Something strange, like Hunger by Malika Moustadraf

Something strange, like hunger short stories by Malika Moustadraf

US title – Blood feast

Moroccan fiction

Original title – some stories in the collection Trente six

Translator – Alice Guthrie

Source – personal copy

I have to hold my hands up this is yet another. Arab book I first heard of via Arablit first I think it was on a list of books to read from Arabic that was coming out this year. It was also on their podcast have they had a chat with Alice GUTHRIE I think I order the book the second the podcast end so caught up in the short life of this feminist Moroccan writer. She died too early as complications of her kidney disease and she had dialysis. Alice said she discover her when she was asked to translate a story by her for Words without words that were 10 years after Malika had died and she has brought most of what she wrote into English this is a short collection of short stories by a writer that tested the bounds of what she could write.

This Saturday night I feel a searing pain rip through my belly. Something warm is pouring out from between my thighs and running down my legs. It smells foul. I understand, but I don’t know what to do. I put my hand between my legs to stop this disgusting contamination
from flowing. My fingers are covered in blood. A droplet falls, dark as liver. I shudder, the iron bed frame creaks.`My teeth chatter. I feel degraded, humiliated, I’m cringing in abject shame. What if the blood floods the whole room? The stairs? The neighbourhood? I cry out. My father comes. His eyes are half-closed. What’s the matter?’ His voice sounds like a death rattle. ‘What’s the matter?’

The young girl awakes and is shocked by the blood at her father’s house.

These stories tackle those people on the edge of the world she lived in those women that just have to get by t in a male-dominated society. from a girl who needed a virginity test to marry and escape the world she lives in will she passes will her mother help her out. Will her daughter get the concrete house in ItalyThen we have a young girl with her father as she has her first period a frightening experience as her father has her every Saturday with different women by his side as she visits him.  she wakes to find dark blood between her legs and a woman she barely knows her only help as the girl ends the story the stone of dread weights her down on the Saturday visits. Then we end up on a crowded hot bus as we see a boy pick his nose she captures that crowded feeling of a busy bus so well. then the tale. IN housefly we have a depiction of cybersex as a woman chats with Jupiter 1960 as a housefly buzz around her as she does so. The last story death was meant to be part of a novel.

In front of me was a woman with a child on her back of about four years old, indifferent to what was going on around him, munching on a greasy doughnut and slurping from time to time on the snot running out of his nose. To my left was someone with body odour so nauseating it could knock a person out. And behind me was someone pressing up against me in a weird way. I could feel his
breath burning my ear. The decrepit bus moved like a time-ravaged tortoise, the driver pulling over to let scores more humans on at every stop. I don’t know how the bus had room for that colossal number of passengers.
The man’s breaths were still too close to my ear. I tried to pull away from him a little, but it was so jam-packed in there – such claustrophobia, such a stink of sweat and farts. The man was blatantly rubbing himself up against me, and if I stayed silent any longer it would be taken to mean I was enjoying the game. You bastards – even on the bus?

Claustrophobia a crowded bus caught so well in this very short story.

This is such a small collection it is so sad this is all we will have this is a writer that tests the boundaries of what she could write. she was the first to depict cybersex in Arabic Alice said in the afterword. the book is one of those that takes you into places we shouldn’t be a girl having her first period, a girl trying to prove she is a virgin than a woman laid on a bed chatting over the internet to a man that isn’t her husband. this is a grimy dark visceral world she paints a world we never see that hidden world. I suggest you listen to the Arablit podcast (BULAQ). THE afterword is enlightening with the slang used explained that opens up the world we enter the sad thing about this collection it left me wanting more she had written a novel which hopefully Alice will translate as she has such passion for this write and bringing her voice to English a brave soul that test what she could get away with. Have you a favourite female writer from the Arab world?

Winsons score – +A one hell of a collection that will stay with me and I will reread this collection for many years to come.

The critical case of a man called k by Aziz Mohammed


THE Critical Case of a man called K BY Aziz Mohammed

Saudi fiction

Original title – Al hala al harija li al mad’u K

Translator – Humphrey Davies

Source – Personal copy

I love listening to BULAQ podcast. which is the podcast done by the people behind the Arablit blog which I have been a fan of and is my go-to place for any books I may want in English translated from Arabic. So when the last of this season’s podcast was about this book. Which was shortlisted for the international prize for Arabic fiction a debut novel from Saudi writer Aziz Mohammed it was the title of this book that caught the eye as it is an obvious nod to Kafka. It follows a writer that has just finished reading Kafka and decides to write a diary well it is more a weekly round-up meditation on his life and what has happened to bring him to where he was as 40 weeks of his life unfold.

ANOTHER BAD DAY TO MAKE do with just two hours of sleep. I wake in a panic, drive like a drunk, and make it to my desk on time. I rip off the yellow sticker, crumple it into a ball on thedesktop, and give my good morning salutation to the Old Man (as I shall call him here, in homage to my favorite Hemingway novel. He’s the man who occupies the desk next to mine or, perhaps I should say, to be more precise, the computer screen next to mine, since after they increased the number of
employees to beyond the department’s holding capacity, they put a new desk between each two old desks. Now the place is full to overflowing with squashed-together, parallel rows of screens, each open to the next, like in the computer lab at a school. The only thing that interrupts their serried lines is the space allotted to the printer, which continually gives off noises, pushing out one sheet of paper after another and forcing you to rush over to it the moment you print anything so that your
sheet doesn’t get lost among other people’s.

The opening of the second chapter or week two of our narrator’s diary.

The narrator is unnamed he is a young man and we get that he has never quite felt in place all his life this is also connected to his health he has never felt well this is shown by his visits to doctors even thou he is told he is well there is a sense early on something isn’t quite right he talks about bad days and two hours sleep. Then we see into his present which we see him working at an Oil company this is one of the few hints scattered here and there to where the book is set as the stripping of names and place names another nod to Kafka but it also adds a universal nature to the narrative this could be anywhere as the podcast said and what drew me in the are hints scattered here. The nature of our narrator is that he is a man that struggles to connect to women his sister and his mother just don’t get him there is just one point he seems to connect with a female at the hospital but more about that later. We get a glimpse into his work life which remind me why I do my job and he felt he is a man out of sync with those around him in the office and a bunch of colleagues. That you’d meet at most companies those that buy into the business world love being successful and the trapping the opposite of our narrator a man that is part worry about his health and part world reader he loves books from around the world the start of Kafka to when he talks about the other writers he loves like Hemingway and Tanizaki. Then we see him open a train to the capital to see a doctor and finally get to the end of the reason he doesn’t feel right. Well, he is told he has cancer the second half of the book follows his journey as I said at the start this our narrator has never felt quite right even when this is the case he isn’t settled if that makes sense.

I, for my part, have worked here three years. Let’s call it. the Eastern Petrochemicals Company, after the Eastern Petroleum Company where one of Tanizaki’s protagonists works; this is appropriate as we are in the eastern, oil-rich, part of this country (it’s better not to give specific names or places as I don’t know who may not barge in some day and read what I’ve written). It’s a large company, with a guaranteed future, and that’s what matters. As an IT graduate, it would make no difference if I were working in an electricity, gas, fertilizer, or any other crap company. I didn’t put a lot of thought into choosing my college major either. My father died when I finished high school, and that timing played a part in directing me toward options with financial incentives. This specialization was said
to be in demand in the labour market, and what more can anyone ask than to be in demand in the labor market? One has to earn one’s living somehow: young people are suffering from
unemployment, the house needs the salary, and are you better than Kafka? These are good enough reasons for me to make sure I keep my place among the white-collar workers.

His workplace he uses Tanizaki’s company name as another way to avoid it seeming like a Saudi novel.

I focused on the first part of the book as for me it was the part that grabbed me the latter part worked as a narrative of having cancer. I supported a service user in my previous job on his weekly appointments for his Leukaemia so the story of his hospital appointments but also the way he felt reminded me. of that time and the chap, I looked after. Aziz has said his narrator isn’t him, but maybe part of him is the way the mother reacts to the narrator’s books that made me laugh. for me, our narrator is a Saudi Adrian Mole his love of books the worries around the woman and also maybe a half-empty view of life. it is a book that has a little of Joshua Ferris and his like those great post 200 pre covid books that caught the workplace add to this is a sickness memoir but the male version of this may be like a Saudi John Diamond coping with cancer. Add to the flourishes of Kafka to it. for me, it is hard to think this is a debut novel as it is accomplished in it style and the narrator’s voice is so strong and he seems to capture a man that is like a square peg in a round hole of life. What is your favourite book from Arabic do you listen to BULAQ if not give it a try. this is a Saudi novel that isn’t overly Saudi and it works so well as it gives a universal feel to our narrator’s story and life which is maybe why he talks about Western, not Arabic literature.

Winstons score – +A one mans birth cycle of having cancer.

That was the month that was January 2021

  1. The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk
  2. Love in the big city by Sang Young Park 
  3. The evening by Gerald Reve
  4. The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas
  5. Painting the time by Mayliss De kerangal
  6. What I talk about when I talk about Running by Haruki Murakami 
  7. People from the Nieghbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami
  8. Winter Flowers, by Angélique Villeneuve
  9. The Guest cat by Takashi Hiraide
  10. Geography of Adultery by Agnes Riva
  11. Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree
  12. Born of no women by Franck Bouysse
  13. Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald 
  14. Men without women by Haruki Murakami
  15. One in me I never loved by Carla Guelfenbein
  16. The Land of Short sentences by Stine Pilgaard

Now I had decided to record the books I have read every month and the reviews for this first month I am taking the list of read books and reviews done I will next month onwards do two separate lists of books firstly books read that month which will be from the 17 books read on the list and another list of books reviewed that month this list started five days before the new year. I had a plan in mind for Reading The books of Jacob twice so I need to read a lot of books so I had books to review whilst I could afford the luxury of a second read Olga Tokarczuk masterpiece. Anyway, I reviewed nine books this month and read a further seven on top of that which I will get to next month. There is a strong Japanese feel with four books from Japan Two from Haruki Murakami one a reread his running memoir and then his short story collection reminded me that it had been to long since I had read and reviewed him here on Winstonsdad! Then I had a flash fiction collection surreal in Nature and a cat visiting a couple. Then A novel from Korea about a young man growing up and moving to a big city and his relationships, The we had a stop in Norway with the great Tarjei Veraas and The Ice palace a tale of what happened when two young girls got to close and the aftermath of one evening. Then a pair of french novel the return of a Husband bad disfigured in the World war one shone a light on a little written part of social history the return of the Huband after the war what happened next we see the war and recovery but not the homelife so well cut open like this and that is a clever nod to the earlier novel of Mayliss De Kerangel a book that featured surgery but in her latest book it follows three friends and what happens when your work and dreams split for men the heart of the book is what is a crafts person and what is an artist or is there a divide making great scenes is such a talent ! Then I finally took flight with a collection of Nature Essays.

Plans and places –

I am planning to review at least 100 books this year I am on to do that with 9 reviews this month I do plan to read 120 books plus this year and if you follow me on good reads I have 12 books in 2021 it’s self I already was reading the other four books finished this year. There was no new publishers this month and no new countries.

Book of the Month(well two)

First of two books this month it was hard to pull apart the best book for this month as I had read so many great books passed through my hands but this tale of three friends from the college days and when they start work a tale of what it is to maybe lose that dream I love this I  really hope it makes the Man booker.

Great writers are few and far between The Ice palace maybe the best-known book by Tarjei Vesaas shows what happens when we cross a line even thou Unn and Siss did the fall out can be very hard this is one of those books that follows a single event and then what happened and is so well set and written.

Next month Plans –

I am trying to be a lot more organized hence me pre-reading books ready for this month also I have some annual leave due and know I can fit a couple more reviews in this month. I plan to review the two epics I have read this year The book of Jacob will be towards the end of Feb and The tomb of sand in the middle. I plan to review a couple of Books from Thomas Bernhard for the second Thomas Bernhard week. I also have the last novel from a great writer and then I don’t know this year I want to widen the scope of books  I am reading so non-fiction and a couple more books, not in translation not many but I feel a change is good and with plans, I have in mind for blog and more later in the year I want to open up my reading to a few different books than I have been.

Non book events-

I’ll start with Call the midwife is back on tv as it is every year this time and it is one of the few shows that Amanda and I really enjoy it. I also Have tried to capture a few more podcasts,s especially Radio fours. Front row either live or if I missed it listen back. I also love The Mookse and the Gripes I love the banter between Trevor and Paul after I lost winston I had dropped off in my Podcast listening to so many so any I may have missed in the last few years I would enjoy a point in the direction off so new podcasts or old ones I may have missed. Also Vlogs I am just getting converted to Vlogs book ones of course but also cottagecore and productivity idea-based ones which have helped me try and get a little more organized I am so disorganised. How were your months reading this January?

book podcasts

When i got my i pod classic last year one of thrills was being able to download some more podcast there are some great ones out there here are a few of my favourites –

books on the nightstand is an american podcast by michael kindness and Ann Kingman two people who both work in publishing and do this weekly podcast which is usually in three section .The first two sections usually deal with a set topic whether it e readers or graphic novel the last section is a book recommendation from Ann and Micheal ,the chat is free-flowing ,with michael love of graphic novels ,non fiction and fiction and Anns love of lit fiction and female writers they just about have all bases covered they are also both on twitter @annkingman @mkindness.

The new yorker fiction podcast this is a monthly podcast where a writer is given the chance to raid new yorkers vast back catalogue of short stories to read ,this gives you an insight in to the writer as there is a short interview before and after the story it also helps understand the writing process as the second part of the interview they dissect the story to discuss style ,influence and relevance of the story a essential for all budding writers and avid readers recent guests have been Joshua Ferris and Junnot Diaz .

the A.B.C Book show this is a four times weekly show on australian radio hosted by Romana Koval .The format varies from sections to complete show on various topics book related ,great interviews ,discussion on australian classics and modern books fiction and non fiction .Romana is a great host so enthusiastic about books .I discovered Xaiver Herbert and many other australian writers via this podcast .

there are many other podcast out there but these three are a great place to start if you ve not listen to these please give them a go .

Do you have a favourite podcast ?

D0 you wish some podcasts could be made in to tv shows ?


September 2022


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