There been few parcels ,this week at Winston towers .a great selection of books –

The private memoirs and confessions of a justified sinner & contributions to annuals and gift books by James Hogg

 These were both sent to me by the lovely bookrambler ,Jannette edit the contribution book by James Hogg was a poet and novelist and one of Scotland’s treasures ,I have only read a slim volume of his works ,and am looking forward to these a true classic scotts writer .

Young Hitler  by Claus Hant

This is a non fiction novel by a german scriptwriter Claus Hant ,who has work on this over a number of years ,whilst working on a hugely successful tv show der bulle am Tolz (the bull from bad Tolz ) a comic police show .I m sure this book is going to cause some controversy ,but Hant says he wants to discover what made Hitler the monster he became .

The queen of  Palmyra by Minrose Gwin

A debut novel  set in Missippi in the early sixties it involves race secrets growing up in the segregated era ,this partly comes from Rose’s own experience as a child growing up in the sixties .


This book is part of a project from hay festival and Beirut ,the project  involved writers from all over the arab world submit work ,they only had to be under 40 ,this project follows the successful bogota39 project which help launch the   career of Junnot Diaz among others .link to the hay page –beirut39

The beautiful screaming of pigs by Damon Galgut


Notes –

Damon Galgut is one of South Africa’s leading writers with a number of books after being published  at 17  in 1980 with a sinless season ,this is his third novel and won the C.N.A South Africa’s leading literary prize ,He has also been shortlisted for the booker in 2003 with the good doctor ,he has also written several plays .

The book –

The book revolves around Patrick Winter and his two visits to South West Africa the first as a solider ,and secondly with his mother who has recently got divorced  ,the second visit his mother is visiting Godfrey her new lover a black swapo activist ,still a taboo at the time in South africa ,we also discover that Patrick had a great love on his first posting to South West Africa ,we are lead to belive this may have been a male love ,there is a funeral of a white activist from swapo that was killed ,the themes  are love discovery ,change and new beginnings in this book .

My view –

This is an amazing book for its short length ,and tackles the changing face of Southern Africa in the early nineties ,the breaking of long-held taboos and love between couples and a mother and son ,I read this book after some one  on twitter recommend his new book but at the library it wasn’t there but this wonderful book was ,this book made me think as i work with a colleague from Nambia which is what south-west africa is now called ,and was also a great counter point to the purple violets of Oshaantu ,which i read after this book .

Links –

An  interview with damon galgut

Questions –

Have you read any South African writers ?

Have you read Damon Galgut ?





This was Zweig lost book so to speak not published in German until 1982 ,forty years after his death .Zweig in his day was the most widely translated writer ib the world ,but had fallen out of print in English til the late nineties when Pushkin press ,N.Y.R.B books and sort of books ,slowly started reissuing his work .Zweig was a pacifist and had to flee his native Austria when Hitler rose to power ,traveling to his eventual death in 1942 in Brazil .

The book –

The book follows Christine Hoeflehner a young Austrian women in the post world war one Austria ,her mother is an invalid as she lives in a provincial town and works hard in the post office ,not really enjoying her life .Then she gets a chance to travel to meet an aunt who has return to europe after making a fortune in America ,Christine ends up in the swiss alps living the high life in fine clothes and fine dining . But this comes to the end all of a sudden after a number of disagreement ,and Christine returns to Austria with her tail between her legs ,disappointed with her life Christine meets Ferdinand a kinder spirit and life brightens slightly.

One village post office in Austria is much like another ;seen one you’ve seen them all .Each with the meagre furnishings provided (or rather issued ,like uniforms )during Franz Josef ‘s rule ,all drawn from the same stock ,their sad look of administrative stinginess is the same every where .even in the most remote mountain villages of the Tyrol …..

the opening of the post office girl .

My view –

Zweig captures the hopelessness of the mundane life of Christine wonderfully ,his writing is poetic at times and fits nicely with that of his contemporary at the time Joseph Roth and Robert Musil ,I did feel the second part of the book dropped of a bit ,the scenes in Switzerland where wonderful .I will be getting some more Zweig probably the Pushkin ones that rob at robaroundbooks so likes .


links –

Stefan Zweig .org

Stefan Zweig the german site

Best european fiction 2010 -2

best european fiction 2010

The second story in best european fiction is from Austria ,from an essay collection entitled while sleeping (Im schlaf ) by Antonio Fian .Antonio Fian is an essayist and playwriter ,who is well-known in his native Austria for his dramolettes ,small dramas on current events that are printed in the ,magazine falter (moth),der standard and have been collected together in to four vols .the excerpt in best european fiction from the book is a number of short pieces varying in length from  half page to a full-page .they are about a wide range of subjects ,such as an adult themed Barbie seen in a shop to a trip to Tokyo after seeing it on tv and an encounter with Loudon Wainwright ,when Antonio want to translate his lyrics in to Viennese dialect .the piece are informative ,cleverly written and follow a style of writing similar to Staisuk,Bernhard and Sebald in a way .there appears to be none of Fian’s works available in english ,Lets hope some come available soon .

Antonio Fian

other book prizes other than the booker !

i ve spoken a lot about the booker ,but thought I d point out some other prizes that are out there –


START IN 1903 ,named after the successful french writer /editor Edmund de Goncourt .it is award annually ,and never tends to be awarded to the same writer twice ,notable previous winner in recent years have been Jonathan Littell’s the kindly ones and Atiq Rahimi’s the patience stone .the 2009 winner is Marie Ndiaye with her book  trois femmes puissantes.

atiq rahimi 2008 winner


This is germany’s premier book prize it is closely modeled on the booker prize it is also awarded annually ,with first a longlist ,then short list and winner .the prize started in 2005 .last years winner was Kathrin  Schmidt. du stirbst nicht a novel that follows some one awaking from a coma .

Kathrin Schmidt winner 2009

best translated book award –

This award is present by three percent the organization based in america to promote translated books as in america only three percent of books are translated from other fiction .the prize is awarded annually ,this prize also highlights the wonderful people who translate and bring alive these books in english the last winner was Gail Harevens the confession of Noa Weber translated from hebrew it follows Noa Weber a well-known writer .

the 2009 winner


Is an award given by the nordic council annually ,the nominees come from all the nordic countries ,and has been awarded since 1962 ,notable winners include Per Petterson,Sjon .this years winner was finnish Estonia writer Sofi Oksanen with her Puhdistus /purge tells of a families experience follow tragedy .

winner 2010 sofi oksanen

There are some other book awards .


books books books

After reading the books i got a few weeks ago i decide to call in again return the books i ve read and found the translated fiction stand was still there so got a lot more books to read with a group of nights coming up ,i need some nice short novels to read every night .the books i got fit in to three categories

  • japanese
  • the sailor who fell from grace with the sea by Yukio Mishima -this reads a bit like lord of the flies mixed with peter pan and is part of the vintage east series .
  • scandal by Shusaku Endo – this is probably japan’s second most well-known writer behind Murkami ,a catholic writer is accused of visiting ladies of the night most enter seedy Tokyo to face his own demons
  • african
  • The purple violet of Oshaantu by Neshani Adreas -a debut novel part of the Heinemann african writer series this book is about women and village life in Namibia ,which will be interesting i work with some one from Namibia .
  • Neighbour the story of a murder by Lila Momple -a novel set in Mozambique about a raid from south africa and how it affects life this book is also from the African writer series .
  • the beautiful screaming of pigs by Damon Galgut – A conversation on twitter remind me to seek this guy out a south african ,up and coming ,this was his breakthrough novel and strangely  also set partly on Namibia about a man facing his past and actions he has done .
  • classics
  • Le Bal by Irene Nemirovsky -I read suite franciase a few years ago ,this is set in the parsian society of the 1930’s about a girl trying to ruin her mother whom she hates
  • the actual by Saul Bellow it must be ten years since i read a bellow a beautiful writer and one of the great post war american writers ,this is the story of Harry Trellman a complex character .

A great selection ,some new names and some old names .

Brecht at night by Mati Unt


This Book is part of dalkey archives Baltic literature series .the book is set in the early 1940’s and follows a journey the German playwriter Bertolt Brecht took in 1940 fleeing germany en route to the U.S.A he had to stop in finland for a while whilst awaiting visa clearance to travel to U.S.A .the book unfolds like a docu drama with two main  strands Brecht’s journey and time in Finland and also a history of Finland and Unt’s own Estonia during the war years .We find that Brecht a socialist ,is what maybe termed nowadays a champagne socialist ,that when even fleeing his own country on the run so to speak still really wants the creature comforts ,as well as a mistress a fling with an older women a well-known Finnish playwriter  .In the other strand of this novel we discover the soviets land grab during the second world war grepping Finland ,with a short and bloody warwith Finland that the soviets wrongly considered a soft target, and the Baltic states including Estonia .what happens once this has taken places the book banning by russians and new rules ,a new governor for Estonia named M.Unt no relative to the writer Unt points out ,we also get little glimpse of what happens in germany the oddness of the german leaders and what lead to Brecht leaving his homeland .This book is a wealth of info and pin points a small event i n a great writers life ,it isn’t the easiest book to read but is rewarding in the end .It brings to a wider audience Unt’s undoubted talent and unique style of writing ,and the translation is wonderful by Eric Dickens .

 Brecht decides :I’m taciturn by nature . i won’t reveal anything about myself or my plans.he remembers that Ibsen came from somewhere up here ,and said ………yes,what was it he said ? something about silence, and something about being on your own -you where stronger alone – and silent .If Ibsen did say something like that,he refuted it later on .

Brecht just about to arrive in Finland .

Of kids and parent by Emil Hakl

of kids and parents

This was the second book i got from the local libraries translated stand ,Emil Hakl is a czech writer that had a number of manual jobs in the communist era ,but also wrote poetry ,short stories and novels,in the post communist era he work in advertising before becoming a full-time writer ,he has published three novel ,two short stories collection and some poetry .Of kids and parents Follows a fathers and son on a meander round Prague where they visit numerous pubs and pass the sights of the city .They in the course of this journey they discuss many subjects such as ,fighter plane design in the post second world war era ,some family members a memorable aunt and uncle ,a stunning Slovenian women the father eulogies over her body and beauty .They move back and forward in time .The chapters tended to be short and each based on a discussion between the father and son .the description of this book is similar to Ulysses and Harbal .I could see the comparisons ,like Joyce Hakl likes to dart of on angles in the story,the other writer i was deeply reminded of was W G Seblad the style of writing is similar ,not a lot plot wise happens in this book but you discover lives places and history .i think this is a writer i ll read again and would even reads this book again in the future .

we left the pub and walking along the line of the hill ,we reach the governors place .”so where now ?” father asked nonchalantly ,his voice directed toward the battlement-like row of tiny housing block on the horizon.Behind the hill spattered with the tiny white cubes of buildings,an unbroken ridge of clouds was slowly advancing .”i guess the best thing is to go back to Stormovka ,if you don’t mind .

opening of chapter -the world

The book is published by twisted spoon and was translated by Marek Tomin .

Do you have a favourite  Czech writer ?

best european fiction 2010 1

best european fiction 2010

This is dalkey archives collection of short stories from all round europe ,it was edited by american Bosnian Aleksandar Hemon .he was given about four or five stories from each country and decide to choose one from each country  ending up in 35 stories from 30 countries ,as some countries have two languages and different parts like the uk .i ve decide to write short reviews for each story over the next few months to give this wonderful project its due .

  • 1. Albania -(extract from) The country where no one ever dies by Ornela Vorpsi 

ornela vorpsi

  • This story is about the experience of growing up as a young women and girl in Albania ,how important being a virgin is how men perceive women in Albania  ,how well looked after she was when she was sick and how she want to be sick again to have strawberry jam .the story is only 8 pages but gives a brief glimpse into a relatively unknown country .My personal experience with Albania was a summer in the early nineties working alongside a Kosovo Albanian in a factory in Germany a wonderful guy who had worked in tv in his own country ,he ended up in germany as he was intermidatted by the mainly Serbian police in Kosovo .I have read some Ismail Kadare as well who like Vorpsi writes in another language other than Albanian .

 have you read any books from Albania ?

a sun for the dying by Jean Claude Izzo

Jean Claude Izzo -A sun for the dying

I got this from local library as part of their translated fiction month .A great find it turned out to be .Izzo was primarily a thriller write ,but this book is something completely different more a keen to an updating of down and out in paris by Orwell .The novel follows Rico a down and out ,as the book opens we find him in Paris with his good friend Titi ,who dies of exposure on the station .This leads Rico to decide to leave the cold north of france and head to Marseilles where he grew up .Along the way Rico bumps in to numerous characters a african security guard who helps him out by staying on a building site .a Bosnian hooker who he befriends ,an argument with a french ticket collector and police .till he arrives in Marseilles  you find out why he left .Izzo has brought french life warts and all to life .It seems as thou its the immigrants that help Rico along the way rather than the french .The book was Izzo last as he died in 2000 the book was published in 1999 in france and 2008 in english.The book is wonderfully translated from the french by Howard Curtis .

Rico reckoned Titi must have been a teacher , a professor something like that .he d read lots of books and was always referring to them in conversations .one afternoon they were sitting on a bench in the sun ,on square des Batigonolles – one of their favourite meeting places – and Titi said you know , when I was a teenager , i read a lot of Burroughs ,Ferlinghetti and Kerouac …

Rico and Titi

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August 2021


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