Marcinkute

Source – Reivew copy

I’ve been late getting to this as it came out a while ago from the small press Noir press whose books I have reviewed before. They have been bringing some of the brightest writers from Lithuania. Jaroslavas Melnikas has written six novels, collections of philosophical essays in Lithuanian he has also written poetry and prose in Ukrainian and a novel in French. He has worked for a number of Magazines including Laima and Woman. He is a member of both the Lithuanian and Ukrainian writers union. He won the BBC book of Ukraine with this book. This is his first work to be translated into English.

A very strange situation unfolded in the country and across the whole planet. Everybody was convinced that a divinity existed. But where was it? The sun shone, as always, the sky was still there, as were the clouds, the trees and animals. The world hadn’t changed; everything was alive, vibrant, but the hidden divinity was nowheere to be found. There was just that book, which appeared out of nowhere.that simpy infuriated everybody.God, if you decide to reveal that you exist, and in such an original manner, then show yourself!

The book of everyones last day changes the way the world is and they think about God.

This is a collection of eight short stories some from a few pages to others about fifty pages long. The collection opens with the title story the Last day based in an alternative world where someone has the power to find out when everyone dies and these days are published in books this shows how people deal with knowing when the last day is and what they do. The second story we find a man Jura thinking about the times he has played his grand piano at his home in his grand piano room only for his family to deny there was ever such a room he even remembers his wife seeing him play but she denies this ever happen he is left question as he walks through a door to a different plan or has he just imagined all this. Other stories see a woman grow younger a sort of female version of Benjamin Button she rediscovers her sexual prowess. Other see a man following directions but where are they leading him? Then a man ends in a cinema watching a film that never ends about a girl called Liz where reality and life get blurred.I laughed at an early line about the film saying it was a film that seems pointless as it was plotless.I was reminded that is something My Amanda would say about some of the films I watch.

Nikodimova was sixty when she noticed the small bloody discharge. She didnt take any notice at first, but then the skin under her eyes became smoother. Just like that. She began to feel like living and enjoying herself. And the birds and spring. In the mornings, while in the morning, while in the shower, she discovered her body was astonishment. Not in the prime of youth, of course, her skin drooped here and there, but still, in shape, sufficently supple.

She could reach hjer toes without bendingher knees, the stream of water pleasantly drumming against her vertbrae and her waist, running in a warm stream down her bottom and thighs

The tale of Nikodimova and her growing younger when she turns sixty.

 

This a great collection. The stories all make you as the reader thinks about what is the truth behind each one each story.  There is a lot about who people are, what we are! who we are.! Those major questions like how we look shown when the Nikodimova the sixty year starts growing younger she get the neighbors talking. The other thread is the community as in the Soviet era of close living where everyone was on top of each other at times the identity gets blurred as shown in the grand piano room a story about shifting truths with a nod to the Soviet past. These would make great short tv series in the style of something like The outer limits used to be.  Where we are asked to accept various views of the world. Then asked to read greater into the stories than what is on the surface. An interesting collection of stories from a new writer to us in English. Noir press have brought an interesting writer out one of the best short story collections I have read in recent years.

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