The dregs of the day by Máirtín Ó Cadhain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dregs of the day by Máirtín Ó Cadhain

Irish (Gaelic) fiction

Original title – Fuíoll Fuine

Translator – Alan Titley

Source – personal copy

When I read Dirty dust and the second transition Graveyard Clay of the great Irish novel  Cré na Cille  which was considered impossible to capture in English but the two translations have different approaches it was Alan Titley dirty dust I preferred of the two books I reviewed it a few years ago so when I saw that this novella was coming out I couldn’t wait this is from later in his career, in fact, the last collection he published in his lifetime. Alan Titley notes in his translation that the collection of short stories that the novella is taken from saw a change in style as they are much darker than his other work with a unifying theme of decay at its heart.  

It was a ratty voice on the other end of the telephine, her sister calliung from his house

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself gallivanting around, and your wife just dead”

“She is dead”, N said”Yes. It was as much as he cpould think of saying. With so many civil servants listening, he couldn’t say that he had missed so much time in the office that his job was in danger. He had told her dozens of times that he had got lots of hint in the office already, but they wanted to believe he was neglecting his wife..

“Dead at last”, he couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Yes, at last”, the sister said. “You’d think it wasn’t soon enough for you

That sums up his postion in the first chapter and his sisters view of him!!

What we have in the dregs of the day is the weekend after his wife has died of N we never told his full name. But we know he has a civil service job that he has spent a lot of time off to care for his wife. But he is sent out to sort out the arrangements for his wife’s funeral by his family. But N is a man that is easily distracting and what follows is a sort of odyssey around his small town which in a typical Irish way starts at the pub he hasn’t a lot of money and wants to spend as little as possible he hopes for inspiration in a glass! As he tries to avoid the sisters in law and his wife’s dead body. He needs to get the church priest a nurse and other things sorted. But he seems to be trying to bury his head in the ground and later into another woman as he has sex with her. Falling asleep in a shop getting thrown out of church all the time getting further from the task in hand. As he ways up his past and future it shows the tragedy of his life.

 When that particular fantasy had evaporated, he knew he couldn’t put the buisness of the corpse off any longer. He hadn’t contacted the little sisters yet. He thought about the nun he had spotted below at the arch just a while ago. He made his way back to see if he could get any information from her about the little sisters, or indeed about anything else. He’d give her something. He still had a few schillings left. But neither saint of sinner at the arch.He searched the neighbouring streets- but in vain.

As often in the ireland of the time the church is there in the background.

Like  Cré na Cille this has a very dark humor behind it N is a man that you feel has been under the thumb and that the loss of his wife and this chance to escape his sisters in law gives him his first breath of freedom for a while and in a very Irish way this all starts in the pub and rather like Bloom in Joyce Ulysses we see a man on a quest and also sex plays a part her like in Ulysses the death of his wife and he is in bed with another woman. He is a man on the run he knows the task at hand-sorting the burial out but every step he takes towards that effort he seems to take two back and get further away from that task. It is wonderful to work that full of life and like Titley translation of  Cré na Cille has a number of f words here and there. Joyce is here in part he was a huge fan of Modernism and Joyce this is a small odyssey for N. 

I’m back Where to go now oh and a few new books !!

I am returning to reviewing tomorrow after nearly three weeks away, I’m rested up but also thinking of what my blog means to me. It has open so many doors over the years that I wouldn’t have opened without this blog. I have met so many people. That I had in a way become lazy about what I wanted and that is to make this the place for translated fiction and this means I have to maybe be more critical when I am reviewing books. I was listening to an open book about Literary criticism  . It made me think yes I love Translated fiction and in a way, for many years I have been the cheerleader for this cause. But after nearly 800 books I feel I need to guide and let people know more of what I think of books I had started this in small ways recently with a Llosa review that I was a little less cheerleader and more objective as I felt readers be better with other books by him to read first! I view this blog and my position as a gatekeeper of translated books but also translators and the publishers the whole team that gets the books out there. I have my own goals for the blog the first is the 1000 review mark.Also, the 100 German books mark to reach and of course the hunt for new countries and publishers is an ongoing quest. For me this is my hobby and passion a way to get cnnect to fellow lovers of translated fiction and spreading the love for world literature. I hope to spread the love but also be a beacon to the new readers by guiding them to what to read. I needed a break after nine years just put the blog in standby and stick the charger on well it charged quicker than expect and with an Epic autumn due of long books. Including the Jan Brandt Against the world a novel that references german from the 70’s to the present day.  I got today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which arrived with French Poets Philippe Jacottet Obscurity his only novel. Tip Marugg a Curacao writer a book that sees a man watching the day dawning and uses a magic realism style. Werner Kofer an Austrian writer compared to Bernhard for his use of Satire. Noemi Jaffe memoir follows the journey she took with her daughter to Auschwitz following in her mother footsteps.

The African shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa

Image result for the african shore by rodrigo rey rosa

The African Shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa

Guatemalan fiction

Original title – Le Orilla Africana

Translator – Jeffrey Gray

Source – personnel copy

Rodrigo Rey rosa is a Guatemalan writer from a middle class family that meant he travelled a lot growing up. Including europe . When he started studying at a summer writing workshop run by the great writer Paul Bowles , who many books where set in North Africa, Rey Rosa fiction is set in Latin American and also like this book in North Africa where he later spent time with Bowles in Morocco where he translated Rey rosa books into english and after Bowles death he was the executor of Bowles estate . I know that is a lot of mention of Bowles but as you see in this book he has a lot to owe the American writer.

Everyone knew that owls don’t sleep at night and that they can see in the dark. That was why, when someone want to stay awake all night, it was a good idea to catch an Owl and pull out its eyes. Some people boiled the eyes in water and ate them, or you could make an amulet with one of the eyes and wear it on your chest to keep off sleep.

Hamsa returned to the tool shed and smoked several pipes of Kif, thinking of what he should do.

Hamsa captures the owl that links the two tales.

The African shore is one of those short books that after you have put it down seem so much longer than it was. The book is a pair of stories twisting around each other the first is a Take of a Shepard boy given a chance to be a lookout for his Uncle which he hopes I feel he will eventually get money or be given a chance to get across the water to Europe. The we have the second story a young man from Columbia is having to spend some extra time in The country after he lost his passport so we see him meeting and wander the town mix with french woman . A man not in the rush to get home to his wife and life . Then we have the Owl he sees it all and is the character connecting the two stories .

At the end of the street, on the sidewalk across from the herbalist’s , he saw a ragged boy with a two-handled basket trying to sell a barn owl.

He stopped and leaned over the basket to examine it. the owl said “Chi Chichich” Its big black eyes, circled with ochre disc, looked straight ahead. Its old woman’s face was framed by a small halo of feathers.It moved constantly, following the slightest movement around it .

The two meet as the owl changes hand between them both .

This is a clever little book about place , being lost in a place . Being in a place but wanting to be lost in another place it is about that short distance between the two continents Africa and Europe that is only miles but is also millions of miles away from one another. The we have the owl he is another character link the two people in the story but also the sense of place this desert and the town of Tangiers always a melting pot of Africa and europe . Like his Hero Bowles it is a story about coming to this place and feeling part of it The other character in the book is Morocco itself  the street life and characters we meet. Rey Rosa has part Bowles in his writing and also bit of Borges the book is built of short chapters that could almost be little piece of Borges he also has that sense of wanderlust and getting out of Latin america I have found at various times in Bolano’s work but also the works of some like Neuman a sense of connecting the old and new world through the needle of Africa . A great intro to a writer I want to try more of.

Have you read a Guatemalan fiction before ?

 

Globetrotter by David Albahari

Globetrotter by David Albahari

Serbian fiction

Original title – Svetski Putnik

Translator – Ellen Elias-Bursac

Source – library book

I had long want to try Albahari he is a writer that has always got good reviews over on the complete review with =three of his books getting -A score on the site. So when I saw this in the library system I thought be a great chance to read David  Albahari A Serbian writer , who also translates books from English into Serbian, he has won a number of prize including the Ivo Andric prize .Plus this was also published by Margellos world republic of letters a imprint of Yale press that I have a fondness for .

After that we visited the gray wolf, the buffalo, the bat, the golden eagle, the swan, and the hummingbird, and Daniel Atijas told me that the collection reminded him of a similar natural history museum in Belgrade, which he hadn’t thought of for years, and, come to think of it, he hadn’t been there for ages, for so long, in fact that he wasn’t even certain whether it was still up and running.But when he’d last visited, probably on a school trip, he had wanted to stay there forever.

A tour of a museum brings back a school trip and Daniels home town of Belgrade

Well now globetrotter is one of those tricky to describe books as it is set in Banff in Canada at a yearly art event ,but is mainly about former Yugoslavia  and the outfall of the recent war . A writer visits the art centre in Banff as a guest writer for three weeks. This writer Daniel Atijas is the main character but we see him through the eyes of the narrator of this single paragraph who is a Canadian  painter he has painted many faces of Daniel as he is attracted to this man but as he painted the many faces we see the story of Daniel but also what lead to him being in Canada the war in Yugoslavia but also the writers place in the world he says how many writers have left their homeland become Emigre writers . Does distance and history change how a writer writes ? As the two grow closer the reader discovers more about Daniels past and what he sees as his future as a writer. We also see a slowly unfolding love affair as the painter is so captured bu this Serbian writer and his tales but also by his face that seems to tell its own story .

Daniel’s room, I noticed that my misgivings had been unwarranted. The grief was still there on the grandson’s face, but by then, if I can put it this war, his was only half the grief, the other half had slided over Daniel Atijas faces, at least for that evening and night, looked less and less like the face I had been drawing and because of which I was sitting where, by all accounts, I should not have been.

The painter sees how the loss of a Croatian touches the Serbian writer when he is told by the grandson of the Croat .

I loved this it easy to compare the book to Thomas  Bernhard and many central european writers  as he writes in a similar breathless style to David in this the action is like one story coming at you at a pace. But for me it is maybe how David want Daniel and the unnamed story told a brief meeting of minds in three weeks that seemed to have touched both artist and writer in some way. This is a story of dealing with having a new home far away from your home but also ones own past a classic exile tale, but also Like Daniel David himself visited Banff in 1994 just as the story in the story was his own story and to add to the mix of Banff the translator herself visited it in 2001. So Daniel story is really Davids story of how he is trying to carry on as a writer in exile .I loved this it is a wonderful book that tells much about the writer but also those early years of the collapse of the former Yugoslavia remind me of me years at the same time in Germany working in a factory with a mixture of  Balkan refugees from Bosnia , Kosovo and Croatia

Have you read David Albahari ?

The dirty dust by Máirtín Ó Cadhain

The dirty dust by Máirtín Ó Cadhain

Irish Gaelic fiction

Original title –  Cré na Cille

Translator – Alan Titley

Source – library book

I want to read this when it came out and a chance look on my library website the other week and Iw as shocked they had a copy, this book is considered the first modernist novel written in Irish Gaelic. Máirtín Ó Cadhain was heavily involved in the republican movement in the 1930’s. He worked as a journalist wrote short stories and published this book in his lifetime since his death two more novels have been published. I will be changing my quotes here slightly and using the opening of chapters, this is because next month Yale through Margellos world republic of letters the same imprint as this book is from are publishing a second version of Cre na cille in translation, which I intend to read and at that point will compare the wording in both translations to see what is different.

Don’t know if i am in the pound grave, or the Fifteen Shilling grave? Fuck them anyway if they plonked me in the Ten Schilling plot after all the warnings I agave them. The morning I died I calls Patrick in from the kitchen, “I’m begging you Patrick, I’m begging you, put me in the pound grave, the pound grave! I know  some of us are buried in Ten Schilling grave, but all the same…”

The opening chapter The Black earth and a new arrival in the earth wonders did her husband listen to her!

Now back to the book the dirty dust is set in the graveyard of a small town of connemera. What we have is voice of all those buried there talking away as each person arrives in the new grave they are set upon as the dead try to find out what has happened between burials. This sees old feuds carrying on wounds open wider in the earth from the time the new republic was formed and who was on whom side. You get caught up in this world of voices and often forget it is the dead that are speaking.This is like being in a busy Irish pub in that cacophony of voices all talking at once.

-The sky is mine, the sea, the land…

-The hinterland is mine, what is upside down, the inside , the lower depths.You have the edges and the contingent…

-The light of the sun is mine, the shining moon, the sparkling star..

-The mysterious recesses of every cave are mine, the jagged pits of every abyss, the dark heart of every stone, the unknown guts of every earth, the hidden stem of every flower..

-Mine is the sunny south, brightness, love, the ruddy rose and the maiden’s smile…

-Mine is the dour north, darkness, misery, the shoot that gives life to the rose petal, the web of veins that drives the diseased blood of melancholy routing laughter from the cheeks to lighten the brightness of the face..

-mine is the egg, the sprout, the seed, the source …

-mine is

I choose the opening of chapter 9 The wasting earth as the detached nature of the voices is very Beckett like .

This is a hard book to describe because that is what it is the dead talking and talking in that irish way of the crack these have all kissed the blarney stone and have the gift of the gab. Cadhaim wrote the book in 1949 so the same year Beckett brought waiting for Godot out. Brian O’nolan was writing absurd piece for the papers as  Myles na gCopaleen . two of his contempary . I choose these two as they seem nearest to him this book must have been read by Beckett there is part of this that reminds me so much of his later plays the detached nature of the voices in the book is so like those plays. As for O’Nolan he seems to poke fun at the irish establishment the same way O’Nolan did in his Myles character.Why it has taken 66  years to finally reach us in English I don’t know but know we have it we see what a lost gem it is and a missing piece in many of ours Irish lit knowledge. Another gem from world Republic of letters.

Have you read this or any Gaelic novels ?

Blindly by Claudio Magris

blindly Claudio Magris

Blindly by Claudio Magris

Italian fiction

Orginial title Alla cieca

Translator – Anne Milano Appel

source – library

Well sometimes you wander your local library just hoping for inspiration and that next great read to jump out and into your hand ,well I was actually looking for a couple of great Japanese novels when I came accross Blindly ,I saw it was one from the Margellos World Republic of letters book  ,which is a collection of books  from Yale that are designed to bring poets writer and voice from around the world to the English readers attention ,a few  that I had my eye on for a while so I thought give it a whirl and so pleased I did .Anyway Claudio Magris is an Italian scholar ,writer and translator ,he studied German lit at University and has been well-known for promoting Central European  culture in Italy .Blindly is his sixth book .

SO THEN , you want to know if my names is Tore .I see there a lot of you asking me that .Do I know what online means ? – aye-aye captain is still the language of the seas and even the Argo ,as  you decided to call this contraption , just to be funny is the name of the ship

Tore is a patient or is he and wasn’t the Argo Jason ship ?

Well now to blindly ,what is it ? well it’s a novel about a man in a  mental hospital called Tore  ! no , it’s not its a book about a man in a Yugoslavian prison island ,no its about a Jorgen Jorgenson a king of Iceland ! no .Well actually it is about all of the above this book is a wonderful mix of a mad man telling his story about his life ,then drifts into the King of Iceland in and around Hobart and the new colonies down under as they are beginning .A man who travelled to help Tito post world war two and set up the New Yugoslavia  but ends up on this prison island .The sea and build new kingdoms whether in central Europe or on the edge of the known world in 18th century Australia .

The Alexander rounds Cape Horn in October .The horizon very near , closer and closer .A wall of water advances and surges over our heads ,a single colossal wave curved like a vaulted arch close in behind the ship ; thunderous bursts shatter that  horizon raising columns of foam that crash into the sky

Sailing to Australia via the Cape

Well that’s it partly in a nutshell Magris prose are that drifting sort ,I was reminded at times of Seblad ,the way he flowed from one storyline to another also the sense of place and history of places like Sebald did so well . I was also  heavily remind of another Italian writer Diego Marini ,the fact the narrator of this book could be one or could be three  or two people ,we aren’t sure who is telling the story or even what is true and what is false of the history we are being told .Did remind me partly of the narrators in the two  Marini novels I have read that like this one get caught not knowing who they are ,but also caught between worlds .What we also see is the tales folding in on one another and the fact that in all the narratives we see the need for a safe world .Complex themes are touched on politics ,utopian dreams ,madness ,sanity .Well I will be trying more in this series of books  ,I have read two so far the first being Diary by Gombrowicz

Have you read any books from the Margellos world republic series ?

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