The House with the Stained-Glass window by Żanna Słoniowska

The house with Stained-Glass window by Żanna Słoniowska

Polish fiction

Original title – Dom z witrażem

Translator – Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Source – review copy

This is another from Maclehose new collection of press editions of books from around the world. This book is by one of the rising stars of  Polish fiction. Żanna Słoniowska she won the Conrad prize a prize for a debut novel and also the Znak prize which had over a thousand books in contention for it. She was born  In Lviv in Ukraine but now lives in Krakow. She works as a Journalist and Translator.

On the day of her death, her voice rang out, drowning many others, rancous sounds. Yet death, her death, was not a sound, but a colour. They brought her body home wtrapped in a large, blue and yellow flag – the slag of a country that did not yet exist on any map of the world.She was tightly shrouded in it, like an Egyptian mummy, thoug in one spot on the surface a dark, blood-red stain was breaking through. As i stood and starred at that stain, I was strucj by the feeling someone had made a mistake.

The opening and her mothers death and the first mentio of Blue and Yellow .

This book is set in the town of Lviv, in fact in a way it is as much as a character in the book as the people that live in the House with Stain glass. The story is told through the three woman who all live in the house and really cover the whole of the last century. The house in Lviv in Ukraine is home to Great Grandma grandma Aba and Mother Marianna and her Daughter. All live in the house the books open as Marianna is killed, she is a famous Opera star and leader of the movement to free Ukraine from the Soviets. The story is told from the daughter’s point of view she tells of her grandmother’s  struggles and during the wars. The loss of the fathers in history. Also, the grandmother could have been a painter and due to circumstances missed out. The daughter herself many years later start an affair with an older man as we see how the fight to get the blue and yellow flag was flown has affected all those living behind the stained glass window in Lviv four woman and hundred years of history.

That winter in the mid -1990’s , Balconnies started falling on peoples heads and walking close to the houses became dangerous.

“Mind your head!”wnet the refrain to anyone who ventured outside.

“Yesterday, on So and Son Street, balcony mouldings from tje second floor of house number six collapsed onto the head of a woman walking below” I read in the newspaper “Although the pieces of plaster were not heavy, she was seriously injured and taken to hospital.#

This made me thing of those advert” have you had a balcony hit you !! ” as the kept falling on people .

The other great female writer about Ukraine Svetlana Alexievich this book shows the true spirit of females in the Soviet Era. Also the constant struggle of the sleeping giant that was Ukraine. This is a portrait of family but also on a great scale of the country. from the grandmothers war time and exile from the original homeland through the mother’s struggle to lead the first movement to freedom, To the present day told from the daughter and those recent years we also saw on the news where the country kept going one way to another. The other character in this book is Lviv one of those great towns full of ghosts and touch so much by the history of the 20th century. An amazingly confident book for a debut novel.

 

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The sixteen trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

 

The sixteen trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

Norwegian fiction

Original title – Svøm med dem som drukner

Translator – Paul Russell Garrett

Source – Review copy

I missed his other novel when it came out in English. The book was a huge success,  Norweigan Wood chopping, stacking and drying wood the Scandinavian way. The book has since been brought to be made into a movie. he works as a journalist and editor. he has written four books, this is the second of his books to be translated into English.

Why did he torment the trees? I stood there for a long time that night, between the white trunks that seemed to be an infinty of flagpoles, rehearsing an anger towards a man who was dead, an an anger which I soon set aside because I realised that I was merely copying Bestefar.

His Grandfather  Bestefar still hits out at the Uncle the great wooodworker by his treatment of wood far different.

This is the story of one man trying to unravel his families past. Edvard is a farmer in a remote part of Norway. He only has his grandfather, as his parents died in France to a poison gas grenade.His grandfather is a simple man that makes simple things in wood. But also has a dark past as he fought on a theNazii side in the Norweigan Legion in the war the haunts the family as well. Then there is his grandfather brother his great Uncle Einar a renowned woodworker in his day. But something happened in the past and he left the family home and ended up living in the Shetland Islands. When a wonderfully craft coffin arrives at his grandfather home. Edvard decides it may be time for him to start setting straight all that had happened in the past. But what happens the number they have for Einar inj SHetland is said to be that of a Hairdressers, but as he goes there and he starts to discover his great uncles past he finds he was in love with the said Ladies Hairdresser. He also meets Gwen a posh English girl also looking into her past and Einars past lead him to the Somme and the wood he found in the horror of the war.

“There’s a bit of Einar in you ” the priest said. “He coukd capture the form of something he had seen and use it in another context. Einar interpeted everything the experienced, he was a thinker and a dreamer”

“But when did he make the Coffin? ” I said

His gaze grew distant. When he answered,it was as though he had not grased what I had said

“Einar” he disappeared from us. Twice disappeared. The villag’s foremost cabinetmaker. One of the best in all of Gudbrandsdalen

The local priest sees some of his great uncle Einar in Edvard himself.

This is a sort of mystery novel about families past. It is showing the rigs of the family like the trees that keep cropping up it shows the ages of this family. As we follow Einar as he tries to piece together the jigsaw of his grandfather and great uncles falling out. But also his own parents past and their deaths that he never really knew much about. A trip that goes from Norway via Shetlands and then France in the present day, but then the Russian front and the Somme in the past. Edvard has taken his past like a lump of wood in a lathe and worked it into a family tree unique and maybe full of dark parts but also love and love of wood. I also loved Edvard talking about the music he listens to through out the book.

Mend the living by Maylis De Kerangal

 

Mend the living by maylis De Kerangal

French Literature

Original title Réparer les vivants

Translator – Jessica Moore

Source – review copy

I said earlier this year I wanted to reach a 100 french novels this year, the main reason is there is so much great fiction coming from France in recent years and here is another writer I have found to add to the list . I know Maclehose have high hopes for this book and I as a reader can see why they have .This is Maylis De Kerangal fifth novel and the second one to be translated to English she has won a number of prizes in her native France. She lives in Paris.

Christopher Alba, John Rocher, and him, Simon Limbeau. The alarms were ringing when they pushed back the sheets and got out of bed for a session planned by text a little before midnight, a session at half-tide, only two or three like this a year – rough see, regular waves, low- wind and not a soul in sight. Jeans , shirt, they slipped outside without a bite, not even a glass of milk or handful of ceral, not evena crust of bread

Hungry and early in the morning simon and his mates head to the Surf on a day that will be like no other for him .His last !

The book follows one day and a number of lives that follows one death and that is the death of the title character Simon a 19-year-old surfer full of life, he has woken very early  to catch the surf  as he usually does, what we see is the early morning race to the beach he has made many times before  and the group of surfers there on the beach the sights and scents of being a surfer  . Then this scene is blown open, when  we see the accident  that has happened to Simon and he is in an ambulance the action then follows to a nurse as he arrives at the hospital and his parents decide to donate his organs.We see how one man has touched so many over the space of one day from his friends and family to those he donates to and all those along the way in this rollercoaster last day of a French Surfer.

He’ll be a donor

Sean is one to make this statement and Thomas Remige gets up from his chair abruptly, shaky, red thorax expanding with an influx of heat as though his blood was speeding up , and walks straight towards them. Thank you. Marianne and Sean Lower their eyes, planted like stakes in the office doorway, wordless their shoes mark the floor leave sludge and black grass, they themselves are over whelmed by what they’ve just done, by what they’ve just announced – “Donor” “Donor” “don-ate” “Aban-don” the words clang together.

The minute his parents choose to let him go their Simon.

 

What we have here is an event that takes place every day and that is that  someone dies, but they choose  to  live on in the donations they make of their organs. What Maylis has done is taken the moment this happens. This is like the Hadron collider of a book Simon  on one side and the people he will help on the other side.  are like the two particles waiting for that one moment this two collide  and start a new life at the  moment of creation ! This book is about heart Simons heart which goes to the heart of France Paris to be reborn in an Old woman.So Young man gives an older woman life from his own death. The prose is written in a fast furious style  almost like the surf that Simon has ridden through his young life you are on the crest of a wave a vibrant writer and a vibrant translation by Jessica moore make this a ride that will leave the reader breathless.

Have you read this book ?

 

Winston’s books hello again

Well this week has seen arrival of two book by writers I have written about before but also from different sides of the middle east .

Hilltop by Assaf Gavron

First to arrive this week was this Novel from Israeli , the fourth book to be translated to english from this writer whom I first reviewed here on the blog with his book Almost dead , this seems to a more mature work from a writer whom , I like first time round .this book has been called the Great Israeli novel and follows the goings , comings and politics of one hilltop in modern Israeli .

The broken mirror / sinalcol by Elias Khoury

Then today dropped through from Elias Khoury ,another writer I have reviewed before on the blog two books by him  Yalo  and As though she were sleeping .Considered by many to be one of the finest voice from Arabic literature this is his latest offering and follows one man’s journey back to Beirut from the safety of France to find the mythical ghost of a man the hero of the civil war Sinalcol .

So two writers from different sides of the middle east both at the height of the career be interesting to see which I enjoy most this time round .

Have you had anything interesting arrive this week ?

Winstons books Translated Non-fiction

Well only two books arrived this week , that said I only read two books myself this week , had a busy week and a bit of a cold has led me not to read as much as usual .

IMG_1977

The first book to arrive was from istros book , Susan asked me if I’d like to try their latest a non fiction work by the leading intellectual and political voice in Albanian life Fatos Lubonja , the book follows the fall of the communist system with in Albania and the chaos of corruption pyramid schemes that followed it .This is also a reminder that I should add a few more Translated works of NON fiction to this blog , my big hope is that someone will translate Thomas Bernhard’s letters to his publisher from German this is one book I would love to read .

IMG_1978

The other book is the finished hardback edition of the new book by Cees nooteboom letter to Poseidon , I can’t wait to share this with you Cees is fast becoming one of my all time favourite writers and also I feel he should be a Nobel winner one day soon ,especially after Modiano won he is very much like him memories mean a lot to Cees .

What books did you have arrive this week ?

More bloody foreigners lunch

hardys brasserie

Well Last month when I was in London Daniela from Europa editions and Susan from Istros books mentioned this event was happening and it would be great if I could come ,as I can usually only afford one trip to London a year I had to turn them down ,then Daniela said they may have the money to get me a train ticket to come for the Lunch .I said I’d love too and thanked them very much ,so yesterday I boarded the train to London arrived just about in time as we ran a bit late ,dashed across london on the tube to Baker street and then  walked to Hardy’s.

a dark song of blood

Three of the writers from the event the night before were there .Ben Pastor ,whom I only got to talk to briefly is Italian writer ,who lives in America and her books are about the German Detective Martin Bora .Her latest is A dark song of Blood   ,her books are published by Bitter Lemon Press who are this year celebrating ten years of publishing Frank their publisher was saying ,they had put their first book out ten years ago .

The art of killing well

Now I got more chance to talk to the other two writers ,I was sat away from the writers  initially but swapped seats ,sat next too Jake Kerridge ,who is the Crime reviewer for the Telegraph on one side and then Andrej Nikolaidis on the other ,opposite was Marco Malvaldi ,I have just read his book the Art of Killing well ,that Maclehose press ,Europa editions have brought out another book by him game for five in their World Noir series  .Marco was quizzed about the food by Barry Forshaw who was sat next too him ,Marco was Polite but this lead into a mention of how Pellegrino Artusi the character of his Book the art of Killing Well ,he was a successful businessman whom later in his life decided to write a book about the food he loved ,because he loved eating and had a wonderful cook but then discovered no-one had written down how to make these dishes  .So Pellegrino spent time travelling round Italy writing this book ,which he initially published as a book for his friends then for friends of friends then an Italian publisher got hold of this book and ask to publish it ,it became an instant bestseller and was in nearly every Italian household at the turn of the century .Marco book is set just as Pellegrino has finished his journey round Italy and is spending the weekend at the house of a Baron ,whilst there the Butler is killed and Pellegrino helps find the killer .I also quizzed Marco about his thoughts on the forthcoming England italy match over the weekend .

the-coming-front-cover1

Now to the last writer ,but actually the first I spoke to on Arrival I saw Susan from Istros book she said Andrej Nikolaidis was outside so I went and had a smoke with Andrej and introduced myself ,I have reviewed both his book The coming and The son  , he also wrote a piece for my Thomas Bernard week about his shared love of the Austrian writer Thomas Bernard  .Andrej spoke to me about Bernard ,football ,putting together his playlists for his books which I had put together on a playlist on spotify .The meal was lovely I had a game terrine followed by Roast pork and finished off with a Chocolate fondant and coffee .I then spent afternoon wandering across London with Susan and Andrej ,talking books ,Tirana ,Kadare ,Russia and the Ukraine some  great stories from Andrej about writers and events around Europe some of  which  were quite eye-opening .We also bumped into two other writers from the Balkans (Not every day you bump into the cream of European lit  which had just arrived for an event today called Balkans day and we finished off with Moroccan mint tea in the cafe near Istros books office at red lion square  chatting away .A lovely day which for me showed the power of books in translation ,the way on one level we can all connected via novels about crime as Violence is violence wherever !  Many thanks for the Art council with out whom I wouldn’t have been able to have come yesterday .

The Truth about the Harry Quebert affair by Joël Dicker

the truth about the Harry Qubert affair

The truth about the Harry Quebert affair by Joël Dicker

Swiss fiction

Orginal title La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert

Translator – Sam Taylor

Source – review copy

It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita via goodreads

 

Well in the UK ,you bound to have seen this about it has been really pushed by Waterstones book shop here , which is good to see so often translated fiction doesn’t get the front windows or main tables in book shops .So to Joël Dicker ,he is Swiss writer ,he was born and schooled in Geneva ,he went to Paris to study for a year after school ,then returned and completed a degree in law in Switzerland ,he has always written this his first book has been a runaway success in Europe .it won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens Grand Prix du Roman de l’Academie Francaise prizes .

“He wrote that book for that girl , Marcus .For a fifteen-year-old girl .I can’t leave the plaque there .That’ not love – it’s disgusting .”

“I think it’s more complicated than that ,” I said .

“And I think you should keep your nose out of this , Marcus .You should go back to New York and stay far away from all this ”

Marcus is told to leave the Harry Quebert affair alone .

 

So what is the book about ,well it is told in two main time lines the first is in the summer of 1975 ,when the character of the title Harry Quebert is spending the summer in Somerset in New Hampshire ,finishing a book which he feels will cement his places as one of the best writers around  his book the origins of evil is maybe more than it first seemed .During this  time he befriends a young girl Nola Kellergran .Now she disappears at the end of this summer this brings us to the other timeline .For 33 years ,later her body is discovered in the yard of the house Harry Quebert was staying in that summer and she is holding a copy of Harry Quebert manuscript.This is where we meet Marcus Goldman ,now he  is a writer just starting his journey as a writer and was taught by Harry Quebrt so he decides to go to Somerset and find pout what really happened and prove that the man he knew so well isn’t the killer and get him free as Harry Quebert now sits in Jail .Along the way the Life of Nola Kellerman isn’t as simple or clean as it once seems as Marcus uncovers more and more about the men she was involved with that summer and what she was really doing .Does he find the killer ,does Harry walk free and what about the two books Harry’s and Marcus’s about Harry’s case ?

The masterpiece I had so desperately wanted to write …. Harry had written it .He had sat at a table in a diner and written words of absolute genius , wonderful sentences that had moved the whole country ,taking care to hide within his work the story of his love affair with Nola Kellergran

The Origins of Evil was Harry’s masterpiece and the book he was writing that summer .

Now this book is great for a début but you do feel after finishing it a good edit and maybe a few changes would have moved it into that instant classic band .But that said it is a wonderful Homage to all things America now Maclehose have gone with a Hopper painting for the cover here and yes this is the america of Hopper and Rockwell .What Joël Dicker has done is taken parts of recent American culture and mixed them so we have part of Twin peaks Nola Kellergran is rather like Laura Palmer in that the more the book unfolds like in the tv show twin peaks the more we gather she isn’t what she first seemed .Part Stephen King that New England and the small town of Somerset could have walked out of a king novel .Part Cold Case drama now I could pick one shpow out but there is a number of shows and books about Cold crime case solving Marcus Goldman is the classic writer turned detective .Part Lolita how many men were attracted to this young women ? Now this book also struck me as part written for a film or tv series ,now that isn’t a bad thing is it ,I mean stephen King has done it for years ,so keep your eyes out for a version of this for a film ,I would love to see a great director get this book in the hands of the likes of David Lynch or Wim Wenders it would really bring out  the darker side of the book out .So I look forward to seeing what Joël Dicker does next ?

IRÈNE by Pierre Lemaitre

Irene Pierre Lemaitre

IRÈNE by Pierre Lemaitre

French crime Novel

Original title –  Travail soigné

Translator – Frank Wynne

Source – from translator

“There is a blessed necessity by which the interest of men is always driving them to the right; and, again, making all crime mean and ugly”
Ralph waldo Emerson from Quote dictionary 

Well I was sent Alex last year and was just on the Verge of reading it when I heard mention it was the second book about commandant Verhoeven .So I thought I’d wait as I had seen on franks website he was doing this the first book in the series .Pierre Lemaitre was born in Paris and had taught literature for many year ,before becoming a novelist .He has described his own work as a permanent “exercise admiration of literature” .He has so far written five books in the Verhoeven series and three stand alone novels one of which won the Prix Goncourt the most respected prize in french lit .

Hardly had he taken three paces into the room than he found himself faced with a scene he could not imagined even in his worst nightmares : severed fingers ,torrents of clotted blood , the stench of excrement and gutted entrails .Instinctively , he was reminded of Goya’s painting ” Satan devouring his son ”

The first crime scene set the tone for the murders .

IRÈNE is the name of commandant Verhoeven’s wife for note , he is happily married and expecting their first child .The title is although t different to the French title which is craftmanship ,but it keeps it in line with the first English translation Alex using similar front cover design .Verhoeven is called into a investigate a series of murders ,Brutal and violent  in their acts , but as they continue the murders appear to be copying famous murders in Novels  from Brett Easton Ellis ,James Ellory  books ,then maybe is the murderer also killing people in other countries ? and in the meantime  the murderer is called by the Press “the Novelist ” .This leads to a cat and mouse came between the commandant and the Novelist that will leave both will suffer as they try to avoid capture and capture drawing them closer and closer to the end  and both leave scared .

Finding IRÈNE hale and healthy ,lying on the sofa watching television , her hands resting on her belly , a broad smile on her lips .Camille realised that since morning his mind has been swirling with images of dismembered women .

His wife is expecting their first child .

Irene is a crime novel that pays Homage to the greats of world crime fiction in the murders that are recreated in the book we move from the murder from American Psycho ,then The black dahlia and Laidlaw ,we see Lemaitre’s  obvious  love of crime fiction in these crimes and how he uses them . But also how it will shape  Verhoeven we see him changed from the beginning of the book  to the end and I expect what happen here makes him a much more interesting character as the series move on in the rest of the series .This isn’t the first crime book that has used a killer that copies crimes there is a book by Jeffrey Deaver that was made into the film The bone collector which feature recreating Victorian crimes from an old crime book .I felt this book better caught the killer in the bone collector it was a little obvious who it was here we see the investigation unfold .

Have you read this book or Alex ?

Jacqui reviews Brief loves that live forever IFFP 2014

Brief loves that live forever

Brief Loves That Live Forever by Andrei Makine
Translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan

When the IFFP longlist was announced in early March I was excited to see this novel amongst the contenders. While I haven’t read any of Andrei Makine’s previous books, I know Stu rates this author very highly, so I was eager to get to this one.

Brief Loves That Live Forever comprises of a series of eight episodes set within the context of Brezhnev’s Soviet Union; each of these vignettes could be considered a short story in itself, yet they are connected by the same narrator looking back on specific moments in his life.

The book opens as our unnamed narrator recalls walking home with friend, a dissident by the name of Dimitri Ress. Ress, a dying man in his mid-forties, has experienced a sequence of imprisonments primarily for attacking the totalitarian regime and railing against the charade of National parades. During the walk Ress seems keen to steer our narrator towards a particular route; by so doing they encounter a woman and young boy as they emerge from an official car. Ress turns away and it seems as if there may be some connection between him and the couple. As our narrator recalls this encounter with Ress it seems to spark memories of other days in his youth — moments of tenderness, fleeting glimpses of beauty and love — and it is these transient moments that endure and resonate most strongly in his life:

What remains is the pale patch of a dress, on the front steps of a little wooden house. The gesture of a hand waving me goodbye. I walk on, drawing further away, turning back after every five paces, and the hand is still visible in the mauve, luminous spring light.

What remains is a fleeting paradise that lives on for all time, having no need of doctrines. (p. 91)

From this point onwards Makine uses this theme to lead us through a series of experiences in the narrator’s life, all of which touch upon brief snatches of love, compassion or grace. We see a young girl desperately searching for a grandmother whom she has never met; a grief-stricken young woman mourning the passing of her husband; an elderly couple of seeking shelter from a storm; a lover immersing her face in a bouquet of flowers. Here’s our narrator recalling this moment in their affair:

She comes in, kisses me, sees the bouquet. And asks no questions. She quite simply leans forward, buries her face in the subtly scented halo of flowers, closes her eyes. And when she stands up, her eyes are misty with tears. “They smell of winter,” she says. “We met in December, didn’t we…”

That night there is an unaccustomed gentleness in the way we make love, as if we had found one another again after a very long separation, having suffered greatly and grown old. (p 131-132)

These moments also offer glimmers of light in our protagonist’s world, forming the greatest defence against the grim reality and hollow emptiness of the Soviet system. The encounters are played out against the backdrop of the political development of The Soviet Union from the 1960s to the 1980s and representations of the totalitarian regime are never very far away. Early in the novel we see our narrator when, as a young boy, he becomes trapped within the imposing entrails of a grandstand used for parades:

Sunk in the torpor of a condemned man, I saw I was in a vast spider’s web spun from iron. This three-dimensional trellis was everywhere…My terror was so profound that, within this prison-like captivity, I must have glimpsed a more immense reality concerning the country I lived in, whose political character I was just beginning to grasp, thanks to snatches of conversation here and there… (p.36)

There are other symbols of the Brezhnev-era regime too; the leader’s imposing face, an authoritarian gaze beneath bushy eyebrows on a vast hoarding on the façade on a railway station (p. 98) and an enormous sterile apple orchard, an example of a Potemkin village, Soviet style (p. 139).

Brief Loves That Live Forever is a wonderful novel studded with beautifully haunting images, many of which are almost certainly set to drift through my mind in the days to come. Stu, in his review, likened the experience of reading this book to looking through a collection of old sepia-tinged photographs and how these can evoke memories of the past…and that’s very much how it feels for me, too. While each episode could work as a short story in its own right, they build and come together to form a more powerful, more resonant whole. And at the end of the book we come full circle and return to our narrator’s memories of Dimitri Ress, where we learn a little more about his past, causing us to reflect on our impressions of events and themes introduced in the first chapter.

There’s a melancholy, almost meditative quality to Makine’s writing, and in this respect I feel it shares something with Javier Marias’s The Infatuations (also longlisted for the IFFP). Such elegant writing, too; everything seems to flow effortlessly, from Makine’s prose through to Geoffrey Strachan’s sensitive translation.

While I’m only halfway through the IFFP longlist this is one of my favourites thus far; a strong bet for the shortlist, I feel.

Brief Loves That Live Forever is published in the UK by MacLehose Press.
Source: personal copy.#

Many thanks Jacqui here is my review of this book 

Every promise by Andrea Bajani

every promise Andrea Bajani

Every promise by Andrea Bajani

Italian fiction

Original title – Ogni Promessa

Translator – Alastair McEwan

Source – Review copy

When this dropped through the letter box last year I read the blurb and in a way didn’t grab me ,I loved the cover but as happens it fell down the TBR pile to the other day I decide to pick it up and had missed the quote on the rear of the book from Antonio Tabucchi ,which is a writer I love so who is Andrea Bajani ,well he was born in Rome and moved round Italy growing up finally end up in Turin ,where he is both a journalist and writer he published his first novel in 2002 .this is seventh novel and won the Premio Bagutta prize in italy one of italy top literary prizes .

Yet we made love and no child came along .It was our we fell to the ground every month and broke in two ,and by dint gluing it together again it couldn’t be fixed anymore .The first months had been normal ,going down the whole route evry time , getting past menstrual cycles without wondering about anything , nopt even thinking about it ,just making love because we couldn’t do anything but searc for each other under our clothing as soon as we were close .

Maybe the lack of a baby coming was the start of their problems .

Every promise is the story of a man coming to terms with himself and the world around him Pietro the man in the story starts the book with his partner Sara leaving him ,we later find out she is expecting a baby to another man but still is very close to Pietro mother .Add to this Pietro does what most men in this position do he becomes a bit of a layabout and lets his live become a mess .Now around this time an old man who had fought in Russia during the war Olmo appear ,this leads Pietro  going to Russia himself but also this leads into another story his mother’s father ,his grandfather Mario a man who had problems with hios family after the war and had also been in Russia during the war has died .

Olmo asked me if everything was still there in Russia ,he said it like that ,with a little anxiety in his voice , as if he had far from home and had sent someone to check things out .

Russia holds many secrets but also truths for Pietro .

Well that gives you the bare bones of the story and that is it ,this book has many a twist and turn and more than one thing going on .When I started it I found myself doing that thing of flicking back to check what was happening  but most of all the story is of a man who has to lose everything to discover who he is by leaving his homeland and see the world through different eyes and his home in a new light and also what happen in his families past  .I am shocked that I have discovered yet another wonderful Italian writer Niccolo Ammanti , Pietro Grossi and Davide longo and Andrej Longo are  Showing what appears a rich vein of younger Italian writers coming through slowly as ever to us in English .This book links love ,loss ,secrets ,family ,death and life so well with a vulnerable but fun edge to his writing Andrea Bajani shows what it is to be a modern Italian man by looking at the past and the present to show the future  .This is one of those books that have slipped under the radar and maybe shouldn’t have .

Have you a current Italian writer you like ?

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