Happy New Year -this is a new year that was the old year

winston taken last new years day

Well it’s that time of year again New years day the time to make resolutions and plans for the coming year and also a chance  to look back and digest  how the last twelve months have gone  on the blog and reading wise for myself .

Last year was a strange one it felt for me  , I drifted in my blogging. But when I got my year-end report from wordpress I was surprised what I had done  and after reading Sue’s post .I thought well it was a busy year really and maybe I just relaxed as a blogger and gone with my natural flow .So highlights of last year was doing the two shadow juries the first was the man Asian one last January with Lisa in charge ,with matt ,sue ,mark and Fay .Then I took a leaf out Lisa’s book to start a shadow IFFP jury with Rob Lisa Mark Simon Tony and Gary .I loved doing both these and am at moment stuck in the middle of this years Shadow Man Asian jury .I also started Spanish Lit month with Richard to highlight Spanish language fiction from all round the world .That’s not to mention Henry Green week .I also loved joining Lizzie and Caroline in German lit month ,once again and the fact it brought a chance to  enjoyed a new chunk of Germanic literature .So in looking back on my year I did a lot really, made lots of new blogging friends and help promote fiction in translation which is the main aim of the blog these days.

So 2013 another year resolutions reading and blog wise ,I have debated doing a post a day and I know it be hard to keep up my job and life just isn’t able to support a post a day so my resolutions is to try to post a little more and maybe do 50 more post than last year which equates to a post every other day or so which seems achievable .I have previously tried to set reading totals but I m leaving them behind I feel my reading is at a constant level and pushing it to read more will a. spoil my enjoyment of books as I rush trough rather than saviour them ,b..do I really need to add load more books to the unreviewed pile (close to 60 books already on it ) .Another blog resolution is to try over next twelve months to clear pile of books I ve read but not covered on the blog so far ,hopefully doing a few more posts will even this out and cut the pile down .challenges I will be doing some more challenge of my own next year and joining in a few along the way I m sure I prefer month or week long  challenges to year-long ones hence I ve not signed up for any this time again .So my first challenge is Tony’s January in Japan I ve one book read and currently on my second book .

So a very happy new year to you one and all and may the year be a very bookish one for you .

Humbooks my choices for Sue


I nearly missed Emma and Guys  Humbook post and thus missed chance to join in the virtually gift books to a partner for Christmas .So when I managed to get in and was chosen to be partner with Sue from whispering Gums , who I got to know via last year’s Shadow Man Asian . So one of my choices is one I think she will love and the other is one I d like to see her view on it,because when I read it I loved it and now planning a reread so be great to compare notes  .

faces in the crowd

Faces in the crowd by Valeria Luiselli –

this is the choice I feel Sue will love  ,like I did when I read it earlier this year .It is short novella from the up and coming female Mexican writer ,A women now back in Mexico looks back on her time in New York and the fact she was working on a paper on an earlier Mexican poet ,his and her worlds blur as she starts to see him as she heads round New York .Wonderfully poetic and one I feel Sue will love she doesn’t do many translated book but I feel this is one she will really get and I know she tends to read more female writers so this is great choice .

a dead man in deptford

A Dead man in Deptford by Anthony Burgess –

I love his works and the fact that Vintage have just reissued a number of his books including this one , seemed a  great excuse to virtual gift it to  Sue as she  seems to read a few historic fiction novel than myself and this is in that style but the imagine life of Christopher Marlowe as a spy ,I really felt he capture Marlowe as a man trying to keep alive .I read this one when it came out it,sadly  was one of Burgess last novels ,I also have another  motive through gifting this to Sue ,but more about that at another time .

What books have you got for Christmas ?

My books of the Year 2012

where tigers are at home

Well I was lucky enough to be asked to name five but actually got ten books for Booktrust Translated fiction Blog so if you click over there .You can see my main choices ,but here are some others .

Honourable mentions for fiction 

When picking the books for the  Translated fiction list I tried to stick with certain places and countries thus two books I loved I didn’t mention there they are –

the flying creatures of fra angelico

The flying creatures of Fra Angelico by Antonio Tabucchi -a clever collection of quirky stories and fictional letters from the late Italian writer .


Azazeel By Youssef Ziedan – A Coptic monk struggles with his consciousness as he works on some scripts in 5th century Egypt .

Best non fiction in translation


A journey to Nowhere by Jean Paul Kaufmann -A man journey to Latvia to discover the long-lost country of Courland a small but important country in its time .

Honorable mention – brother mendels perfect horse by Frank westermann

Best memoir in translation

Lanzmann  the patagonian hare

The Patagonian  Hare by Claude Lanzmann Editor of Les Temps Modernes Sartre’s famous  lit mag ,resistance fighter in world war two, oh and he made the film Shoah as well .

Honourable  mention fictional memoir  –  A Death in the Family By Karl Ove Knausgaard

Well that’s my year .

Who is the greatest living Prose writer ?


The world cup for the greatest living Prose writer

Well as ever the backlash of the booker winner has started and it is about the comment that Peter Stothard made about Hillary Mantel being the greatest English living English prose writer (Pleased he said that because for my mind if it was world-wide she’d not be near the top ) .So the guardian have open  thread on who is the greatest English prose writer ,well I’m wanting to  go further and ask you all who is the greatest living prose writer ? I feel maybe a discussion that is less Anglo centric be interesting as I feel the best prose aren’t from english at the moment (but that may just be me so steeped in the translation ) so what are your views ? I ll throw three names in the hat to start with –

Peter Nadas – reason able to show the complexities of the human soul and sexual desire in the written word better than any one else .

Cees Nooteboom – travel writer ,prose writer ,novelist ,poet and Holland greatest living writer a jack of all trades and quite possibly a master of them all .

Goncalo Tavares – my current writer I want to read more off and champion . the Portuguese writer is push the bounds of what is fiction unlike anybody has in English for decades .

Nobel winner for 2012 in literature Mo yan

Nobel Literature prize winner for 2012 is Mo yan

He was given the for his motivation, realism , folk-tales and history .I ve yet to read Mo Yan my self but have red sorghum on my tbr pile that I ll be starting shortly and have a review of by the weekend .he is from a pheasant family left school at twelve to work in the fields ,gained his education from the Chinese army .Made his début in 1981 ,his best known book is Red sorghum that was made into a film that won an award in Berlin film festival .Franz Kafkaesque is how I ve seen him mentioned he is a  writer about rural china and the mixture of myths and supernatural world he grew up hearing from stories as a child  .He is a true rags to riches writer .

Here is his wiki page 

Here is from a recent china daily piece 

Thanks I m back slowly

I’m returning  but not fully refreshed as I had hoped ,but as many of you may know my wife has just returned home after a nine-day stay in hospital, so the time I had off from work to try to sort out  my blog and the review backlog has gone on the back-burner  .But I have learnt one thing about what is important about blogging to me  and that is the nice people I ve met via blogging  and there support over recent weeks has been wonderful via twitter and email .So I will be return this week I ve a hug backlog of books but have decide to read Proust  all in one go in December as I had planned to read him this year reading it all in one go will give me time to catch up .So  I’ve managed to read three of the booker shortlist whilst I ve been away and been making small plans for German lit month .I’ve a song that means a lot to me and Amanda here and so  What you all been up to ? I may take a while to get through all your blogs and comment please bare with me .

What Book Blogging means to me

Third day of book blogger appreciation week and todays topic is what does book blogging mean to me .Now this is a tough one I don’t really like to turn the spotlight on myself as a blogger ,as I feel well know I m not the best .My grammar is poor and maybe I could do with more depth in my reviews I feel in the three years I ve blogged thou my writing has improved .What I feel I bring to blogosphere is passion ,raw passion for world literature and translation 85% of the books on the blog are translations and many haven’t been covered on other blogs  .The blog has help me promote so many books and translators that I love .I ve connected with other bloggers with passion for world literature tonyGary ,Mark  and Max .I also made bloggers that only once in a while blog about translation to remember to put the translator down as well as the writer .Bloggers I really admire that I ve connected with people like Simon , Lisa  ,Sue and Simon .But for me the best thing of all is actually meeting fellow bloggers face to face like I have Rob ,Simon and Mark having a coffee and chatting books ,for a book bore like me these are the only ones I can really let rip about books with is my  fellow blogger .I ve also started some great meme’s,on  twitter every thursday runs #translationthurs hashtag to tell everyone what books from round the world you have been reading and it  has been up and running  for a couple of years now and gets a fair number of people joining every week  .Earlier this year I held the first Henry Green week as he is my favourite modernist writer  ,which went really well and gave Henry Green some much-needed limelight round the web .Then with Richard I hosted Spanish language literature month which we will be doing again in January as it is very hot in the summer where Richard lives .so blogging has helped a middle age man find a purpose for himself .I just hope I ve made some people want to step out side the normal reading and maybe try a translation every now and then if so I feel I’ve done a little part to promote literature in translation .As I say not great one for talking about my self sorry if this isn’t the best post but I leave you with a great song about books

BBAW 2012 Favourite blogs

Well it’s that time of year and it seems to have come around quickly this year when it is the annual book blogger appreciation week ,this is the third I ve been involved with of the five years it has been running and this time there are no awards ,which I feel is better as the awards seem to add a feeling of whose best to the week when it should be what we do well and what we can all bring to the blogging table .I ve let the blog slip lately but hope now I ve wi-fi and a better shift pattern at work for blogging to be back this winter to the blog I was a while ago .Any way too todays task and it is the yearly favourite blog question I ve picked blogs other year I ve loved and will this time but different ones as I feel some blogs I ve mentioned a few times on the blogs and others I love I ve never really mentioned .so here we go .

Tony’s reading list

Tony has been around longer than me ,we have fairly similar tastes in books and he took part in the first shadow IFFP I ran earlier this year .I love tony mix of books he mix classics and translations so well but also reads a lot of books in the original language .

Beauty is a sleeping  cat 

Caroline is such a busy blogger she runs film and war book monthly meme’s and is also doing a Antiono Tabucchi reading week in a couple of weeks I hope to take part if my library ordered book arrives in time .Caroline covers mostly European lit and lots books she reads are new to me when she reviews them .

1streading blog 

I m not sure of the bloggers name here ,but they covered a lot of this years IFFP list and also a lot of other translated fiction and are a new boy on the book blogging scene .There reviews are more in-depth than mine ever could be ,if you’re not following you should try too .

Reader in the wilderness 

Judith is based in Canada and she reads a number of german books and in october is doing the first Bernhard Schlink reading week which I am looking very much forward too .She also cover a number of modern american and Canadian writers .

Gudruns tights 

I love Anbolyn she has commented on my blog with her earlier blogs ,she reads lots classics and female writers which are two areas I don’t read a lot from  so she is my go to blog .Most recent writer she made appeal to me was Barbara Pym which when I next see a second-hand book by her I ll be buying .

Translation Why ?

I ve read Tony’s post on translation ,He kindly mentions me but I will now admit something I wonder what difference I have made and why I was mentioned in such hallowed company . I ‘ve spent two year promoting translation and building this blog and to be truthful recently my heart has gone hence lack of post last two months ,I do wonder if I get the message across and my passion because it is a passion to me   .I have reviewed two hundred translations. but feel I ve not made even made a small dent on the readers that don’t even bother reading translation I m not even at base camp yet I need to get to the peak  .This is the point where I d think of a change of direction in the past  but no actually I step back as I struggled  with my own conviction on this journey .But now with Spanish language month on the horizon  .I face the blog and twitter world with renewed excitement  and vigour .so why translation I may ask the opposite why not translation .I ve been round the world been young and  old ,in the wars ,in prison  ,in dream worlds , ancient cities ,imagined cities solved crime in the heat ,cold ,now and then .All that due to translation so hear me I will continue the battle to place a translation in every readers hand .

Great ????? novel


I decide to write a post after listening to a Guardian podcast from earlier this year ,I fallen behind with my podcast listening lately .But the podcast focused on the recent novel by Chad Harbach – the art of fielding ,this book is considered an heir to the great american novel .But maybe because it is influenced by Melville’s Moby Dick  “according to its writer .I ve not read the book but have Moby Dick ” . The fact that the so-called Great american novel may have  gone full circle and the ideas that influenced  Meville  have influenced Harbach. Maybe suggest that the great american novel is dying as the form we know spliting into other forms like Jewish american novels  ,the fact that two  books that are massive books in size ,received little or no attention ,but are on my radar and wish list the books Witz  by Joshua Cohen and The instructions by Adam Levin both complex books that maybe show american lit is moving away from the pursuit of classic Great american novel .So with the fact I feel the great european novels have maybe been written in the past Proust ,Zola ,Dickens ,Doblin ,Musil well the list is huge really but European fiction has moved away from what maybe consider the great novel for a particular country .

So what do I define as a great novel something that is part state of the nation ,part social commentary,part insight and maybe something that catches the zeitgeist .More an over view of a nation for me  Moby dick classic example a book about men ,class ,obsession and maybe america become its own nation .


Great Chinese Novel

I m sure somewhere last year I heard some one in an interview ,they said the 21st century was going to be the century of the Chinese novel .So lets start with the Great chinese novel ,any one that reads this blog ,I m sure there are a few people know I struggle with Chinese fiction ,I feel what may be classed a the great Chinese novel hasn’t been written China is so fast-moving in the last few years you feel a book that could capture the feel of one of these Mega cities .The books I have read tend to deal with social issues and the moves from country to town ,rather than a look as Chinese culture as a whole in these mega-cities and how it effect people everyday .They are great books but not what may be classed as great Chinese novel .

Great Indian novel

Now I can think of three books that may already be called great Indian novel the are midnights children ,white tiger and  a suitable girl these books are all wonderful and tackle the subjects I feel make great novels .But all have maybe still been influenced by English writing .Rather like China the urban sprawl of Indian and the complex nature of Indian society is owed a truly great novel to open it up like a post mortem on modern India   .I would love to dive into a book that let me in as a westerner  see inside these huge cities from top to bottom and also gave us an idea of the class and politics of India.

Great latin american novel

Hum some of you will be saying yes there is great fiction from Latin America .This is truE but I feel Bolano ,Mayo and  Neuman have shown the change  in fiction from latin america ,long weighted down with the feeling of having to write  Magic realism so much so that one writer felt so much this held back his fiction he killed himself  Andres Caicedo his only novel to be published next year was maybe the first Great latin American novel not classed as either Magic realism or Dictator fiction   .I finish Neuman’s  traveller to the century a wonderful book but maybe only his first step to a great Latin american novel as it was set in europe .Argentina fiction is moving  looking inward and hopefully moving slowly from their dark past to the present great writers like Figueras and Gamerro ,have both written so well on Argentina past you feel in later books they must discuss the present .I do wonder if we’ll see these books as we seem to like the books discussing the past and maybe miss books that discuss the present .

Great african Novel

Duck my head here ,I clarify I mean the great novel of Nigeria ,Ghana ,South Africa .I pick these three as the y are all countries moving forward and the great novel maybe is of a country feeling great about its self and having pride .I feel these countries are beginning to enter this and starting to show a way forward for africa as a whole moving from western ideas to African ideas .So maybe we need a great novel of africa a book that lets us see Africa through African eyes?I ve read a number of African books ,lots about villages and a few about towns but yet to see one that fills me with that feeling I ‘ve lived and learnt in these pages .

So what do you think am I just rambling or maybe is there some truth in my thoughts ?  

Where do you think the next lot of great novels will come from ?

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