The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

Japanese fiction

Original title –  猫の客

Translator – Eric Selland

Source – personal copy

I now head back to Japan for the third book for this years January inJapan event and I decided to look at my TBR pile of books and one I had brought just because I liked the Cat on the cover I worried the book was going to be one that I wouldn’t enjoy but I decided as I had just brought another Japanese bestseller about a cat it was time to read this cat book. The book was written by the Japanese Poet Takashi Hirade he was born in Moji and lives in Tokyo with his wife who is also a poet. He was described by Kenzaburo Oe as a poet who creates new prose from poetry. He has published over twenty books and edited a series of books in Japan.

Another one pf Chibi’s characteristics was that she changed the direction of her cautious attention frequently. This active behaviour wasn’t limited to her kittenhood. Perhaps because she played alone most of the time in the expansive garden, seh reacted strongly to insects and reptiles. And there were times when I could only conclude that she must be reacting to subtle changes in the wind and light, not detectable by humans. It may be that most cats share the same quickness, but even so, in Chibi’s case, it was acute – she was after all, the cat of Lightning Alley. My wife got into the habit of pointing to the cat whenever it went by, extolling its virtues.

Early on in his time with the couple.

The book in some ways is autobiographical to the writer’s own life as he was a writer. The story follows a couple in the mid-thirties in the mid-1980s as they move into a small house that is part of a larger estate within the grounds just of an alley in a quieter part of Tokyo. When they rent they are told early on that they can have no children or pets. They are a writer and proofreader so spend their days at home. So when a cat appears a white cat with patches of brown(I thought of my parent’s cat truffles she was pure white but in that coat, you could see what was a tabby pattern in white anyway back to the book) The cat they invite in as a guest to there home and Call him Chibi’s and his independent nature and his skill when he plays with a ping pong ball. He initially bits the wife but she gets to like him. The cat gives this couple that is in the same house but may be caught up in themselves something to focus on. The cat comes and goes as we view them interacting with him and what he meant to them as they see the world starting to change due to events around them.

We made a door to the rooom that only Chibi could get through, not any other cats.Below the lagrge window on the south wall, there was a floor-level window of frosted glass about sixteen inches tall running the full length of ones above it, for sweeping out dust. By opening this window just three inches , a gap was leftnwhich allowed only Chibi to squeeze through. In order to prevent cold air and insects from getting in, we hung a thick cotton curtain of royal blue over it.

On the wooden floorbardfs in a corner of the Japanese style room, we placed a cardboard box, which had orginally contained mandarin oranges, to act as Chibi’s own special room. we put a  towel in the box and a dish for her food. Then we set a bowl for milk beside  the box.

They make him feel welcome as their guest with his own door and box !!

This is one of those gentle books that are a pleasure to sit and read at its heart is maybe the loneliness of city life even a couple can be a part in the same small cottage til Chibi’s appearance. Also, another thread in the book is the garden is so well described with the bird’s trees etc described the garden is almost like an oasis in the city. This is like those films I love and Myamanda happens and that is where nothing happens but the world we see and are drawn into is the beauty of the journey. The time in their house gives them a breathing gap in the chaotic world of Tokyo this oasis and that stray white cat that has come into their lives is may be a way for them to move on in their own lives anyway that is what I felt this is one of those books that was a bestseller because it is one of those books that grab the imagination of the reader and gives you a couple of hours in the company of a couple and their guest cats. Have you read this book or any of his other books?

Winstons scores – B The tale of a cat that likes to visit families as a guest.

Looking forward to 2022 and good riddance 2021

I am looking forward to seeing the back of 2021 in fact I am awaiting the spring and the downturn in Covid Number personally just the worry over Amanda, My Aunt and Dad health and well being all of whom have health issues is weighting Heavy on me as the figures go up every day I’m well worried more and more. Hence last few weeks are slow in terms of blogging I’m not a winter person but I have been awaiting the new year for the blog mainly as I knew I’d miss the 100 review total early in December and I then decided to read and await reviews to next year so I know have 5 books to review in the new year and a further three books part read. I am looking forward to starting the new year with a bang and trying and matching last January total of 13 reviews and then trying and carrying it on for more than the first month of the year. Then I hope to carry it on I have a good 2022 and finally, I hope to break that 100 review point. I am also looking forward to events as ever January in Japan, Man Booker International shadow duty, Spanish lit month, German lit month al of which I enjoy. I hope in the summer to get to London it’s been to long since I have been there, I hope to make my Vlog debut soon, I am also hoping to neaten the blog slowly over time. I’m not a list keeper but hope to keep a better track on things like GoodReads and I have just signed up to story graph as well also increase my Twitter presence again I still try every week to look in and retweet Translated Thursday tweets but I hope to be about more this is something I have been slowly doing the last few months. I hope to also watch films from the world cinema Genre I have Mubi and BFi so have lots to watch I need be less Eurocentric, the same could be same for the books on the blog I feel I have become safer the last few years I used to review more African fiction but also need review more Asian, Arabic and Latin American fiction also a lot of Russian lit has passed me by in the last couple of years. I try to cover as much but maybe felt the last few years I pick safer books in translation if that makes sense I need to be more adventurous at times. I am the everyman of world lit but I need be promoting the smaller places less translated even a few European countries need more highlighting. So I am yes worried but I take care of myself and the rest of the family takes care of themselves and are careful when out and about that is the best we can all do in these strange times. I m very excited for the new year in the blog as I am feeling more motivated than I have been in years and am actually reading more this last couple of months than I have in the last two years. What are all your plans for the coming year I can’t wait to hear and what books are you looking forward too especially those from outside Europe in translation?  What films have you enjoyed around the world this year any blogs you could point me in the direction of in regards to world cinema? I also include my diary for this year I have this radical from verso and a small one from the British museum to try and keep up with reviews etc

That was the month that was November 2021

  1. Dispatches from Moments of Calm by Alexander kluge and Gerhard Richter
  2. ONe day a year by Christa Wolf
  3. Child of All Nations by Irmgard Keun
  4. All the Land By Jo Lendle
  5. Home reading service by Fabio Morabito
  6. The High rise diver by Julia Von Lucadou
  7. Down and out in England and Italy by Alberto Prunetti

 

Well, I managed 7 books this month with a strong German feel to the list this month. We started with Alexander Kluge’s reaction to the pictures Gerhard Richter had used in Die welt to replace the actual news photos that day what came out of that is this book with Kluge’s usual clever vignettes attach and using the pics as a springboard to stories. Then we had the latter art of Christa wolf’s decade long project that saw her write a full diary entry for the same day for decades a view of a great writer ageing and seeing the post 9/11 changes. Then we meet a cheeky teen just as the war is on the horizon in the late thirties as we see her families efforts to escape the Nazis and the darkening clouds. Then we meet the Arctic explorer and scientist Alfred Wenger as he is caught in the middle of the icefield as the winter has trapped his camp and he looks back on his life as an explorer but also as a family man the struggles of the life he wants and what he achieved. Then I had a change of location as we headed to Mexico and the story of a middle-aged man sentenced to read to the elderly and disabled of his home town a task he does with pout jumping into the books he is reading mostly classic til a poet and a connection to his father sparks his interest into his fathers past and this poet. Then a dystopian world of a sports star trying to break free of the world that follows her every move and the person hired to try and bring her back in line? My last stop this month was back to England and Italian finding work in takeaways hotel cleaner and handyman.

Book of the month

I am becoming a huge Kuge fan he is a hidden gem of German literature. He has a lit of what appealed the first time I read Sebald but he is so much more than Sebald his works go here there and everywhere and fire my berain as a reader every time I read it. Have you read his works ?

Non book events

Well, I have started watching an old police series on Talking pictures tv dial 999 follows an Us detective as he works in sixties London only half an hour-long they aren’t in death stories but have a great nostalgic look at the city that has mostly gone places like the docks and certain nightlife places another world that has gone. Then the new version of P D James Daglish was very well made set in the timeframe she wrote them the seventies we got three of the stories with more to come I believe.  Now I don’t often do gift idea I thing this is the first time but a recent look for gift ideas on youtube gave me two ideas which I got one to send to people the other a personal gift.

 

First, instead of a Christmas card, I found this small collection of Christmas theme poems and prose around Christmas movies there are other titles available from candlestick press , I brought and gave Amanda the selection called Christmas together instead of a card. I love the cover of this one and the idea of this instead of cards.

The second I brought for myself is this small box that has six letters that fold into envelopes from pigeon post a way to keep letter writing alive with these bright designs from Angela Harding. I don’t write many letters but will try to write a few more now I have these. Music-wise I got the new Richard Dawson cd a collaboration with the Finnish metal band Circle with a collection of songs with plants as the title of songs but the diverse subject matters those songs the lead track Lily was the story of his own mother a Nurse in Newcastle his home town.

Next month

The sand of time in 2021 is running out it is that time of year for the end of year list I feel I will do both a book and music ones again this year I will be reviewing the last couple of German lit books I had planned to read last month I did write a more post last month than any month this year but left reviews I had hoped to get that 100 books reviewed mark this year but that has passed me by but I have already reviewed two more books than 2020 so that is an improvement and have written the most words for five years already. I have two epic books to try and read before the end of the year I always like a big book at the end of the year. What are your plans for the last month of 2021 ?

 

 

some new arrivals at winstons towers

I have’ not the last few months brought the books I have brought and as I have decided to buy more new books and less second-hand books it be a good idea to do a post as I may have to wait a while to have so many second-hand books. I just running out of room so need to slow down till I have a good sort out of books to keep and then donate somewhere. A problem I’m sure we all have from time to time. I fetch these first two books today from a small shop in Bakewell that I often visit as it always has a gem or two.

The first is Thomas Pynchon’s epic against the day one of the few books from him I didn’t own and to find a nice condition hardback is rare. I have read a number of his books over the year. This is another Historic novel that starts around the Chicago world fair. A book that has used a number of styles of storytelling that were the vogue during the time frame the book is ser from 1896 to just after the first world war. I can’t see me getting to it for a while as it is over 1000 pages long and with a 900-page polish novel, 700 pages translated Indian novel and a 600-page French novel I am wanting to read before the end of this year. I can see maybe this time next year as I always feel winter is the time for epic novels in Winston’s towers. Have you read Pynchon ?

The other book I fetch was a later work from another great writer Saul Bellow’s The dean’s December a writer I loved years ago that I am wanting to try again and have brought a number of books from him in the last few years. Follows an academic returning to his wife’s communist Romania as her mother has died and a view of a totalitarian regime. Bellow maybe isn’t in fashion these days have you read his works at all ?

Now a trio of African novels. Firstly two from the African writer series A cowrie of hope by Zambian writer Binwell Sinyangwe set in the ’90s follows Nasula and her daughter as they seek a better life. I haven’t review a book from Zambia so it will add another to the list of countries covered by Winston’s dad. The second novel is Gods bits of wood by the Senegal writer Sembene Ousmane follows the strikes of the late forties on the Niger railway. I love the African writer series so to get to more is great I have reviewed a number over the years.

Then the third is another writer from Senegal Boubacar Boris Diop he recently won the Neustadt prize la prize much in the vein of the Nobel for the body of a writer’s work in fact a number of past winners have also won the Nobel! this described Rwandan massacres from the point of view of a Rwandan history teacher. This is his best-known novel. I hadn’t read him so his best-known work seems to be the place to start.

I always run down on German literature after German lit month so I sent for another from Boll. I haven’t many left to review from him but there is a few out there I still have to get this short story collection from him children are civilian too. Have you read Boll? if not there are eight of his novel under review on the blog. So the short stories will be a change from him !!

Then lastly is a recent book from Portuguese writer Antonio Lobo Antunes follows the tale of an African boy that comes to the Portugal when a soldier that destroyed his home village brings the young boy back then later he kills this father figure that was enough to pique my interest in this book. another writer in with a chance of winning the Nobel. I have reviewed three books by him on the blog. Have you read anything by him?

What new books have you got recently?

 

2000th post My Barter Book Books !!

I reach 2000 posts on this  blog it is seven years since I reached 1000 posts. I had reviewed 501 books so in the last 1000 posts I have reviewed 633 books. Talking books I decided the best for this post is the books I brought on my trip to Barter books.I will show them now

We start with Mea Cuba a collection of writings around his Home Cuba by the great Cuban modernist writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante. Since I read three trapped tigers I have been a huge fan of his works having reviewed three other books by him he is a writer I have loved during the time I have blogged. I do have another from him on my shelves so I will have two to review from him at some point..Have you read him?

Next up is another from Spanish by El Salvadorian writer Jorge Galan. That follows a massacre in 1989 that shocked the country as we follow what happened. I missed this when it came out. Have you read it ?

Between the worlds by the french based Lebanese/syrian writer Andree chedid the Nicolas Sarkozy said of her “called her part of a “generation of cosmopolitan intellectuals who chose France as their new home after the war, helping the country to a literary renaissance”. A writer I hadn’t heard of but with such high praise must be worth Trying !

 

Eden, Eden, Eden was a book that caused a huge uproar when it came ou Pierre Guyotat’s legendary novel of atrocity and multiple obscenities was banned.  In English for the first time. Published in France in 1970 (Gallimard), Eden, Eden, Eden was immediately banned and remained a proscribed text for the next 11 years. The original edition featured a preface by Michel Leiris, Roland Barthes, and Philippe Sollers. This is a reprint but this looks like a modern classic of French literature.

This was the debut novel by the German writer best known for his memoir of world war I. I hope to get to this book this month a writer that remain in Germany this was written at the cusp of world war two and had illusions to the war itself.

i have a small idea that I may or may not do that is to look back over all the Nobel lit winners I saw this from the Spanish Nobel winner Juan Ramon Jimenez This prose poem is his best-known work about a donkey. I want to see what makes a winner over time and has it changed some of the early names and winners are lost in time others have grown in influence.

 

An old Pushkin form the Dutch writer Louis Couperus this book is said to have  Couperus mixed with his own favorite theme: caresses without lust, kissing of the soul. A writer I haven’t read so far. Have you read this or any other books by him ?

So there are my gems from the latest visit to Barter books I hope my next visit is soon. I always find something new and unusual there what gems have you found recently?

That was the monththat was October 2021

  1. The last children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada
  2. Kafka’s Prague by Jiri Kolar
  3. The lying life of adults by Elena Ferrante
  4. Too loud a solitude by Bohumil Hrabal
  5. Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka
  6. Beard’s Roman Woman by Anthony Burgess
  7. Special needs by Lada Vuckic

The Journey this month –

Well, I started with a sci-fi novel set in Tokyo where people aren’t living long except those that are already old as the world they live in has shrunk. Then an art book that saw Kafka quotes tied with the crumbled photos of Prague a wonderful mix of art and writing. Then a coming of age book that ses a young girl discovers her Aunt and a family she hadn’t known was there. Then a man spends his time-saving texts as he crushes them for his job. Then a train trip on the Bullet train has a load of assassins on the train as we see the story unfold and the connections between their assignments.  Then a thinly veiled Anthony Burgess lives in Rome and as he falls in love and is haunted by his past. Then a mute boy tells his story and how he views the world . The journey this month saw us visit five countries no new publishers

Book of the month

I loved all ther books but I am a huge fan of Burgess this isn’t his best work but in a lot of ways is autobiographical as a lot of events and even the life of the main character matched a lot of Anthony Burgess own life story timeline in the east a loss of his first wife living in Rome writing scripts.  and until this reissue came out unavailable and the first as it was intended with the photos taken at the time but not printed in color at the time it came out.

Non book events

We saw the Knife Angel in chesterfield this month which given events this month with the death of an MP stabbed to death whilst it was in chesterfield a touching work when you see it made up of hand in knives. We had time in peaks middle of the month but last week or so I have had a shock with illness in the family hopefully it isn’t as bad as it seemed a week ago.

The month ahead

For me, November has and will always be in my mind be German Lit month I have three books read ready I hope to get them and a couple more reviewed this month. I also have a couple of review books to get too. I hoped to get to 100 books reviewed I am 23 short so may make it. What are your plans for next month?

That was the month that was August 2021

  1. The return of the Caravels by Antonio Lobo Antunes
  2. Some kind of company by Nan Ostman
  3. Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen
  4. The Liquid land by Raphaela Edelbauer
  5. The Innocence of Memories by Orhan Pamuk
  6. Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro
  7. The Blacksmith’s Daughter by Selim Özdoğan
  8. The Others by Raül Garrigasait

This month saw me read and review 8 books I am still on course to reach the 100 reviews for the year. We started with a novel that saw the great figures from Portugal’s past return to the post-Salazar Country and what had happened over time. Then I had released when I reviewed these two books for Woman in Translation month these two Nordic novels sort form a tale end of lives the first a look at that “Emptynester” world of people when their that sees the home is empty and they have to get on or not. Then a rough and poor childhood. Then a quirky novel from Austria a hidden village a grieving daughter that gather all isn’t well in the village as they just carry on. Then a companion piece to Pamuk’s novel follows a film he made about his Museum that was based on the novel or came because of the novel. Then a crime novel or more a novel about a mother finding out about her daughter’s death and what really happened and why? Then a childhood in Turkey is the first of three books following a guest worker’s life from when she grew up in Turkey and then in Germany. Then the last is a Prussian officer in a Spanish war Historic novel that has a fourth-wall-breaking narrative.

Book of the month

I just loved all the books this month but this book by Pamuk gripped me I loved the novel The museum of innocence about a doomed love affair is about that but also an ode to a lost city that isn’t there a city of dark alleys and uncertain places that has now gone as the city grew.

Other non-book events

We had a few trips to the peaks this month. But the main event in my life was a new car I had my late stepmother’s old car as my first car which although 15 years old had a low mileage it broke down just before my nights but was better than in the morning after a night shift. So after a visit to the garage we decided the cost of repairs was too much so with help from family I have a newer car yet unnamed but I have Suzuki Baleno which I am loving driving. But miss my first car as it had a large sentimental value to me and memories of Amanda and I trips out since I started driving a couple of months ago.

Next Month

Well as there isn’t anything in particular in the blogging world unless I have missed something so I have a lot of new books to read as I near the 2000th post on the blog which is 19 posts away. So I have a number of books from Eastern Europe near the end of the month I am taking a trip to Scotland for a welcome break after the last 18 months. what plans do you have ?

The Innocence of Memories by Orhan Pamuk

The Innocence of Memories by Orahn Pamuk

Turkish Non-Fiction

Original title -Hatıraların Masumiyeti

Translator – Ekin Oklap

Source – Personal copy

I take a move away from Spanish and Woman in translation. I brought this a week or two ago and just had to read it I have loved Pamuk’s book and was drawn into his love of his hometown Istanbul when he did an episode of the Imagine art series a couple of years ago. This book is about a film he made with the British director Grant Gee about his Musual which came about from the novel he wrote about a distant relative Kemal who married a poorer cousin that is the basis of the novel the Museum of Innocence which I reviewed a when it came out.

I wrote the novel while thinking of the museum, and created the mesum while thinking of the novel, The museum was not just some idea i chanced upon after the succes of the book, nor was it a case of the succes of the Meseum begetting the novel, like the boook  ersion of some blockbuster film, In fact, I conceiived the book and the museum simultanesouly, and explained their intricate connection in the novel; a young man from a wealthy, weesternised Istanbul family falls in love with a poor distant relative, and when hus love goes unrequitted, he finds solace in collecting everything his beloved has ever touched, finally as we learn at the end of the novel hje takes all these everyday objects he has accumlated- post cards, photographsm matchsticks, saltshakers, keys,dress, film clips, and toys, mementos of his doomed love affair and of the Istanbul of the 1970’s and 1980s whose streets he wandered with his lover 0 and puts them on display in Istanbuls Museum of Innocence

The opening paragraph sums up what happened and how it all came about!

The book is formed from the audio tour of the Museum which won the best European Museum in 2014. The idea had been in Pamuk’s mind since the 1990s when he started to collect things as he says in the book the city had started to change at such a pace he needs to keep some of the past there. o when he found the 2000 cigarettes Kemal had kept smoked by Fusun with the touches of her lipstick that he, as he said, wrote a novel that became a real museum. HE brought there home and the floors above and he has made a place that captures what it was like to be Kemal and Fussun at that point. The guide has Orhan talking, Kemal, and people they knew. Then Orhan saw a film by the English Director Grant Gee the one he made about Sebald’s book the rings of Saturn, I myself have watched this film a number of times myself. So he asked if Grant could do a film on this and they met this is a later section in the book where he tells of him and Grant wandering the city for eight hours talking and Gee talks of his lover of Maker’s work especially Sans Soleil another work I like what they came about with is a film that is the title of the book is also the title of the work that Grant Gee and Orhan Pamuk made together I have yet to see this but will love it.

AYLA: There is no daylight in the Museum of Innocence. It feels like night and dreaming. Perhaps this is why it was so easy for me to feel at home there. Once I found myself starting with a powerful sense of Deja vu at a photograph of a salep vendor on the Galata Bridge at night. It took me a while to realise that, like many of the other photographs in the meseum, it is by Ara Giuler. Like all Istanbullus of my generation, I have seen some of his photographs o many times that I confuse them with my own memories of the city

I lived this reaction and the theme of the night and the city is here

I think this is a book that most people that read this blog will love. It has a lot of traits that I like a book around memories I love books that talk about the past about what has been lost and her it is the Istanbul of his youth and at its heart the love story. of Kemal and Fusun even thou it is doomed. This has inspired a novel, a film, and a Museum. The book is interspersed with pictures of the museum and exhibits. What leaps out of the book is his love of Istanbul especially at night and the way it used to be the lost place the streets have gone things like the wild dogs wandering the streets. He talked about this on the Imagine show and how he wandered at night. Have you read any Non-fiction by Pamuk?

Winstons score – A A ode to a book and city

 

That was the month that was May 2021

  1. The Man from Archangel by Georges Simenon
  2. Meeting in Positano by Goliarda Sapienza
  3. Love in five acts by Daniela Krien
  4. Elegy for Joseph Cornell by Maria Negroni
  5. The door was open by Karine Khodikyan
  6. You’re not dying by Kathrin Schmidt
  7. Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahir

This month I started in Belgium with a story of a man that becomes an outcast in his town. Then a friendship on the Amalfi coast unfolds over the decades in a lost Italian classic.. Then a novel about five women that are all connected but also their lives reflects modern life in many ways. Then a work that has pieces glimpses of the artist Joesph Cornell a man famous for his boxes. Then we move to Armenia a collection of spooky and dark tales of women living and sometimes dead. Then a lost German Book Prize winner about a woman rebuilding her life bit by bit. Then a writer writing in a new language for the first time a life of a woman looking in on a world that she has opted out of. There was one new publisher Naked Eye and no new countries this year I am still on course for a 100 books read and reviewed this year !

Book of the month

I liked the way this book unfolded it was an interesting insight into recovery not just the body but of who we are in ourselves. Helene’s journey is like the writer herself who recovered from a stroke.

Non-book events

I watch the old Kelly Reichardt fil Old Joy two friends head to a hot spring in a slow-moving film about friendship and life that starred William Oldham. This is before I get to watch her latest First cow which is meant to be a real gem. Elsewhere there has been a lot of Dylan pieces on tv and radio as he has turned 80 this month I enjoyed a  radio play dinner with Dylan that had Richard Curtis and his two friends plus the late arrival of the actress Ellen Atikens who Richard had double booked. as his friends having their monthly  Bob meeting but this time he was meant to come a lot of talk about the man and how would you talk to a man they view as a god-like figure. Then BBC 4 has been reshowing just this weekend Tinker Tailor Soldier spy. Le Carre’s smiley work that has the great Alec Guinness I live the part where he cleans his glasses and puts them on as they interview Ricky Tarr just a split second that makes him seem like a man that knows what he is doing !! also, I brought the albums by squid and Adklut life also the old mercury review cover of Bobby Gentry’s work with twelve different singers all on vinyl.

Next month

There is a pile of books next to me a lot of review books that I haven’t got to also I will be posting in the next few days for this July’s Spanish lit month time flies. I am looking forward to reviewing Blind man and the others and have the Huge Lady Joker a Japanese crime novel coming out in two parts over the next year a truly epic novel.

What have been your highlights over the last month!

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

American fiction

Original title – Dove mi trovo

Translator – by the writer herself

Source – personal copy

Long before I blogged I had read the first book of short stories from Jumpa Lahiri a writer that has traveled the world from growing up in  London til; three,  then her parents emigrated to American when she was very young, her father was a librarian at the University of Rhode Island where she grew up she also spent time in India mainly in Calcutta where her family was from originally. She has lived in recent year in Rome where she has taught herself and started to write in Italian this experience she described in a non-fiction work in the New yorker Teach yourself Italian which is here. I had read her early works like Interpreter of Maladies and The namesake but hadn’t read her recent works but this appealed as it was her first book in Italian she had translated herself and it used one of the first phrases she learnt in “Italian” where is it ?

It’s hard to focius here . I feel exposed, surrounded by colleagues and students who walk down the hallways, Their movements and their chatter get on my nerves.

I try in vain to enliven the space. Every week I turn up with a shopping bag heavy with books from home to fill my shelves. That pain in my shoulder, that wieght, all that efforts amounts to little in the end. It would taketwo years, three, to fill the bookcase. It’s to capacious, it covers an entire wall. In any caser, my office is now vaguely inviting, boasting a framed print, a plant, two cushions. And yet it’s space that perplexes me, that keeps me at arm’s length.

In the office chapter we get the distance she wants from the world here.

So the book is a novel that is built from a series of very short vignettes of a woman that has no name and she is living in an unnamed city. But that means there is a universal nature to the narrator’s life and that is of a woman single in her mid 40’s a career woman but one that has apart from her work no real friends or real family so what we get is glimpses of this life from the mundane everyday events shopping, buying a book, watching people like the locals in the shop which could be a shop anywhere really. few highlights nights away in a friend’s empty house but no friend a visit to the sea a visit to parents all have the sense of a woman that has tried to make herself vanish from the world a silent observer of all that is around her.  What builds is a life lived on the edges how often will we pass a narrator like this a smart dressed middle-aged woman that has on the outside a career and a few friends or maybe people she has worked with struck slim bonds with but no real touchstones this is a tale of the aged that avoids the rabbit hole of tech in her life and paints a solitary as would have been called years ago of a modern spinster !!

In Spring

In spring I suffer. The season doesn’t invigorate me, I find it depleting, The new light disorients , the fulmating nature overwhelms, and the air, dense with pollen, bothers my eyes. To calm my allergies I take a pill in the morning that makes me sleepy. It knocks me out, I can’t focus, and by lunchtime I’m tired enough to go to bed. I sweat all day and at night I’m freezing no shoe seems the right temperamental time of year.

Every blow in my lifetook place in spring. Each lasting sting, That’s why I’m afflicted by the green of the trees, the first peaches in the market, the light flowing skirts that the women in my neighbourhood start to wear.

Her life in spring also reflects a sense of a life full of loss.

Now there is a difference from her ealry works which largely look at India and being Indian in America but there is a loss of identity of the narrator of her story that also widens the story as it makes it a universal this could be Rome,London,New York or Kolkatta or any large town or city there are hiundreds of woman like the narrator of this book that have drift out of the personal to merely live and observe there world live but on the surface never getting that attatchment from emmotions I loved the voice and the simple mundane world we had glimpses behind the curtain at the change of languange has maybe freed her as a writer to persuae a new style a different way of thinking having liuved in Germany for a couple of years and learning German as it was just by being there and immersed in the world I view the world a different way and this I feel in the way Jhumpa has approached this book she joins the cannon of great writers like conrad, Nabhakov, Achibe and Beckett the last name is maybe one I thought of another writer that had a detactched nature to his narrators like the unnamed woman in this story waiting for her life !! Have you read this book ?

Winstons score – -A would loved another 100 paes of this  but a great evening read !

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