Welcome to Eastern European Lit month

 

 

Well I’m a day late but earlier in the year I said I waned to do an Eastern European month .Thus reading books from what made up the soviet bloc behind the iron curtain before it fell . I have long enjoyed the literature from this region . From Ismail Kadare , Witold Gombrowicz to new voices like Andrej Nikoladis .The region also has three of my favourite publishers .

Istros books – publishing the best in Balkan fiction . I have reviewed a number of their books and every one has been a gem . Suggest book – The son by Andrej Nikoladis

the son Andrej Nikolaidis

Twisted spoon – They mainly do Czech fiction modern and classic but have done a few from elsewhere in Eastern Europe . Suggested book Of kids and parents by Emil Hakl .

of kids and parents

of kids and parents

Stork press – bring great voice from poland but also a great look at the uk through Polish eyes . Suggested book Madame Mephisto by A M Bakalar .

So a few suggestions .This just a small try out year , obviously with recent events I fell behind in planning but have a few books read for the month and look forward to every ones choices this month ,

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Polychrome by Joanna Jodełka

Joanna-Jodełka-Polychrome-Cover-216x331

Polychrome by Joanna Jodełka

Polish crime fiction

Original title polichromia

Translator – Danusia Stok

source – review copy

Joanna Jodełka is a female polish crime writer she has so far published three novels in Polish this her first book won the top lit prize for crime in Poland the High calibre prize .This is her first book to be translated to English .

He’d put off talking to his mother for almost a month.And not long ago he’d been happy not to have to listen to her grumbling so frequently about his having let Malina go .It was so damm painful every time .They’d been together for six years .He’d been the one to mess things up when a year ago ,they’d agreed to part .

Maciej worries about his very overbearing mother and what to tell her .

Polychrome is set in the Polish city of Pznan ,which for me was the first book I had read to be set in this city .The book focuses on two at first unconnected murder in the town ,one of these murders of a retired art restorer happens to have happen in one of the upper class parts of the city the Villa area .Brought into investigate these crimes are Maciej Barrtol and his partner .Now Maciej is a chap in his mid thires with his own problems outside work .Now the two bodies where both found in strange places and strange positions ,now the two victims actually seem at first to have nothing in common ,but as the clues start flying in and they are no near they finally get a strange break about symbols and symbolism to do  with the bodies so they visited Madga an expert of Medieval symbols and symbolism  to get some help .The lack of a connection is actually a connection more in the death and  how they died .

Everybody’s life is riddled with secrets

Now this is the back cover quote from the book and it suits it perfectly as they all have secrets in this book .

Now yet again Stork books have brought us a prize-winning Polish crime novel to English.All the talk ion recnet years of Nordic crime and french crime fiction for me of the books of=ver that time I have read it has always been the Polish crime novels that have been the most challenging and inventive books around .Now on the surface I bet you are all thinking that is rather Dan brown like with the talk of symbols and symbolism  but no to me it remind  me more of the tv series White chapel were the past is just used as a guide to the present .Now Joanna Jodełka lead character Maciej is in the usual mould of a  detective in a modern crime fiction novel ,in his mid thirties ,with problems the difference is in his problems ,his relationship has recently broke up and he is now with his rather overpowering mother at home .This book cleverly scatters clues and keeps you turning the pages as you find the ones that matters and the red herrings along the way .So I hope we get to see her other two books in English as this is the first of a series and I’d love to learn more about Maciej and also his partner who here is there but feels like he has more to tell .

Have you a favourite novel from Polish crime oeuvre ?

Winston’s year the books

Well it’s that time of year when people start putting across the best of list .I have decided to do my best of year ,given the focus of the blog it is going be just translations ,I will not I have read The luminaries and lowland both on a lot of best of list I liked both but haven’t got round to reviewing them yet ,so I’m not mentioning them .As for other books in English not translated my favourite by far is The boy from Aleppo who painted the war by Sumia Sukkar the first I ve read around the current Syrian conflict .So to the top ten of 2013 .

the mirror of beauty

The mirror of beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi 

I reviewed this yesterday as I want it fresh in people’s memorey the rest of the list is books I have loved but by far this is my book of the year .An epic following the mother of a well-known Urdu poet in 19th century India and actually in an update to my previous review due out in the UK may 2014 .

My review 

the son Andrej Nikolaidis

The son by Andrej Nikolaidis 

A son wander around the port town of Ulcinj and thinks about his father and the history of this town .Andrej shared his love of my next book in the list  and its influence on this book .

My review Thoams Bernhard the loser Faber Finds

 

The loser by Thomas Bernhard 

Glenn Gould in Vienna blows away two music students and we see the aftermath of a touch with a Genius on two people’s lives .

My review 

ten Andrej Longo

Ten by Andrej Lingo 

A short story collection based round the ten Commandments ,around the dark underbelly of the city of Naples .This also reignited a real love of short stories in me ,more about that at a future date .

My review

TD-covers

Mother departs by Tadeusz Różewicz

A son looking back on his mother ,growing up ,world war two and his brother from the foremost living Polish poet .A wonderful mix of prose and poems .

My review 

my fathers' ghost is climbing in the rain

My fathers ghost is climbing in the rain by Patricio Pron 

Certainly if i had a side prize for the best title of the year this book would easily walk off with it .A son returns to Argentina and discovers more about his father than he thought .

My review 

A man in Love

A man in love by Karl Ove Knausgaard 

I love the first part of this collection and had hopes it would carry on and was surprised part two was  even better Karl now with kids and a struggling writer in the fictionalized version of his life ,can’t wait for part three next year .

My review 

Brief loves that live forever

Brief loves that live forever by Andrei Makine

I have loved his other books a glimpse at soviet summers of the past and fleeting romance and lives .Makine back on form here .

My review 

parrots Flippo Bologna

The parrots by FlippoBologna

A gem of a book about writers and a book prize we meet three unnamed writers at three stages in the career as they wait to see if they have won the big book prize .

My review

sidewalks

Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli

A collection of non fiction writing from the wonderful Mexican writer mainly on the journey of discovery like looking for a grave in Venice .

My Review  

 

Summer reads in Translation my choices

Well the last few weeks have seen a few Summer reading recommendations in the weekend papers .A discussion the other week after the rather banal Guardian one lead to a question of doing our own well ,I’ve let the dust settle and chosen a few translations that are out now or due out in the next month or so .

the walk

The walk by Robert Walser

Now Serpents tail has issued some more great stories from the ever-growing in reputation Robert Walser .This collection is meant to bridge the gap between the earlier works and the later Microscripts .I ve read his Berlin stories that I ll be reviewing for German lit month and all I’ll say now he is worth trying for any one wanting to fill in gaps in German lit inter wars .

let the games begin

Let the games begin by Niccolo Ammaniti

I m reading this myself at the moment ,it has a dark wit and some bizarre storylines and as I said when I first heard about this book we don’t have enough books about man eating hippos !! out next month

Mariusz-Czubaj-2137-Cover-136x208

21:37 by Mariusz Czubaj

A polish crime novel by the Lovely Joanne and her Stork Press ,we meet Profiler Robert Heinz as he tries to track down a killer of two young men with the number 21 and 37 written on them ,also please note this is on offer on Kindle at the moment .

russian stories

Russian Stories by Francesc Seres

21 stories from relatively unknown to the west Russian writers ,we see modern Russia through the eyes of various girls in and around St Petersburg ,then go back further through each of the five writers in the collection to get a unique insight into Russia past and present .

the son Andrej Nikolaidis

The son By Andrej Nikolaidis

We spend the evening with an unknown narrator as he wanders round the city of Ulcnj ,The narrator a writer is at the crossroads of his life his wife is gone ,he has fallen out with his father and during this evening we see him take his life apart and also the place he lives .Very Bernhard at times this one and a real gem from Istros books .

parrots Flippo Bologna

The Parrots by Flippo Bologna

I ve reviewed this already here ,A great comic satire on Book prizes and writers .

Other titles on my radar

These are books already out I’ve them ready to read hopefully over the summer at some point myself .

All is silence by Manuel Rivas

The infatuations by Javier Marias

Man in love by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Every Promise by Andrea Bajani

Mother departs by Tadeusz Różewicz

TD-covers

Mother departs by Tadeusz Różewicz

Polish prose and poetry

Original  title Matka odchodzi

Translated by Barbara Bogoczek

Source – review copy

Tadeusz Różewicz is one of the foremost Polish poets and writer ,he was a solider in the polish underground army ,and after the war which he lost his brother Janusz ,Tadeusz Różewicz  he has written Poetry ,Prose and plays  his early play the card index is considered the first example of the Theatre  of absurd in polish .In 2007 he one the European literature prize ,Mother departs also won the Nine prize in Poland the sort of  polish booker prize .He is considered the last of what was called Poland’s golden age poets .

So mother departs is one of those books that is hard to pigeon-hole ,Like a number of other polish books I ve read this tends to blur the lines .Memoir ,prose ,diaries poems and photos all form a rememberance built by Tadeusz Różewicz  to his late mother ,she died of cancer in 1957 ,this book written in 2000 is an older man looking back on his connection to his mother ,his mothers legacy ,through him and through his late brother .The effect feels like a lid being lifted on the innermost workings of a family and the Matriarch of that family  .Now many of you that read this blog may know or those that know me via twitter I struggle at times with poetry so for the poetry in this book it is hard for me to benchmark it as good or bad .I like them the style is quite short and clipped there is spaces in his words that I felt I had to fill in if you know what I mean .

 WICKED SON

I look through the window

with its pink flower frame

 

Outside the cats are getting drenched

and my old mother

draws some murky water

with saintly hands

 

In the window with a sly smile

her son stands

 

In the window  with a sly smile

her son stands

1941

One of the poems that I connected to a bit .

Now the prose pieces I feel better placed to mention and comment on ,I found the first pieces called the village of my childhood ,quite enticing ,the way it described a the village of his youth .A fly in amber the old ways are brought to the fore ,in a piece that remembers the  village he grew up in ,this is all the more because it isn’t  Tadeusz piece no this prose piece was written by his late mother and is heart-warming and heart aching at the same time .We see the brothers go to war ,only grabbing chance visits with his mother during the war as they fought the Nazis ,then we see Tadsuz try to become a writer in the post war Poland ,he has been a writer that has according to the polish version of his wiki page has transcended genre at times ,interested in many styles of writing but never quite being pigeon holed and this is how I would describe the piece and feel of this book ,yes memoir ,yes prose poetry .But not fully either ,one could almost say the reportage that Polish writers post world war two have often been known for the likes of Kapuscinski or Stasiuk are well-known ,has been turned internally on to  the family trying to find what the mother was and what she meant  to her family .by bring together pieces from all the family to try to grasp the meaning of being a mother in the Poland of the time a shifting world from independence in 1918 ,through the dark war years and the into the bleak Post war communist times .But be easy to see this as bleak but no this book is littered with a humour that is dark and the sort that laughs at the bad times .

Mother’s eyes which can see everything watch the birth watch throughout life and watch after death from the “other world ” .Even if they turned her son into a killing machine or a beast a murderer mother’s eyes are looking at him with love …looking

From the piece now ,don’t all mothers have love in their eyes .

Well I’m not sure I ve put over the full beauty of this book ,because it is .We all have Mothers or a maternal figure within or lives and if I could write something like this about my mother to go through time as a remembrance and testament  to her ,I would be proud .I like thanks Joanne of stork who had invited me to the above event that video is from but it was a couple of days after I was in london shame would love to have met the man ,he is a true great and talent .

 

Do you have a favourite book on mothers ?

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