Well today is the day , we see who has won the nobel prize for literature. As ever I have been following the betting for the last week or so . Unlike other years the betting has been fairly stable and the names on the list the same as other years. The lead name this year is Ngugi Wa Thiong’o the Kenyan writer , he writes a lot about the colonial and post colonial times in his native land. I have reviewed him . Then next on the list is Haruki Murakami , I still think it isn’t his time yet , I know others think it is but for me he needs to write that one defining book. Then we have Adonis the Syrian poet has been on the list for many years , I have once feature a poem by him about childhood. THen we Have Don Delillo has risen in recent days in the betting now for me he is maybe the best American to win ,he has written the book so to speak Underworld is a true epic , I have reviewed him once on the blog . The we have Jon Fosse I read him earlier this year and for me he maybe along side Thiong’o is the best place to be the nobel winner .his writing capture the feeling of modern Scandinavia . Well there we go , of course there is a number of outsiders as ever , now for me there is Javier Marias, Laszlo Krasznahorkai and Peter handke all writer that would be worthy winners but maybe not yet , but wouldn’t be shocked if they did win today.Then there would be the shock winner not translated into english yet , lets say Ulrich holbein for example. So 11.45 today we find out have you thoughts ?
13 Oct 2016 8 Comments
30 Jun 2016 4 Comments
Aliss at the fire by Jon Fosse
Original title – det er als
Translator – Damion Searls
Source – personnel copy
One thing I have started to do since I moved house is buy a few very cheap books from amazon of writers I have had on my to read list forever. Jon Fosse is a point in case I have had him down for a few years as a writer to read since he started to feature near the top of the nobel hopefuls every year. I was a bit put of by the fact he is compared to beckett but when I saw this a recent book from Dalkey archive for under a pound plus postage I couldn’t resist it. I’m , pleased I did as this is my book of the year so far. I can see why Fosse has won every major prize at home and around the world barring the big one the Nobel.
I’ve seen much better boats, she says
I like this boat, Asle says
But couldn’t you get yourself a bigger boat a safer boat, Signe says
I don’t want a new boat , Asle says.
Why do you like this boat so much,Signe says
I knew the man who built it, and he built it for me,Asle says
He built boats his whole life, the man who built it and he built one for me, he says
Yes , Signe says
The boat had been a worry for his wife Signe before the day he drowned in the Fjord as she watched in the Black water.
Aliss at fire is one of those single paragraph work of monolgue, at time I was reminded of Thomas Bernhard for this long winded style. The book is told as a widowed wife looks back on the her life with her dead husband Asle , but also the family that has been on that spot next to the fjord where she sits on a bench looking out at the black water like she did the night her husband’s boat ran into trouble. She imagines the family over time in other boats other deaths on the fjord her connection to the boat times she asked him if he wanted a new boat for the lake and he said no he was happy with his old boat.This is an inner monologue of time drifting her life now than and before as ghosts seem to haunt here in the dark coming out to touch her almost, at points she even touches her own body to feel close to the past.A tale of a woman trying to cope with death.
But forward, it’s moving, and the boat moves out across fjord, out father and father, in the wind, in the rain and even through the darkness is dense and thick around him in a weird way it’s not dark he thinks, because the fjord is shining black then it it’s not really that cold, he is wearing his thick sweater keeping him warm from rowing,he thinks and he looks back over his shoulder and there up ahead, far away there, there near the middle of the Fjord, what is that over there ?
Asle on the water in the boat he had built for him. The use of black is interesting.
This is one of those short novellas , that last with you as a reader, I thought when i put it down it was like a lost Peirene in a way.The story is dark as dark as the black water , hair and nights that are a recurring theme in the book boats also crop up a lot maybe as a vessel from this life to the next maybe the Fjord is this families river of sticks. As I said I was reminded of Bernhard but also maybe the constant mention of black hair , black water remind me of Dylan Thomas under Milkwood especially took me back to seeing that as a one piece monologue by Richard Burton Nephew .This is death playing chess or the dark sections of a film by Roy Anderson the real dark side of Nordic life Fjord and boats are dangerous. Fosse may well win the Nobel in the next few years.
Have you read Fosse ?
25 Apr 2016 5 Comments
I have in the last few days received two books from last years Nobel winner. This the first book that arrived Second hand time is a selection of interviews she has taken to form a piece on the post soviet world and how it has formed a new world and in her use of many voice to individual monologues see how the post soviet society is affecting the every man and woman on the street. This is the first new work from her since the Nobel win to reach us in English and is out from Fitzcarraldo editions. Penguin are also releasing new editions of her previous books I have reviewed this one in its earlier release as Voices of Chernobyl I had reviewed this last year as it was the only book I could get before the Nobel prize was announced .So as with Patrick Modiano the year before we now have a number of books from this wonderful Non fiction writer whose ability to work the people she talks to into a chorus of voice on the soviet and post soviet world she grew up in .
Have you read any books by her ?
01 Feb 2016 4 Comments
Conducting bodies by Claude Simon
Original title – Les Corps conducteurs
Translator – Helen R Lane
Source – Library book
I have reviewed a number of French writers of the last few years that have all been identified as Noveau Roman writers such as Sarraute or Duras both of which I have reviewed on the blog. Where each book the writer tackled was a new style of story and book to them as a writer. Although he was included by many in this group Claude Simon himself didn’t count himself in the group of writers. Simon won the Nobel Literature prize in 1985.So when I found this book on my library system late last year I was pleased to try him.
In the display a dozen identical female legs are lined up in a row, feet up, thighs lopped off at the hip joint resting on the floor, the knees slightly bent, as though the legs had been removed from some chorus of dancers at the precise moment that they are all kicking in unison, and put there in the window just as the were, or perhaps snipped out, in monotonous multiplicity, from some advertisement showing a pretty girl in her slip pulling on a stocking, or sitting on a pouf, or on the edge of an unmade bed
The opening lines of the book show you are in for a ride as a reader.
Well Conducting bodies belongs in the field of hard modernist novels, for there is no real plot to speak of other than we are told a writer is on his way to a writers conference that well could be a big city in america but equally given the time the book was written (early 1970’s ) when France was in love with all things US at that time it could france. Anyway or writers body isn’t working he visitis a doctor. Now this is the part you get the other parts is an interconnected collection of prose about bodies the human body, prints on the wall of the doctors , the models in the shop windows which is where the book opens from there on it is a rollercoaster ride of images and ideas
The airplane appears to be suspended motionless above the immense, unchanging layer of clouds, since each time that one glances at the fleecy humps stretching as far as the eye can see, the only thing visible are minute, nearly imperceptible changes.The only evidence that hour after hour is passing is the fatigue that is thickening little by little on his face, like a crust, accompanied by a slight burning sensation, as though he were suffering from a mild fever. It forms a sort of invisible mask of mud tat sticks to his skin,
The plane trip that may have happened or maybe not one can never tell in this book.
In a way the prose style setting and style of this book were similar in a way to the Robbe-grillet novel I review ed last year strangely another novel that was detached from place and time in the way it was told. This maybe is Simon Homage to the style of writing that America produced in the middle of the 20th century some of Faulkner the way we have no fixed point in the narrative is similar in style to As I lay dying were we are given no guide to who is narrating the story. But there is also a feel of something like William Burroughs a cut up feel to the nature of the book. This isn’t any easy book to get through no in a way it is like a lot great book trying to tackle the north face of Everest but when you reach the peak you get a real sense of achievement also the work that Helen Lane put into translating this book which must have been hard as there is no real plot to follow as you do so.I will be trying his books again as I come across them Simon is very much a French modernist writer as a look of Amazon tells me he hasn’t any books in print at the moment it seems.
Have you read Simon ?
09 Dec 2015 2 Comments
I always look coming home to a parcel of books and today saw a double helping of Patrick Modiano Novels. Last year before he won the Nobel prize you’d struggled to buy a physical book. So for me his winning was a blessing havin enjoyed the one book I could get easily pre nobel win. So I have read three since he won and these are two latest the first Black notebook follows a writer searching for a lover from 40 years earlier when they were together in the 1960s.
The second book is the story of Louki or as others know her Jacqueline Delanque tld from four points of view herself, a detective, a man in a cafe and her lover. Both are set in Paris and are out next year