Spanish Lit month 2017

Grant ask Richard and I if we were going to do another Spanish lit month and we said yes rather late the next two months will give everyone chance to take a few Spanish language translations off their TBR piles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are my choice first a book I have read but isn’t due out yet This Mexican novel follows Lucina a young Mexican writer, like most of her fellow writers she has come to New York. But a genetic condition means her eyes haemorrhage return home her life takes a turn.

 

 

Next up is the three Spanish novels from Peter Owen as part of the world series Nona’s room is a collection of short stories, with a female perspective.Inventing love follows a man that receives a call when a lover has died, but he didn’t know the lover but decides to see where going to her home and funeral leads him. Wold moon follows four Republican rebels on the run during the civil war in the land they grew up in trying to stay alive.

 

Then I have these three books, Camilo Jose Cela, I have read before, the hive is his most famous books and is a snapshot of the end of the civil war told through three hundred voices. Rafael Dieste tales and inventions of Felix Muriel is a collection of quirky short stories about Felix growing up and those around him. Then it is amung strange victims by another talented Mexican writer Daniel Saldana Paris a novel set i the Mexican Capital. I have a few other books on my TBR pile to add to the five I have to read here.

 

 

 

 

 

So what books are you choosing for Spanish Lit month ?

The sky over Lima by Juan Gómez Bárcena

The sky over Lima by Juan Gómez Bárcena

Spanish fiction

Original title – Cielo de Lima

Translator Andrea Rosenberg

Source – review copy

Well I kick of this Spanish lit month with a new name to most English readers Juan Gomez Barcena. This was his debut novel it won the Ojo critico prize and was shortlisted for another major prize in Spain. He studied comparative literature , philosophy and History. He was also on a list of the best Spanish writer under thirty in Spain.

At first it’s just a letter drafted many times: dearest friend, respected poet, most esteemed sir, a different opening for every sheet or paper that ends up in a crumpled ball under the desk, glory of Spanish literature, most distinguished Ramon Jimenez, peerless bard, comrade. The next day the mulatta servant will sweep up the wads of paper scattered across the floor, thinking they’re the poems of the young master of the house, carlos rodriguez.

The opening as they try as themselves to write to Jimenez before making up Georgina to write to him .

This is one of those books that tells a real event in a novel form. The event surrounds the writing of letters to the Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez from two fellow poets in Peru well in Lima. The two poets Jose and Carlos decide on a plan to get the latest work from Jimenez which has yet to reach the book shops of lima they write to him as a Peruvian lady called Georgina. what follows in the book is a series of letter between the two (well three in reality) as Jimenez falls for Gerogina and the world that is described Peru in 1904 a town changing through the eyes of a young woman makes Jimenez fall for the place and woman. A tale of love across the sea that inspired the poet to write some love poems about this woman.We see the two poets abandon their own poems to grab on to the coat tails of Jimenez and his poems.

So he has to write about love. But what does he know about that?It could be that Carlos is more apprehensive about this than he initially seemed and we must attribute to him a second fear: the terror that the story of Juan Ramon and Georgina will ultimately reveal nothing more than how little his own life is worth.becasue all good fiction is rooted in genuine emotion, as the professor put it, which means that to write about love a novelist must look to his experiences, make use of everything he’s learned in a woman’s arms.

Carlos wonders what the letters will be made of when it turns to love letters .

An interesting and strange work to open this spanish lit month. It takes a corner of history and opens it up back to a time when a written word meant more letters were the way to keep in contact and people could fall in love over the written word . This is one for the fans of Bolano or Vila-Matas poets in a wild town of lima in the day remind me of Bolano world of poets in Mexico and the fact this was a true story some what Jimenez had exchange letters with a woman from Peru.Brought back memories of the way Vila-Matas uses places and the writers associated with them to place his stories in context.A fun debut novel that shows the power of the written word over men and the power books can have over other men as that is how the story started. A wonderful opening gambit for this Spanish lit month.

What have you planned for Spanish lit month ?

 

7 years bloganniversary let’s go to Spain

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The wordpress app told me at weekend it was seven years since winstonsdad started its trip around the world of Literature. In that time I have managed to review 635 books from 103 countries a real tour of the world . I miss the old days of blogging when it seemed new and fun but the recent move and a new library have spurred this old blogger on to carry on so we start off with the next spanish lit month which is next month. I have five books I plan to read one is reread.

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First up is two books due out from Harvil secker The first from a new star of Spanish Literature DIvorce is in the air by Gonzalo Torne one for the fans of Ferrante and Knausgaard says Harvil . Next is On the edge by Rafael Chirbes one of the great writers of recent times from Spain he won two of the biggest prizes in Spanish literature.

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Nocilla dream is the reread of the pile a wonderful odd collection of short snippets like a trail of photos with stories made up about them. I enjoyed it on the first read but felt a second reading would be worth it for this collection .

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Next up is Loquela by Carlos Labbe the chilean writer is compared to Borges and this is a warped love story and detective novel in one . One of those books that challenges the reader.

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Lasr but not least is the won derfully witty Sky over lima which sees two writers in Chile write and start a love affair in letter with the famous Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenz .In what started as a plan to get his latest book early turns it a love in letters .

Have you any plans for Spanish lit month ?

How do you keep your blogging fresh after a number of years ?

The boy whole Stole Attila’s horse by Iván Repila

theboywhostoleattilashorse

The boy who stole Attila’s horse by Iván Repila

Spanish fiction

Original title El niño que robó el caballo de Atila

Translator – Sophie Hughes

Source personnel copy

I was looking at some of the books that came out last year that may be on the man booker radar and this one I remember when it appeared last year seemed to get a number of good reviews in the papers and around the web so when I was in Sheffield earlier this week I decide to buy myself a copy to read. This is Ivan Repila second book in Spanish but his first to be translated to English. I can see why it may have been chosen as the first by him to be translated into english it has a certain universal nature to the story. A book that remind me so much of a Japanese film.

It looks impossible to get out, he says. And also: “But we’ll get out.”

To the north, the forest borders the mountain range and is surrounded by lakes so big they look like oceans. In the centre of the forest is a well. The well is roughly seven metres deep and its uneven walls are a bank of damp earth and roots, which tapers at the mouth and widens at the base like and empty pyramid with no tip.

The impossible to get out of well they are in, these are the opening lines of the book .

The book is the story of two brother Small and Big. They are stuck in the bottom of a well, we are given no idea how the pair arrived there. What follows in this short novel is the struggle to survive and the slow madness that comes to them both as they are stuck down this hole. Repila has a way of the horrific days and months of there being stuck there seem poetic in a brutal nature. As the bigger brother starts to try to keep small alive. This seen remind me of the Grave of the fireflies an early Studio Ghibli film that like this film follows siblings in that case a brother and sister , but we see the same brutal and sad demise as the two retreat to a small cave by a river and feed on the insects around them . (this is the one film I won’t watch again it is so sad be warned this one rather like this book can rip your heart out )

Small is so hungry that he can no longer control his body. He baulks, puts out his hand, into which Big places a colossal maggot, as juicy as a ripe apple.

“Abuser. Nasty pig. I hate you”

Finally he eats. He chews the gelatinous fibre of the maggot a dozen times and the bitter juice that oozes from it dances on his tongue. He drools like a hungry dog. It doesn’t taste of chicken: It’s better than chicken he bursts into tears like the little boy that he was.

“You’re the best. I love you. I love you.”

The feast goes on all night.

This scene and a few others reming me of the film The grave of the fireflies, I also like the chicken line here!

Replia has chosen two strange quotes at the start of the book one from Margaret Thatcher (why anyone would quote her is beside me ) About free trade and being rich and poor . The a Brecht quote from his poem To posterity about death and uprisings. I think we are meant to read Big and small as a wider story of survival in people and stripping the two lead characters of all identity barring their size has given this a fairy tale feel a timeless nature to the story. I was reminded of another Spanish novel I read last year Out in the Open   another story of human suffering like the two boys in this book, maybe this is a modern take on a Spanish tradition that can be traced back to the books of Cela that take a look at the brutal nature of human life-like his book The family of Pascual Duarte life is brutal for some like big and small only one is destined to come through this ordeal.

Have you read this book ?

Spanish teeth for sale quote for sunday

Mariner reading on pink background - Yiannis Tsaroychis

Teeth and books seem an odd pairing but my current Spanish lit month read is about Teeth and selling Teeeth the latest work by  Valeria Luiselli the story of teeth . So here is a Quote I enjoyed .

HYPERBOLIC LOT NO.9

Our penulitimate lot , ladies and gentlemen , exludes an air of mystical melancholy . The tooth itself is crocodilian , but its aura is almost angelic . Note the curve , it os like a wing in ascent . It’s owner , Mr. Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges , was a man of average height . His short , thin legs supported a torso , which was at once solid and svelte .His head was the size of a small coconut , and his slender , flexiable neck . He was a pantheit . His eyes used to flit from side to side , useless , impenetrable to sunlight but ready to receive the light of beautiful , good ideas . He spoke slowy , as if searching for adjectives in the darkness . How much will you bid ?

How much would you pay for Borges tooth ?

 

Spanish Lit month

Well I’m late announcing my Spanish Lit month announcement . Richard announced a few days ago we are doing it again this July for the third time . WE have choosen a short book as the group read . The invention of morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares a book by the great friend of Jorge Luis Borges .

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Well I ve chosen to reuse my first post for spanish lit month for this intro again  I’m excited to see what books every one has chosen but if your still struggling for a book to read for Spanish language lit month ,I ve a few tips here to help my co host richard has done two posts of book lists .the first has 200 books that have been picked on various lists  the second had a further list of 100 plus books from classic to the modern age from spain and latin america .

Right another great port of call is the complete review Michael the guy behind complete review has many more reviews of spanish fiction here  and Latin american fiction here .Mostly modern but it has best selection of Latin american fiction I ve seen .

The site for new Spanish books available to be translated is a great site to see what is happening in Spanish .Nick Caistor and Stefan Tobler advise on here two  people I know are trustworthy .

Then I ll give you five to read from my blog

1.Don Quixote –

This is the head water of all modern european fiction we may think use in the english speaking world got the ball rolling on the novel no its  this book has it all ,meta fiction ,playful story lines ,History and oh the mad don and his faithful friend .2015 I will maybe reread this next spanish lit month in 2016 as that may be the time Terry Gillam has his film of it out or nearer being made .

2 Three trapped tiger G Cabrera Infante

The cuban Ulysses the call it but actually it is very different it has a very cuban feel you can feel a jazz beat as your read about a day in Havana just before the revolution . 2015 A lost classic this one .I have another by him on the blog both worth trying .

3 I the supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos

Another classic of latin american fiction ,the story of a 19th century dictator in latin america echos of the present in the past image ,controlling the media and writing your own history still go on in the present day .2015  One that everyone interested in the dictator fiction

4 Kamchatka by Marcelo Figueras

One of my favourite books of recent years ,the dirty war seen through a young boys eyes .It is touching and entertaining  and with a believable child narrator .2015 still a hidden gem !

5 Exiled from almost everywhere by Juan Goytisolo

He is the wonderful master of spanish fiction I ve read a few but this only one since I ve blog a wonderfully wacky tale that maybe needs a wider audience  . As does Juan he may win the Nobel one day soon and if you’ve not read him you’ll kick your self .2015 more exile tales to come this year from the same writer .

Oh and needless to say Borges is a must read anything by him is going make your reading life a little brighter .

Back to 2015

Again I must start my Borges project , I have read a second Goytisolo for this year already the first of his best known  trilogy marks of identity .I have Desire for chocolate by Care Santos a prize winning Spanish novel due out in August . Also a couple of books about the Peron years in Argentina .

What books may you read next month .

 

Spanish Lit links

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I promised a few links for Spanish lit month –

El Mundo the best 25 books from Spanish 1989 (thanks Arcadia books for link their Blind sunflowers is on the List ,plus two books by Juan Marse that Maclehose is publishing soon .

Conversational reads has another list of 20 great books from Spanish .

Scauffi has a longer list here in Spanish a lot of Marquez on this one

The telegraph has ten best Latin american novel here ,Not all Spanish but mostly

Flavourwire has another list with out  Marquez of best Latin American fiction

and there is a few more links and lots of Spanish fiction on my co-host Richards Blog

You can also find many books here from Spain ,Chile ,Argentina and many others in my books read section .

The infatuations by Javier Marias

the infatuations

The infatuations by Javier Marias

Spanish literature

Orginial title – Los enamoramientos

Translator – Margaret Jull Costa

Source – library book

I have read two other Marias before this one ,I reviewed while the women are sleeping a couple of years ago and late last year read a heart so white ,I enjoyed both and have before that i have tried to read the huge your face tomorrow trilogy but never got to it as I never get chance to have the library books out long enough to get to them .But after hearing this mentioned as one of the favourite books of last year by Three percent podcast .I decided with the Independent foreign fiction prize looming in the background I review this before a heart so white .Javier Marias has been writing for forty years he started translating Dracula scripts for his uncle a well-known Spanish film director the infatuations was his latest book in Spanish published in 2011 in there .

The last time I saw Miguel Desvern or Deverne was also the last time that his wife , Luisa saw him ,which I ,on the other hand was a preson he had never met , a woman with whom he had never exchanged so much as a single word .I didn’t even know his name ,or only when it was too late

The opening lines of the book ,now doesn’t that draw you in?

 

I had been meaning to try this book , since it came out  last year partly due to the great black and white cover ,I’m not a huge one for mentioning covers but this one is a just come and look and read me cover ,anyway back to the book it the story of a women Maria Dolz  who works in publishing ,she sits every morning in a cafe and watches a young couple that also frequent the  same cafe ,she is an imaginative person and dreams about these two then one day she finds out the husband of the couple has died  after seeing a picture of a man who has been stabbed in a newspaper .This draws her into a sort of mystery and what is the wife doing ,when she turns up with some kids and they are fetch by another man .What is happening ? why did he die ,who is the new man ?

“Once the sentence had been  heard ,it was Athos who turned to her and ,as master of ceremonies , said : “Anne de Brueil , countess de la fere , Milady de Winter ,your crimes have weried men on earth and god in heaven .

one of many literary links in the story ,Maria does work in publishing .

I love Marias and will read all his books translated over time ,if there is a reading version of slow cooking he is it the prose he writes isn’t flashy ,the action plot isn’t a hurtling train no this is like a slow cook the senses ,mind is seeped slowly and gently into finding out what had happened to the couple .We discover that what Maria saw and thought she saw isn’t really what she saw .I was reminded of the way Maria gets drawn into this Murder and the web surrounding of the Woody Allen film Manhattan Murder mystery which saw a character played by Diane keaton sees her neighbour maybe kill his wife ,this book remind me of the fumbling into a deeper mystery .I also loved the way he used the character of my lady from the three musketeers as someone to compare the wife too .    We see a lot about life ,death and what drives people. I loved his style of writing ,yet again his books are like a slow drift down the river ,there is no hurrying in his writing it needs to be savoured .

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