That was the month that was June 2018

  1. Soumchi by Amos Oz
  2. Blood of the dawn by Claudia Salazar Jimenez
  3. Smoking Kills by Antoine Laurain
  4. Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane
  5. The Radiance of the King by Camara Laye
  6. The kites by Romain Gary
  7. Fleeting Snow by Pavel Vilikovsky
  8. King Stakh’s wild hunt by Uladzimir Karatkevich
Fleeting snow is the book of the month. I always like books that make you think after you have read them and also would consider rereading this title has both of them a journey into what is life and memory also who are we what is the meaning of our names in a way. The first Slovakian title from Istros book was a real joy as much of there books have been.
Next month
Looking forward I have a Columbian writer I have featured a number of times with what for me is his best book. The lost debut novel of a Portuguese great as the first couple of Spanish-Portuguese lit months books. I also have the 100th French title for the blog and a Baltic novel.
Non-book discoveries

Well the latest Album by Sons of bill came out a band I have been a fan of a  for a number of years. Oh and the world cup started, I have watched some games. But somehow I am still not as spirited as I have been previous years  Maybe as we move on England I may get the spirit somewhat. I have returned to work and am back on track being a bit more open and facing things that have happened. But back to the books looking forward to seeing what everyone chooses for Spanish Portuguese lit months.

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The Radiance of the king by Camara Laye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Radiance of the King by Camara Laye

Guinea Fiction

Original title – Le Regard du roi

Translator – James Kirkup

Source – personal copy

I said with the post the other day I had felt the variety of place I had blogged from had narrowed in recent years from the early years when I would have a number more African title in the mix. So I have had this on my shelf for a few years I like to keep a few titles from places I haven’t read from in reserve for the day I really struggle to find somewhere new. Camara Laye was born into a family caste that was traditionally Blacksmiths and Goldsmiths. He studied Mechanics and became an engineer via his studies. He like many Guinean males of the time was circumcised this form the story of his debut novel the African child. This was his second novel and unlike the debut is an allegorical novel.

“What right?” asked the beggar, as if the word had startled him.

“Wasn’t that mor or less what you told me? Wasn’t that  what you were hinting at, at least ?

Clarence was now speaking with great bitterness

“I spoke only of “Favour” “said the beggar “You are quite wrong to think I said anything about “rights” of any kind. As far as I’m concerned, I have nevered claimed any kind of “rights” I have always resticted myself to soliciting favours.I’ll say no more than that I expect these favours tobe granted.

They have just meet and the Beggar is a strange man .

This novel tell the strange tales of Clarence he is a penniless white man who has got stuck in an unnamed African country with no money and no one apart from the locals to help him.We see over the three parts of the book as Clarence tries to get to see the King get him to help to get home. A job with the king would help him get home. He has lost everything to a game shortly after he arrives. He has been helped initially by a beggar. This beggar is a strange character as he says he has a way for Clarence to get to the King. They do at one point see the King but then learn he has headed south for a while. Then we meet another strange pair a couple of Naoga and Noaga whom with the beggar set of to a village in the south. They get drunk on the arrival in the Village and the beggar has a strange look at Clarence then leaves the village on a donkey !! THen Clarence ends up in a cycle of drinking and getting stuck into village life feeling a lazy way of life coming over him and the king coming seeming more distant as he tries to get the answer to when the king is coming! while he escapes returning home? Will he meet the King?

They were made aware if its proximity by an odur which ought to be described, not merely because Clarence was especially sensitive to smells, and very curiously affected by them, but also, and above all, because this odur was particularly representative of the whole character of the south

The odour was a subtle combination of flower perfumes and the exhalations of vegetable moulds, It was certainly a strange and even suspect fragrance, not disagreeable, or not overwhelmingly so, but strange, and suspect, a little like the turbid odour of a hot-house full of decay blooms

The fragrence as they head south has a almost mad=gic realist description about it !

This is an unusual novel as it has a white man turning African and not an African becoming western. Clarence gets drawn into village life. He is also a man that has to face challenges this is like the temptations of the flesh and mind. From the off were he loses his money, then the temptations of the women of becoming lazy all challenge him in meeting the King as he sees others around him trying like the blacksmith does in the village to make the perfect axe for the King. Clarence also is like a Kafka character, the book starts with the Kafka quote and there is a sense to a similar dream world in Clarences being stuck in the village in the middle part of the book. This is another early work of Franco African literature coming out in 1954 for the first time. I hope to try African child at some point by Laye. My copy was a Fontana modern from the early seventies with as you see a rather old-fashioned cover

Daša Drndić, At true great of European fiction has passed.

The pic is of Dasa when I meet her the day at the IFFp in 2013 when her first book to be translated into English. Trieste had been shortlisted for the prize. I had a good half hour chat that evening with her. She told me about how the Italian edition of the book Trieste had a tear-out section of the list of names of Jewish people killed in Italy and the idea was that people could take out a name they knew and over time as the pages went like the losses of the people the book became unstable like the loss of all those voices on society. This is a perfect example of the power of her as a writer. I have reviewed the three books she has been translated into English they are Trieste, Leica Format and Belladonna. She also paid me the highest compliment in say she had read my blog, although I could do with an editor she said. She also commented a few times on the blog which for me was touching. Her books dealt with big subjects and showed the brutal heart of Europe a writer that needs to be read. I’m sorry to hear of her passing today and remember a warm summers day I meet her a number of years ago. Her words when her last book was up for the Croat book of the year sum her views up well.

We live in a very sick time, in a time that destroys spirit, thought, freedom, individuality, joy, beauty, knowledge, and love, and at the same time destroys ourselves. Just like a carcinogenic pancreas, whenever it eats the bodies surrounding it, it disappears alone. To those who write this topic to pretek. Within this globally collapsing, decaying world (the world), floats countless stories of small and large, known, unknown, for literature more than enough. After all, those who read (and increasingly reads a leafy, quick and easy digestive book with enough additives to absorb the original flavor of ‘material’) are at least at times privy to their voyeur passion, a foolish fool, in English called the ‘pacifier’. So the everyday life remains cloudy, and the imaginative readers are unaware of their existential limbo.(a google translation but gets the spirit of her words)

 

That was the month that was May 2018

Books read –

  1. Scenes from a childhood by Jon Fosse
  2. The Blind spot by Javier Cercas
  3. The moon and the bonfire by Cesare Pavese
  4. Money to Burn by Ricardo Piglia
  5. This too shall pass by Milena Busquets
  6. Alma Mahler by Sasho Dimoski
  7. Document 1 by François Blais
I have chosen The Blind spot. I find the more I have read over the years the more books and essays about books especially collections like this one lead me further down the path of discovering writers but also think about books in different ways. Hear the point Cercas makes about blind spots in books made me think of many books afterward from the English patient to Belladonna and there blind spots. Maybe I am like Ahab hunting that book to end all books my endless battle with lit in translation is like the cruise to take on Moby dick.
Non-book discovery-
Well not a really non-book discovery this month, but more non-book as in not reading but Imagine the Uk show that is broadcast a few times a had a new episode and it was about the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk. Well in the UK I think it is still on Iplayer (Also the double episode with Philip Roth is available at mo as well) I am a Pamuk fan but what really caught me was his notebooks he showed of paintings and writing. I was struck I used to do small watercolors in my youth, not anything that artistic but something I enjoyed so I decided I would start a notebook of memories of my mum using words and pictures as I try to remember my mum and also create something at the same time.
Next month
I am nearly done with a clever Japanese crime novel and then have the two latest Istros books and also  a Taiwanese collection to read and mostly start feeling less numb and down.

That was the month that was April 2018

  1. One clear ice-cold January morning at the beginning of the twenty-first century by Roland Schimmelpfennig
  2. Love by Hanne Ørstavik
  3. Death in Spring by Merce Rodoreda
  4. The end of a family story by Peter Nadas
  5. Maigret’s secret by Georges Simenon
  6. The Harafish by Naguib Mahfouz
  7. After the winter by Guadalupe Nettel
  8. Not to read by Alejandro Zambra
  9. The day before happiness by Erri De Luca
  10. The little Virtues by Natalia Ginzburg

Well it is a third of the year gone and I have reviewed 34 books on the blog.well I managed to review ten books last mknth which as I went on hliday for eight days was a good showing I feel. Books from nine countries, no new publishers . I revisitedfive writers and managed to squeeze two more Italian writers for the first Italian lit month. Next year I will be more on the ball thanks for those who took part great thanks we will do it all again next year. We also got to spend time in Torquay for the first time since we had our Honeymoon there eleven years ago. It was nice to see the place we started our marriage time has flown and we still together.

Book of the month

 

Not to read, I have been a fanof Zambra since I read his debut novel Bonsai a number of years ago, I have featured two of his books on the blog. So when this came along I couldn’t resist it. The collection of Essays follows Zambra’s reading life and what writers have touched him over the years. This is one of those books that leads to a whole range of new books. In fact before the end of the month. I featured one book connect to the books Zambra had read. Natalia Ginzburg.

Discovery of the month

I am niot a huge fan of huge hollywood blockbusters but Amanda and I sat the other night and watch The Blind side which came out a number of years ago. It was the story of an American Football player Big Mike . How he came from being on the streets to being taken in by a family and getting through school to get to college . A heartwarming film about what makes us all human.

Winstons books a few old favourites and an English classic

I haven’t done a new book post for a while so I will bring some recent purchases and a couple of review books.First two for review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First up is the latest translation from French writer Antoine Laurain. Smoking kills is the tale of Fabrice a headhunter in France that is trying to give up smoking in the wake of a ban on smoking at work. As an ex-smoker I will find this fun and I have reviewed the four other books by Antoine Laurain in recent years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next from Canadian publisher is the second book they have been published by them from Eric Dupont Like life in the court of Marane this is a complex book that weaves tales from the last century. He has been called the Quebec Marquez. I read his debut in English and am looking forward to this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now a couple of books from the Yale University series and A Margellos world republic of letters. This is the only novel of the great Polish writer Czeslaw Milosz he won the Nobel prize and is maybe fading out of sight a bit he was a lit critic that struggled with the decadent world of the west which is a theme in this novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another from them is this novel by French writer Hedi Kaddour set in the Tunisia of 1920’s following a group they  have an influence over the local society a mixture of French, Arabs and Americans present a clash of cultures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I had ordered this at the library but it seems to have got lost in the system so when I spent a while ago on some books from Waterstones and got a free ten-pound voucher. I decided I would get this book as I only have a couple of the Man Booker list to read this is a mystery built out of the death of French writer Roland Barthes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No don’t fall back in Horror but I am on Holiday in April down In Devon with family. I couldn’t think of which books to choose so decide to read a British classic and this is the one that I decided on as its length means I will probably not need to take any other books. But I more than likely will buy some whilst on holiday.

 

 

That was the month that was February 2018

  1. Slum virgins by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara
  2. Bled dry by Abdelilah Hamdouchi
  3. Love/war by Ebba Witt-Brattstrom
  4. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin
  5. Maryam keeper of stories by Alawiya Sobh
  6. Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sönmez
  7. The Black notebook by Patrick Modiano
  8. So you don’t get lost in the Neighbourhood by Patrick Modiano

I managed to review eight books last month. A quieter month than last year. But I feel every book, I read this month was one I would recommend to any other reader. I managed to read two of the three books for the EBRD LIT prize shortlist. I had to read for the Shadow Jury. I read books from six languages and seven countries. Also Seven publishers. No new publishers to the blog this month.

Book of the month

As I said it was a hard month. To Choose the book of the month.  All the books could have been a book of a month on another month. This is maybe the most important book on the list lit-wise as it is one of the cornerstones of Modernist literature and finally we get a better idea of what Doblin had in mind for his journey through the darker side of Berlin. Michael Hoffman has breathed life into this book.

None book discovery

Well, I am a fan of streaming films tv shows. I found another new service this month. Filmstruck has been in the US for a number of years.  It has a partnership with the Criterion collection the US DVD company, this means it has some gems in the collection. Gems from them on her include Three Colours, which I have the DVD of but not seen in HD. They also have a number of Andrei Tarkovsky’s films including Stalker.I look forward to seeing what else they have to watch.

 

A new prize a new shadow EBRD translation prize

€20k EBRD Literature Prize reveals inaugural shortlist

I have decide that time was right to leave the shadow Man Booker prize after seven years I feel I was ready to step back. I have decide with an Old friend Lisa of ANzlitlovers to do a small shadow jury of us two for the New EBRD prze the prize from the European bank of reconstruction and devolpment is for fiction translated to English from the countries that EBRD work with that is 40 countries and a wide range of lit this has given an interesting shortlist of Six book.I feel for me to support this new prize is the way to go.  As the chair the lovely Rosie Goldsmith said

 Already I can predict this prize is here to stay. It’s different and it’s important. Our entries came from Armenia to Albania, the Baltics to the Balkans and beyond. This prize has broadened my mind and also my definition of the novel. We’ve read a Turkish feminist road novel, a love story from Beirut, a memoir from Morocco, a black comedy from Albania and a rollicking Russian satire – just a few of our entries, from established writers to those who deserve to be: the standard of storytelling and of translation is excellent and our winners will blow you away.”

have reviewed three of the books on the list already. 

The six shortlisted titles are All the World’s a Stage by Boris Akunin (translated by Andrew Bromfield from Russian, Weidenfeld & Nicolson)Belladonna by Daša Drndic (translated by Celia Hawkesworth from Croatian, Maclehose/ Quercus), The Traitor’s Niche by Ismail Kadare (translated by John Hodgson from Albanian, Penguin), The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk (translated by Ekin Oklap from Turkey, Faber & Faber), Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sönmez (translated by Ümit Hussein from Turkish, Telegram Books), and Maryam: Keeper of Stories by Alawiya Sobh (translated by Nirvana Tanoukhi from Arabic, Seagull Books).

Lisa has also just reviewed The Traitors  Niche  and is reading the Pamuk that is also available on bbc in an abridged version from the reading europe programme

Jan 2018 Winston’s month

  1. To the back of beyond by Peter Stamm
  2. Secret passages in a hillside town by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
  3. Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag
  4. A poison Apple by Michel Laub
  5. The red-haired woman by Orhan Pamuk
  6. So the path does not die by Pede Hollist
  7. Confession of a murderer by Joseph Roth
  8. The book of Tbilisi by Comma press
  9. Fireflies by Luis Sagasti

I managed to review 9 books over the month, which given the fact I had six-night shifts in January wasn’t bad.I had one new Press to the blog Charco Press.I read books from nine countries including the first books from Sierra Leone and Georgia. Also books from nine languages.

Book of the month

Image result for fireflies luis

Fireflies is such a unique book style and the way it has stuck with me since I have read it. Another example of why we nee the small presses for those gems like this book that defy genre and pigeonholing. That maybe wouldn’t see the light of day with a Larger publisher. Also, remind me of how much I loved Joesph Beuys artworks .

None book discovery

We don’t often go to the cinema, but Amanda had won employee of the month at work and had two free tickets. So we have different taste be agreed on the new Speilberg Film The Post a film about the leaking of Pentagon papers about the Vietnam war. It is also the first time Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep have been in a film and was wonderfully done with a real feel of early seventies US also left a glint for a follow up in the Watergate affair(Very much apt in Trumps time).

How was your month?

Winston’s Library raid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I fetched a few books from the library yesterday. Her they are first off an epic I had to pick up off the shelf as it was a former IFFP winner Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen is Ponders dark matter studies and world war tow with one of those wandering epics I hope to get it read but just amazed to find a Dalkey archive at the local library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up is another favourite writer Emmanuel Carrere has been on the blog before and I was grabbed by this as it uses the story of luke to mirror the writers own life in a way, he is such a clever writer Carrere he could pull this off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One other thing I do want to do this year is adding a few more books from Africa and Cassava republic have published this Nigerian novel that is a coming of age tale in Northern Nigeria against a backdrop of extreme religion and politics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great writer and one I have reviewed four times before on the blog Manuel Rivas. Jonathan Dunne his translator has his own site on the origins of words which is worth reading Stones of Ithaca  .He has also published the other Rivas books small station books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Bassani has been on my list for a while so pleased to get a copy at the library doctors secret gay life in 1930’s Italy is brought into the open and a touch of antisemitism into the mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A French classic reminds me that I have the French art of war to finish this book focus on one period also covers in that book the `1958 French Algerian conflict.

What have you got from the library recently?

 

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