Love in the Big city by Sang Young Park

Love in the Big city by Sang Young Park

South Korean fiction

Original title –  (대도시의 사랑법)

Translator – Anton Hur

Source – Personal copy via subscription

This was one of the last books I read at the end of last year I subscribed the last April to Tilted Axis I am looking to join other subscriptions but this was my first and as they are locally based in Sheffield it was an easy choice to pick them also the books they have brought out this year so far are ones that appealed to me as they cover a broad area of subjects and countries around Asia. This was the one that caught my eye mainly due to the cover it is the debut release in  English by the New star of Korean fiction Snag Young Park. He was born in Daegu, which is an interview I saw with him he described as a conservative city he went to Sungkyunkwan University to Study French ( the same as the Narrator of this book ) He said he felt more at home in the cosmopolitan Seoul where he now lives this is his first book to be translated to English although some of his short stories have been translated and are among the most on words without borders website.

Things moved along quickly after Jaehee announced her marriage. For the three months before the weddin, I got to witness how shitty it was for a man and a woman in Korean society to unite as One family, which made me cease resenting the fact I couldn’t even dream of marriage. Not that I was confident it wasn’t jealousy,

Meanwhile, Jaehaee had a whole lot of things she needed from me. Her promotion came with a murderous workload, and with her future husband being largely absent from the preparations, I was her stadin groom.I accompanied her to the bridal shop, to the hanbok shop, to interior design firms and so on, helping her pick things out

The end of their time together is come close.

Our narrator in this novel or interlinking story collection the book grew out of one story follows the narrator from his years as a student where he shares an apartment with his good friend Jaehee as they experience the nightlife and the men they meet one of the things I discovered is putting cigarettes in the freezer, I wonder what difference this made to the Malboro a brand I did smoke when I smoked it made me wonder what the sensation was like. I often go off on little tangents like this what we get in the first part is a student life free wild and as these things are ends this happens when the two drift apart when she meets a man. Then we see our narrator heading home and looking after his mother a devout Christian and at this time he also has a relationship with an older man. The next story follows Kyu-ho and our narrator this is his big love affair they travel to Japan as But as a past lover reveals an HIV diagnosis or as he calls it Kylie this overshadows the couples happiness and his life with Kyu-ho as it restricts travel options and ultimately has a long term effect on their relationship.

I first met Gyu-ho at what’s now a defunct gay club in Itaewon it was Chuseok and they were having an all you can drink Tequilla event. Not having a family to join for Chuseok- being a certified unnatural focused in bringing shame to the family ( not much has changed since then) and genrally stuck in poverty (yup, still)_ I could hardly afford to pass up such an opportinity. I left the foloewing mesage in out group chat:

Hey guys theres an unlimited teguilla eent at G today

See you all there.

How he meet the main romance and relationship in the book Gyu-ho one what is the equivilant of Korea thanksgiving

I don’t read a lot of LGBT books well not enough is translated into English, so it is great to see some new voices getting translated into English the beauty of the book is in Anton Hur’s translation he has given it a clarity that must be in the original version of the book, our narrator live pops of the page but it is also an insight into the LGBT world of Korea which although open in Seoul this shows that there is an undercurrent of Homophobia and what faces most modern people loneliness our Narrator is a character but at its heart, there is a man trying to find his way in the world as we all our but also dealing with his feeling with his black Humour cutting at times. This is the first of my subscription and one of the best books |I read last year I hope to see it on the Man booker list let’s hope. Have you a favourite LGBT book that has been translated? How has your new year reading started ?

Winstons score – +A simply brilliant one of the strongest narrators I have read in years.

The Lying LIfe of Adults by Elena Ferrante

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Italian Fiction

Original tilte – La vita bugiarda degli adulti

Translator – Ann Goldstein

Source – copy for blog tour

 

I don’t often sign up for a blog tour but when approached to do one for the Cheltenham Literary festival it was always going to be a yes as the theme is reading the world which is something I always do here. But then I had no idea what the book was till it arrived at the house. So when the latest book by Elena Ferrante dropped on the doorstep of Wintonsdad towers.  I was in two minds as I hadn’t been bowled over by her. As in the past, I had read the first and last book in the Neapolitan series. I was also one to avoid hype and the time the first book came out My Brillant friend was everywhere in the blogosphere so I left reviewing it. There is still the question of who Ferrant is I love that even after all this success she or he or they has stayed hidden from the limelight in a way it has attracted me more to them as a writer as it shows they are in it for the writing. And  I am always willing to try again with a writer I hadn’t got on with a second chance and this time it was the right choice it is a standalone novel set in the Naples of the 90s and follows three teen years of Giovanna’s life. A coming-of-age novel.

Two years before leaving home my father sid to my morther that I was ver ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath, in the apartment that my parents new,y married, had brought at the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri, in Rione Alto. Eveything – the spaces of Naples, the blue light of a frigid February, those words – remained fixed. But I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing,nothing of my own, nothing that has really begn or really been brought to completion: only a tangled knotm and nobody, not even the one who at the moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering, without redemption

The opening lines told in retrospective by Giovanna years after the event.

The book starts with the 13-year-old Giovanna hearing at the crack of a door her father says she was Ugly and becoming more like his sister Vittoria. This is the first thing she has heard of a family. Her parent’s successful couple life up the hill in Naples in a middle-class area. She loves and has her father as her idol so when she hears this it sets her on a path to first find out why her father compared her to the auntie she knew nothing about and after much persuasion, she is allowed to meet her aunt and this leads to the discovery of her parent’s origins a working-class neighborhood and a family of aunts and uncles that she never knew existed and the Aunt at once enthralled and vibrant draws the young girl in and shows her the working class place her family was from. But then she sees her in the way her father does over time. Add to this her parents start to unravel over this time and drift apart. Giovanna also blossoms over this time and discovers boys. Add to that the truth behind a family Heirloom this is a glimpse into three years that will change her life forever.

I learned to lie to my parents more and more. At first I didn’t tell real lies, but since I wasn’t strong enough to oppose their always well-ordered world, I pretended to accept it while at the same time I cut out for myself a narrow path that I could abandon in a hurry if they merely darkened. I behaved like that especilly with my father, even though his every word had in my eyes a dazzling authority, and it was exhausting and painful to try ti deceive him.

fter she meets Vittoria she has to start telling lies to her parents as she is drawn into a new world.

It is fair to say this impressed me more than the other two books by Ferrante I have read. I have always been a fan of Bildungsroman works those important teen years are the years that we become the adults we can be and here we have so many threads it makes the story more than that. First is why did her father call her Ugly like Vittoria and was that the right term to use. Why did the parents hide this other family this is all about Class and how they tried to escape their past and class moving to San Giacomo when they married a middle-class place far removed from the home. Add to this a girl discovering herself as all this goes on it and also falling in love for the first time as her family falls apart. Then there is the other character to this book the city Naples as in her other books this is a story of a city of class and the city about how people move on. A story that isn’t just a Naples story but it is told so well by Ferrante her love for her home city of Naples that always leaps of the page. Has it converted me to Ferrante well I will try some of her other stand-alone works? What are your thoughts about Ferrante?  Do you read the world?

Winstons score –  A – a brilliant coming-of-age novel with family secrets at its heart!

 

Kafka’s Prague by Jiří Kolář

Kafka’s Prague by Jiří Kolář

Czech art/literature non fiction

Original title – Kafka’s  Praha

Translator – Ryan Scott

Source – review copy

Jiří Kolář is one of those people that had many strings to his bow as a person, poet, writer visual artist, and political activist. He was a founder member of th Skupina 42 group of writers and artists that included the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. He did many jobs over his life early on in the communist regime he was arrested and imprisoned for one of his manuscripts he later when the Prague spring happened was a member of a group of artists that meet regularly in the Cafe Slavia this included from Czech Leader Vaclav Havel but when the regime change he went to live in exile and this is where this work was originally published by the exile publishing house Index in Germany.  the book is in two sections the first called responses is a sort of interview about Kolar and his beliefs the second is a collection of Kafka quotes and visual art in the form of crumbled photos to go with each quote of famous views in Prague.

I wrote a musical score named for Baudelaire ` because the majority of sound poets, didn’t know how to express themselves other than as cabaret artists. Only a few of them managed to surpass the Dadaist, such that almost all of their magnetic tape has seemed to me merely a recording of their own recital, or more precisely, of a recital of their “products From the outset Mallarme in mind. Perhapsin him lay the starting oint and solution: to make poetry through music – to write a musical scroe for a recital – recitation of a single word ! obviously I canot deny the influnece of specific music, especially several americans and others in the age of contemporary musical experimentation, the image suddely wanted to be read anew and moreover, heard. Most musical compositions require esembles and a conductor to interpret them – I was working with this objective in mind.

He writer music poems art so talented her is one of his responses .

The first part of the book is a series of vignettes about art, writers, and the world. Then the world of art and science is questioned, with questions such as does art expand our knowledge, digressions like did einstein go to this exhibition. The view of Poets like Baudelaire with a piece about hypocrisy and a piece called the “Hypocrite reader- fellowman – my twin” Meditation and art. Too his own art how it used be surrealism and then changed after the war and over time his world view changed he became Avant garde. Baudelaire crops up he was disappointed with the sound poets so he chose to write music about the poet. Then the second part of the book he takes a number of images of Prague that he has used a technique called crumplage that he made new images out of the old buildings of Prague along the side of these new images he uses a quote from Kafka most of which are perfect companions to the images.

It is not that you are buried in a mine and the masses of stone separte you, a weak individual, from the world and its light, but instead you are outside and want to penetrate to the person who has been buried and are powerless against the stonesm and the world and its light make you even more powerless

Postumous writings and Fragments Kafka

14  crumplage from Kolar.

This is something leftfield for mand the blog. e but I love that Kolar was a figure at the heart of the group of writers in the early 40s and then in the Prague spring than was a strong voice of resistance in his years of Exile so this is a work from an important figure in modern Czech history as ever with twisted spoon it s wonderfully presented the crumplage prints tie so well with the bilingual Kafka quotes on each page symmetry to them in his choice of the pairing of quote and art. This is partly an insight into Kolar’s mind and the world around him the first part sees him looking at art and himself as a sort of interview without questions vignettes insightful and questioning without questions. Then we have his art the art that he pastes after destroying the images to create something new and this may be a way to provoke a feeling of unease and oddness in the images. A collection unable to be seen in Czechslovakia at the time it came out. A homage to the hometown and its best-known writer Kafka a man that they used in the letters at the time a figure that spurred them on when in Prison. A powerful insight into art and the artist view of the world

Winstons score – B thought-provoking and with insightful art and quotes.

 

 

That was the month that was September 2021

  1. But you did not come back by marceline Loridan-Ivens
  2. Come with me by Nicola Viceconti
  3. To see the night out by David clerson
  4. Drilling through Hard Boards by Alexander Kluge

Well, it was a short month on the road for the blog over the course of this month I ran out of steam mid-month. This month we started with a memoir of the last time a little girl saw her father in Auschwitz then tells the story of what happened after based on the writer’s real life. Then a man finds a note from a girl he knew forty years earlier in the  Paris of 1968 which sends him on a journey to find out what happened to her in the years in between. Then we have a collection of short stories from the Quebec writer David Clerson, whose debut novel I loved. The stories see a man feel like an ape is growing in him a hidden underground city and a surreal story of a headless dog and its owner. Then a return visit from a favorite german writer Alexander Kluge a series of stories with a political feel to them on the whole like his over collection they build pictures and make the readers think.

Book of the month

To See Out THe Night by David Clerson

I loved Brother his debut novel so when this arrived I knew I would love it and I did it had that same tongue-in-cheek and dark humor brothers had and also a surreal tinge to them that I enjoyed which is great as I am not a great fan of Short stories.

Non book events

Well I had a holiday but I am doing a separate post about that in the next week or so. So other things I have enjoyed there is a new series on talking pictures, well new is wrong as it old series from the early 1970s but Justice starring Margaret Lockwood in her younger days was in the Lady vanishes stars a female Barrister in a northern town it has that small-town feel small cases with attitudes that are out of time but show how much things have moved on in recent years.  I also signed up for the collection of Dylan records that are coming out fortnightly for the next couple of year I have most of them on cd but decide to get them on vinyl as it sounds so much better on vinyl. The first two arrived last week and I listen to them a couple of times already.

Next month

I feel more in a blogging mood a good break and a few good reads on Holiday. I am also looking forward to the 1976 club this month I have a few books ready to read for this. I am also doing a blog tour. I need to catch up. What are your plans for this month ?

 

Come with me by Nicola Viceconti

Come with me Nicola Viceconti

Italian fiction

Original title – Vieni Via

Translator – Laura Bennett

Source – review copy

I have reviewed one book from the new publisher Aspal Prime that has here a prize-winning Italian novel from the writer-poet and sociologist Nicol Viceconti a writer of over ten books. A lot of his works have focussed on Latin America where he has worked particularly in Argentina where he was award an honor by the people of Buenos Aires and was called an Italian with an Argentina soul. He likes to travel and has a real interest in Human rights his writing has been called Novelas por la identidad”  which means in search of identity here it is an old professor looking at his past as he hunts an old flame.

Someone had taken Irina to Vladivostok, away from me forever. What if that was really happed, I wondered in a low voice.

Even just the vey thought of this theory sent a shiver down my spine. I dropped the coat on the floor and, still clutching the note in my hand, sank into the chair ]. I closed my eyes and fell back into the seat. I began to wonder about what had haoopend to her. While my eyes followedthe words from one side of the paper to the pther. I heard their sound, as if she was saying them. Suddenly eveything had imagined about her vainshed, bursting like a bubble.

The note is found is his imagined version of what happened right or was it different

Eighty-year-old franco Solfi had completely forgotten about a young Russian girl he had met in the sixties when he was a communist in Paris and not as tainted as he was now.  when she disappeared he thought she had died Irina. But when he finds an old note, that had been left for him in a coat he hadn’t used since that time and the discovery is like a Proustian Madeline as it reignites something he had forgotten.  he is convinced it is a sign and decides to go on a journey to discover what happened to Irina a journey that goes into the past and mix history the cold war and these two peoples journeys as he first goes to Paris and then into what was Irina Homeland as he tries to discover the truth about what happened all those years ago was it was he imagined was all that it seemed at the time as this is a flip of being a communist in the Paris and living under communism in the sixties in Russia the trip will take him to Moscow then through to Siberia and then even to Mexico city. Will he find out if Irina is alive will the present heal the past?

I decided to travel by tain for two reasons: on the one hand I wanted to enjoy the landscape of Europe I had almost forgotten on the other, I needed to give myself the time needed to reflect on some episodfes of my life spent with Irina, A thrity six hour journey seemed to take stock of the situation before I suddenly found my self catapulted into the past.

I have always lived travelling by train. I must have inherited the passion for it frommy uncle Renato, my father’s brother, who spent fifty years of his life as a train driver on the line that went from Rome to the lake as Castel Gandolfo. It was the fifties and to the delight of romans, this, one of the most scenic routes in central Italy had recently been open.

He heads into his past as he tries to foind put what happened to Irina all those years ago.

One of the things I have found over the years is there are so many books not translated you only have to look at the blog the untranslated that covers those gems that have yet to find a translator or have been signed up and never got to us in English so many great books await us so we have books like this a writer that has published a number of books but given his style which is a mix of Latin American and Italian in his style. this book finishes in Mexico and this is all parts that he wanted to bring into the bok the militants of the sixties a certain type of Italian that is marked by Franco then he wants to touch on certain events in Mexico in the 40s, 50s and 60s and then he wanted to use Irina as a way of connecting all these ideas as we follow Franco as he looks for her and in a way discovers what happened to make him the disillusioned 80 years old he is on a quest a short of Odessey into the truth. This is another perfect example of why small publishers do such a great job.

Winstons Score – B is a gem about one man’s journey into his past

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Japanese fiction

Original title – Chikyu Seijin

Translator – Ginny Tapley Takemori

Source – personal copy

I got this book last week for my birthday i had given Amanda a list of books that I thought maybe on Tuesday’s booker longlist and this was one of two Japanese novels this was one the other was Breast and Eggs which if it is on the list Tuesday i will get otherwise it will be a while before I get to that one anyway back to this the second book by Sayaka Muruta to be translated into English the first Convenience store women was a hit and one of those books I didn’t read due to the hype but this had been on my radar mainly because I loved the cover art which in fact relates to the book. Sayaka Murata grew up reading sci-fi and mystery novels from her family see even started to write a novel when she was 14. Finally publishing a novel when she was 24 she has published 11 books so far winning one of Japan’s biggest book prizes Akutagawa prize for her book convenience store women. Her books deal with Family, sex, celibacy, asexual relationships, and sci-fi elements.

I took Piyyut out of my bag. He loked like a white hedgehog plush toy, but actually he was an emissary sent by the magic police on Planet Popinpobopia. Piyyut had given me the magic wand and mirror to help meuse my maigical powers, I explained.

“Wow, Natuski, thats amazing” YUu said, his face serious. “It’s thank to you protecting the earth that we’re living in peace”

“Right”

“HEy. What sort of place is that Planet Popinpo- What’s it called again?”

“Popinpobopia. I don’t know really. Piyyut said it was secret.

“OH”

She is given magic powers to help save the earth by the plush to that is an emissary from another planet.

The novel is told from the point of view Natsuki she grows up spending her summers with her family in the remote mountains with their grandparents in the WIld Nagano Mountains and also there is her Family her Aunt and Uncle and her cousin Yuu. it is during these summers she buys what Piyyut which she thinks at the time is a white hedgehog toy but he is really an alien from the planet Popinpobia to give Natuski magic powers to save the earthlings. What follows is an account of her youth which has two events that shape her future and that of her family the first is abuse from a teacher that sexual abuses her and the other is a sexual awakening alongside her cousin Yuuwhich they are caught meaning the family unit is split and they stop talking to the aunt and Uncle. So when many years later when she is trapped in the city she describes it as a baby-producing factory and she is stuck in a sexless marriage. As she is driven to go back to the mountains this leads to a reunion with her cousin and also the secrets of her youth breaking through the loss of family she missed the after ripples of the kissing and sex with her cousin in her youth. This leads to a shocking end to the journey through the book.

I once asked my husband why he’d registered at Surinuke dot.cpm. “I thought it was written into our contract not to pry into that”, he said, clearly uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry, that was out of order. I didn’t mean to infringe on our contract>”

“No it’s okay. I feel suprisinglu relaxed talking with you. Natsuki.”

It wasn’t that my husband had no interest in sex. Instead he thought it wasn’t something to do rather something to observe. He enjoyed watching, but he was apparantly disgusted by the notion of touching and being touched by someone else who was discharging fluid. Another problem my husband had was that he hated working. This was obvious in his behacviour at work, so he found it hard to hold a job down.

Her advert and contract husband isn’t all she had hoped for at times.

I am not a huge sci-fi fan as you may know but this uses the sci-fi to drive the narrative and also to point things out. This is studio Ghibli if they let the writers from Law and order special victims unit had written it this uses the sci-fi element as a sugar coating to the horrors of sexual abuse from a teacher which then leads her fumblings with Yuu which then leads to suicide and a family break up these events then lead to her marriage and the events at the end of the book. Murata manages to tackle the subjects subtle and with a uniquely Japanese take on events Piyyut is like a Pokmon character manga creation, then things like advertising for her husband in a very Japanese way the loneliness of the city, and being friendless as a teen the knock-on effect of abuse is seen. A powerful work Natsuki is the flip of those lonely males of Murakami’s novels a female perspective on modern Japanese life. Have you read this book or her first book ?

Winstons score  -A an unusual book

Birthday books and other arrivals

I’ve had a busy last three days was meant ot be off for my birthday but ended doing a couple of hours of work helping to cover lunch breaks for my colleagues on a couple of days off. Then with the other day off the boiler was playing up so the plumber came round but it took most of the day for him to come so I haven’t read much as I have taken Amanda on a couple of drive out round chesterfield and a little in the peaks and had a couple of walks as she is fed up of being at home as she is shielding through corona any way I’ll be back to reviews on tues. I have quickly done a couple of stop-gap posts for the next few days first some book porn lol.

The first two books I got for my birthday one from Amanda and the other from my in-laws. Both are ones I think maybe on the booker list at the end of the month. One a Japanese novel following a woman looking back on events in the countryside in her youth. The other is an Arabic book prie winner who follows six people’s stories in an unnamed Arab country talking about their lives and it is from Oneworld a publisher that has had a few books on the list recently.

Next three books I’ve been sent You’re not dying won the German book prize in 2009 nine and is a novel following a woman’s recovery from a life-changing illness and she rebuilds her life. Andrea Victrix is a Catalan dystopian novel about a man waking after being frozen for 85 younger than he was in 1965 when he was frozen in time what will he make of 2050? Then the latest in Penguin quest to bring out all the books from Simenon this latest is a man covering for his wandering wife. I have reviewed a number of books from him and have a number more to review over time from here.

I love Nordisk cover art here is their latest tale of a couple that both work at the same paper that sleeps together one night  is a critic the other a journalist. As we see the aftermath of that event.

Then a pile of books I have brought myself Caverva from Juan Filloy one of the lost gem of Argentinean writer I have reviewed another book by him but this one appealed as well, The Snapshot Claudio Magris is a collection of short prose pieces that he wrote for an Italian newspaper for a number of years. Then  Alain Mancklu latest is set in his homeland and home town but in the seventies, I have enjoyed every book I have read by him over the years. Alindarka’s children follow two children in a camp as the leader tries to turn them into Russian instead of speaking the native language Belarusian.I saw this reviewed somewhere and it appealed to me. The last is from Istros the Fig tree follows the post-war life of the family of Jadran that follows it from the fifties the early years of Tito to the break up of Yugoslavia and the aftermath of this.

Other arrivals is the latest Viynl from the wedding present a collection of their hits rerecorded semi acoustically over the lockdown. One my favorite bands I love this album. Also a cd from former Nick Cave guitarist Mick Harvey. An album with Mick Harvey and C R Barker of the poetry of Edgar Bourchier a touching collection of poems set to music evoke world war 1.  What have you brought or got sent recently guys?

 

That was the month that was Sept 2020

  1. The marvel of Biographical bookkeeping by Francis Nenik
  2. Fire Doesn’t burn by Ralf Rothmann
  3. Venice The Lion, the city and the Water by Cees Nooteboom
  4. Texts by Helmut Heißenbüttel
  5. Journey through a tragicomic century  by Francis Nenik
  6. At the end of the night by Friedo Lampe
  7. The Great Homecoming by Anna Kim

I have only managed seven reviews this month which means I have fallen behind in trying to get to 100 reviews for the year. But I just seemed to have lost a bit of love of reading the last few months and also a  loss of a routine for blogging If I miss a day or two with doing long shifts it turns into four or five days between reviews. Anyway, there was a strong Germanic feel to this month as all the books were from German bar one the Cees Nooteboom. otherwise there were five from Germany and one from Austria. I am trying to get to 100 reviews of german books. I am now on 79 books which is 6 nearer the total. This month starts with a connection in letters between to poets, then a couple with mid-life crisis problems and an age gap. Then We visit Venice with Cees Nooteboomin his love of the city. Then Experimental work from german and then the second book from Francis Nenik the strange life of Hasso Grabner. Then a banned modernist novel and lastly a germanic take on the Korean war from a Korean German writer. A solid trip this month

Book of the month

Well this was a hard one as every book this month I have really like for various reasons the challenge of Texts , the history of Anna Kims work. Nenik two books a spin of people’s lives all these deserve mentions. But it is the great Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom I loved seeing Venice through his eyes and experiencing 50 years of visiting the Italian city and his constant wanting to discover more around each corner.

Non-book events

 

It was the second drop for this year’s Record story day and I picked up three records first a seven inch of the Wedding Present latest BBC session I’ve been a fan of theirs for thirty plus years I brought the seven-inch last year so did the same again this year.

Then the reissue of the Boys next door which is the first album by Nick Cave and the band that became The Birthday party less rocky and Punky this is another band and Artist I have listen to for many years. This is more pop than his early stuff but one I wanted to get at some point.

The Alarm a live album Celtic Folklore is a companion album to there earlier Album Electric folklore from years ago. Not a big fan but I enjoyed a show about Mike Peters and I saw them years ago a bit of nostalgia.

Then I found these two Blue Aeroplane albums on vinyl I had beat songs on tape years ago they were a band that never quite broke through but had clever lyrics and a unique sound. Have you any of these records or bands in your collection. ?

My other thing this month has been watching the old BBC series Survivor a Terry nation written series that ran for three series in the seventies it imagines a virus that comes from China that has wiped out 95% of the population has died this is very apt given our current situation it is the very apt new age in a way as the people go back to living off the land and rediscovering how to live together I am halfway through the series two.

Next month

Well, I have tried some different books at the end of this month we have club 1956 coming so I have an Indian, Japanese and African novel to review hopefully. I have two more VQ books to review and two books from Catalan read to review so I need to get back in the groove but dark nights will hopefully get me back to reading a bit more. What are your plans for next month?

A Beautiful young woman by Julián López

A beautiful young woman by Julián López

Argentinean fiction

Original title – Bien Pudiera Sex

Translator – Samuel Rutter

Source personal copy

Back to Spanish lit month and we return to Argentina and another new writer to the blog and another young talent not just as a writer where he has started a writers group Ciclo Carne which has a blog of the previous events. But he is also an Actor and poet as well. This was his debut novel and came out a few years ago. Like many other novelist from Argentina, he has chosen the rough years of the ’70s when people from all over the country and various walks of life disappeared. He has chosen a son who lost his single mother as the centre of this novel.

My mother was a beautiful  young woman. Her skin was pale and opaque. I could almost say it was bluish, and it had a luster that made it unique, of a natrual aristocracy, removed from mundane trivialties. He hair was black of course- I already said she was a beautiful young woman – her hair was straighht but heavy, and she wore it in a way I haven’t seen sin. I’m not talking about her hairstyle; no matter what she did with it her hair fell gracefully and in shape and always seemed tidily cut. I’m talking about the outline of her hair, of the linear sketch of that ocean of flexiable antennae rushing into the sea of her face.

The opening of the book and her hair so described on how it fell aroud her head.

The book starts with the son saying my mother was a beautiful young woman with pale skin this phrase is repeated as we see the son now a man as he tried to piece together his past a single mother devout to her son the little things like a weekly trip out to a posh place to eat he remembers what each of the places they ate served and how much he enjoyed each meal.  the brand of cigarettes his mother smoked and how she smoked those cigarettes through his child’s eyes it is a patchwork of memories he is trying to piece together in the present and he tries to think what happen why did she spend time with a neighbour such a lot was she up to something. The fear of things happen even in school there is a dark cloud floating over the head of those there as bomb threats and not knowing who to trust. So when he what to trace what happen we see the creeping feeling of doom in the world around him. As his mother tries to avoid it the terror of everyday world they live in is there for all to see. The horrors of those years.

on one of those afternoons. Uncle Rodolfo came over. It was a long time since I’d seen him, and he was different : his sideburns were thicker  and he’d let his moustache grow long. He pressed the doorbell  twice  and then after a while knocked on the aprtment door before the opening it with his keys, My uncle usually came over with a pile of Suchard chocolate blocks, one of each flavour, nd another pile of Milkybars , just as bif. I loved chocolate, and I loved how his visits providedme with this drug that made my mother mad and caused her to warn  me abiut toxic effects of devouring all the little blocks of chocolate and the Milkybars in one sitting. The theme of parasites was a serious one; my mother was firm and underwavering when she spoke of it

The brands are familar but his world is so different to mine of the late seventies growing up .

This is a book that has a fragmented style the narrative is that from the young boy as we see the world piece together it is just in snippets his mother doesn’t come to life but is there almost as a ghost in his memories of her and her habit. I have read a few books that also try to deal with this period of History from various angles like on the run from being disappeared to the view of another child and his father in the woefully underrated Patrico pron book my father’s ghost which I reviewed a  few years ago.  It is a dark time and this has a great child’s view of the time and of his mother but its those small details like her smoking that caught me and those days out they had before she didn’t return that day and his world changed. This is another great young writer from Argentina they seem to bring out writers and footballers although we are yet to have a good one of the later at United may I say lol. Have you read this book?

 

The Shadow Booker international shortlist

Our shadow jury of bloggers and reviewers of translated fiction has completed our reading of the International Booker 2020 longlist, and has chosen our own Shadow Shortlist.

In alphabetical order of the original author’s name our chosen six books are:

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar (Farsi – Iran), tr. Anonymous (Europa Editions)

The Other Name Septology I-II by Jon Fosse (Norwegian – Norway), tr. Damion Searls (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (Spanish – Mexico), tr. Sophie Hughes (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Japanese – Japan), tr. Stephen Snyder (Harvill Secker)

Faces on the Tip of My Tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano (French – France), tr. Sophie Lewis & Jennifer Higgins (Peirene Press)

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Dutch – Netherlands), tr. Michele Hutchison (Faber & Faber)

Firstly, we would like to congratulate the judges on choosing a very strong longlist. There are some stunning books on the list, and almost all of them, including those that missed out on our shortlist, had their champions among us. The books didn’t always make for an easy read – some are quite graphic in their depiction of violence – but certainly a thought provoking one,

You will see that four of our choices overlap with those of the official jury.

The Adventures of China Iron impressed many of us, but couldn’t quite squeeze on to our list. Instead we chose the cleverly connected short stories from Faces on the Tip of My Tongue.

When we were predicting books on the longlist The Eighth Life was the novel we most expected to see given its undoubted popularity both in the Anglosphere but also internationally. And we had expected it to make both the official and our shadow shortlist. Somewhat to our surprise, it missed out on both – the magic of the hot chocolate clearly doesn’t work on everyone.

We were though more surprised, and disappointed, at the exclusion of The Other Name from the official list – Jon Fosse’s trademark slow prose is stunning, and it makes for a very different reading experience from the others on the list. It is a timeless novel, and we fear the jury’s not unreasonable focus on novels relevant for the Covid-19 era may have counted against it. But with the next volume due in the autumn perhaps Fosse will make next year’s shortlist and he’s also overdue the Nobel Prize.

At the other end of the spectrum, the officially shortlisted Tyll didn’t spark much enthusiasm in our panel. But the one provoking the strongest reactions was Serotonin: several of the books on our shortlist are brutal or visceral but parts of Houllebecq’s novel simply felt gratuitous. Only three of our judges finished reading it and none of those were terribly impressed by its inclusion on the longlist.

We’ll now embark on the period of further re-reading, reflection and discussion to choose our winner. We wonder if we and the official jury will see eye to eye as we did in 2018, or reach a different view as we did last year.

(Thanks to Paul Fulcher for writing such an eloquent, and perfectly summarized, post for our shortlist decision. You can find him on Twitter at @fulcherpaul and on Goodreads here.)

Winstonsdad  I am pleased with our shortlist I had just about bar a few hundred pages finished the longlist I am behind on review but have enjoyed this year list there have been some eye-opening and shocking titles that show the wider nature of literature in translation I will review the rest of the longlist before we announce our winner I am now aiming to get to the 1000 reviews in the next few weeks.

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