Scar by Sara Mesa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scar by Sara Mesa

Spanish fiction

Original title  – Cicatriz

Translator – Adriana Nodal-Tarafa

Source – personal copy

I am back on with Spanish Lit month but also another for Women in translation month. Here I have one that ticks both boxes a Spanish novel from the writer Sara Mesa. The translator chooses to translate this book after reading a copy at a Dalkey archive applied for a literary translator program when she was given this book to read and after reading it new she wanted to Translate it.  She has written a number of novels they all seem to have similar themes to this of male to female relationships and the power within them. She has been a finalist for the Heralde prize in the past and has lived in Sevilla since childhood.

They discuss their childhoods ofteb. They hadsimilar experiences. They get excited telling about their memories, as if they were trading cards. Public school. Working class neighbourhood. Pelikan pencil cases, seasame street, blue sports jackets with white stripes, La piara ham pate for afternoon snack. Sonia scans a childhood picture for him, hoping to get one from him in exchange where she can make out his current features.

The two have a lot in common and chat about there childhoods.

Scar is a story of two characters. Sonia, she is an ordinary woman and goes on the internet chatting in a forum about literature. As she tries to escape her boring life as a data processor entering figures in a computer. So she becomes someone else at night. she meets the mysterious Knut Hamsun we never know his real name. The two starts by talking and over time a relationship develops. He starts to try and get her to write better with first packages of books from writers and also about how to write. But over time he starts to try and get Sonia into other positions by sending her lingerie expensive La perla, she thinks he stole them more and more come and he starts to try and get her mind as he sends more and more CDs, lingerie, perfume even then shoes stockings as the gifts pile up and this odd relationship gets strange as she is both drawn to this man and then scared about what he really wants. from her. She in the time of there relationship marries but after time the relationship with Knut begins again.

The amount you are able to read is amazing, she tells him. Knut comments extensively about Proust. He doesn’t stop insisting that she should read him too, but not just part of his work, not just one book, his entire oeuvre. He suggests that they study him together, that they analyze his work in depth. I would like nothing more in this world than thatr he sayshe claims to have read Buddenbrooks in five days, the brothers Karamzov in four. In another email he copies marge segments of Against the grain and asks her what she thinks of des Essintes’s views.

They both love books and she admires how well read he is

Sara is another of the talented writers to have emerged from Spain in recent years. This is a novel that brings to life a corner of the modern world that hasn’t been touched in literature much that of the online relationships the world has moved on so much in the last twenty year a fair few relationships start online now. This work also shows the dangers of that world. in Sonia and Knut we see a power relationship as Knut lavishes gifts on Sonia a woman caught in a boring world trying to get out of it is a perfect catch for this man. This is a man obsessed with Sonia and also he really wants to model her by sending her the lingerie although she h=never feels right in it and often it never fits her probably. It touches those dark corners of the human world as this is a story of codependents as much a Knut is a dark figure in this book Sonia also wants Knut. This is a wonderful insight into a new world of online forums and what happens when people meet and fall in love or in a co-dependency! Have you read this book or any of the Dalkey Spanish lit series?

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30 for #WITMONTH A Russian Library entry !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been buying a lot of the R|ussian Library series. Her we have one of the leading female writers in Russia Linor Goralik is known for her flash fiction and speaking out for LGBT rights in the past. Her is a collection of her works that the Russian library brought out. Have you read any of the Russian Library series ?

And the wind sees all by Guðmundur Andri Thorsson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the wind sees all by  Guðmundur Andri Thorsson

Icelandic fiction

Original title – Valeyrarvalsinn

Translators – Bjorg Arnadottir and Andrew Cauthery

Source – personal copy

We were discussing on Twitter the other night that it has been ten years of Peirene Press and there would be thirty books and I went back and I have missed a number of them over the last few years so I decided to order three I hadn’t read and this was the first to arrive. Guðmundur Andri Thorsson has written ten books including four novels and this was the first to be translated to English. It was up for the Nordic lit prize but lost out to Kim Leine book which I reviewed a while ago here . The books original title means The Waltz of Valeyri the small village the book is set. Knowing this I was reminded of the dance to the music of time the Powell sequence of novels that took its title from a painting by Poussin that features time and people dancing around it well this is a village dancing around time. 

 The old couple sit at the kitchen table munching custard creams. Skipper Cudjon is thinking about the great northern diver he was in the valley at Lake Valeyri yesterday evening, about its majestic glide along the lake and its long dive for fish, as if careless of time, as if free. Sveinsina is somewhere in the middle of Briggi’s guitar solo at that gig on Austurbaejarbio, the solo which, later that night, he said had been for her alone

The Captain remembers the diver he saw but also another event

This takes place in just two mins and captures the thoughts and stories of a small Icelandic fishing village that has at its heart that the beautiful choirmistress of choir Kata she is cycling through the town in her new blue polka dot dress in the last practice before the tonight’s highly anticipated show. What follows is a series of Vignettes as each character sees Kata on that bicycle and we get glimpses into their lives A priest with money troubles from Gambling online and has lost touch with those around him. The brother and sister that don’t speak he is wandering trying to remember what caused the break up between them as he does. A sea captain remembers a great Northern diver that he saw on the water such a graceful bird leads him to a sad event in his life. The Choirmistress own past is clouded and she is an incomer but her past isn’t fully known. An idealistic poet that has set his bar and ideals to high. The little touches get you the music folks are listening to by the likes of  Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, he Finnish composer Avro Part and Dixieland music

He lifts his pen expectantly, takes a sip of cold coffee, puts his mug back down and looks up, stroking his beard, From the window he sees Kata choir gliding past on her bike, her forehead rinkled in concentration, wearing a white dress with blue polka dots. He smiles and scribbles something in the notebook lying next to the white sheet of papoer. He writes “sea”, “shore”,”grass”

The poem has fluttered away into tomorrow

I loved this line about the poem fluttering away

Joyce first tried a day in Ulysses and an hour in Finnigans wake. But here we have just two mins and a sort of Camera Obscura that has come to life as we see the bike go through the heart of the town we see all Human nature from Loss, envy, gambling, despair this is village warts and all. Of course, many villages have been written about from the classic Sherwood Ohio which uses the same vignette style of writing through Thomas Under milkwood this isn’t as dark as that book for me but the feeling is the same it seems to capture a world in Amber just that two mins and what everyone is thinking fro the present to the past the loss of sons, falling outs and falling into gambling addiction. The future Kata and her choir’s forthcoming performance that is most eagerly wondered about. If you ever wished the google street view would come to life this is it we capture the spirit of a village through those that live there and it shows that there is a story in everyone background. I so pleased we discussed the amount we had read it gave me a chance to find this gem of a book. Have you read it ?

 

30 covers for #WITMONTH A Fat Italian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got sent this by Dedalus press a while ago and never got chance to get top it even thou I was really taken by the title. Set from the late 19th century to the 50’s it gives a view on an Italy that has now gone from the vision of one family. Have you a favourite Italian female writer?

30 covers for #WITMONTH off to Japan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I move to Japan for Today’s cover and a writer whose books  I have covered twice on the blog. She has a new book out The memory police this month which I am looking forward too I also have this to read from her. Have you read Yoko Ogawa?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 covers for #WITMONTH A dane whose personal book touched me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have had this a while but earlier this year I reviewed a more personal book from this Danish writer Carls book or its English tile When death takes something fro you give it back a work dealing with the loss of her son at an all to young age I read this and as we have been dealing with the grief of losing my brother in law since last November where he took his own life for me I love that more personal book but this is a novel about a son discovering his father legacy after his death. My review of the book mentioned is her 

30 covers for #WITMONTH a french modern classic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I move to France on one of the great French female writers from post war France. Set in Russia in what is now Lativa a woman and the men that are trying to impress her. All that on the surface as Yourcenar puts a lot of things under the surface in her characters. Here is my review 

Doppelganger by Daša Drndić

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doppelganger by Daša Drndić

Croatian fiction

Original title – Doppelgänger

Translators Susan Curtis and Celia Hawkesworth

Source – Personal copy

I held back on reviewing this to this month as it seemed fitting I had two books by the Late Dasa unreviewed and I decide to do this one first and Women in translation month seemed the perfect time for a female writer that was one of the strongest voices of Balkan writing in recent years. Dasa studied English literature and then got a master in Theatre. She then worked as a Tv Editor,  a professor of English. Her books had been shortlisted for the IFFP and the EBRD prize in recent years. In the recent books, there is an undercurrent of a warning of Europe slipping into a new Right-wing Nationalistic era. I met her once and spent a good hour talking about books Europe and Lit. She sadly passed away last year I do hope they retroactively give her the Nobel prize anyway. The Publisher of this told me this was one of her favorite works.

Artur Biodi(C), born in Labin, 1921. Extramartial son of Martistella Biondi(C) (deceased) and Carlos Theresin Rankov (deceased). The father of Artur Biondi(C),Carlos Teresin Rankov (deceased) was born in 1900 on the shores of the river Tanaro, as the extramartial son of Teresa Borsalino, co-owner of a hat factory in Alessandria, and the serbian Military officer of the Austro-Hungarian army under Ranko Matic (deceased)

Artur police dossier and it is strange he is a son born of a son brom out of wedlock as well. Then there is the hat connection!

Doppelganger is two novellas I have chosen to talk about the first short novella called Artur and Isabella as it is a real rollercoaster ride of a story the tale of two lonely widowers who know each other but take it further oneNew Years eve with a shocking knock-on effect. It shows how when someone loses their life partner there is a void in their lives that is never refilled the two Isabelle has been trying to become a Croat citizen on three occasions. The final one which happened seven years before. She moved there following her husband’s death some fifteen years before. Then we have Artur a retired Yugoslavian Naval officer known for his extensive collection of hats. The two then spend the new years eve together the story has as a side police dossier pieces on the both but also on the people around them there is a terrible outcome from this evening. The second story sees another lonely figure a man who visits the zoo every day. Talks to himself but the later story has echos of the first story. Both are visions into what makes us human.

Isabelle always unwraps her chocolate balls with care so that she can save the silver paper. Over the year she collects the foil wrappersin a book beside her bed because she eats most of the chocolate balls in bed. When she finshes the book, she will put the wrappers into anothert one. At the moment she is reading an exciting book . The book is called “This way for the gas , Ladies and gentlemen” she puts Karl marx foil wrappers in it. By the ehd of the year, she will have collected a lot oif wrappers for the christmas treem more for the branches on the walls

Isabelle and her chocolate balls which she is an expert on

I often wonder if I am too positive about books well I am on the whole especially as I am now choice more that I read I have brought myself. If you ever met Dasa the effect she would have on you is the same as she had on me as someone that just seemed to have that finger on the pulse of what makes us human but also what is going on in the wider world, Here in the first stories we see the loneliness of the old age. We see the two talk about old age losing control of their bodies wearing Adult diapers and such. Then when they meet they get into a sex scene which reminds me somewhat of the scene in Dennis potters singing detective where the main character is trying to forget the young nurse is touching his body Isabelle is seen going through a list of things as she performs a sexual act on Artur.In these days when the world is so fast The older people sometimes get left behind. But also the past of Yugoslavia where everyone was watched by someone in the Police dossiers on them from their lives to Artur Hatmaker. A tragic view of lives touched with a dark humour at times from the chocolates those Mozart Balls!!. Have you read Dasa ?

 

30 covers for #WITMONTH England through a German eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe not the most exciting cover Fitzcarraldo covers are all the same and are a homage to the original James Joyce Ulysses cover in their style. Here we have a recent favourite from them River by Ester Knsky saw her living in London and using the Thames as a launchpad for her memories of both London and the other cities and places as she was growing up by other rivers as the prose flow you are drawn into her world.

A nail, A rose by Madeleine Bourdouxhe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A nail, A rose by Madeleine Bourdouxhe

Belgian fiction

Original title – Sept Nouvelles

Translator – Faith Evans

Source – review copy

I featured a picture of this for my women in translation covers piece earlier in the week. I had read this a while ago as it came out in May but felt it was a great choice for women in translation month as it shows what Pushkin do so well and that is rediscovered writers that have disappeared here we have the Belgian writer Madeliene Bourdouxhe although she moved with her family at a young age to Paris  during world war one returning to Brussels to attend university, She married a maths teacher  and began writing during the war she was in the resistance . After the war, she frequently went to Paris meeting writers like Simone de Beauvoir and Raymond Queneau. This collection was published firstly in the late eighties and it great it is back in print in a Pushkin edition.

Come on, “he said, “get some change..”

She went in and returned with the notes. She watched Nicholas as he hung the hose back on the petrol pump and handed over the change; she watched the cas as it pulled out , re-entered the right lane, and disappeared in the direction of Masions-Alfort. At the garage over the way anpther car pulled in. The women who worked there was tall, gaunt and older that Anna, and she wore an old fashion chignon on the crown of her head , fastened not with hairpin but with four or five criss-crossing nails, which formed a rosette around the chignon, a real curiosity

I loved anna description of the woman over the road her hair sounds so unusual and destinctive with its nails holding it in place!!

This is a collection of stories all but one is told from a female point of view. The woman, on the whole, seem to maybe be a general vision of women in the pre and war years this book came out in 1944 the last story touches on this story Sous le point Mirabeau follows a Belgian woman, just become a mother and with many others trying to get into France. I liked another story Blanche it starts with a husband asking if his shirt is ironed but his wife is wistful dreamy Blanche doesn’t see her life as a housewife so doesn’t iron her short this is a woman that maybe is one the edge at one point when she heads into the woods with her son its dark he says but we are looking for squirrels to reassure him this scene makes you wonder what was going to happen . In other stories, we have one  Rene is the flip of the other stories a man looking at ordinary women lives this is a subtle collection of ordinary lives brought to life from Heartbreak to Trauma.

Blanche hurried along the path, holding her hand. Some drops of rain were still falling but the heat of the day lingering and the air was warm.

“Shall we walk through the wooods? Blanche said.

“Its all black in therem I’de be frightened” said Jean-Louis

“You mustn’t be afraid of the wood. We might see some squirrels in there …”

“Squirrels? All right then,” Said Jean-Louis

Blanche takes her son into the dark woods one night …

I held this back as it was so perfect for this month from the great cover art of a factory girl of the time a strong woman, an ordinary woman which is what Bourdouxhe captures so well in this book. she captures the voice and internal feeling of the women she writes about okay they are all very similar in character but they also show maybe the changing thoughts of the writer at the time this collection came out in 1944 a time when the writer her self had seen action in the resistance but women’s roles  in the home and workplace had changed during those war years. I feel this is an undercurrent in these characters from Blanche feeling unlike a housewife to trying to get to France in a crowd. There is a number of other books that the translator had translated inn the eighties lets hope they also get reissued. Have you read her books?

 

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