Lampedusa by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta

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Lampedusa gateway to Europe by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta

Italian Memoir

Original title –  Lacrime di sale

Translator – Chenxin Jiang

Source – review copy

Its take a while to get to this book. I did stat it when I was sent it last year but it got put to one side as I got caught with other books. Which was a shame as I was enjoying the few pages I had read? The book is written by Pietro Bartolo the doctor in the Island Clinic on Lampedusa. Where he has treated and helped many of the refugees that have arrived on the coast from North Africa. He was helped by RAI journalist Lidia Tilotta in writing this book.

One red shoe on Favaloro Pier. That one shoe and so many others like it lie there, scattered like pebbles in a trail thatleads nowhere, breaking off abruptly like the migrants”hope of coming ashore in a different world. Those shoes appear in my nightmares. So do all the little pendants, necklaces, and braclets on all the tiny bodies I examine. It is my job to unzip them, one by one, from those horrible green bags.

Pietro haunt by those dead childs bodies he has to see day after day.

The book is formed of a number of short memoir pieces as Pietro as he describes the world he lives in where he runs the clinic on Lampedusa. Where he has treated and seen most of the quarter of a million refugees that have arrived on boats to this small Italian Island over the last 25 years in a growing number. From the deaths hitting home in the second piece which talks about the one read shoe that he sees on the beach. For me, it evokes the famous words from Hemingway bay shoes for sale never worn. a single read shoe is all that is shown of a life lost at sea. Then we see his own life his father and the boats they took to sea in. Two women in another tale Faduma and Jerusalem one from Somalia and the other a younger one from Eritrea as he tells there tales Faduma 37 seems much older paralyzed struck by the emotional and mental trauma of her life. Then Jerusalem 15 thinks she may be with child but thankfully this young girl tyha\t thinks she is a woman isn’t. Each is touching brutal images a bay found attached to the mother still by the umbilical cord both buried with a teddy that Pietro had put in it. One man and his island trying there best to get the best care for these new arrivals but struggling under the sheer numbers at times.

Faduma: aged thirty-seven, Somali. Jerusalem: aged fifteen, Eritrean. The list grows longer. My USB drive fills up every day with names and faces of women, some of whom are adults, other little more than children. Mothers, daughters, wives. I catalgue their names and preserve their stories with merticulousness of an archvist.

I do this because I do not want them to be forgotten. I travel all over Europe telling their stories , and I want to give each of them the space they deserve. I do not want to leave any of them put. I hope their gripping tales will help people to understand what is happening . They have certainly helped me understand what has changed over the years, and what kinds of problems we can expect to confront.

The tale of two women and their world is what Pietro is trying to keep alive when he talks to people or here has written about them.

There have been a few books about the situation in Lampedusa but this one is very touching from a man that has been at the heart of the crisis that is facing Lampedusa. The mix of his own past and the present flesh out him and those near him. This is a man that has sen a trickle of people from around the world tries to enter the promised land of Europe via boats some not even getting there in overcrowded boats or just being too worn down by getting to the coast of North Africa. Form Africa and places like Syria. His clinic has been a become of hope but as the local mortician, he sees everyone as he records all the people he has seen over the years to his USB. A crisis that hasn’t really been given the full coverage of the Horrors they have to endure. I remember the shock of the Vietnam boat people ok the journey was long but these short journeys are so dangerous and the dream isn’t there for most. I

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Jacob’s room is full of books by Susan Hill

 

Jacob's Room is Full of Books

 

Jacob’s room is full of books ( a year of reading) by Susan Hill

Lit memoir

Source – personnel copy

I think I saw a picture of this book on facebook a few weeks ago and was reminded how much I had loved her first Lit memoir Howard’s end is on the landing. Which I reviewed when it came out, a few years ago.So when I saw this followed a year of Susan’s reading. She is also a  reader that has previously Judge on the Booker prize. Susan Hill won the Somerset Maugham prize and is best known for Woman in Black and her crime series Simon Serrailler.

The hound of the Baskervilles is the best of all Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Other people might pick other stories, and it is surprising, given their lasting and worldwide popularity, how few of these there actually are, though Conan Doyle wrote plenty of other things .

Sherlock Holmes has become not just a Victorian detective in a series of short novels and stories ,he has become one of those iconic literary figures who take on a life of their own, out of context of their books.

I agree with this , i love the lines about the Lord running and his heart bursting in Hound !!

Now like the earlier book we see a year of what Susan Hill reads, I found this an interesting insight into a reader’s life. But also I discovered a reader that like me at times can go off at a tangent like reading one spy novel then three more straight after that. Also the insight into how writers drift in and out of fashion, she mentions reading C P Snow a writer who I have been collecting his strange and brother series of novels, which have dropped out of fashion. There is also insights into books like Stoner those books that grow by word of mouth. Great, she mentioned Embers an old book that was also a huge word of mouth and a bonus a translation. She also rereads a number of book. Where she shows how books change over time and we view them different every time we read them.

During the Last Man Boooker prize I judged, we had heated arguments, and the Late Ion Trewin, most loved of bookmen, had almost to wade in and separate one or two of us.But when we had decided on the shortlist, we then asked him to tell us how many novels by woman we had selected and to give us the break down on which publishers had books on the shortlist. We genuinely had no idea about either because neither had been relevant.

The  last line got me they matter of sex of the writer not being relevant is spot on it is the words .

Now this is yet another lit Memoir , but I liked ita lot.  For me as a reader these type of books are almost like a palate cleanser between books or a spa break that leaves me refreshed for new challenges and discoveries. Now I do have one little quibble with Susan’s reading that is in a year of reading about a hundred books that only six of them were Translations, it was also noted that she lists a group of writers she hasn’t read Kafka, Pamuk , Knausgaard and Svevo among them she noes a lot aren’t english, but also all were male. I could write a list of female writers I haven’t read but I felt maybe she had lost something by not trying these writers especially Pamuk and Knausgaard both great chroniclers of their times and worlds. I also agree with Lisa who noted that there maybe has been a few to many lit memoirs in recent years. But this is a vibrant look at one readers life and one that has been inside publishing and books for most of her life so know’s what she likes , just love her to try a few more translations.

 

 

A year on winstons legacy

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Well today sees a year since I lost my dear boy , my beloved hound Winston , hence this blogs name  winstonsdad . I could have change the name over the last year I have change a few things title colour and from today a new tagline but the name is here to stay forever as is this blog I won’t ever stop blogging about books in translation  . I have had a tough twelve months blogging wise but I feel this last two months I have started to get back  into a routine which is something I had lost for about a year .But I feeel that was maybe the six year itch of the blogging world and has passed  .I do post a lot but to me I had let the standard of this blog slip and not been an active blogger even twitter has become quieter place for me . But I am trying to get back to a few years ago .So people still even a year on know who winston was he was a big part of my world in bring you all the world of books .Thanks to all those that helped with the go fund I did as well .It touched me to see so many folks care .

 

Women in translation Month a sneak peek at what I’m doing

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Now here is the first pic of five books that have already been read ready for Women in translation month . This selection includes the much talked about The vegetarian bu HanKang , a trio of interlinking stories from Korea . Then we get two new to english writers from France Emilie de Turckheim book Heloise is bald , about a girl growing up in love with the doctor that was at her birth .Then there is  by Helle Helle book this should be written in the present tense follows a student falling of the rails in great detail .The we have the second book by Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen a story of two lives during world war two . Then there is Lenora a sort of bridge between my Spanish lit month and next months Women in translation by Meytal from Biblibio  as it is a spanish translation the story of Lenora Carrington the English surrealist painter that lived in Mexico by Elena Poniatowska . So they are in the pipeline read and ready to go next month . I now have a few possible books no firm plans yet but as I am in a purple patch of reading an blogging I can’t see why I cannot read another five books next month .

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A selection of woman writers from my shelves some of these and maybe a few others will be joining the first five books two writers I want to add are Faiza Guene one brightest french talents and also Maguerite Yourcenar one best women writers in French in the 20th century . I also have not pictured a second book by Clarice lispector that Amanda brought me . As I looked today through my shelves I was surprised how many books by woman in translation I had (There is at least another 20 plus books on my shelves ) .I felt I didn’t take the first women in translation to serious as for me it is a case of  subdividing a topic of more books in English in translation to a smaller topic of women in translation to my mind getting more books translated will lead to more female writers being translated as we only translate 4% of the total books published we maybe need get the figure up as a whole . But this year I want to join in more as they are all books in translation and that is all this blog is doing these days .I look forward to seeing what others review this month , what have you in mind ?

 

 

Yeats Day

W B Yeats book

Well its a double hit this week of Irish writer days today is the 150th annivesary of the birth of William Butler Yeats .I first came across Yeats at school he is one of the few Poets I have actually like from reading the first poem by him which I was The Magi . I brought the above copy about twenty years ago and have read it few many times .This collection was sorted and put together by Yeats himself so I found it maybe a choice of what he considered his best work and for me that is good enough my copy came out in 1938  .Then later in the week we have this years Bloomsday .

The Stolen Child

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

I choose the first two verses of Stolen child as it ties in with a song version of the poem from the Waterboys . It is also worth checking out there album of songs from his poems a n appointment with Mr Yeats .

Have you a favourite  poem by him

 

Hello I’m back and lets get ready to blog

Now why start this post with Hitler as potrayed by Bruno Ganz .Well whilst I’ve been away ok my mind was elsewhere .I sadly lost my wonderful stepmother last week , but was thankful for the time spent with her and my dad more than in recent years , then this last weekend I rested and started turnong my mind back to the blog .But also to as Simon of Savidge reads does ever so often a state of the blog post came to mind .Partly set  on this track by reading The Ogre by Michel Tournier a 1970 Prix Goncourt winner .I remember the early days of this blog when I read just books I found and read everything I could lay my hands on at the Library .This lead to my blog maybe having the widest range of books in its early years , recently I feel as thou I ran out of steam I let things go I loved .Things I started I have let slip when I should be running and curating these things . I started both translation thurs on twitter and the shadow iffp both of which I have let slide this last year . I will be bringing t the fun back to this blog and to me in general I feel a weight has been lifted something in the back of my head that had been on my mind for over a year has gone now so I can set my body and soul  back on the blog . I started with Bruno Ganz as this is  clip well-known a clip to break free of being a world cinema film , like Je’t Aime by Serge Gainsbourg or Lisbeth Salander from Steig Larsson books . All these have broken out of the groove . Why well to me they appeal to something in all of us a base instinct  , not to a critical discussion on lit in translation , world cinema or world music . No they grab you Bruno Ganz as the angry Hitler losing control appeals as we would maybe love to get that angry or even to blow our tops that way , hence the number of spoof videos around the net .Serge singing we would all love to be the lover like him , or the blood and guts like Lisbeth . That is what I need to do not say how this book is in a large scheme of literature or discussion of the finer points of its merit” no” , there is plenty of quality magazines or books out there . I have a number books in this line western canon etc and  I get the LRB . But no to me the point of this blog is to be like that annoying kid in class that always had the latest music, that at time you went it isn’t for me , but then went home listen to and went damm this guy is in the loop . A cheerleader for translation anything but a bloody bore on the place of a book hell who the hell am i to say that  about it !! sorry I feel I was heading this way my reviews have been boring and maybe me just doing the motions , I not been trying to have fun to worried about word counts and maybe trying to seem like I know what I am on about , I don’t always 500 books in every book to me is still an adventure and an escape maybe I not been putting that across enough .So let’s go discover books together , lets find lists of great books around the world and start a collective cheer around the world .I will allow the feel shadow IFFP announce the winner tomorrow as I feel my part is to small this year to do it

Winston’s books of the year

Well its been a bumper year and I always find picking my books of a year hard so here we go with 12  from what I’ve read the year .of course there is many more I would have added but a dozen  seems a good number and  the dozen I chosen have challenge me in some ways and maybe pushed me as a reader .I also include a similar book this year on each book .

1.Heaven and hell / The sorrow of angels by Jon Kalman Steffanson

The first two books of a trilogy of novels that I finally got to read this year set in Iceland follow a young man’s journey through Iceland ,.Both these need two readings by myself but in the end I feel in love with Stefansson poetic vision of the world . also butterflies in November by Audur ava Olafsdottir

SOrrow of angels

2 The search warrant by Patrick Modiano

Well a quick jump in his betting before winning the Nobel prize prompt me to try the only book that was readily available at the time . A man trace a young Jewish woman’s journey during the war , but also finds intersections with his own life .Great that he won the Nobel so now we can get more of his book to read ! also The safety net By Heinrich Boll

 

 

 

 

3 Zone by Matihas Enard

Zone follows a man’s train journey through Italy as he remembers how europe fell apart and how he has in his case the secrets to this and the chance to redeem himself by selling this to the vatican also the tower by Uwe Tellkamp

zone_cover

4 The corpse washer by Sinan Antoon

A gem discovered via this years IFFP prize a young man in Iraq’s dreams shattered as he returns to his father’s career as a corpse washer during the war . also The Iraqi christ by Hassan Blasim

The Corpse Washer

5 The ingenious gentleman and poet Federico Garcia Lorca ascends into hell by Carlos Roja

Well it wins the title for the longest title this year a clever novel that follows the spanish poet Lorca through hell as he relived parts of his life .also The sermon on the fall of Rome by Jerome Ferrari

Carlos Rojas the ingenious gentleman and poet Federico Garica Lorca ascends to hell

6 Bilbao – New York – Bilbao by Kirmen Uribe

A writer think ing about his novel he is writing about growing up in a small fishing port on a flight to New york . A clever ode to a dying world of his family and their fishermen lives . also A notebook by Agota Kristoff

 

 

7 A french novel by Frederic Beigbeder

Auto fiction a story of a night after he won a prize and was arrested and then remembering the relationship he has had with his brother . also Liveforever by Andres Caciedo

a french novel

8 The false apocalypse by Fatos  Lubonja

The collapse that followed capitalism dawning in Albania is captured and told on the national and personnel level by one of the leading minds in the country . also Sworn Virgins by Elvira Drones

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9 The Neruda case by Roberto Ampuero

A young solider is enlist by the great Chilean poet to trace the woman in Neruda’s life to find out what happened to them a journey that takes him around the world . also twilight of the eastern gods by Ismail kadare

10 Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop -Phane

Well I am on the cover of this book quote a woman sits in  a hotel as the flotsam and jetsam of the local city sleep with her we hear her story and their stories .also The people in the photo by Helene gestern

zenith hotel cover

11 Dead lake by Hamid Ismailov

The story of a man that stayed a child after swimming a lake in the former soviet unions hinterland .Also Solar plexus by Rustam Ibragimbekov

the dead lake

12 Harraga by Boualem Sansal

Two women bought together in a house one young a modern arab woman the other dreamy and quiet a typical arab woman see the changing world of Algeria outside them .also Barbarian spring by Jonas Luscher

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Hot chops in space and burnt moby dick the world of book stunts

Well in the space of 24 hours the net has been alive with two books stunts of course book stunts have been about for years , from Georges Simenon once wrote a book whilst sealed in a glass box .The stunts in last two days have seen the wonderful Nikesh Shukla doing a stunt by sending a tandoori lamb chop into space to promote his book Meat space which I reviewed and I still think is one best comic looks at the internet and how people interact with it in the modern age .A fun way to highlight a great book .

The second stunt is worrying as it sees James Patterson burning books to highlight the drop in reading in the US , now the cause is right like the UK people read fewer books than they once did , from my own knowledge the main problem in the US is diverse literature for kids , it is hard to identify with books if the people you read about aren’t the same as you , well I could say maybe more books from the Spanish-speaking world for kids translated may help and more African fiction .What got me is him burning good books , his own well I know people love him, but for me he has become the Andy Warhol of fiction , he has ideas gets others to write the book on the whole and then puts his name on the cover .I wish someone would do a stunt like this that gets the papers attention to translated fiction !! Maybe I need to think up some mad idea ?

How would you get people reading books , it is an eternal question how often do you see a book on tv shows ? Now libraries are closing here I worry how the next generation will get on .

 

1000 posts not out

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I love milestones on the blog ,but also worry getting  near to them. But today sees a big one a 1000 posts have been  featured on the blog it has only taken Five years and five months to reach this point I remeber being blown away years ago when my friend Rob or robaround the books reached this point .well  for me what has changed in those fiver years well a lot really I’d struggle to get a couple of hundred words written on a book five years ago now I tend to write seven to eight hundred words on a book .I have also started the wonderful #translationthurs meme via the blog that happens every week on twitter  and has even made a cover of a book .I also started a shadow jury for the IFFP orize , which has seen me attend the prize for a number of year ,something that which out the blog I wouldn’t have done .people I have meet many wonderful people bloggers , writers ,translators and even publishers .I have in my way discovered the writer in me as I find it easier to write about things now than I  used to year ago , still not great on grammar and maybe find it hard to find the right word sometimes but it is a lot easier than it was .Confidence is another thing I have gained in myself , I feel that is the main thing that I have gained in speaking about books in translation I have been able to gain a voice in other parts of my life .I can’t wait to reach another milestone probably a thousand reviews only 499 more to go !!

German lit Month 2014

Well I ‘ve been slow in my German reading this year usually I’m on the ball as German lit is one of my favourite to read  ,but I’ve had so much arrive this last month I’ve just not got as many as I have read as I  other years ready but I have  five books read already so I ‘ve some read to get the ball rolling for 2014 .This year again we have a set of weeks to follow so I ‘ll try and squeeze my books into them , I ‘m just back after a week off blogging and have a lot of books to cover so my German lit month this year will be less than other years but here is what I have read –

The safety net by Heinrich Boll

The Glory of life by Michael Kumpfmuller

A price to pay by Alex Capus

Amok by Stefan Zweig

All quiet on the western front by Erich Maria Remarque

and am currently reading

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Raw Material by Jorg Fauser

The legend of the holy drinker by Joesph Roth

Now in reserve are these books

IMG_2003What have you read or are hoping to read this time round ?

 

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