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

cover image for

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 ?

 

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