The Irish sea by Carlos Maleno

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The Irish sea by Carlos Maleno

Spanish Fiction

Original title – Mar de Irlanda

Translator – Eric Kurtzke

Source – Personal copy

Now on to a personal book for Spanish lit month one recent book from Dalkey Archive another of the novellas they seem to be publishing. Carlos Maleno was born in Almeria in Spain where he still lives there working as a broker and writing on the side. He has written two books so far this was his debut work and won the Premio Argaria for a narrative work when it came out. It is his first book to be translated into English and came out earlier this year.

WHy am I wearing on my face, at this moment, the mask of an aged Felipe Gonzalez? out of political commitment? No I, feel no political affinity with anyone, not anymore. Lets imagine that our politican or any other politician, has a dog , which he never takes for a walk. Absolutely never. What does it matter to the dog whether this politician belongs to the left or the right?

A very spanish story about an ex spanish prime minister

The book is a collection of stories the stories are all separate stories, but as you move through them you find certain things reoccurring from story to story thus creating echoes of earlier stories. The stories range from the first about Kafka’s influence and how we are trying to match his talent. Then a story about the mask that is an ageing face of a former Spanish Prime Minister. Then Natassja Kinski keeps cropping up in stories also girls with green eyes. A hitchhiking girl who has green eyes who goes across the universe, vacuum cleaner salesmen .Then the title story follows a writer as he starts reading Irish based Spanish novel Dublinesque, then reads Beckett and then ends up in Irland watching another writer being interviewed about his latest book. The there is the frequent mention of the PlanLux a sort Lit sci fi touch from waking up there to phone calls from there as well adding a clever touch to what is an engaging collection of stories from a fresh new voice.

Now Elena and Javier are walking along the cliff road that goes from the hotel to downtown stiges. The wind is cold and she’s shivering: Javier hugs her in a vain attempt at imparting some warnth to her. Frozen, they lok at the sea as they walk. the sky isgrowing dark, and the waves roaring against the rocks. She moves a few steps head of him, staring down faptly at the waves. He watches her. The sea in the background is definitely no longer the meditterranean; no, this is the irish sea. This sea feels like his own. And they aren’t in Stiges anymore, they’re in Smerwick Ba. Insteadof Port Stiges resort, they’re staying at the smethwickHarbour Hotel.

Jaivier ends up in ireland after first in the story reading Dublinesque.

This is one of the reasons you have to look at what Dalkey put out they tend to find those odd gems. This is a collection that is very surreal at the time. A writer trying and mention his Heros, we see mention of the likes of Beckett, Walser, Kafka, Borges (of course ) and Gombrowicz. I also wondered if Greene is a writer he liked with the mention of Vacuum cleaner salesmen in two of the stories the stories test the boundaries people waking up in another planet after their death.  human bones suddenly appearing, a writer reading Dublinesque then starring at the Irish sea and then in Ireland itself.

Our dead world by Liliana Colanzi

 

 

 

Our Dead World  by Liliana Colanzi

Bolivian Fiction

Original title – Nuestro mundo muerto

Translator – Jessica Sequeira

Source – Personnel copy

As I said the other week , I have been adding a few new titles from my own money to the tbr pile , this is a new writer from Bolivia , I was attracted by the fact there has been so little lit from the country , Liliana Colanzi is  writer , journalist and editor . She currently lives in New York this is her third collection of stories and the first to be tranalstated into English by her

She ran to the bathroom, hoisted her foot on the toilet bowl and lifted up her skirt . She took the razor and without breathing made a crosswise cut on her thigh where some old scars were fading , she gave herself three ,four ,five quick slaps on the face until the bathroom mirror returned an image of burning cheeks . Then she tucked her hair behind her ears a, cleaned the blood from her thigh with a piece of toilet paper, flushed it away and went back to bed , where she stayed reading Maira Dimma’s The marvelous Secret of the souls in Purgatory until she fell asleep.

A girl marks herself in the opening story of the collection

 

Now this is a strange collection of short stories , mostly all have a hint of  sci-fi in there  nature , I was reminded in part of Early Murakami and other writers  . It has a mix of real and surreal worlds touching. A wave in one story comes across a university coming across making the students kill them selves, this is stories about stories . A man on Mars see ghostly animals in the desert of Mars as memories of his home on earth surface . , a family gather for that yearly photo and sparks fly . A dead youngster is being buried and a daughter and her  religious mother discuss what happens after you die  . A couple on the run in Paris run into a killer as they  arrive in the city , but are they to be dinner .

The day we arrived in Paris the police confirm the cannibal is hiding in the city. He lands on a commercial flight and the airport cameras show him passing through security controls, barely disguised in a copper coloured wig. He wears a Mickey mouse T-Shirt and has a distinct beauty and fragility that makes him look like an adolescent rock star than a butcher. It’s May and raining and from the seventh floor of the hotel the streets of Paris look like an Ocean off moving heads with colourful umbrellas floating here and there.

A couple in Paris the same time as a potential killer .

This is a short collection of eight stories that mix real life and magical realism.But also a future that could be where creatures have gone and come back in ghostly views , echos of Amazion Indian  powers and magic. I felt this is a nice short taster of what could be a new voice from her country , has already won a major prize for Spanish female writers under 35 .This is a writer trying out styles  a mix of everyone from Classic JG Ballard with the sense of abandon worlds and Murakami earlier works , where explained things happen this crops up in Colanzis work like in Early Murakami books . Also a nod to Borges this is a collection from upcoming new writer .A collection you can read in an evening .

Bodies of summer by martin Felipe Castagnet

Bodies of Summer by Martin Felipe Castagnet

Argentinean literature

Original title – Los Cuerpos del Verano

Translator – Frances Riddle

Source – personnel copy

I just had another new talent from Argentina latest book arrive today Rodrigo Fresan The invented part an epic new novel to go along sidfe this slim yet thoughtful novella by Martin Felipe Castagnet shows that they are still producing great writers , this was Castagnet’s debut novel it won for young latin american literature when it came out. He is also the editor of The Buenos Aires review his books have also been translated into french and Hebrew.

When I went through the process of entering into flotation, my body was destroyed. At that time they hadn’t yet figured out how to conserve bodies and burn people into new ones.The technological advances we’ve seen since then have been astonishing. First mothers began to put their children on the waiting lists for new bodies . Just in case they were to die in an accident .Bodies came to be seen as a valuable natural resource .

One can just imagine what happens when this could become a reality not a novella !!

This is set in a distant future , in Argentina where they have managed to perfect capturing in computers the soul of the dying . this is story of Ramiro who has got his family to bring him back to life from the net  and floatation as they call it  , to sort out something from his past. Now the only body his family could find to upload the mind of one of the first souls to be saved on the net is that of a fat over weight middle-aged woman , which leads to a strange feeling in Ramiro as he feels the shape of his new body for the first time  and finds parts missing from it . But also he has n’t seen from the net world how much quicker and darker the world has gone. We also see even thou he has a different body and time has flown Ramiro still has a number of axes to grind. This is a future where the world isn’t limited by bodies anymore.

I still haven’t found my former best friend . I still haven’t discovered what happened to my wife. I can find any of her descendants. Teo doesn’t recognize me. I feel useless in my own home. My desire drives me forward , but I get frustrated when my desire can’t be fulfilled. To think that for decades I missed pain, and now that I’m back I’m incapable of feeling it .

Ramiro struggle to get use to the world he has missed and his new body !!

I am not a huge sci-fi fan but this isn’t Heavy sci-fi it use the future more as a way to question important questions about what our souls are , the body or the mind can the mind leave the body and return. I was reminded in some ways of Cronenberg films this is a dark view of the future where souls drift on the net and sometimes it is hard to tell who is in the body that is facing you .As it is hard to decide where you are as we see in the family his daughter was on the net with him and her brother and his son still lives in the real world.Even when brought back he finds it hard to escape the net Ramiro . This is like a dark side of the old kids tv series where joe of Joe 90 could take the mind of many people to save the day  and be an avatar like the bodies in this book can be used for revenge and death and so much more !!!

 

 

Monte Carlo By Peter Terrin

Monte Carlo by Peter Terrin

Belgian  fiction

Original title – Monte Carlo

Translator – David Doherty

Source – Review copy

Now on to the books that could be on next years man booker list and first up is the second book I have reviewed buy the rising star of Belgian fiction Peter Terrin , I reviewed him first when he was part of the best european fiction in 2010. Since then he had his novels the Guard and post-mortem come out in english this is the first of his books I have read , I do have the earlier books and read the guard but it slipped the review net at the time. But this is a book about a time I love the golden age of motor sport in the 60’s when we got the feel of this book in the film Grand prix .But the other side of this book is obsession Male obsession and also how scars can become attractive to woman .

It happens by accident . The woman has been holding the camera for some time , peering through the viewfinder now and again, taking the occasional snap. But now she waits, realising that the film is almost full, that she probably has only one photograph left. She wants to wait for the right moment, yet later she will not be able to recall taking the final shot .The fuel is no longer liquid , the transition is taking place.She remembers the heat hitting her face, an invisible cloud, the fire not yet fire

The photo misses Jacks part in saving Dee Dee

The book starts as we join jack Preston ,he is a mechanic for Team sutton, the rising team on the grid. They are in the city of Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand prix , probably the most iconic of all the race on the formula one circuit and always one to attract the beautiful people and One such is Deedee one of those sixties starlets , I got a feel of cross between Bardot , Fonda and Rigg . Even to later in the book having a part in  the Avengers .Well she has caught Jack’s eye and as an accident on the grid cause a fireball and he save her  from it and after wards has to return to his old home to recover and awaits a thank you but no mention .This is where the book turns and the screw of obsession turns as he waits for her and for his team to come to his aid and free him from provincial life.His wife also has become a bit of vixen driven by her husbands scars

One evening Deedee looked straight into his eyes

Steed had disappeared without trace and she did not know whether he was alive or dead. Speechless, racked with doubt, she wnet into the bathroom, leaned against the washbasin and gazed into the mirror – straight into the camera’s lens – for seconds on end

Jack Prestons nails deep into the arm of the settee.

there was no need for her to speak.

She was entrusting something to him.To him alone.Her look was like a whisper in his ear.

Jack’s obsession with Deedee has grown since he returned home .

He has been compared to Kafka before but at times this was to me an Homage to Hitchcock in a way the way Dee Dee is described made me think of the classic starlets that made the golden age of Hitchcock films like Vertigo or rear window(even Grace Kelly is at the track ) .He manages to get the feeling of male obsession as Deedee becomes both a thing of love and hate in Jack’s eyes . Terrin manages to get the feel of the time a new tobacco sponsor for the team reminds you of when the cars where Jps or Malboro colours  . This novel is about  how Jack  thought he saw something in a glimpse of a second just  before the  disaster struck and how that small moment has led to a mix of obsession and hate as he awaits being acknowledge for what he did. Then there is the return home and his obsessive wife for his scars  that has made her a vixen.While Jack grows in love and loathing at lack of thanks for what he did from Deedee which means a year later the race has a sad start as things come to a head.Terrin has written a short novel that has a classic feel to its writing and settings .

 

Winstonsdad books of the year

Well I reviewed less than other years this year so I am only going pick a few highlights of my year this year.

The Prophets of the eternal fjord by Kim Leine

the prophets of Eternal Fjord

Was an epic Danish novel following a priest sent in the 18th century to Greenland to try to wrestle the natives back to the christian line a tale of times now gone. This would make a great HBO series full of mud and ice .My review

The Dirty Dust by Maitain O Cadhain

 

This was one of two translation of this classic Irish novel into English. Set in a small village graveyard we here the generations buried there talk about their lives and the past they had together and the hates they had together and the loves together.My review

Byron and the beauty by Muharem Bazdulj

Bryon in the Balkans falls for a beautiful woman only to find she is out of his reach for once the bad boy of british poetry struggle to gets what he wants .My review

 

Sudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue

A fiction tennis match between an italian painter and a spanish poet is the backdrop to this tale that flows around the world of the time just as man is discovering science and thought the age of enlightenment is on them.My review

One Million cows by Manuel Rivas

 

ONE MILLION COWS

This was a gem of short stories by one of my favourite spanish writers Manuel Rivas by a press started by his translator her we see the shackles of Franco be shaken of a people return to spain other have their last day at school looking forward .I have recently read his debut novel also from small station press .My review 

Constellation by Adrien Bosc

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The stories of a plane that crashed told from the point of view of the flight but also the stories of those on board from the man from Disney to a group of poor Spanish shepherds .One of those french novels that remind how great french lit can be . My review 

Trysting by Emmauelle Pagano

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A book of voice another French gem this is clips of what love is bits of people lives this is love stripped to the bone no names places or times just the acts of love shown. My review 

 

Land of my Father by Vamba Sherif

A freed slave returns to Africa from the Us to Liberia but not all is as he imagines it , he has to follow his calling and try to convert the natives .My review

Revulsion Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador by Horacio Castellanos Mayo

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A man returns to sort his mother affairs and gives a speech during the evening denouncing the country of his birth and why he had to leave and become Thomas Bernhard on his passport. An homage to the great writer from a great latin American writer .My review 

Panorama by Dusan Sarotar

 

My book of a year by a country mile this is simply why I read books in translation that once a decade discovery of a voice so exciting and fresh yes part Sebald but also a new tale of traveling from the very western tip of Europe back to the Balkan heart of it.My review 

There are my books of the year been lots of other great books

Bottom’s dream is here perfect for ITD2016

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After months today of all days International translation day has arrived a once in the lifetime event really well once every few year. One of those epic novels from around the world that has yet to reach us in English has been translated and this is Bottoms dream a huge novel about one day in a true Joyceian homage the expermential German writer Arno schimdt did a work about some friends visiting a translator who is working on the works of Poe . The book is formes of three verse prose that follow three different paths on the same timeline .

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This is similar in style to parts of Finnegians wake by Joyce as I show here from my old copy of the Wake.

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So how big is this book well I decide to compare it to a number of huge novels from my shelves .

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SO that is it next to Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas, Zibaldone (which is actually longer on page count ) , Wart and Peace , life and fate, USA  by John Dos Passos , infinite jest and the man without qualities. Even my late grandfathes dictionary is dwarfed by this epic book. As to reading it well I have to say it will be a year or so read I think maybe a few pages a day not sure yet but I will think of a way to savour this epic once in a lifetime (well unless Het Bereau or Kelidar get translated !!!!!)

 

Knowledge of Hell by Antonio Lobo Antunes

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Knowledge of hell by Antonio Lobo Antunes

Portuguese fiction

Original title – Conhecimento do Inferno

Translator – Clifford E Landers

Source – personnel copy

Well I can’t quite remember when i first heard of Antunes as a writer , I think it was back with an interview with Frank Wynne years ago. well the years went by I tried for a copy from the library they had one but it was a missing book. Then I had at times tried and failed to find him in book shops, but he seems to only be on shelves of larger waterstones or the LRB and then his books  seemed to have fallen behind what ever caught my eye that month. well a new shelf space at the new house has allowed me to bargain shop. Any way back to Antunes he was a psychiatrist and served in the portuguese army during the Angolan war he start to write a number of years after the wars, he mainly focused his early novels on the war years and its aftermath. This was his third novel.

The sea of the Algarve is made of cardboard like theater scenery, and the english don’t realize it: they conscientiously spread their towels on the sawust sand, protect themselves with dark glasses from the paper sun, stroll enthralled on the stage of Albufeira where public employees disguised as carnival barkers, squatting on the ground, inflict on them Moroccan necklaces secretly manufactured by the tourism board

The opening lines on leaving the Algarve Antonio Lobo Antunes is going home to Lisbon

There is almost a Borges type mirror to this story of a man driving home from his holiday in the Algarve back to Lisbon. Where the  narrator is working in the mental institution with the damage of the post war era of the Angolan conflict where he talks to those who suffered during the war. This si the journey home but almost like going back to hell as the spiral down the journey. As we see how the narrator who is also called Antonio Antunes like the writer himself struggles to control his role as listen helper and in a way god to those he is trying to heal.But he like many in his position is getting scared by those he is healing so the sadness falls as the near he gets to the centre.

I’ve never left the hospital, he thought as he received his change from the gasoline, observing the guy from whom the face, the gestures, the voice of Mr Carlos were slowly disappearing, the same way a smile dissipates in an old picture art the beach, or the acacias dissolves in the pale fog of October, as colourless and mute as the animals in dreams.Mr Carlos was slowly diappearing the employees were cleaning the windows of the station wagon in circular movements using a kind of sponge

he repeats the phrase I never left the hospital in this chapter as his mind wanders and he is remind of the hospital on his return journey.

This book is third in a trio of books he wrote on the Angolan war and its aftermath from the point of view of being a psychiatrist. I said this was like Borges with a mirror this is a reflective image of the writer himself but one with flaws like those old mirrors that twisted and bent the reflection in the light. I instantly got what everyone said about Antunes being a great writer , I don’t get the Faulkner comparison myself but there is a longing in his writing that almost sums up that portuguese word Saudade but a twist form of it a longing for what has happened not to have happened a sort of wishing the past away and want to remove the scars of a dark part of his country’s past. The wars in Angola were among the most brutal of african independence as Portugal struggled to keep a foothold in Africa. Have you read Antunes ?

Bottom’s dream or Nightmare or is it Jam and Jerusalem Epic reading options

I saw earlier today a post on conversational reads That Scott Esposito had posted a picture of this year maybe most awaited amoung die hard translated fans and that is the epic Bottom’s dream by Arno Schmidt , whom I reviewed earlier this year one of his shorter books The egghead republic. But Bottom’s dream is a whole different kettle of fish a book that in the german editon a folio size 1348 page book. To give you a glue of how huge this book is here is a video of the german edition being flicked through

The book follows the struggle of  a german translator in translating the works of Edgar Allen Poe into english and is also influenced by the wordplay James Joyce used in Fnnegans wake.Well Dalkey Archive and John E Woods the  translator , who has spent years working on it. Welll 2,250,000 words is a lot as Scott point out 4 times theat of War and Peace. Add to that is the cost at 50 pound it will be an investment, but also a talking point for many years to come. Then if that isn’t enough I have also an eye on this book Jerusalem by Alan Moore

A book that follows 6000years of history in his home town of Northampton . He said in an interview there was chapter influenced by Jame Joyce , Samuel Beckett and Noir as the tale of this town is told by 12 characters .This is also a 1,000,000 word novel and has a three vol editon coming out also in sept . So I have a battle of epic reads to try and read . Which of these two epic novels grabs you ?

The egghead republic by Arno Schmidt

The egghead republic by Arno Schimdt

German fiction

Original title –

Translated by Michael Horovitz

Source –  library book

 

“SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)”

This is my job
I don’t come around and put out your red light
When you work

What’s the matter?
Didn’t you get enough attention at home?

If shit were music
La da da, la da da
You’d be a brass band

Know what?
You should get an agent, oh yeah, yeah
Why sit in the dark handling yourself

I choose a scott walker Lyric just for me he maybe is like Schmidt a one off unique mind .

I have been reading about the work Dalkey archive are doing to translate the Magnus opus from Arno Schmidt Zettels Dream which is a 1000 plus big book that is considered one of the best german books of the 20th century So Arno Schmidt is maybe a writer that most people haven’t heard of he is maybe the hidden gem of German literature his books didn’t sell greatly in his life but have grown over the years and through a foundation set up by his friend Jan Philipp Reetsma (a wealthy tobacco heir ) his works are getting new translations over time and republished Dalkey have already published some but this is actually an older translation from 1979.

 There: a zebroid-girl! : a black stripe parted her narrow impudent face down the middle, from her forehead down to the base of her throat: (bu tthen it slanted right, one white the other black, did that look elegant! And a mane of very coarse silver hair!)

One of the strange mutants seen by Charles waiting to enter the island on the western side in the US

Well The egghead republic maybe shows how unique Arno schmidt was it is a truely odd book .Well on the surface it follows a reporter visiting a man made island that has been filled with a group of selected genius in what is a republic of Artist and scienctist. The report Charles henry winter has fifty hours to discover what this “Egghead republic ” is all about.He has had to jump through hoops in what is the US after a nuclear war surrounded my mutants  .We see him trying to find out more about this strange island and the people that live their .As we see his thoughts and the answers is this really the paradise that it seems.

No! I must move on : I’m allowed in for 50 hours as a journalist; of which – oh, my god – 18 have already gone: really,I’ve nothing further to relate; and you are in the middle of your work; I only wanted to keep my promise!” shock his leastpainted elbow. And then, in the waker of Inglefield, into the posh residential quarter .

Charles finds time slipping through his hands on the island with nothing to show .

when I started this blog one of my goals as a reader was to find out the best writers around the world read and review them. But mainly for me to learn about different styles of fiction and what one can do with the form. Schimdt is one of those writers I had in mind at that time this book may from what I’ve  sound like is rather like a Jules Verne novel man made islands full of strange people is right up his street.You could also see a line from the novel Glass bead game which is about a community of intellectuals .There is also a real feel of the time when the book was written in the late 1950’s you jsut have to think of the culture of the time the start of the cold war fear of a second nuclear war , which as this book is set in the future has happened and the outcome that was imagined in many a b-movie of strange creatures appear is shown in the first part and the second part tries to show maybe what men can acheive .But even then the island is divide into east and west .The style of this book is statments almost spoken then the thought beghind it is  followed in a short  paragraph .I enjoyed my first dance with schmidt and really hope to get hold of Zettel’s traum when it comes out more about it here  from the english translator . The well known US translation blogger Michael Orthofer has written a book about Schmidt .A challenging read for my second German lit month book this year .

Have you read Arno Schmidt ?

 

Another man’s city by Ch’oe In-Ho

Another man’s city by Ch’oe In-ho

Korean fiction

Original title -Nat Igun t’aindul ui tosi

Translators – Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton

Source – review copy

“City Sickness”

I’m crawling, don’t know where to or from
The centre of things from where everything stems
Is not where I belong
And the city sickness, growing inside me
So this is where I ran for freedom
Where I may not be free

[Chorus:]
I have these hands beating with love for you
And you’re not here to touch
Sent you away, what else can I do
When I need something that much?
I’m hurting babe, in the city there’s no place for love
It’s just used to make people feel better

I choose the Tinderstick as the mood of this song fitted the book .

Born in Seoul He studied english at university, when he left he started writing publishing his first story in 1967 .Which won a prize, he won a bigger prize with his book Deep blue night. He died two years ago and was remembered a year late when his hand prints were put on a street where he used to drink a lot .I was sent the third set of  library of Korean Literature books the 11- 15 in the series. I read a Pavane for a dead princess and wasn’t bowled over by it I felt it was maybe to Korean for me.But then earlier this year Tony reviewed this book and it made me pick it up .

7a.m.

(POWER ON)

What the hell? K groped the fuzzy boundary between sleep and wakefulness for an answer – what had awakened him?

His alarm clock. The strident ring a desperate cry letting the world know of its existence. Again the shrill clamor.

Dammit! K didn’t like being woken up. He fumbled at the nightstand found the alarm click, silenced .

He wasn’t fully awake. But he was conscious enough to splice the snapped filmstrip of his interrupted sleep, and he closed his eyes

The opening and a dazed K wakes up , I love that line” snapped filmstrip of his interupted sleep “

Another man’s city should really be subtitled Kafka does Korea . We find K a man who likes a drink that seems to get swallowed into a nightmare version of his hometown Seoul .So over the course of the weekend he has lost a period of time .We follow him as he tries to find what happened in this time. But is this real of a VR world one is never sure if this is the case. It is a shifting world he is in maybe electronic or maybe as he sobers up.

Well thought K, there was that one and half hour gap in the filmstrip of his memory, but he couldn’t recall anything that might have caused a concussion. He hadn’t noticed any marks on his head, no evidence of bleeding, no signs of trauma, no headache .

What happend in the missing reel of his life film,  so to speak ?

I over time have found writers ripple through time and place, the great writers  we all know and love have had a knock effect where it is Kafka who has influenced this writer. This is one of a number of books over the years I have reviewed that have been influenced by Kafka from the obvious books like Claudel’s The investigation through books like Muller’s The appointment. Here Kafka raises his head from the main characters name K to being trapped in a world. I was also reminded of fims like the matrix where the world around the lead character is a shifting one.Then there is the other side of the book the fact K is a drinking from what I can gather the writer himself was a bit of a drinker so may have also experienced lost time which many of us did in our youth but not 99 mins like here alsommaybe in a strange way Withnail and I where the time in the weekend away the spend stretches and shrinks as the weekend goes along .An interesting take on being trapped in a world and not knowing fully where it is .I view this as more a comment on the speed and way of the modern world where every minute is noted these days so losing a chunk of time is unknown now.

Have you read any of the Library of Korean Literature series ?

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