Winstonsdads Dozen of 2023

  1. A tomb of sand by Geetanjali Shree
  2. Canzone Di Guerra by Dasa Drndic
  3. Necropolis by Boris Pahor
  4. The book of Mother by Violaine Husiman
  5. Among the Almond trees by Hussein Barghouthi
  6. Goshawk Summer by James Aldred
  7. Thread ripper by Amalie Smith
  8. The critical case of a man called K BY Aziz Mohamed
  9. Something Strange like Hunger by Malika Mostadraf
  10. Pyre by Perumal Murgan
  11. school for girls by Arianne Lessard
  12. Dead Lands by Nuria Bendicho

Here is my dozen books I have picked books I reviewed on the blog I managed to read 122 books well that is as I write this on the 29th.My books of the year start in India with the Man booker international winner about an older woman getting over her husband’s passing and suddenly aspiring in her life all that wonderful use of language that had been brought Wonderfull to life into English. Then we are in the Balkans and Canada as we see how we cope with being an immigrant and trying to keep alive our own identity and heritage this book goes back to the war and has so much more by the late Dasa a writer that should be better known. Then we are still in the Balkans and Pahors account of his life in the concentration camps as he helped a doctor and saw the horrors a testament to surviving the horrors of the camps, Then a daughter tells of her chaotic childhood with her mother that had mental health issues as some that have struggled this year with stress and my mental health books around mental health are important. Then a man returns home to Palenstine and his past and present mixes as he wanders his childhood haunts as he faces death a powerful book. Then I read lots of nature books but Goshawk summer was the best as it captured that moment when the lockdown was there and nature crept back as the world felt silent and the world slowed for a short time. Then a gem of a book that has interlink stories thread ripper is one of those books that has a loose theme of computers women and computers and tapestry it is just a book that lingers long after you have finished the book. Then we meet a man undergoing Cancer treatment in Saudi Arabia this book nods to Kafka as our lead character gets lost in the world of medicine and what his family expects. Then we have the stories of a feminist Moroccan writer that died too soon this collection captures Morocco at the time from the female point of view but also what it was like living there from a woman chatting on the internet to being on a bus. Then we shoot in India and a story about castes set in a village as a son brings a wife back from the wrong cast what will happen especially when he has to go back to the city where they first meet.It is that class of cultures a son returns after seeing the city and its world back to the small minds of the village. Then a chorus of girls from a school in the middle of the country tell their tale and that of their teachers this is a creepy collection of voices. Then lastly is my book of the year Dead lands the story of a son that has been killed and shot in the back in his small Catalan village. The book takes the form of 13 stories from family members and those involved with the death of a priest to a carer, later on, caring for one of his siblings this is a Faulkneresque style but has a strong voice that captures that world of a small village and the secrets that lie under neither.So that is my dozen for this year. I will be back in the new year.

Red is my Heart by Antoine Laurain and Le SONNEUR

Red is my Heart by Antoine Laurain and LE SONNEUR

French fiction

Original title – Et mon cœur se serra

Translator – Jane Aitken

Source personal copy

I have reviewed 6 earlier books by the French writer Antoine Laurain he is a writer I love his books are great for an evening read he always take you away into his world whether it is having the presidents hat , a notebook or an old pop group there is always a hook that its the start of the journey in his books and the same is the case here we have a man that is sitting to write a letter to a girlfriend that has just left him. But the wonderful thing in the book is he has teamed up with the French street artist LE SONNEUR who has provided119 illustrations that us just three colours Black red and White to capture the despair of a relationship breaking they mix wonderfully with the inner story of this man’s despair at the relationship break up.

Today I posted

you a letter, a very beautiful letter, three carefully drafted pages written with a medium-nib Cross fountain pen in black ink. When I went to write your address on the envelope, my hand trembled and I invented a new one. An address that does not exist, a random number in an imaginary street which I placed in an arrondissement on the other side of the city 8 Rue Pierre-François-Flarmentier, Paris 15. I posted the letter in the yellow postbox.

You will never read

The opening as he writes a letter she will never read to him

He opens by writing a letter our narrator knows that she will never read and ponders that has he changed maybe the watch needs changing a new watch may change times maybe make some new times? All this is counterpointed with LE SONNEuR Illustrations that capture his a broken jigsaw, a couple parting the black is the male and the red is his lost lover in the illustrations and this really works as the book moves on as the hope of reconciling the relationship is ever further away. The memories of that time together ness are that shop that coffee shop the echoes of past time at one point he imagines he is in her apartment and says if I am here in my mind I can be there in my body. But as the illustrations show he may need a ladder to get to the bit of her that remains. He goes to New York this is where fact and fiction blur as the narrator sees a sign saying MON AMOUR is this fate no that is an art piece by LE SONNEUR.

Alain-Fournier is eighteen, and a student at the Lycke 1akanal when he crosses paths with the beautiful stranger. Shortly after the writer’s death, his friend and school. fellow Jacques Rivière said, “That brief encounter was the defining moment of his life and a source of immense passion, sadness and rapture.’

Without knowing who she is, Alain-Fournier follows Yvonne Toussaint de Quièvrecourt as she walks towards the Seine. She boards a Bateau-Mouche and alights at Quai de la Tournelle to return to her parent’s apartment at 12 Boulevard Saint Germain, still pursued at a distance by the lovestruck young man. In the days that follow, he keeps returning to that address to try to see her again. Finally, on the morning of 10 June, he spots her at the window of the apartment. The girl, surprised to see him, smiles warmly.


I always love books that deal with Memory and how we deal with it. Such as this is about the loss of a relationship. That shows what remains it s like that shell is a beautiful but hollow object.A relationship that has broken what remains is the moments here but as time drifts that is what the Illustrations capture so well the love of the women is like a balloon drifting away on the breeze always too far away just out of grasp. or a level t to be reached by a ladder that is just to short. This is a very quick read but it is one that has just the right mix of visual and narrative. THE embers of what was once there are being blown on to stop them from going out but there is always the chance to start a new fire as the last piece of heat ebbs away. I love Laurain he isn’t a complex writer. But he is one that manages to capture a lot here, especially if he has got that post-break-up feeling well. His book are a journey for the reader and this is in that gap in between those loves that void and how we fill it. Have you read any of his books? I have included a couple of  illustrations from this great book.

Winston’s score – A. This is another gem from a writer I have loved since I. first read him nearly ten years ago.

Dead Lands by Núria Bendicho

Dead lands by Núria Brendicho

Catalan Fiction

Original title – Terres mortes

Translators – Maruxa  Relaño & Matha Tennent

Source – Personel copy

I have had my foot of the pedal when it comes to new publisher and translations around. So when I first saw the new publisher 3Timesrebel. There is a motto in the book ‘I am grateful to fate for three gifts to have been born a woman, from the working class and an oppressed nation. And the turbid azure of being three times a rebel by Maria-Mercè Marçal so they have taken that motto to publish books from languages less published and from working-class females they have three books out I have brought two by them. The afterword Núria talks about her own reading journey from Catalan literature than into Spanish realism and then French Naturalism then by chance she happened on the works of William Faulkner and saw something in his writing she thanks all these writers. You can see the connection to Faulkner. It had been years since I read him but I happen to read as I lay dying last year.

THINK IT OVER, HE HAD SAID. IN A FEW YEARS, IF WELL-TENDED, all those lands, those fields and paths that came out of no-where, traversed the forests, encircled Roca Negra and extended further still, they could bring in good money, and they could be mine, have my name on the deed. It was simple. All I had to do was marry. A wife isn’t that much work, my father said in a hoarse tone, as if the comment just happened to slip out and he hadn’t been thinking about it for hours. It’s an opportunity.

The opening of Jon;’s father’s story.

I happen to mention the Faulkner I read as I have seen in other reviews other works by him mention but this dark story with its cast of characters it follows the event before and after Jon is killed when he has shot in the back in the remote village the family live the book is made up of the 13 stories from those that knew Jon and the dead man himself for me this rang with the style of as I lay dying as it has a cast of characters talking about one person. The narrators start with a couple of his siblings the youngest just called the boy and then Maria who is with the child herself but who is the father. Then Jon’s father as the story goes on we piece together the events and why was Jon shoot in the back who shot him and why. Then others outside the family a whorehouse own the priest as we head to the man himself his story is the last but one story. The last character is looking back as she is caring for a character in a hospice Tomas one of Jon’s brothers as he reveals things that happened when Jon died to his carer. This is a dark book and reflects a hard place. I was reminded of the attitude I used to see in the small pit villages around the northeast and some of the characters remind me of some of the people I met years ago.

FIRST CAME THE SHOT AND THEN DEATH. OR FIRST THE SHOT and then the suffering that led to my death. But above all, death. In the early days there was confusion, not only because it seemed even the living didn’t know who killed me, but because I didn’t remember it either. It was as if my non-body had forgotten what I had experienced because my mind was too preoccupied debating whether to leave non-death and enter non-life. I still had ears when I was buried, heard the specks of earth coming down on me, dusting my mouth, then someone weeping, and later the weight of oblivion interring me.

I chose the opening of Jon story as it hit me hard.

This is a hard gothic work that takes apart what happened it is a look at the moment I was reminded of a book like the anatomy of a Moment another book from Spain that takes a round view of the attempted coup in the 80’s in Spain. There is a nod to Faulkner that dark world and chorus of voices he had used so well in his books it reminds me I have a number of his books to read. Then a Peirene Press novel from Denmark they brought out a few years ago. The murder of Halland like this book it followed a murder and it was also more about why it happened the ones who don’t here get clues to the reasons but it is more what lead up to even the aftermath. This is a harsh world and like in another book from Peirene stones in a landslide. Like this is set in a remote mountain village where the locals are in their own world reality of their own with tough rules and consequences. so if your are after a gothic village novel about a murder this is for you and is stunning to think it is the writer’s Debut novel. Have you read any of these new books from 3Timesrebel ?

Winstons score – ++++A The dark side of the world of  Stones in a landslide (and you all know that is one of my all-time favourite books)

School for girls by Ariane Lessard

School for girls by Ariane Lessard

Quebec fiction

Original title -Ècole pour Filles

Translator – Frances Pope

Source – Review copy

I have loved most if not all the books that have come from Quebec their selection have gone from the weird to the every day and everything in between and this is no exception it is an odd collection of voice of those at a remote girl’s school. Born not far from a monastery of cloistered sisters which is strange as at times the way the book unfolds it reminds me of the madness and world away from the world in Black Narcissus. Anne Lessard has written for magazines and helped to publish a collection around the signs of the zodiac and has written for a number of magazines. This is her first book to be translated into English.

I saw a brachyssera. Brachycera. I always add one letter too many, in all the possibilities of spelling. The writing on the blackboard is a trace, too. A trace left behind, marking the way, girls who write badly won’t go anywhere in life. I struggle to form the Os. Curves don’t lead anywhere. I prefer things that go straight ahead. Parallel lines, or angles. Jeanne had a bandage around her hand. Jeanne is too soft, and she’ll pay for it in life. I’d have liked to see her wound. I hurt her. I hurt her to win, to show her that you don’t win without your tail. You don’t win without that roll of cloth in your underwear. You don’t win without the help of the devil in your pants.

Corrine is one of the main voices in the book .

This collection of detached voices focuses on the girls and teachers of a remote school in a forest and what happens over a year there. The voices around the school tell the tales we aren’t ever told the full details a teacher with an injured leg gangrene death odd practices in lessons this is an Erie world. Girls having the first period there is that sense of these people being cut of from the real world and how that brings on its own view of the world and can push people to the extremes of their own nature and cause them to distrust those around them and that is what we see here with so and so disliking so and so so Corrine is friends with Collete and is one of the main characters but mid way another voice says she doesn’t know them is that age or are they different voices at different times in the same place. The Beauty of the novel is it gives you the read that question of what is happening and when.

I’lI put Annette under the stones before long.I was at the big table in the library, writing, and I could see Annette spying on me from behind the English novels. The minute I went to catch her out, that nosey girl, she pretended to be looking for a book. Everyone knows Annette doesn’t read English novels. Too busy daydreaming. She had just better leave me alone, since I can’t escape outside anymore. If she doesn’t start respecting the solitude I need for my writing–and soon-I shan’t be held responsible for my actions. She wouldn’t be the first to find out what I can do.

Ariandre an Erie voice here and a scary voice it seems at times.

I compare this to the black narcissus it has that feel of people on the edge in the remote world they are in habitant something is quite right the norm for them has gone dame Anne as she injured her leg and died but where did she end up this is one of many threads in the book as we go around the people and the seasons go by. It is that world apart caught so well a group outside the world. It captures the world of being a teen these girls are searching for who they are come of resentful, strong, scared and just unsure who they are at times. Then there is the odd band of Dames teaching them that all seem to have stepped out of a classic kid’s school book the odd maths teacher the loving teacher the strict one it uses the tropes of the school novel and left the bare bones and you to fill in the gaps. It is like the prime of JEAN Brodie was set in a remote forest and had the madness of black narcissus drizzled over it that is how I felt about his Erie chorus of voices.Have you a favourite book set in a school ?

Winstons score – -A Erie school and kids a book that is bare bones that will leave you thinking long after you put it down.

Body Kintsugi by Senka Marić

Body Kintsugi by Senka Marić

Bosnian fiction

Original title – Kintsugi Tijela,

Translator – Celia Hawksworth

Source – subscription editon

I have yet to review one of this year’s Peirene its not like me I am usually on them as over the time they have been around they are one of my favourite publishers and have just had a change at the helm they will still be bringing out great novels from around the world and this is a perfect example of what I love around the books from peirene over the years there has been a strong female voice in there choices and that is the case with Senka Marić an editor she had trained as a hairdresser in the Uk during the civil war in Bosnia ( I worked along side a Bosnian in Germany at the Jugendwerkstatt I had worked at so I am always connected to stories from Bosnia). She is also a cancer survivor and this book is based on her experience it follows are narrator as she copes with her cancer.

You get up again and probe. Your breath fills the room. It bounces off the walls. It makes the summer night day. The round lump moves away from pressure (its touch is forever etched into your fingers’ memory). Panic is mud. It pours into your mouth. The night is swallowing you.

You resolve to shatter this image. Like a mirror with a stone thrown into it. Then all that remains is a dull sensation.

You’re not yet aware of how much has been taken away from you.

The discovery of a lump early on in the book.

The narrator of the book is in the middle of one of hardest events in most people’s life the break up off a marriage when she has some physical issues that lead to the discovery of a lump under her arm event she had always thought could happen, due to her mother own Breast cancer. What follows is her journey that sees her travel to get treatment and tests along the way. But we also have a little piece about the meds she starts to get treated with as she tries to survive cancer. But as she is getting treated she views her own life journey from her sexual awakening and the awkwardness of that to her own family’s struggle with health there is a part where she lists the body part of her mother and father and her own. as she tries to piece her self back together the title is a nod to the Japanese art of kintsugi to make something new beautiful out of the piece of broken porcelain and gold something new out of the part and that is what our narrator’s journey is in this book.

A week after the operation you’re sitting in the car, on your way home. Early that morning you went back to the clinic and the surgeon bandaged your breasts. You tried to see them, but you were lying down and he was bending over you. You could only see a bit of bruised skin. The pain was still great, and you almost didn’t care any more. After that, you had to go down a lot of steps, get into the car and find a position in which you’d be able to bear the drive to Mostar while your mother, leaning forward, clutches the steering wheel.

And worries about your being comfortable. And whether the wind is too strong. And whether you’ll have to make a detour. And drive through the Lika district, which now, as your journey devours unforeseen hours, carries your thoughts away from your body. And that grey landscape, battered by the wind, seems to you the only place there’s any sense in being at that moment. Removed from reality, from the pain and disintegration of your body.

The mind drifts and she drifts back as she start to rebuild herself after the treatment and operations.

This is a raw visceral journey you can see how her own life seeps into this book the fragile line people walk when getting treatment for cancer. the knock-on effect of already going through a divorce. But also the knowledge of family history around cancer. leads to a forbidding in our narrator’s mind as she drifts back on her life. Cancer is something that touches everyone My own mother survived it and sadly recently lost a colleague to cancer it is something that takes its toll on everyone. The passage where she list the loss of body parts she and her family have given t cancer and illness over time. The other part I like was the stark medical side. She gave the test and meds the side effects etc around the tablets and treatment she is having which in a lot of cases are very difficult to deal With as a patient is often so poorly from the treatment but this leads to reliving the past at times. So it looks like Peirene is in safe hands with its new owners and this is also another great slice of Balkan literature but also a strong narrative around cancer and also surviving the worst life has to give you. Have you a book about cancer or illness.

Winston’s score – A – One woman’s cancer journey and how she rebuilt herself.


2023 Plans Waugh ,clubs, backlist and just being me

I’ve been thinking about what to do reading-wise next year. I am not a planner as u might have gathered and I always view my reading as adrift on the sea of books but for me this last year I have read more but reviewed less I am on the verge of completing the 120 total I had set myself this year so I will add five on next year. But the main plan for next year firstly is to try and read through all of Evelyn Waugh’s novels I have most if not all of them I couldn’t find my Brideshead when I took this pic. So I am not setting an order or reading them in chronological order but more as I feel and have time. Then I want to read more from my TBR pile,  my huge backlist pile of books I am always buying but never quite getting to I love the backlist podcast and Simon and Karen club years and feel I have so many great lost books on my shelves that need to be put out there I often get to caught up in the riptide of new books don’t we all well its time to move that tiler of my reading boat.I am still toying with Vlogging a little bit. Hopefully, I will build up the nerve. Another idea I’m wanting to try and knock a few longer books off the shelf. As ever the focus will be translated literature with a few nature books chucked in for good measure.I just need to get back to regular reviewing that said so far this year is the 3rd most words I have written in a year the most words per post. I always find the turn of the year brings a spurt to my blogging its like the New Year is a gust of wind in my sail. So what are your plans for the next year where is it going to take you reading wise?

Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin


Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin

Argentinan  fiction

Orignal tile – Siete casas vacías

Translator – Megan McDowell

Source – Library book

This is the third book I have reviewed from Samantha schweblin. It is the first I have really connected with as a reader before I got them and why people loved them but it hadn’t been a total bowl over for me. The other books my fellow readers on the shadow just seemed to have connected with more than myself. She has been on the Man booker list with her three previous books, so it I thought it was a good idea to read her latest just in case it made the longlist. This is a collection of short stories. As with her other books, it has a dark side to her stories. Samanta Schweblin lives in Berlin and has written five books. One of them is currently being filmed by Netflix. So let us enter the Erie unsettled stories she has given us.

My mother, who was in the process of getting out of the car, freezes a moment and then drops back into her seat. I’m worried because night is falling, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to get the car out in the dark. The forest is only two houses away. I walk into the trees, and it takes a few minutes to find exactly what I need.

When I get back, my mother is not in the car. There’s no one outside. I approach the front door of the house.

The boy’s truck is lying on the doormat. I ring the doorbell and the woman comes to open the door.

“I called the ambulance? she says. “I didn’t know where you were, and your mother said she was going to faint again.”

The opening story of the mother and daughter None of that.

A mother and daughter head out in a car. Where they end up in the middle of nowhere and end up on a posh estate and the. other goes into a house. The mother starts to wander around the house as though drawn by some spirit and things just go strange as the oddness of the actions. Then the longest story in the book breaths from the depth. The story has a classic hook to it in the newcomer in the area when a single mother who moves next to her and her longstanding husband. They lost their sons many years ago. But Lola gets weary when her husband is drawn to the young boy next year all this is back as Lola’s health is waning. But who is this neighbour why does she feel familiar at times she is fat but there is something there. elsewhere people are caught between homes. A teen strips and redress in some underwear. I loved this collection.

The list was part of a plan: Lola suspected that her I life had been too long, so simple and light that now it lacked the weight needed to disappear. After studying the experiences of some acquaintances, she had concluded that even in old age, death needed a final push.

An emotional nudge, or a physical one. And she couldn’t give that to her body. She wanted to die, but every morning, inevitably, she woke up again. What she could do, on the other hand, was arrange everything in that direction, attenuate her own life, reduce its space until she eliminated it completely. That’s what the list was about; that, and remaining focused on what was important.

The opening of the longest story in the book breath from the depths

I loved the stories especially the short ones like when the mother and daughter head into the village in the middle of nowhere. Then into the backyard of the house and into the house itself. When she is drawn to a sugar bowl the story has such an undercurrent to it the sense of something more to it. Like Lola, I was reminded at times of the Pinero novel that made this year’s Booker list. As it had a similar feel to the character of a person in pain and with. A lot in their life. This collection uses the usual hooks in Horror fiction, strange places, haunted feeling houses, and people on the edge. But I think what She does so well is making the normal everyday humdrum characters. Seem just enough off-kilter and odd to be believed and not over the top. I love the cover art for this book. We have to ask ourselves will this make the longlist again , I think it may do the only reason it may not is if they want to give other writers a chance to make the longlist. Have you read any of her books?

Winstons score – +A Finally loved one of her books.


Wonderful, Wonderful Times by Elfriede Jelinek


Wonderful, Wonderful Times by Elfriede Jelinek

Austrian fiction

Original title – Die Ausgesperrten

Translator – Michael Hulse

Source – Personal copy

I had read this for GermaN Lit Month but I just didn’t get to it in time. This is the second book I had read from the Austrian Nobel lit winner Elfriede Jelinek she is one of those Nobel winners that over time has fade that said I had partly read a non-fiction work the Fitzcarraldo had brought out earlier this year I will finish that at some point. When describing her win the Nobel committee said of her writing. “musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that, with extraordinary linguistic zeal, reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power. This is certainly a book that deals with the cliches of society. It first came out in 1980 and is of that time the period in the post war years it is set in the fifties.

ONE NIGHT AT the end of the fifties an assault is committed in the Vienna municipal park. The following persons all grab hold of one solitary man out walking.

Rainer Maria Witkowski and his twin sister Anna Witkowski, Sophie Pachhofen (formerly von Pachhofen), and Hans Sepp. Rainer Maria Witkowski was named after Rainer Maria Rilke. All of them are about eighteen, Hans Sepp is a year or so older than the others, though he too is without a trace of maturity. Of the two girls, Anna is the more ferocious, which can be seen in the fact that she pays most attention to the face of the subject. Particular courage is required if you are to scratch a man’s face while he is looking full in your own (though he cannot see much since it is dark) or indeed try to scratch his eyes out. For the eyes are the mirror of the soul and ought to remain unscathed if at all possible. Otherwise, people will suppose the soul is done for.

The opening lines open with them grabbing a man

The book happens to deal with the dark side of Austrian society at the time the undercurrents of the post war era. it is the late fifties when a group of four teens attack a man. The four teens are Rainer and Anne who are twins. Their father was in the SS during the war and is now disabled. Hans whose mother is a communist and Sophie an athletic girl(maybe a symbol in some way of Aryanism ?). The book shows the inner working of these teens. Who are just vile and very violent commit crimes? These angst teens are all that happened in Austria before they were born. Now they have been chewed up by the country they are in and have been spat out that they are the dark side of teens. This is a bleak work of teen violence ce lust sex and the past blended together and spat out on the page. Dark kids have a weird connection and love between them. The kids are maybe a symbol for the violence of the past they are like a champagne bottle shaken constantly after the war that undercurrent of the war, nazism, regrets, teen lust and hormones all shaken in the bottle to that single act.

The twins’ unhappiness makes them superior because they have shaken off the shackles and do what they want. Rainer says: people’s lives are predetermined in some way or other, but not mine, I’m superior to them on account of my Will. On the other hand, the individual is free if he wants to be. Rainer avails himself of that freedom, graciously: here he is, being awarded his accreditation certificate. There is a certain heroism in him. In this lonely youth. Lonely in the sense that no one sees him, which halves the value of even the prettiest heroism. Still, at least Rainer can look himself in the face when he’s alone with his mirror.

The twins are the heart off the book here you see the way they look at the world.

There is something about those writers of the post-war era of Austria Bernhard and her with Jelinek. They dived in and tore out the dark heart of the post-war and the past that lingered underneath th country and here it is kids of the rail this is like Holden Caulfield if he had grown up in Germany in love with his sister. This book is dark and complex I saw it describe as Molasses there is something about just the thick rich nature of her writing dark and vile in it tones but wonderfully written. I recently read High Wind in Jamaica another book about kids going off the rails as a group like here it shows how kids can be seen as violent for no reason. Then book like The dinner by Herman Kick another book about  kids and violence shows the after math of the act of violence this is a book that connect the two a sort of inner working of the kids caught in the violent acts they are doing. I wish it hadn’t been so long between reading Jelinek’s books she is a unique writer. Have you read any books by Jelinek ?

Winstons score – A the post war embers still burn in the kids of a SS officer.

That was the month that was November 22

  1. Blue Jewellery by Katharina Winkler
  2. Like a Prisoner by Fatos Lubonja
  3. What we leave behind by Stanislaw Łubieński
  4. What Have You Left behind ? by Bushra AL-Maqtari
  5. The Last One by Fatima Daas

I start with my only book for German lit month a Swiss novel about a Turkish Family that moves to Switzerland as the husband abuses the wife and gives her what see calls her Blue jewellery of bruises. Then a collection of short stories from his time in the Albanian Gulags from Albanian writer Fatos Lubonja. Then a n environmental nature book about what we drop and dispose of the plastic waste and its lasting impact on nature. Then a harrowing collection of first-hand accounts from those who had lost family in the Yemeni civil war. Last stop was a French Algerian Women’s account of trying to be a lean and a Muslim in modern France. Well five countries no new countries this month also no new publishers.

Book of the Month

This was such a close month all the books I reviewed were stunning books each for there own reason but this so grab me I sat in town one day in a coffee shop and just drifted into the world of the camp the story of the man losing his cat will stick with me for ever. hope and loss and despair and joy all wrapped up in one story.

The month ahead

I am in a reading slump (as I said these were great books it is hard after five books this good to read anything)  and a blogging slump (just time and a new role at work so should be a bit easier now). So I am not putting any pressure on myself I think it will be reading a number of short books I review and maybe one long book. I usually find the reading clock gets wound up tight near the end of the year it is like wind-up car we had as kids. T his time of year I need to be picked up and wound up.  I am just running out of steam and this month I will be looking at the new year and as ever starting with a clean slate and lots of hope for 2023. I look forward to the new year and great Christmas. What are your plans for the month ahead ?

Non-book events

I finally got around to Andor the latest Star Wars series I had tried it and just not gotten into it straight off. but I sat and gave to another chance to watch it again. This time I was drawn in it has a darker feel and is maybe the best series they have done as it is separate from the other series it has no real connection to the films barring the film that had Andor as a character. I start a new temporary role at work this month which maybe explains the lack of reading I am settling into this is my third week.

the Last One by Fatima Dads

The Last One by Fatima Daas

French fiction

Original title –La Petite Dernière

Translator – Lara Vergnaud

Source – Library

I love my local library it is well stocked and gets a lot of new books in so I often go and look for something I have missed or maybe just missed and this is one such book. I think I saw it around Twitter maybe when it came out. Fatima Daas is a leading new voice who sold very well in France and is a feminist she identifies as an intersectional Feminist. This is the pseudonym of the writer she adopted it in her mid-teens she was taught by the writer Tanguy Viel she went on to study literature at this time she also had her sexual awakening and its effect on her religion and family this is a complex work about growing up Lesbian from NORTH African family and trying to remain a Muslim. a stunning debut from a new talent.

My name is Fatima.

The name of a symbolic figure in Islam.

A name that must be honoured.

A name that mustn’t be “soiled”, as we say in my


In my house, to soil means to dishonour. Wassekh, in Algerian Arabic.

Or daria, darija, our word for dialect.

Wassekh: soil, stir shit up, blacken.

It has multiple meanings, like “close”.

My mother would use the same word to tell me

I had got my clothes dirty, the same word when she came home and found her Kingdom in bad shape.

The opening chapter and the first time we see My name is Fatima Daas

This book uses the same beginning at every chapter MY name is Fatima Daas what follows is how she is growing and the struggles a young woman has growing up. During her school years, she struggles to fit in as a pupil going off the rails till she finds her voice in writing. Then her family and how will she fit in when she discovers her sexuality. Then this has a knock-on effect on her religion. she dreamt of being ani man and how can she aline herself with the values of the religion. How do you cope when you grow up as a Lesbian Muslim in Modern France? This is a refreshing take on the Bildungsroman. The pains, sadness and small wins along the way. The book is hypnotic at times with the repeating motif and the initial description of where Fatima is in her life at this point. Its a tale of how to break free and become your own person but also keep at heart where you are from and who you are! what you become and how you became.

My name is Fatima Daas, I was born in France, sometimes I spend more than four hours on public transport to get to class, work, a theatre, a museum or back home to my parents’ house.

I begin to take public transport regularly when I’m eighteen.

After a while, I experience “commuter fatigue”, the kind that induces a migraine at pretty much the same time every evening, that makes you prematurely realize that your body is aging, that colours your mood, prompts you to overreact, to complain almost as much as the Parisians, and to bursts of anger that are difficult to control.

It’s the kind of fatigue that makes you think about

“moving closer”.

A later chapter about being a commuter in Paris

This is a work that draws you into Fatima’s life with the repetitive nature of the chapters. It is like the drumbeat of Kodo drummer beating and driving the fragments of her life as we see a girl that should have been a boy to her father. Then growing up in the France of LE pen etc being Algerian and  Muslim been twisted by what that means when you sexually awaken to the fact you’re a girl attracted to Girls. This is a side of modern France rarely seen. How do you identify yourself this is how we deal with Labels we all have labels but do they define you or create you what labels do you show which should you hide? A great slice of Autofiction just after the master of Autofiction won the Nobel this is maybe this generation Ernaux a strong female with her own struggles and emotional journey like Ernaux before her. Have you a favourite work of Autofiction or a favourite Queer novel in translation?

Winstons score – + A this is why I read books in translation insight into other lives and places.


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March 2023


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