At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong

At dusk by Hwang Sok-yong

Korean fiction

original title – 해질 무렵

Translator – Sora Kim-Russell

Source – personnel copy

One of the nice things that have come about from the longlist. It has given me a chance to revisit three writers that have featured before on the blog. This is the second visit I featured Hwang Sok-yong nine years ago. The book ” the guest”  was one of the earliest reviews on the blog when I read that book I liked it but didn’t fall in love with it. But I have since struggled with finding Korean fiction either twee with the folk-like tales of Salmon or Hen dreaming of better things. Then there have been other books that I haven’t connected with. Until now the only one before this was please look after mother and I found this is a different story but it is the same tale of Korea that is the changing face of modern Korea.

It was mere coincidence that I had studied architecture and made a career of it and that Byeonggu had come to own a costruction company, but after meeting again in our forties, we were like hand in glove. Because we needed each other.

Of course, we all like to think that our own stories of difficult childhoods and overcoming adversity are the stuff of tragic epics, but they’re never really worth bragging about. Talking about it is pointless as telling youngsters that they’ve never known true hunger, that they don’t know what it is like to be the hungry kid with no lunch trying to fill his empty stomach at the drinking fountain.

Park partner the one that cause him the trouble and how he dragged himself up her in a neat passage.

We meet Park Minwoo if there was a poster boy for what you could do with your life in Modern Korea. This guy would be if he is at the forefront of making modern Korea as an Architect. He is one of those who are making bright shiny Korea and is good at his work so is an in-demand man for designing the future. He has maybe grown too far. The company he runs is in trouble. The buildings he has been asked to design may not be built but are just there to draw in peoples money in.  This leads Park to rethink his present and his past along with the fact an Old flame Cha Soona. The chapters fall with Parks story in the now and Cha’s story of her and Pask’s younger years. She grew up on what was then the edge of the city and worked in a shop a time when people were the son of this man or daughter of such a man in these case a noodle maker and fishcake maker this harks back to a simpler time. She loved acting literature and books. She had dreams but we see her life now in a tiny apartment. the book draws the past and the present together. From the fact that Park’s wife and child now settled outside Korea. Too Cha living in a small apartment in one of his building as Park meets the ghost of his past in the place where he grew which his building have eaten up.

When my younger brother and I got home from school, we snacked on the torn fishcakes, still warm from the fryer. Once our hunger was sated, we’d laugh and point at each other’s greasymouths. My mother would wrap up the rest of the torn fishcake from that day and send us out to deliver them to places she owed favoursto or anyewhere else that she needed to stay on the good side of. That meant places like the tiny shack inhabited by the elderly man who fetch water from the public tap for us and the other vendors in the marketplace, the garbage collectors station, the police box and so on

Park and his brother handing out the left overs to the community to keep it runninga time now gone and habits now dead.

Now, this is a book that like Please look after mother did that mixes what Korea was with what Korea is. I keep thing back on my recent watching of Tokyo-ga Wim Wenders ode to the Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu which he said Ozu tried to capture in his films the downfall of Japanese society and this is what Sok-yong is doing here with Korean society and the world people lived in from the simple age when people knew every one til you end up like Park lost in the clouds or cha lost in a small apartment with just two stip lights for company. This uses the twin narratives well as the book comes to the end you see the two narrators drawing closer till the end. I am liking this list for the fact I have discovered books that had past me by in the last year.  But also the books are all quite short this took me a little over a day and I am already well into the next on the list. it’s hard to say where this will end up I found it clever using the twin stories and loved some of the use of names like the fishcake makers son. Then it is just a simple tale.

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Mouthful of birds by Samanta Schweblin

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin

Mouthful of birds by Smanta Schweblin

Argentinean short fiction

Original title – Pájaros en la boca

Translator – Megan McDowell

Source – library copy

When the longlist of the Man Booker came out I was happy I had one book on the list and had read half of it just in case it made the longlist as I had it on loan from the library. This is the second book by Samanta Schweblin to be listed by the man Booker international prize. She has published three collections of short stories and one novel. She was chosen by Granta in 2010 as one of the best 22 Spanish language writers under 35. I enjoyed her previous shortlisted book Fever Dream.

When she reaches the road, Felicity understandsher fate. He has not waited for her, and, as if the pastwere a tangible thing, she thinks she can still see the weak reddish glow of the car’s taillights fading on the horizon. In the flat darkness of the countryside, there is only disappointment, a wedding dress, and a bathroom she shouldn’t have taken so long in

Sitting on a rock beside the door, she picks grains of rice from embroidery on her dress, with nothing to look at but the open fields, the highway, and, besides the highway, a women’s bathroom.

The opening lines of the first story Headlights a woman jilted on her wedding day.

The collection has twenty stories. The opening story Headlights is a tale of a bride jilted left by the side of the road. I was hit by one line in the opening as she picked the rice from the embroidery of her dress so soon after they haven’t even fallen out themselves. Ther woman Felicity then wanders and meets another woman Nene who it seems was expecting her to be there. Then the next story sees a pregnant woman and her partner trying to get free of the pregnancy in some strange ways. Further on a strange tale of a brother visiting his depressed brother Walter a man that everything is a struggle for him to do. The title story is Sara who has decided she will only eat living birds a macabre tale and how it affects her relationships with her father he comes to take her to live with him after hearing about his daughter’s new diet. It ends with a bird being left in Sara’s room in a cardboard box and the door being closed. Then lastly the Merman a woman heads to a dockside bar and finds him sat on a post nearby looking at her the two have a conversation. In which she explains about her ill mother who is slightly insane and how her brother isn’t accepting the fact she somehow ends up kissing the merman.

I’m sitting at the port, waiting for Daniel, when I see the merman look at me from the pier. He’s sitting on the first concrete column, where the water is deeper and the beach hasn’t begun, some fifty yard out. It takes me a minute to relize what I’ seeing, what he is eexactly: such a man from the waist up, such a sea creature from the waist down.He looks to one side, then calmly to the other, and finally his eyes turn back to me.

The woman sat having a coffee has caught the eye of the merman the two then talk .

I enjoyed fever dream but for me, this collection maybe shows her real talent is with short stories there is a real sense of the supernatural and surreal at times in this collection. Schweblin has cleverly left place out of this collection which means it makes the tales more universal in there feeling. She also seems to nod towards the great of short stories a pinch of Poe in the supernatural tales, in the depressing ones I saw a real touch of Raymond Carver for me the opening tale especially had hints of his sorrowful style. even Roald Dahl in the darkness in the tales which is something he was great at.  then if Borges had rewritten Grimms tales for a modern reader he would produce something like this the merman for example where maybe the Mermann is a mirror of what the woman wanted her brother to really be? ok cold to kiss but willing to listen to her. I can see why it made the longlist finishing it off since the list came out it is one of the best short story collections I have read probably since circus Bulgaria

Man booker international longlist 2019

 

  • Jokha Alharthi (Arabic / Omani),  Marilyn Booth, Celestial Bodies (Sandstone Press Ltd
  • Can Xue (Chinese / Chinese), Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, Love In The New Millennium (Yale University Press)
  • Annie Ernaux (French / French), Alison L. Strayer, The Years (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
  • Hwang Sok-yong (Korean / Korean), Sora Kim-Russell, At Dusk (Scribe, UK)
  • Mazen Maarouf (Arabic / Icelandic and Palestinian), Jonathan Wright, Jokes For The Gunmen (Granta, Portobello Books)
  • Hubert Mingarelli (French / French), Sam Taylor, Four Soldiers (Granta, Portobello Books)
  • Marion Poschmann (German / German), Jen Calleja, The Pine Islands (Profile Books, Serpent’s Tail)
  • Samanta Schweblin (Spanish / Argentine and Italian), Megan McDowell, Mouthful Of Birds (Oneworld)
  • Sara Stridsberg (Swedish / Swedish), Deborah Bragan-Turner, The Faculty Of Dreams (Quercus, MacLehose Press)
  • Olga Tokarczuk (Polish / Polish), Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
  • Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Spanish / Colombian), Anne McLean, The Shape Of The Ruins (Quercus, MacLehose Press)
  • Tommy Wieringa (Dutch / Dutch), Sam Garrett, The Death Of Murat Idrissi (Scribe, UK)
  • Alia Trabucco Zeran (Spanish / Chilean and Italian), Sophie Hughes, The Remainder (And Other Stories)

I didn’t get any right and a quick check of my library last night and the funds being low I’ll not be covering much over the long list well that’s what I thought last night but in the cold light of day I have managed to find second-hand copies of four books and only have the Can Xue Annie Ernaux and Marion Poschmann the later isn’t out yet.  I have reviewed two of the book have one more from the library at home and have order the other two my library has so after thinking last night it was a desperate situation it isn’t so bad three quarters is reasonable for now.

Winstonsdad Annual Man Booker prediction post

I have let the days lip by mainly as I have just worked four 12 and half hours shifts in the last five days I have just got home and have decided too do my man booker dozen this year it will be nine books I have read and mostly reviewed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End by Karl Ove Knausgaard

I have chosen first the one I have read but not reviewed and the first of two books that sees the end of a series. It is a huge book that rambles on and follows the time the first of the series comes out and has some large digressions around the title and some other writers I like it but missed reviewing it. My reason the end of epic series an Epic book from a writer that is overhyped but so readable when you read him he makes the mundane so compelling.

 

Nocilla Lab by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

The second book also sees the end of a series this one is the end of a trilogy this has three stories and all are different styles of writing and was to approach prose like the rest of the series it shows how Mallo is on the wave of new writers from Spain.This is one of two from Fitzcarrldo.MY reason pushing the boundaries and experimenting with what stories do using various styles

Tell them of Battles, kings, and Elephants by Mathias Enard

A short novel that images what would happen if Michelangelo had gone to Constantinople to design a bridge to go over the Golden horn and he also falls for the East another slice of West meets east from Enard. My reason  a clever reimagining of history

My Name Is Adam_TPB.jpg

 

 

My name is Adam by Elias Khoury 

A writer called Elias Khoury discovers a manuscript from a man he briefly meets and it is about a piece of history from the other side he wrote in an earlier book. A writer viewing his homeland from the other side in a way.

 

Among the lost by Emilano Monge 

A Mexican novel about the hinterland that is the people crossing the border reimagines as hell like the world through the eyes of two lovers as the let you into their horrific world. My reason an interesting hell like vision of the journey of the trafficked in Mexico and those who do the trafficking

 

ResistanceJulian.jpg

Resistance by Julian Fuks

The tale of two brothers who are the kids of a family that had to quit Argentina and move to Brazil this is the first of two books from charco I have chosen they have been bring some interesting books out in the last year. My reason this is is partly Fuks own personal hostory he is the son of exiles as well.

Image result for trout belly up rodrigo

These interlocking stories follow a man trying to set up a trout fishery in the middle of the Guatemalan countryside away from the violence of the cities there. Another gem from Charo press My reason compelling stories that show a gritty world of the trout farm and those connected to it.

 

Published on 24 September 2018, paperback original with flaps, 180x120, 115 pages

Now, now, Louison By Jean Fremon

A close friend of Louise Bourgeois images here life piece bits he got to knew here over the year he showed her works. MY reason from a small press this is the reason I love translated fiction those unusual gems that small publisher bring out.

 

The Capital

The capital by Robert Menasse 

An EU bureaucrat for culture is given a job to celebrate culture in Europe as well as a number of stories that all link together. My reason a wonderful satire on Europe and the city at the heart of it

My three wild card books I havent read but feel may be on the list

Tentacle by Rita Indiana

Vernon Subtext two by Virginie Despentes

White shadow  by Roy Jacobson

I may read the list when it comes out on Wednesday it depends on what is on the list and what finds I have to buy the books on the list.

 

Mama’s boy by David Goudreault

 

Mama’s boy by David Goudreault

Quebecian fiction

Original title –  La Bête à sa mère

Translator – JC Sutcliffe

Source – review copy

This is the second of two books from the Quebec based publisher Book*hug . This was David Goudreault debut novel he has written novel and poetry and is also a songwriter he was the first Quebecer to win the Poetry slam world cup. he has written four novels and this is his first to appear in English. He leads creative workshops in schools and detention centers all across Quebec. He has won a number prizes this won the Grand prix literaire Archambault.

My mother was always committing suicide. She started out young, in a purely amateur capacity.But it wasn’t long before mama figured out how to make the psychiatrists take notice, and tp get the respect only the most serios cases warranted. ELectroshocks, massive doses of antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics and other mood stabilizers marked the seasons as she struggled through them. While I collected hockey cards, she collected diagnoses.Thanks to the huge effort she put into her crises, my mother contributed greatly to the advancement of psychaitry. If It weren’t for the little matter of patient confidentiality, I’m sure several hospitals would be named after her.

The first paragraph opens your eyes to the relationship with his mother growing up.

This is one man’s journey to find his mother after he was placed in care and spent his teen years in a series of various foster homes have made this man the character he is today and now he is trying to find his mother. As her mental health problems sent him into care. The book opens with an indication of how bad his mother was when he says she was always trying to commit suicide. He uses various names as the book unfolds during the story and shows the good and bad sides of foster care each family he has a nickname for them usually about the way the family is with him or they act. He isn’t the most well-adjusted person a man of his upbringing and surroundings. At one point we see him kidnap his girlfriends cat in a jealous rage they had only been together a few short weeks. HIs turning out of the care system and taking drugs and getting tattoos and his first steps into becoming a man. The narrator has a dark side that we as a reader should really hate but at times, we can find him charismatic. He finds a job using lies to get near to where his mother lives to try to find that right moment to return to her life. As he waits and recounts the mother he remembered and the woman now.

I celebrated my eighteenth birthday by spending half of my first welfare cheque on a tatoo. For humans- unlike cattle- marking your body is a sign of liberty. I’d learned this during my hours online. I needed something original, something unique that really represented me. I got a tatoo of a big Chinese character on the back of my neck. Strength.That;s what the tatoo meant. It was impressive

He spends his first real money very unwisely on a tatoo but it is also a sign of  his struggling and what he needs to move forward

This is one of those books that as a reader whether you like it or hate it will hinge on how much you like the narrator of the book. I put him between Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman on the scale of how much you could dislike this character he has a skewed view of the world as we would see it here in the UK he is prime for being on the Jeremy Kyle show. A rollercoaster ride an insight into how being in care effects you as a person it shows how he hasn’t formed normal social interaction and the views he shows also show a lack of proper role models in his life . A powerful voice if hard to read at times once again another outstanding read from Quebec. The book could easily be transferred to here in the UK the experiences and the life he has had could be the same of man a young man in the UK that has gone through the struggling social care system.

Winstons books some recent arrivals

I haven’t done an arrival post for ages anyway here are a few recent books I have been sent or I have brought my self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I never got my copy of this just think it was lost in the post.  I have been waiting a while so I decide to buy this as I am a huge fan of her writing this is a novel that features two stories that mirror each other in a way I have already read the first half when it arrived this afternoon. I love this cover as well which suit the first story so well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An arrival from QC is always exciting this slim novel is about a woman’s life and a novel about her life blurs together her lover dream of prague as always I have high hopes for this as I haven’t read a bad novel from QC and so much of contemporary Quebacian fiction is cutting edge and appeal to me as a reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, a new arrival from Maclehose press The office of Gardens and ponds follows a village when there Master carp catcher suddenly drowns putting the future of the lives in the village and the palace that takes there carp. Written by the Secretary General of the academie Gincourt and is also a member of the Academie de marine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Maclehose title here and the sequel to Roy Jacobsen The unseen, back on the island of Barroy we see Ingrid trying to save her lover from being caught by the Germans as Norway is no under there rule and she saved the man from a bomb ship and now has to try and get by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been seeing that the Scottish publisher Vagabond voices bringing a number of books in translation out so I had a look at some of them and this one appeals to me shortlisted for the Russian booker it follows a Russian Estonian man and an Indian man in a Danish refugee camp their daily lives in the 90’s  and life on the road as they  dream of other places. Based on Ivaanov own experience as a stateless man in Denmark in the 90’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw a recent post from Messy bookers blog about a Carlos Fuentes novel Old gringos   I remarked it had been a while since I read him well looking back I had one review from him and have a few books but decided to add a few this one I had my eye on a while is a retelling of the Dracula story transport to Mexico city as Fuentes says ten million blood sausages (people) and a police force that  won’t mind a few disappearances

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other is an epic his tenth novel is narrated by a baby in the womb just before the 500th anniversary of Columbus discovering the new world comic work this sounds different.

Have you had anything exciting to arrive at your house recently?

 

Nocilla Lab by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

Nocilla Lab  by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

Spanish fiction

Original title – Nocilla Lab

Translator – Thomas Bunstead

Source – review copy

There are two books that finish a series of novels that could be in the Man Booker longlist when it comes out in a few day and thet are The end by Karl Ove Knausgaard, I read but never got around to reviewing this epic book and the end of his cycle of books. Here we have another the last in the Nocilla trilogy by the Physicist turned writer Agustin Fernandez Mallo. This is the last of his series that was herald as a new style of writing in Spain when the books came out and lead to him become part of the Nocilla generation.

True story, very significant too, a man returns to the deserted city of Pripyat, near chernobyl, a place he and the reat of the poulace fled following the nuclear reactor disaster 5 years before, walks the empty streets, which, like the perfectly preserved buildings, take him back to his life in the city, his efforts as a construction worker here in the 1970’s were not for nothing, comes to his own street, scans the tower block for the windows of his former flat, surveying the exterior for a couple of seconds, 7 seconds,15 seconds, 1 minute, before turning the camera around so that his face is in the shot and saying, not sure, not sure this is where my flat was, the gazes up at the forest of windows again and says , not to the camera.

The odd opening of the first story has a rrapid feel to the writer writing it as we read it.

This book differs from its previous two books as it is less jumpy in its style what we have in this is three tales two novellas and a graphic novella if there is such a thing. What the first story is about a couple who are on a trip around the world the story is made up of little stories about their travels and the places they have been around the world until when they are in Thailand and the boyfriend crashes this is where we get this recounting of there travels mixed with books he has read especially Music of hance by Paul Auster where the main character Juliet spends a year traveling in her Saab but gets to pick up a man who leads her life down a different path and this is maybe what Mallo is trying to capture the book is a single eighty page sentence that captures the travels in the now although they were in the past and gave the writer time to write his trilogy the title of the collection is Automatic search engine which is maybe how Mallo’s mind works at time a series of jumps that rabbit hole of googling discovery and if you are sat recalling a trip the net would add the dimension it does here a sort of padding to the story . the next story follows a couple around Sardinia this tale is simpler as it is more on the mundane side of life those little everyday events. as the travels follow the project is this the same couple? The last part is a graphic novel where the writer himself is the main character.

10.

In the days that followed, without straying far from the area we’d been exploring, we returned the car and hired another, a slightly larger Lancia. I can’t remember the model.

The weather stayed stormy, and once or rtwice we got caught on beaches.

The second story as tyou see with this brief extract has a very different feel to the first story a simple mundane tale in a way.

It is another interesting book from Mallo he has really tried to break the mold of what fiction is in a way he is like his science background experimenting with how stories work first here with a stream of words a Beckett like babble that comes together as a man tries to outpour what has happened to him I was reminded of the Beckett piece, not I, I have the sense it would work in the same way when reading at a speaking speed.  The second is almost testing if you tried to make a story as mundane as possible with just every day a sort of modern take on the kitchen sink drama of the sixties where a trip to Sardina comes down to the everyday events of life. The last is an autofiction take on the graphic novel. This book isn’t as adventurous as the earlier two but in a way is maybe the most accessible of the series for that. I hope it makes the longlist for me this is the sort of fiction we should be championing the ones that make the reader work at times.

 

Aviaries by Zuzana Brabcova

 

Aviaries by Zuzana Brabcova

Czech fiction

Original title – Voliéry

Translator – Tereza Novika

Source – review copy

I have long been a fan of the books that Twisted spoon press bring out not only as works of literature charting the world of Czech lit but also they have always made their books eye-catching and desirable to own. So this their last is no different it is the last novel by the Czech writer Zuzana Brabcova a writer who had worked as a cleaner, librarian and hospital attendant before the regime fell in 1989 she worked briefly in the government set up b Vaclav Havel who death is actually a starting point in this book. She also worked as an editor she publishes five novels this was her last novel and the book won the Skvorceky prize for it.

The hairs of the moment bristled

and it crouched and barked. In the chambers of Deputies, four communist MPS refused to honor the memory of the first Czech president, spearhheaded by the leader of the Prague communists, Marta Semelova, who instead congratulated tje nationon ridding itself of a pest

Marta Semelova used to be Alice’s first grade teacher.”Your daughter is extremely gifted, she’ll make something of herself one day”she said and covered Alice’s head with her palm like a fortune-teller.

Can the prophetic gesture of a communist even mean anything ? A bark, bristled hair , a pointed sneer ? no it meant absolutely nothing

What might have been for Alice when her teacher was Marta ?

The book is one of those which I love as it has a real fragment nature to it we follow a female Beta as she wanders around the modern and different Prague it opens with a diary entry that states that Havel has died the day before as the fragment build we see a woman on the edge of this city in so many ways as she has no life and is one of those trying to find work and kill time and this is what is her world the vision of the city her life but also the life of her other female relations are touched on her daughter a dreamlike a child that may be in a way is her hope at times and despair at others a sister also on the edge reduce to scavenging to get by and a mother that has maybe gone the way her two daughters will eventually to the pits of despair in depression and  trying to find a way out her life. Another female that recurs is Semelova she was Alice teacher and now a politician to me this is a clever mirroring of the two people Beta and Marta Semelova lives in this post-communist Prague one has risen the other has fallen but also we see the darker side of the city the outskirts the tourist never see she captures in the bums homeless and chav like kids of the city.

January 27, 2015

Seventy years ago, the red army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp where Nazis had murdered over one million people : 960,000 Jews, 75,00 Poles, 21,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviets pows, 15,000 Czechs, Slovaks, Germans, Austrians,Ukrainians,French,Yugoslavians.In April 1947, Rudolf Hoss, the commandant of the liberated camp, was sentenced to death amd hanged symbolically in front of the crematorium of Auschwitz 1.

Don’t miss out! A tour of Auschwitz, a two day trip for two, 46% off

The book has facts like these scattered through this one got me with the last line so apt for the modern world !!

This is one of those books that is like a jigsaw we need to be patient as the piece are all mixed up but as you get into the work it starts to build up and the picture is built  that of a city where dreams have been broken and made were the communist ideals have been replaced even Havel dream of post-communist Czech has fallen apart. The brilliance is in the prose that captures both the everyday working of Beta life but also the dream or nightmare way she envisions the world around her as surreal and hyper-real at over time maybe even both at the same time. I was reminded of the grotesque films of Jiri Barta his strange stop motion films like the club of the laid off although set much earlier has the same impending doom as this book has. A fitting tribute a book that deals with both the plight of females and the mental health issues that can cause in modern Czech society from a writer that always addressed feminist issues in her works.

SmallCountry by Gaël Faye.

Image result for small country gael faye

Small country by Gaël Faye.

French fiction

Original title – Petit Pays

Translator – Sarah Aridizzone

Source – library

I went a few weeks ago through the library catalogue and try and find a few Man Booker hopefuls just to notch up the total I have read this year when the longlist comes out in a few weeks and this is a book I had seen mentioned a lot as a potential book. It is a Debut novel by the Franco Rwandan rapper and songwriter Gael Faye. This debut novel follows part of his own life when his family like many had to leave the violence that was caused by the civil war in Burundi and Rwanda. He has since lived in France and London and also later return for a time to Rwanda. This book won the Prix Goncourt des lyceens.

I am haunted by the idea of returning. Not a day goes by without the country calling me, A secret sound, a scent on the breeze, a certain afternoon light, a gesture, sometimes a silence is enough to stir my childhood memories. “You won’t find anything there , apart from ghosts and a pile of ruins,” Ana keeps telling me, She refusesd to hear another word about that “Cursed country”. I listen and beleive her. She’s alwaysbeen more clear-headed than me. So I put it out of my mind, I decide, once and for all, that I never going back. My life is here. In France.

A lament for his home and the Burden of Exile forever haunted by the past that is never the future.

the book is told through the eyes of Ten-year-old Gabriel a middle-class boy living comfortably in a Suburb with a number of Ex-pats like his own father. In Burundi with his sister and mother, the book starts as a usual tale of a boy growing up with no real difference to any other childhood. This is being told from Gabriel now in his thirties living in Paris looking back at the break up of his homeland. The viewpoint of Gabriel has that naive nature we all had as kids when the world around us seems distance as we ride on our BMX and discover friends play hooky and take part in stealing things with our friends This is all told as the dark clouds of the Civil; war slowly creep in and darken the world around Gabriel world of privileged kids in the rich Suburb. but his mother who lives in Burundi having to have left Rwanda herself is in Exile sees what is happening. As we see Gaby’s childhood slowly falling apart and those Halcyon days disappear as the war takes over.

Papa and I spent Christmas together, just the two of us. My present was a red BMX bike with mutlicoloured tassels on the handles. I was so excited that, at first light on Christmas morning and before Papa was awake, I took it to show the twins who lived in the house oppositem at the entrance to our street. They were suitably impressed. We messed about doing tcheleles – skids in the gravel. Then Papa appeared in his stripped pyjamas, livid and dished out a slap, in full view of my friends, for leaving the house so early woithout permission. I didn’t cry, or perhaps I did a little, but my tears were fromthe dust kicked up by our skids or else a fly caught in my eye, I can’t remember now.

I loved this it summed up a ten year old so well the excitment of the bike then the pain of having a slap and crying and the bravado of it not being crying for that but soemthing else.

This is a brilliant description of how easily one person’s life can change in a matter of days its one person tale that echoes the hundreds that both escaped and died in this horrific time. The war is captured so well in the way Gaby views the world when he starts to discover who he and his family is in conversations with his father Faye captures that moment we all have when the blinkers of childhood after life and we have to raise a hand and avoid getting blinded by the wider world and this is the lament at that moment but this is also a lament for a lost time and place that he or his family could never go back to it is worse than being an exile as there is a chance of return no this leaves the young, man rootless as his roots have gone. Now, this would have been a dead cert if it was the old IFFP as it has that feel of an IFFP book now I’m not sure I’d like to see it on the long list myself. Have your read this book ?

That was the month that was feb 2019

  1. The spirits of the earth by Catherin Colomb
  2. Agnomia by Robert Gal
  3. Resistance by Julian Fuks
  4. Any means necessary by Jenny Rogneby
  5. Now, Now, Louison by Jean Fremon
  6. The capital by Robert Menasse
  7. The pianoplayers by Anthony Burgess
  8. Trout, belly up by Rodrigo Fuentes

I managed eight reviews last month which just about keeps me on course for 100 plus reviews this year. I read books from seven countries no new publishers or countries my journey has taken me from France country mansions then to Prague and New York from a Slovakian twist to a family on the run in Brazil with two kids A Swedish policewoman playing both sides of the fence. I read a wonderful book about an artist a satire about the EU after that a memoir about a piano playing father and trying to set up a trout farm in the Guatemalan countryside.

Image result for trout belly up rodrigo

Book of the month-

Trout belly up it has been a tight month as any of four books I read could have been the book of the month but there was something in his descriptions of struggling against nature in this book that grabbed me as I have finally given up on shadowing the Man Booker I had hope this was going be on the list but as I look forward over next month I have a packed list of books to read and review hoping to unearth more gems like this.

My month-

I managed the first weekend away driving there earlier this month not far just over the peaks to Macclesfield to visit my mums grave was the first timeI’d been by myself which I know she’d have been proud of me for driving although I made Amanda rather nervous when we slightly overshot a hairpin bend in the middle of the peaks but it was a reminder not to get too overconfident about my driving .I capture a number of Wim Wender films on Mubi and a couple of Korean films as well. I have been listening to new albums by Sleaford mods the same underbelly of Britain in their lyrics that capture modern Britain. Then mark Kozlek new album another set of monologues around his life a style he has had in his last few albums. But my favorite album this month Inferno by Robert Forester on half of the great band the Go-betweens. A collection of songs which all seem tinge with how it feels growing old. I am just finishing a set of nights which always cut my reading but they do help pay for my books. how has your month been

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