A Glass Eye by Miren Agur Meabe

A Glass eye by Miren Agur Meabe

Spanish (Basque) Fiction

Orignal title – Kristalezko begi bat 

Translator – Amaia Gabantxo

Source – personal copy

As usual for the Spanish lit month, I try to get a crossover work from the Basque region for my good friend Lisa Indigenous lit week. Miren Agur Meabe has written poetry and mainly youth literature but has also written a number of novels as well as working as a translator. Her poetry deals with the female body and her first work were said to have a lot of symbolism and postmodern concept of the moment “The moment lives us and we only live the moment” The me and the moment surround us. This is very apt for this novel from her.

The first artificial eye in history is 4800 years old. They found it in an archaeological site in the Burnt City, in what was ancient Mesopotamia, near the current frontier with Arghanistan. It was inside the head of a young woman, and was made of tar and animal fat. It has an Iris at its centre, and gold rays imitating eye capilaries, less than half a milometer thin.

It must have been hard for its owner to get used to that foreighn object; I know tahat from experience. If a chickpea in the shoe hurts, a pebble in the eye socket is no nicer. Driven by pain, despair, or plain disappointment, many have taken hammer to eye to smash it

The first Glass eye chapter makes to think what that first ey must felt and looked like !!

A glass eye is the title of the novel. But as the narrator of our novel a middle-aged woman has had to live since her late teens with a glass eye. Apart from that fact.  we are given a history of the glass eye, the care of what materials have been used in history to make a glass eye. I was surprised that glass eyes made of glass only last a few years due to the salt in tear. I love a little fact. Anyway are unnamed narrator is a writer herself we meet her just after she has found two shadows on a mammogram. Her partner just called M for most of the book is supportive but then next thing we know she has split with M and left her job to become a fulltime writer and moved to France to the wonderfully named Le rayon Vert the green-ray that light in the evening when the sun hits the ground also the title of a Rohmer film which follows a woman that has just split up in a relationship and found a new love. Her our narrator struggles to fill the void left by M with writing like my last Spanish lit read a book that has writer’s block in but her is a woman running from a scare!

I have rad a lot in these  two-and-a-half months ( the quotes tjat pepper the textd have helped me rise up). A special mention must go to Anne Ernaux’s Simple passions. That story taught me that some loves are non-refundable investments. I’ll never posses the author’s clairvoyance, but I feel forever linked to her because she sheltered me while I unravelled my chaos. I have also taken the liberty to copy from J,.M Coetzee’s summer, the idea of adding footnotes and specirying the questions the text leaves unresolved.

This is in the last chapter I loved the Eraux  mention and agree she is a writer that has touched me as well

I loved this I love just like the narrator she jumped of the page I loved how she split the chapters between the story of her life and a sort short history of glass eyes.  The chapters are vignette-like in style with the longest is just about ten pages most a couple of pages. It is the tale of one women’s search to write but also for what brought her to this point a sort of new freedom that isn’t all it seems. Which for me made this feel like a book that had slipped under Peirene’s radar it felt like one that they would publish and anyone that knows me that is high praise no this is from Parthian a publisher I don’t know too much about which is a shame as this is the second book from them in translation I have enjoyed.

That was the month that was April 2020

  1. Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann
  2. Memoirs of a Woman Doctor by Nawal El Saadawi
  3. lets give it up for Gimme Lao by Sebastian Sim
  4. The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting
  5. I.city by Pavel Brycz

I only managed to review five books last month which I think is the lowest in the time I have blogged well. I managed one new country with a book from Singapore and the publisher of that book Epigram. MY journey started in medieval Germany with a jester taking center stage. Then one woman’s journey to being a doctor in post-war Egypt her struggle to get there based somewhat on the Nawal El Saadawi own life experience.   Then the story of post-independence Singapore from one family point of view. Then a new priest ruffles feathers in a small town by trying to take the Stave church and modernize the church and village. Then the story of one town in the Czech republic that in small parts they tell the story of the town of Most that have seen its heart torn out when it was torn down for mining. I edge closer to the 1000 book reviews which I am now 3 reviews short of this total. Which has become my Everest I think once I don this I will return to normal blog-wise. If that makes sense.

Book of the month –

I city by Pavel Byrcz

I have always enjoyed the books from Twisted spoon and this is great example of what they do a book that has a different form a town tells its story and that is one of loss and a heart of a city now gone but still carrying on .

The month ahead

I plan to finish reviewing the booker international books I also have one new country with a book from Thailand and that 1000 review book which I am currently reading. I’ve been of this week and am feeling refreshed maybe not read a lot but I have spent time with Amanda so I feel in the mood to read which the last few months I haven’t.

Non book-related matters-

I have brought three CDs from Martin Stephenson that I have had my eye in for a while he is a singer who in the late eighties and early nineties I enjoyed his albums with the Daintees having first heard him on John Peel. Well, I decide to buy a live a re-recording of his debut as an acoustic set and a recent album. So they shall be on in the car as I head to work next month. I have also been listening and downloading The BBC show Stereo Underground which is a local radio show that plays old school indie, punk, and alternative music. I think every show I have to listen to I have had old favorites and a couple that I hadn’t heard since the day. Times are hard here I worked with covioid on the ward I work at and Amanda at home classed as highly vulnerable this has worried me but I love my job and wife which meant I just did my job and took real care. I wish everyone well in these strange times.

Let’s give it up for Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim

Let’s give it up for Gimme Lao! By Sebastian Sim

Singapore fiction

Source – Personal copy

I am finding it hard to read in the lockdown just a feeling of not wanting to read a lot and maybe worries around family and work so I decided to try a few books that have been sat around Winstons towers for a while and here is one I think I found via an article about books from Singapore and of course me being me immediately decided to order a book from the ones mentioned and this that was a finalist in the Epigram books fiction prize (the publisher of the book based in both Uk and Singapore. The writer Sebastian Sim grew up in a two-room flat with his parents were part of the pioneer generation of independent Singapore. He has traveled and has had many jobs from salesman bartender and worked in McDonald’s this is his first English language novel.

There were three things Gimme Lao did not know about himself.

The first occurred at the point of his birth. The second happened way befor e he was born. And the third repeated itself many times over his life.

Strictly speaking, the third was not about him. It was about the pivotsal impact he had on other people, which he never found out about.

Take for example Yik Fan. Gimme Lao and Yik Fan went to the d=same primary school Being two years apart, they were notin the same class, nor did they end up in the same extracurrucular sports team. As far as he was concerned, Gimme Lao never knew Yik Fan existed

But Yik Fan knew of him, then its about how his folks meet and the missing out on being the first baby.

What I like about this when I choose it from the list of books from Epigram was it seemed to give you a good picture of post-independence Singapore and even in that Gimme Lao is cheated from being the firstborn on Singapore’s independence day by a nurse but that is maybe the first thing that sets him in his life as he is pushed by his parents is the teacher’s pet and appearing in the news media as a prize-winning student. . Then later at high school he turns on a friend to gain and claws his way to become a  doctor. This is all set in the times from the ban on long hair on men in the 60’s as the society grows so fast in wealth and  as the class is there for the likes of Gimme to climb the ladder and when he rises as a doctor dealing with the Sars outbreak. He is tricked into a marriage but has another child out of wedlock. Then he has a gay son and he is also been pushed by his mother to be a politician but as happens a lot in this clever satire Gimme has the chance to get to the top but is always shooting himself in the foot or his personality or those around him cause his falls. One doctor’s tale that is maybe a thinly veiled form many of those in the post-independence political class in modern Singapore.

Inspiried, Gimme Lao and Omala made a pact to study hard so that hey could both make it into the TEP cohort. When Mary Lao arranged for a tuition teacher to brush Gimme Lao up on the examination subjects, he insiisted Omalaattend the tuition sessions too. Mary Lao was secretly amazed by the exceptionally strong bond the two children managed to foster. When both scored brillantly for the PSLE, she had no objections tp their selecting thje TEP programme in the same secondary school. In her mind. she could see Gimme and Omlaa growing old and sharing memories as lifelong friends.

How far from the truth was his mothers idea her !! they hated each other but need each other to progress.

I was reminded when I got this of Rushdie’s book Midnight’s children but the only common factor is that characters are al born on the day of the country’s independence. In a way what Sim has done here is what I had looked for a lot in the last few years in Chinese fiction and that is how you cope with those giant leaps that countries in Southeast Asia have made in the last few decades this her captures the single-mindedness that was needed to compete and survive in the school system and to get to be a doctor. He also questions the society from the long hair ban craze through the years, tragic event land also the anti LGBT laws of Singapore all come under the spotlight here. A book that spent to long on my shelves and another country to the list of those read from Winstons dad.

The Fallen by Carlos Manuel Álvarez

The Fallen by Carlos Manuel Álvarez

Cuban fiction

Original  title – Los caídos

Translator – Frank Wynne

Source – review copy

I will for the next few days add a few books that might make the booker longlist later this week and here I start with a great debut novel from a Cuban writer that has written short stories and also contributed pieces to The BBBC, New York Times and Al-Jazeera. As well as co-founding an online magazine in Cuba. He was on that Bogota 39 list from a few years ago which has already produced so many great new voices from Latin and Central American. Here is one of my choice for the longlist as it has been wonderfully translated by Frank Wynne into English.

THE MOTHER

I’m alive and in my panties and my skin is yellow. I’, in a heap lying on top of the bed, the dirty sheets. By the time I finally get up, my arms are covered in goose bumps. I open the wardrobe, put on a housecoat and go into the kitchen. Afrmado is making coffee. His movements are slow and graceless, The way he holds the coffee pot, the way he turns on the gas, the way he strikes the match and holds on to the ring. He is so slow that his every action already contains within in its own repetition.

He looks at me and smiles and there is something in his smile that unsettles me. He ask me if I want coffee, I say yes, a little. I ask him how he slept and he says better than most nights. I asj him how he slept and he says better than most nights. I ask him if he had a dream and he say no. He says this as if I alreay know, but how could I know soemthing I have no reason to know ? I don’t ask any more questions

The line about his smile and what’s behind it hit me a lot.

This is a story of a family but what is great it takes the four members of the family the mother and father and there son and daughter. This is a family that is in the middle of a crisis is the mother who you feel is the glue of the family it turns out over the first few chapters she has started having a few health problems mainly a number of falls more than normal and increasing in frequency, This is described by her daughter as she just drops to the fall but after three occasions you sense her daughters worry. Her husband the father is worried stuck in an office job but not too high he also has a car he hates his Nissan is heavy on the fuel and he is always running out of fuel. This is a poor family as the son observes they hadn’t even a table at one point. There is an insight into the way people get money in Cuba a sort of reverse universal credit where the less your family had meant the more some got also maybe a tip of the hat to the corruption in the system. The father thou is also a man of honour as those other he knows to get on he sticks to the rules and isn’t one for bribes as the matriarch of the family is failing her daughter worries of life without her. The sin hates his father mainly for his standpoint in life to not take what he may see other take. A wonderful look into a family in the current Cuba where a family still struggles to have a table when poor and corruption just ripples under the surface.

THE DAUGHTER

The first time was five months ago, a muffled thud. The human body doesn’t sound like a vase shattering. It doesn’t sound like a crystal glass. It sounds like a sack of cement, like a thick, heavy dictionary. There was a spot of blood on a corner of the wardrobe. I noticed it straight away, Mama was lying on the floor, unconscious. There was a gash in her cheek like the hollow in an agave. I did everything you’re not supposed to do. I moved ger from where she was lying. I tried to put her in a different position. She was a dead wieght. She’s talll and heavy, and I couldn’t After three minutes, she started to stir and after a while she came round. We thought it was an isolated incident,but people think a lot of things.

HEr daughter describes those early falls she saw.

Fitzcarraldo has brought so many good books to us in recent years and this debut is another gem. It captures the family so well a family just getting by but now with his wife’s illness there is an impending doom in their also cracks of those things that within a family you sometimes bury until there is a shift in the power or a loss forthcoming that means cracks like those between the father and son appear. It is bare on names and details it is a description of a family coping with a vital member falling ill. the shifting voices remind me of the way the voices shift in Faulkners as I lay dying not as many voices but each voice add the narrative and the story. This technique of shifting the story around to see it from each family members point of view has also been seen a couple of times on soaps recently where we had a week of five perspectives of an event here it is the same four view of a woman failing and the feeling once that happens it will have a knock-on effect. An insight into family life for those scrapping by just in Modern Cuba. Have you read this book ?

The siege of Troy by Theodor Kallifatides

The siege of Troy by Theodor Kallifatides

Swedish fiction

Original title – Slaget om Troja

Translator – Marlaine Delargy

Source – review copy

Here is a work by the Greek Immigrant Swedish writer Theodor Kalifatides after doing his military service in Greece he emigrated in his early twenties to Sweden. First, as a teacher of philosophy as a school at the university, he was then editor of one of the best know Swedish literary magazines. He has written over forty novels he was one of the first writers to touch on immigration in Swedish fiction. He was chairman of Swedish pen in the nineties here he has taken a classic greek work and reworked it around the world war two.

So I thought I would do that too. I will tell you the story of the Iliad from memory for as long we’re sitting here.”It’s not as if we have anything else to do””

That was true. WE didn’t have anything else to do in the cave, apart from trying to protect ourselves from the assorted bugs.

“So when was thios war ?” Dimitra asked.

“”It was very long time ago- more than three thousand years,” Miss replied.

Dimittra sighed. “Can’t wait”.

Miss took no notice. I didn’t think it sounded very excing either, but as I said we didn’t have much else to do, so Miss began her story

She told of her hearing Homer from professional actor when she was a young girl. The boys aren’t to keen at first but they get gripped by it.

This is told from the perspective of a pupil at a small Greek village we never know his name his friend is called Dimitra. As it is nearing the end of the second world war and the Germans are still in Greece but there is a sense of the end. But they are being bombed when they end up in a cave and the young female teacher that they adore even when later she has found herself a boyfriend our narrator forgives her. She decides the best way to take the boy’s and girls’ minds of the bombing and what has been happening she decides to recount the Iliad from memory. As a child, she had seen it told to her by an old man a performer that went from town to town doing Homer works. Initially they arent keen but she grabs them with this 3000-year-old tale!So as the days go by we are given small chunks of the Trojan war this is interspersed with the events around the village as the children rush to her there teacher telling the next part of the story like Helen and her two loves that eventually they face each other in battle. These battles are mirrored in the real world.

The two armies rushed at each other like waves rushing towards the rocks, Honors were even to begin with, and both sides lost many men and horses it wasn’t until the afternoon that Acheans gained the upper hand, not least to agamemnon their supreme commander, who strode along mowing down his opponents like a farmer scything his wheat. He showed no mercy, not even when two inexperienced young men fell to their knees and begged for their lives. It is the first time we kill that is difficult after that, it quickly becomes habit.

The great Greek leader Agamemnon in the war is fearless and ruuthless as he kills at will maybe an echo to the present !!

This is a clever way to make the work of Homer available to new readers, I am not well-read in the classics .but this is a clever way to open the door to classics. He has made it readable by trim parts of the original but making you want to read the original. There is also a clever mirroring of the events that are read and the events in the present for Miss and her pupils. The Iliad showed the horrors of the Trojan war but we maybe could have done with a more violent present would have been interesting but the main character is just 15 and not yet a man he knows what is happening but isn’t involved so we just see the glimpse a 15 year would see of the war of the Nazi’s parading around. He had reworked The Iliad into a more mortal version of the work playing down the god’s role which given the setting of Miss telling the story to her adoring pupils is apt.

 

That was the month that was January 2020

  1. Home and Exile by Chinua Achebe
  2. Letters of blood by Rizzia Rahman
  3. Billiards at the Hotel Dobray by Dusan Sarotar
  4. Maigret and Monsieur Charles by Georges Simenon
  5. Shadow Child by P F Thomése
  6. The females by Wolfgang Hilbig
  7. The Glass slipper by Shotaro Yasuoka
  8. The Hungry and the Fat by Timur Vermes

There we are I had hoped to get a couple more reviews done but I have just finished four-night shifts so I have to make do with eight reviews this month I shall get a few more in next month I Hope as I have a holiday booked in as Amanda has a significant birthday. This month I went from Africa then Bangladesh. The war in Europe from the first tale of Jews in Slovenia and then Maigret last book a father coping with the loss of his child a man coping with the loss of the females around him and a lot of sexual feelings. Then a collection of post-war Japanese stories and then the second novel of German satirist Timur Vermes. I visited seven countries one new press well not a press an imprint from seagull books. The Library of Bangladesh I hope to get a couple more from this collection soon.

Book of the month

It was a very tight month with this and Billiards at the hotel Dobray tie with me The Hungry and the fat does what great writers do they take an idea here what will the west do with the increasing refugee crisis that is ever-increasing here what Timur did was imagine the border shutting and a mass camp forming and then what happens if these hundred no Millions of refugees. As they decide with the help of a model and her refugee fiance to walk to the border and see what happens will those fabled gates open or remain shut a powerful work. Then a flip of a wonderful reworking through one mans story of his experience as a Slovenian Jew in the  holocaust as he returns to his home town which is Dusan the writers own town and the Hotel that is the centre of the town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

None book events-

I said in my recent Music post. I brought the new Pale saints reissue. I Have been listening to this and enjoyed the mini gig on the radio from Warmduscher. I on whole have had a quiet month this month post-Christmas. I also started back at the gym after a pre Christmas break. What has your month entailed?

Next Month

I have a Swedish novel from a Swedish greek writer set in world war two that involves a retelling of Homer’s work from a teacher from her memories of the work that also seems to echo the events of the Germans occupying the island in the present. Am nearly finish the latest peirene Novel as they turn ten this year and their books been a fixture on this blog. This latest book seems an Italian novella that has a man that has taken himself away from the world high in the alps discovering a foot in the snow. In the world, he shares with his dog a cantankerous beast as his only companion. Then a Hungarian novel . What are your plans for next month?

 

The Hungry and the Fat by Timur Vermes

The Hungry and the Fat by Timur Vermes

German Fiction

Original title  – Die Hungrigen und die Satten

Translator – Jamie Bulloch

Source = review copy

Well, it is to Germany next and the second novel by the German writer Timur Vermes his debut novel was a huge hit look who’s back which imagined Hitler returning and getting involved in politics in the modern age. This is his the second novel which title is a nod to the poem The wandering rat by Heinrich Heine

There are two types of rats:

The hungry and full.

The rich stay happily at home,

The hungry but emigrate.

The novel set in a near-future where Europe has closed its borders to those trying to get there from Africa.

And of course Astrid Von Roell was angry too. Not only because she was obliged to concoct the first story in its entirety, including the refugee model Ashanti 17, but also because on the first day she had to look for models on her own. Without consulting Nadeche, because the editoral team back home had already scheduled the model piece, And then to sit in Nadeche’s tent with senty or eighty photographs, which was enpugh in itself since Nadeche was premanently on the phone.

The first refugee piece where made but as Nadeche s[ends more time she falls for Lionel.

The book is a satire that is set ten years in the future an imagines that the refugee crisis has grown out of control so Europe has decided to shut up shop. So a massive camp of 150,000 refugees has grown up in the south of the Sahara as Europe has paid those north African countries to stop them trying to come to Europe and has put in place a strict limit of those that can come to  Europe meaning only those with a lot of money can get there. A German tv channel has decided to send one of the leading female stars to live in this camp Nadeche sends back a daily show as she gets to know the camp and those there from collecting wood to make fires, to those in the hospital. As she tries to make the camp seem more than it is for the public at home. Meanwhile, the government is trying to find a way to deal with these refugees without them ever reaching Europe. But as she spends more time in the camp Nadeche falls for a refugee Lionel he gets called in Germany where her reports start to get noticed.  Lionel has an idea and that is to lead an exodus of all the refugees this is initially greeted by Nadeche tv company as a great idea and as they move just 15 km a day it seems impossible that they will get to the German Austrian border they so want to get too. But then as the mass group of refugees start to get close to comfort those in charge have to decide what to do? what will they do?

Nadeche Hackenbusch and Lionel: the megastar has let her heart decide – now the fate of 150,00 people hangs on the success of this love affair.

By Astrid Von Roell

We all know the tale of the ugly duckling who turns into a dying swan. This time, however, it’s dofferent. The swan isn’t dying and the duckling isn’t ugly.Rather this is the story of a strong young woman prepared to do anything and everything for love, thereby conquering the hearts of the entire world. It is the story of a women reinventinghimself finally. Finally living the dream that no woman had ever dreamed before.Now Nadeche hackenbusch has made this dream come true; she has left her husband to acompany the great love you only meet once in lifem on his way to Europe on foot and alone. With 150,00 refugees

The Change we see later on in Nadeche from tv personality to poltical figure.

 

This is a tongue-in-cheek a what if like his previous book that put the question of what if Hitler returned what would he do.  Well, this takes the refugee question and says what if you stopped it would it go away. Would those trying to reach the dream of living in Europe and a life of plenty stop, well no as shown the camps swell and grow huge, Then he takes a swipe at the media Nadeche visit is like a real-life version of I’m a celebrity get me out of her the way they want suffering but photogenic suffering. But then the other question posed is what would happen if all those refugees waiting to come all arrived at once what would a country do? it is a question that hasn’t been asked since the Balkan conflict which did see many people from the Balkans go to Germany as refugees in the 1990’s I remember working in a German factory and at a Jugendwerkstatt with Bosnians, Croats, and Kosovans but they were European what if that huge even larger influx was from sub-Saharan africa would the welcome be different well the door is firmly shut but the question is what would the government do, what would public pinon be? As our recent election show the fearmongering press usually shows the way to everyone. This is a Wenders road movie remade into an apocalyptic African exodus. It is I’m a celebrity mixed with the worst sort of heartstring-pulling tv as they show the power of the media. As shown with Brexit the public can lap up lies and mistruths. Vermes shows us an Orwellian version of the refugee question.

 

Letters of blood by Rizia Rahman

Letters of blood by Rizia Rahman (library of Bangladesh)

Bangladesh literature

Original title – Rokter Okkhor

Translator – Arunava Sinha

Source – personal copy

I read a while ago about the library of Bangladesh series of books I am a fan of publishers trying to collect together literature from a particular country. Seagull books have published books for us in the UK and US. Rizia Rahman is one of the most respect Bangledesh writers having published more than fifty novels. This was her fourth novel when it was published in 1978 she was inspired to write it from an article called the prostitutes of Dhaka. She was unable to visit the brothels but used Male journalist reports and photographs of them in the brothels to imagine there lives. She said when this came out in English received a lot of praise for the book, but also had to endure an equal amount of abuse.”

One side of the termite-ridden door of Bokul’s room has collapsed. Yasmin shivers at the sight of Bokul’s naked, unconscious form on the bed, lit by the reddish glow of the lamp. A wild animalseems to have sliced up her body with its claws. She is bleeding. A miserable Shanti is wiping her body with a rag. She doesn’t look as thpough she had a violent quarrel with Bokul this morning. Yasmin tells Zarina, who’s standing there, “MANNAN should have dettol in his shop. Get a bottle”

Violence is always just below the surface of those living in the brothel.

This is the second book in the last few months I have read based around a Brothel the other was the booker longlist 10 minutes 38 seconds by Elif Shafak. This like that book lifts the lid on the everyday life of those women in the brothel here in such a short book we get to know a number of the girls and their stories. We have Yasim she was involved in the war of liberation and is from a middle-class background unlike a lot of the girls she lives with she has had a hard time to wind up there. This is a woman who falls on hard times and is similar to the lead character in Elif’s book. Then we have some of the other girls some of them that dress like the movie stars of the day in a sort of escape from every day lives. Others try to get the richest clients and use that as a way to fame and fortune and the way out. She also captures those little arguments everyday tasks they have to do in-between clients the things that make their days in this bleak world go by the risk of diseases and abuse always in the background and everyone is just a day away from a fall that may stop them earning and having a living.

Mashi begins to abuse the women ” You line iof wores, what do you think you’re doing! You’ve become too big for your own good. I’m informing the police at once.They eat out of my hands, They’ll beat you all of you to a pulp”

Marjna stans up to her ” To hell with your police. You scare us with talk of police to exort money from us every month. You think we don’t understand?”

They try to stand up for themselves against those that are trying to exploit them.

This book is just 140 pages long but it does what I think great novellas do well and that seems like an epic trapped in a small book. This is a lifting of the veil on a world that one imagines in the time the book was written to now hasn’t changed much. Rizia has a sensitive eye for the girls of the brothels her writing is never judgemental and shows the lives of bones and all. How vulnerable they are they can be sold and moved on anytime. She captures their world. The men in this book are in the background but depicted as violent abusive wanton or as the pimps for the girls. There world is them on top of one another and the sense of this meaning that there is trouble always just around the corner as they compete for the men there. I was sad to read that Rizia Rahman had passed away last year she seemed an interesting writer that has just this book translated into English so far.

Winstonsdads Dozen books of the year 2020

Well it is the 2nd January and I am revealing my books of the year in no order these twelve are the ones that at the end of they year I felt had touched me most over the last twelve months.

1. Now, Now louison by Jean Fremon 

The French gallerist Jean Fremon tries to get into in the life of the renowned artist Louise Bourgeois with this miz of inner monologue, personal history, and antidotes another gem from Les fugitives.

2. Aviaries by Zuzana Brabcova 

I now move onto the last night novel by a Czech writer. That captures a darker underbelly of a fragmented Prague of bums homeless people and Chavs

No photo description available.

3. The years by Anne Ernaux 

Just brilliant this should have won the booker but it is a Fineline between fiction and memoir as she looks back on her life and how she dealt with those ups and downs we all have in our own lifetimes.

4. Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen 

A look at the out fall of an attack on a normal everyday man and what happens when you have a severe brain injury.a short gem and another from a very small publisher.

 

Termin front cover.png

 

5. When death takes something from you give it back Carl’s book By Naja Marie Aidt

This touching memoir of her son who lost his life in shocking circumstances. Carl deals with a mother getting over the loss of her son at such a young age.

6. The train was on time by Heinrich  Böll

A long-overdue reissue of the debut work of Heinrich Boll on a train to the front there is a man daydreaming and remembering the war at the same time,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Doppelganger byDaša Drndić

Two novellas from the late Croat writer Daša Drndić her we see that love can be found in older age but we all have that baggage we carry and this is the case in these two getting together.

8. And the wind sees all by  Guðmundur Andri Thorsson

Here we see a mere moment caught from the whole of a village. The local choirmistress Kata is a stunning red dress head to choir practice . As we look behind the curtains in the small fishing villages we see the inner lives of those there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. 10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak

It is a shock that two books from the Booker shortlist have made my best of year. This glimpses the life os a prostitute through those she knew in her brother and her life before her time in the brothel what drove her there in a series of smells and tastes that she had known throughout her life.

10. Ducks Newburyport by Lucy Elman 

I am one that tends to avoid hype but this 1000 page novel is the inner monologue of a midwest housewife living in the trump era rying to work out in a way how they got there where they are. A long journey but worth taking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Falstaff: Apotheosis by Pierre Senges

A reworking of the Falstaff character and his place in literature by the underappreciated French writer Pierre Senges someone we should all try I think.

12.The Trap by Ludovic Bruckstein 

Romanian fiction to round off this years best-of list and a look at a bygone world of villages that were full of Jewish life a lament of a world that has gone by. This is a lost gem of Mittel European writing brought to us from the great Istros books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well if there is a theme in these books it is to do with narrative om a whole they all challenge what is narrative for us the reader. I think this is what draws me so much to translated fiction and small press. Her is a huge thanks to those who have support this blog over the last twelve months.

my reading goals for 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been busy most of Christmas I was lucky to have three days off Xmas Eve to Boxing day. It has given me time with Family my in-laws and there two latest foster kids came Christmas day and Boxing day I traveled to spend it with my dad which was a long day with a hold upon the drive back. I then did two long days work and time has caught up with me I return for two twelve hours shifts tomorrow and new years day. So I will be posting my books of the year after the new year and my first new review in the new year. Anyway, I have never been one for reading goals but as for a second year, I have just missed the 100 reviews in a year I need some motivation.

My first goal is to get to a 1000 reviews on the blog that will be 30 books time I have given myself a deadline of my birthday in the middle of march to get there. I feel this total has loomed in fact in a way that has made me worry about getting there. I felt it would be a let down after that this goal had been reached.

100 reviews in a year this has been my goal for the last few years I have reviewed more than a hundred in other years but since I changed job I struggle to get a good blogging routine in place. I have let my routine slip this last few months after doing thirty posts in a month which I got a routine in place doing the post in advance. I need to be more of a planner in regards to the blog.

I saw that Tony messenger is doing this and it grabbed me as an on running idea and the is reading books from 1980 as it is 40 years since then. I feel this is one I could run with for the next ten years and those early years of me reading novels. There is a couple great books turning 40 years Midnight’s children and in the name of the rose to name two I hope to get half dozen through the year.

Booker international Bingo I hope I get lost of people to join in on this fun twist on shadow jury by getting more bing lines and calls for reading more books. I had planned to read this year’s longlist like last year and wonder what will make the list.

Hopes I hope to add a few more Arabic and African books this year than the last few years.

It has been fun 2019 and I have read a lot of exciting books many thanks for following me over the last year. I hope to bring you more reviews and fun ideas in the coming year. What are your reading plans for the coming year?

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