Winstons books a huge bestseller you’ll never have heard of !


Well this picture is a bit of a tease a new publisher  from Holland launching in 2015 , all I  can say is they sent me four books under embargo to 2015 , although one of them happens to be married to the biggest writer in translation at the moment ,well the most talked about anyway !


I’ve been aware of this book for about six months , a huge bestseller around the world arrives in English Latvia where Zigmunds Skujins is from has one of the best read, read public out there and every one of his books is seen as an event there .This book is a political satire that mirrors 18th century Baltic life with a narrator in the present day .It also wins the title for the strangest  title I may read flesh coloured dominoes ,I can’t wait to see why that is the title .


Another book that has been on my radar since meeting the folks from maclehose press in early summer , the uncertain glory by Joan Sales is a classic of Catalan fiction ,published for the first time in English ,called a Catalan answer to Homage to Catalonia or for whom the bells tolls and is one of three books from catalan coming out this autumn I have read one of the other two Confessions ,but won’t get chance to read the other just yet as it is from a publisher I don’t get books from .

Winstons books poseidon and confessions

Well two books arrived at Winston towers this week .


The first is from an old favourite writer ,the Dutch genius Cees Nooteboom ,his latest book from Maclehose is called Poseidon letters ,it is a selection of writing he has written for year to Poseidon on his return to his spring home on Minorca .I actually have finished this book and it is something special any fans of the works of  Sebald will love this one .


The second book as you can see is a huge book Jaume Cabre book Confession one of the most respect Catalan writers ,the book follows Adria Ardevol as he turns sixty and looks back on his memories before he loses them but also over the role evil has played in the last five hundred years of history .the book won ten awards in Spain .

Escape by Dominique Manotti

Escape Dominique Manotti

Escape by Dominique Manotti

French crime fiction

Orginal title – l’Evasion

Translators – Amanda Hopkinson and Ros Schwartz

Source – Review copy


Modernity signifies the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art of which the other half is the eternal and the immutable.

Charles Baudelaire   source 

Now for the second book for Women in translation month ,I’m choosing a crime novel for it is one of the few areas of translated fiction you do actually find a few more female writers available and Dominque Manotti is a perfect choice ,she has won the international dagger prize in the past .She was born in Paris ,was a union and political activist in the sixties and since a professor of 19th century economic history in paris .She has published ten novels in France ,her books have also won book prizes in France .

“We part company here ”  He places a canvas bag at Filippo’s feet .I’ve put everything I could find in the cars in there for you .Clothes, two sandwiches ,and some money “.Carlo pauses ,Filippo says nothin .” My escape will be in the news ,I think .And they’ll be looking for you ,because you broke out with me .You’ll have to keep a low profile for a while ,until things settle down ”

But did he take Carlo’s advice in the long-term ?

Escape is the story of two men really one living and one now dead they are Carlo the dead leader of the Italian red brigade and Filippo who had escaped with Carlo from prison in Italy ,they were cell mates .Now Filippo has heard his former cell mate who had gone back to get further involved in his red brigade activities after he had escaped has died .On the other had Filippo had travelled north sneaked through the mountain passes between France and Italy ,were he eventually ends up with the help of political refugees and activists in France in Paris where he gets a job as a security guard at night .He decides to remember all that Carlo had told him whilst doing his job at night and try to make sense of why his friend had died .The writings are quite good and with some pushing from his landlady he is advised to make it a fiction book .But what happened to Carlo and his friend want Filippo to help them find out .

L’univers des livres ,review by Jeanne Champaud

A few days ago ,the publisher of Escape ,the novel by Filippo Zuliani that will be appearing in bookshops this week ,gave me a copy of the proofs saying ,”Read these .I think you’ll be surprised ” I was .And I’m prepared to bet  that I won’t be the only one ,and that we’ll be hearing about this novel when the literary prize season is upon us this autumn .

Well it had more of an impact than that !!

Now this book takes the old escape story and adds a few twists and turns too it .Of course the politics loom large at times ,with Manotti history of activism you feel what she writes about the inner working and way the red brigade operates rings true .I was reminded at times of Schlinks novel  the weekend which of course follows friends through the aftermath of the RAF .The story of the two former cell mates is one of paths we take in life one takes the high road to Paris and the other the low road to Milan so to speak .The book also touches that field of fiction /true life crime that has grown over the years ,I was reminded of the Italian writer Massimo Carlotto who of course in his own book the Fugitive recounts his own escape from an Italian prison .The book is well translated has a fast paces I read it in two sittings and was drawn into Filippo’s world and his history with Carlo .

Have you read any book by Dominique Manotti ?

Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop-Phane

zenith hotel cover

Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop-Phane

French fiction

Original title –  Zenith Hotel

Translator – Ros Schwartz

Source – Review copy

Back in the beginning of January I was sent a pdf of this book by the publisher I had seen it late last year in their catalogue and had thought it was one I would like .So who is Oscar Coop-Phane ,he is one of the rising stars of french literature .He has travelled round europe spent time in Berlin .This is his debut novel and won the Prix de Flore ,he also now writes a column for the french version of Vanity Fair .

don’t know why I write. It churns me up, it soils me
from inside. Honestly, I don’t know why I’m doing
this. To pass the time, perhaps. That’s it. I write like
some people do crosswords, it keeps me busy. I think
about words, style, the shapes of the letters. I feel as if
I’m doing something without getting up off my arse.
It’s not vital, it’s not therapeutic. I don’t know, I write
to keep my hands occupied, like doodling on Post-its
when you’re on the phone. I fill pages, writing one
sentence after another. It’s a pointless exercise, but it
keeps me busy. I could listen to the radio, do sudokus,
read the paper or look out of the window, but I write, I
don’t know why. I kill time. It’s a tough bastard.
I’m a pen-pushing old slag. How about that?

Nanou tells us why she writes about the men she meets .


I rarely read a book finish it and would love to read it again on the same day ,but this was the case for Zenith Hotel ,it was the first of two books I’ve had this year and the first for about two years .So you can see I can’t heap enough praise on this short novel .The book is the story of Nanou ,she is a working girls and we join her for a day in her life and see the people she is interacting with .We also get little vignettes about the men that visit this women ,in a way telling us how the wound up at her door and how they treat her .Nanou life is one of those lives you know is out there but would rather at times maybe not want to think about it .So Oscar has brought us the dark underbelly of france .Why do men visit this women and what toll has it taken on her as a person .

Victor washes. The dog watches him scrub his
naked body with a purple flannel. Baton lies with
his head on the tiled floor, soaking up the splashes
like a hairy bathmat. Victor towels himself and
gets dressed. The dog doesn’t wash himself any
more, there’s no one for him to charm now, no one
to look at, not even any puddles of piss to sniff.
Baton no longer pokes his muzzle into things,
because it died before he did.
Your body falls apart, disintegrates. And eventually
it’s unable to carry you.

Victo and his dog was the saddest vignette I felt .

Now I am quoted on the cover of this book with the quote “male flotsam and jetsam of Paris wash up on the bed of a street-walker as we glimpse their sad lives .One of the best books of 2014 .Stunning ” well now in march I hang by the best book of 2014 it still is in my opinion .What Oscar does so well her is to add flesh to characters ,we know are out there these are the men you saw in a films like Nick Broomfield fetishes ,why do these men visit Nanou ? well it is hard to put a finger on it but each man seems at his core in the little vignettes to have something missing in there lives ,love ,people ,confidence and even friends .Sad stories all but saddest is Nanou for this is just one day of her life ,you are left with a sour taste of this being some ones existence and her being caught in the endless cycle that can be a street-walkers life .All that is compressed into under 100 pages .

Have you read this book ?

They were counted by Miklós Bánffy

they were counted

They were counted by Miklós Bánffy

Hungraian fiction

Orginal Title – Megszámláltattál

Translator – Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Bánffy-Jelen

Source – Review copy

Miklós Bánffy was in his lifetime  a diplomat , MP and even foreign minister of Hungary ,at this time he signed treaties and brought Hungary into the league of nations .He published this book the first of his famous Transylvanian trilogy in the 1930’s  oh and he also designed sets and costumes and was a graphic artist .He had one daughter as well .It is her that is the co translator of this book

Though Balint realized that he would see Adrienne that evening the thought had little effect on him .It caused neither joy nor that slight irritation he had felt previously when he thought of her marriage .

early on we meet Balint and Adrienne

They were counted is set in the noble families of the Austro-Hungarian .We meet to Cousins both Counts Balint and Laszlo .Through these two we see the decline of the world around them the world war is not upon them but the early seeds of this are blowing in the wind Balint is drawn to the struggling peasants from Romanian and starts to champion the rights of the poor ,whilst his other cousin is drawn into the world of the upper class gents of the time gambling at the gaming tables .This is 1906 and the world around them is speeding up .All this set in the grand house and shooting parties of the upper class of the time .The family castle as we see Balint and Adrienne twist and turn round each other .This book fits his career as a set designer you feel he draws the world around these two in the book and we’ll get to see what happens in the following volumes .

Laszlo had taken his cousins Balint’s advice to heart .While they had been together in Vasarhely , and in the train until they had seprated at Marcos-Ludas , Balint had tried hard to make Laszlo understand the problems he would have to face now that he had chosen musci as a career , problems that would never be solved  unless Laszlo contrived to be freed of his debits .#

The cousins have their own problems Laszlo is money .

Well I kept the description brief this is a huge book and too much for a review .I was reminded of so much I ve seen before from the other side yes this is like the first series of Dowton Abbey the one before the war these cousin are like an Austro Hungarian version of the cast there is even an on/off love affair at their ancestral castle home  .I was also reminded of the film shooting party that follows an English shooting part just on the eve of world war one maybe a bit after this book is set but you get the same feel of a world in the background in flux .This book was lost til rediscovered after the fall of communism and is one of those books you’ve seen and maybe even heard of but I say you should pick it up I really can’t what to see what happens in this world in part two how does the cousins world turn out will the gambler Laszlo come a cropper ,will the socially mind Balint stay so ?There is numerous names mentioned on the cover Tolstoy ,Proust being two I ve seen in connection to this book .I felt his echoes in books b modern Hungarian writers the scope of vision remind me of Nadas ,The upper class world is also like Waugh’s world at times the manners and customs also different at times show how much these worlds had in come before they went to war on either side during world war one .

August 2021


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