A dutch pair new arrivals

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This is the first of two Dutch novels to arrive in recent days , I have actually read this one finished it last night it is a tale of one mans story about the first world ar David is a teacher but he has an attraction to a shy pupil that needs a bright world that is what david tries to bring , but the war catches up and as he tries to teach then men un der him about the world and how to read and write he decides to try and escape the horror of the war. This was a big hit in Dutch speaking world it was pick for a dutch talk show as a book club read.

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Then we have a book by a writer I have featured before Otto de kat his man on the move was reviewed here seven years ago. This is story of Emma Verweij she is now 96 and waiting to die and looking back on her life and the war years when her home the house she is in now was stronghold for her friends during the war. As she tries to hide the first husband and the nazis past in Germany. Otto de kat is the pen name of the dutch publisher jan Geurt Gaarlandt he choose the name after a relative also called Otto de kat a successful Dutch painter in his day .

What books have you had arrive ?

LBF 2016 and Man Booker shortlist party

Well I hadn’t planned to go to London book fair this year but I was very lucky to get an invite to the Man  Booker international shortlist Party. So as LBF was on the same week I decide to have a wander round especially after I found that as a Book blogger we can get in for free. It was a nice chance to catch up with my favourite Publisher Susan from Istros books who just before the Fair announced that she was joining forces with the wonderful Peter Owen which gives them one the ,most passionate people in the book world in Susan to help them get them selves out there, A glance at Peter Owens backlist is enough to make you dribble!! Whilst at their stand I also had a great chat with the Croat Poet Aleksander Hut Kono who was doing his poetry  at the LBF ,which he has translated him self into English. He also is an Opera Librettist.

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I saw the Large Books are My bag Bag at LBF . I decide to sit in on a translation session about how to promote books in translation mainly how to repeat the knausgaard effect(if only we knew hey) , I had want to ask How Ferrante sells so well is the opposite of being Knaugaard open and great to talk to also sells books maybe it is the narrative of the writer that sells . I felt a little more mention of some of the big sites online for translation would help. The editor talking about it only mention Lit Hub and Brain pickings ! , surely Complete review , three percent to name two would be worth a mention. Fiona gave a great chat about Knausgaard thou .

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I then decide to Have something to eat and make my way toward the Booker event I also had a quick look in the Oxfam on Kensington high street on my way to Kensington Palace. I had a coffee in a small cafe which by the food they were serving I will go to again the Cafe Diana for a meal having just had a snack. Then slowly walked to MAn booker event.

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I was among the first to arrive and Meet quickly David and Clare my fellow shadow bloggers I have met David before and it was nice to meet Clare and put a face to the blog so to speak. I also meet at last after nearly crossing paths over the years Simon of Savidge reads one the oldest bloggers about the net . I also had a good chat with Paul from Maclehose and a few other Maclehose folks who missed the actual shortlist but both their books are still on the Shadow Jury shortlist. We then listen to how Man booker had evolved into the new prize as the need was felt after the actual prize had changed its guidelines for all lit written in English  to be included it was felt that the Man booker international prize had to evolve and so it took over the Old IFFP and set up a replacement for the old Man booker international prize that ran every two years and was award to a writer for the body of work . Please not the last winner was the wonderful Laszlo Krasznahorkai !

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Then Boyd went through his and the Jury’s choices for the shortlist . Here is the shortlist . We had a few more drinks but I left early as I had a long trip across London and also a few hour train trip meant I wouldn’t be home till early hours friday.

Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye

Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye

French Fiction

Original title – Ladivine

Translator – Jordan Stump

Source- Review Copy

Winstons score A- A solid book from one of the current  stars of french lit, shows how hard it is to try escape one’s past.

Well I was pleased this was on the man booker I knew another novel from this writer was in the pipeline from maclehose and the fact it got the nod on the first man booker list means we got to read it a week earlier than planned. In my score I said a star Marie Ndiaye is she has won numerous prize including the top prize for French literature the Prix Goncourt For her novel Three strong women which I reviewed a few years ago.

She was Malainka again the moment she got on the strain she found it neither a pleasure or a burden, having long since stopped noticing.

But it happened, she could tell, for no more could she answer without a second thought to Clarisse when rarely, someone she knew took that same train and called to greeted her as Clarisse, only to see her stare back in puzzled surprise, a hesitant smile on her lips, creating a mutual discomfort that the slightly flustered Clarisse never thought to dispel by simply echoing that hello, that how are you offhandedly as she could

The past and present are shown in the opening lines of the book As a Malinka now Clarisse is caught en route to mum.

 

Ladivine remind me in some ways of Three strong women as again Ndiaye has used three women as the main backbone of this story. But this time they are all in the same story and the story focus on Clarisse rivers mother and daughter in the story. She is the  daughter to Ladivine the woman of the title of the book, her poor mother who has worked hard all here life as a lowly housekeeper. Clarisse has wanted to hide her past after growing up and away from her mother and her past even her name is different  . She has married a successful man Richard Rivere  and pretends her past isn’t there. But this hiding from her husband eventually leads to the break up of her marriage and her meeting a new partner this is where we meet Her daughter Also called Ladivine like the grandmother Ladivine Rivere , that has grave worries other her mothers new boyfriend Freddy and what he really wants with her mother !

Clarisse Rivere felt herself floating back and forth on a warm, thick swell. Whose density stilled any move she might try to make. She didn’t want to move anyway, because it would hurt, it would hurt terribly, she knew, if she made attempts to change her position. She couldn’t remember if she was sitting and standing , lying or crouching, outdoor or at home, but it didn’t much matter. She had to place her faith in the mindless but confident perseverance of the heavy, dense tide now carrying her off

This passage shows the power of Ndiaye and her way to draw you into her characters worlds.

 

This is one of those family sagas that draws you in and I think it is Ndiayes writing her characters always jump of the page to me  and become so real. We all have met a Clarisse in our lives that woman who has made it but wants to runaway from her past. I was reminded of the lines Hanibal lector said in silence of the Lambs to agent starling about being one genration away from white trash . This is the sense with Clarisse even a change in name and pretending your mother is dead isn’t enough But why try to esacape your past and give your daughter your mothers name these are all questions you ask yourself. This is a great look into how we treat people in the world. It also shows how having secrets and things to hide can also draw you into more danger. A real book for anyone that Like Three strong woman or writers Like Zadie Smith or Jhumpa Lahiri both writer that capture their own worlds so well like Ndiaye does her a world of wanting to be accepted but having a past.

Have you read Ndiaye ?

Winstons Post Down the Una

Two books that I received this week .The first is a Novel that follows one man’s journey through the past through the Bosnian war , but also the world around him the river Una and also the flights of fancy every child and young man has. The book has the original cover and illustrations that were in the Bosnian edition of the book. This book won the European union prize for literature. Another gem from Istros books who as ever is bringing us the best of Balkan Lit .

Another arrival is a book I was told about a couple of years ago. I was lucky with a couple of other blogger to have an afternoon tea with the great Christopher Maclehose. Whilst having tea we were told that this book had just been signed to be translated and that Kurkov considered it his best book The book follows characters through the soviet years from the end of world war to to the edge of the crumbling communist world . The title comes from the inventor of the fuse for Dynamite. The book has a lot of what is best in kurkov it say I have reviewed two of his books before The milkman at night and his famous death and the penguin  and love the way he shows the madness and satirical side of the communist years.

 

The great swindle by Pierre Lemaitre

The Great Swindle

The great swindle by Pierre Lemaitre

French fiction

Original title – Au revoir là-haut

Translator – Frank wynne

I am carrying on my journey through books from last year that may make the MBIP2016 and next up is The Prix Goncourt historic novel from Pierre Lemaitre. and a book from one of my favourite translators Frank Wynne  He is better known for his Crime Novels Alex and Irene, I reviewed Irene and enjoyed it , but I was looking forward to this given it’s post world war one setting and the fact it won the Prix goncourt.

This later position was one espoused by Lieutenant d’aulnay-Pradelle. When talking of him, everyone dropped the first name the nobility particle, the “Aulnay” and the hyphen, referring to him simply as “Pradelle” since they knew very well how much this riled him, They could afford to do so, since Pradelle made it a point of honour never to express personal aimus.

The three of them at the start of the book in the same army unit and they have little respect for Pradelle the officer.

The book follows three French soldiers as they start to make their way post war in war-torn France. Now these three are trying to get their own back for the horrors of the war by running a couple of clever confidence tricks. The first two Albert and Edouard met just as the war is about to end in an incident that leaves one of them disfigured and the other with what is know called post traumatic stress disorder after the events that brought the two of them together out of the army they head to Paris and find the streets aren’t paved with gold , but find a clever way to make some money by conning French towns and villages as they go round selling fake war memorials . Then there is Lieutenant Henry D’Aulnay Pradelle is trying to get the hand of a wealthy heiress, but has to find a way to make money so gets a job burying the dead he was the man who sent the first two out on the job that caused them to end up the way they did on a fruitless mission, he is a real cad.What we see is how each man falls down their respective holes post war.

It was these workshops that had produced the magnificent sample coffin that had been sent to the war graves commission, a superb oak casket worth every centime of its sixty francs. Now that it had served its purpose in persuading the adjudicating committee, they could move on to more serious matters, to the coffins that would actually be delivered.

Pradelle sends a great coffin to bury the dead to the graves commission then actually makes some substandard ones in the place.

I loved this it was a slow burner to start as the war burns out,  as he starts to place the characters in their places for what is to follow post war  but as the book gets on the pace picks up some what as we see the three men each start to run their swindles. I think it is a shame the title was changed from Goodbye there , which as Lemaitre explains were the last words of Jean Blanchard a man shot in 1921 after he had done something similar to the title characters. For me one reason is to link this in the English mind to the great pieces of  lost generation literature The great swindle maybe brings to mind the Great Gatsby and as Gatsby in the book in one line of thought is meant to be a swindler that made his money in a very dark way it may be a connection not sure that is just my idea. in the afterword Lemaitre gives a list of world war one books that inspired him Barbusse and Jules Romains (I have Romains Verdun in my TBR pile ). He also notes a number of 19th century French realist writers for inspiring the style of writing in the book, I can see Pradelle is one character that could come from Dickens as Dickens was inspired by a number of the writers on Lemaitre list. The great swindle is a dark look at the underbelly of the post war lost generation and what happens when the dreams of peace don’t go as planned.

 

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