Constellation by Adrien Bosc

Constellation

Constellation  By Adrien Bosc

French fiction

Original title – Constellation

Translation – Willard wood

Source – review copy

I again go back to France as I seek to move the total of books reviewed on the blog from France towards the hundred mark with this the 80th french book reviewed , from a rising star of french fiction . He has set up the publisher edition Sous-sol a very succesful French publisher. This was his debut novel it made a number of longlist and shortlist of major french prizes when it came out and I also noted when it arrived that it was one I felt , I would love as it remind me somewhat of the fellow french novel windows on the world  that also followed  a group of people after a major event.

The passengers are strapped in , Marcel Cerdan jokes with Jo Longman, while Paul Genser stares fixedly out of the pothole. Ginette Neveu clasps the case containing her two violins , A stradivarius and Guadagnini – a week ago she only owned one. At the front of the aeroplane, their seat harnesses clinched, the cockpit crew prepare for landing

The violin in piece later turned up in pieces by the Azores

 

Constellation follows the 48 people who where on an Air France plane a Lockhead Constellation from Paris to New york one of those wonderful post war planes all silver and gleaming like the cover of the book . The plane has to stop at the Azores to refuel this is where the plane had crashed. What Bosc does here is tells the post war years through those 48 people in little pen pictures of them all. From five Basque shepherds that are trying to get to the new world to make a new life for themselves following a path that many Basques did at that time. Then there is a boxer on the way to a title fight in America, a former lover of Edith Piaf . Then the story that touch me most is that of a Ginette Niveau a child prodigy on the violin now an adult she is heading to america to perform as her career is on the p Piaf’s lover also on the flight Marcel Cerdan lover Piaf said afterwards she and him would have travelled a thousand miles to Her Neveu . Then we see the pilots story of the war years, then the man who brought Disney merchandising to europe that meant every child had chance for mickey mouse on their wrist.

Only world war II slowed Disney’s rising power. THe company built on its popularity by taking part in the war effort. On July 14, 1942, the studios – in collaborations with Lockhead aircraft (The company that would build the constellation) – released a cartoon on the techniques of riveting aeroplanes,, an instruction manual in the form of a short animated film, Four methods of flush riveting , aimed at the governments civilian contractors.

Disney’s war years through there war films is just a small hiccup in their eventual rise to a mega company they are today .

I loved the way Bosc sitch together fact and fiction from Niveau a well-known person so her life is fact to that of the lowly five Basques who have left their village in search of the new world. Then the modern world from Kay Kamen and the birth of merchandising to coming to America to box or perform . This is a collection of lives just as europe was getting on it feet caught in an air crash that end their lives but we see the paths they were taking and what France and the real world was like at that time a nice slice of historic fiction for those who like me aren’t always the keenest on historic fiction.

A temporary sojourn and other stories by Nasreen Jahan

A temporary sojourn by Nasreen Jahan

Bangladeshi Fiction

Original title –

Edited by Niaz Zaman

Translators – various

Source – review copy

I was sent this via a fellow blogger Chelsea McGill who blogs from the globally curious  and lives in India . The collection she sent me is from one of the best known Bangladeshi writers Nasreen Jahan , she joined the Chander hat a national organsation for children organisations in 1974 and was at this time also encouraged to writer short stories which eventually got published in a daily paper in Bangladesh. She has written novels and short stories and also a number of prizes including the Bangla prize.

Kader Ali had cleaved the boy in two with his axe and fled the village in a frenzy. By the time he reached the riverbank at the end of the river, it was past sundown. An unpredictable wind was blowing, sometimes motionless and dead, sometimes they lash at you so hard you’re startled. In this unruly state of nature the river waters are in a fix. Fortunately a pitch darkness has defended or else this behaviour of the wind on her anchal waves pulling in one way and baring the other would have caused the river to fail miserably in keeping herself decent.

A temporary sojourn opening passage

The stories in this collection all for me had an eerie feel to them a collection of tales of low lives and people on the edge of life.A husband in the title story kills his son because he feels his wife hasn’t really become a muslim after they married. Elsewhere a mother and daughter fall out over the daughters lover the mother has deformed legs this remind me some what of Maugham characters in of human bondage only with the roles shift in sexes. Other stories head into Marquez and magic realism with cattle thief clashing with the vultures and elsewhere animals turning up. These are stories of everyday Bangladesh where we she how hard life is for the woman there and how often they are let down by the males around them. A refreshing collection of stories from a new name for the blog and new country for the blog.

A vulture is perched between the outstretched legs of the dead cow that had been lying on Nayar Char for sometime. It is jumping about like a new-born calf.

Kutubuddi is watching from a distance. There is not a single soul in sight anywhere. The sky seems to have descended on the Char like the breast of a white cow. Today Kutubuddi is a skilled hunter. his feet are [added like a cat;s. Indifferent to the thorny bushes that are scratching him and drawing blood he creeps forward

Man and Vulture get to it over a dead cow in the story Vulture , I felt this had a large echo of Marquez in it.

When I started winstonsdad these are the books I wanted to review the rare gems those books that show how yes these stories are set in Bangladesh but also the stories could remind you so much of the people we see every day on Jeremy kyle being at the bottom is hard wherever you are but this also shows how strong the woman are in Bangladesh for me this is also a perfect books for woman in translation month. Yes some of the translations are maybe raw and the voice isn’t the same as it is when one translator does a short story collection but it is also refreshing to see so many translators that can translate Bangladeshi fiction into English eleven in all. Many thanks for Chelsea for sending it to me .Have you read any books from Bangladesh.

Bottom’s dream or Nightmare or is it Jam and Jerusalem Epic reading options

I saw earlier today a post on conversational reads That Scott Esposito had posted a picture of this year maybe most awaited amoung die hard translated fans and that is the epic Bottom’s dream by Arno Schmidt , whom I reviewed earlier this year one of his shorter books The egghead republic. But Bottom’s dream is a whole different kettle of fish a book that in the german editon a folio size 1348 page book. To give you a glue of how huge this book is here is a video of the german edition being flicked through

The book follows the struggle of  a german translator in translating the works of Edgar Allen Poe into english and is also influenced by the wordplay James Joyce used in Fnnegans wake.Well Dalkey Archive and John E Woods the  translator , who has spent years working on it. Welll 2,250,000 words is a lot as Scott point out 4 times theat of War and Peace. Add to that is the cost at 50 pound it will be an investment, but also a talking point for many years to come. Then if that isn’t enough I have also an eye on this book Jerusalem by Alan Moore

A book that follows 6000years of history in his home town of Northampton . He said in an interview there was chapter influenced by Jame Joyce , Samuel Beckett and Noir as the tale of this town is told by 12 characters .This is also a 1,000,000 word novel and has a three vol editon coming out also in sept . So I have a battle of epic reads to try and read . Which of these two epic novels grabs you ?

Wakolda by Lucia Puenzo

 

Wakolda by Lucia Puenzo

Argentinean fiction

Original title – Wakolda

Translator – David William Foster

Source – Library book

Well I said the next stop of my woman in translation journey would be Argentina. Lucia Puenzo was part of the Granta best young Spanish writers edition a few years ago. She has won number of awards for her film work, she is a film maker as well as a writer. This novel is also a film she made with the english title the German Doctor, which was a feature at Cannes film festival when it came out . This strangely is also the second novel I have read this year about germans in Latin american after the second world war.  the other being Affections by Rodrigo Hasbun.

That day, mixture of sodium cholride and magnesium nitrate, injected with infinite patience into each eyeball, would change forever the course of science. The mass sterilization, the vivisections, the frustated attempts to change skin and hair colour using subcutaneous injection and even the night on which he thought he had finally succeeded in joining the veins of two twins to create a Siamese twins, only to find them a few hours later gasping like fish out of water – all his failures would be forgotten if he could manage to change the colour of the eyes of this child

The opening lines a chilling look at the man and what he did in the past !

As I said in the first paragraph the book revolves around an escape German from the second world war in this case it is a more famous German than in Rodrigo Hasbun book the escaped german in this story is Josef Mengele himself the man known as the angel  of death during his time as a doctor at the Auschwitz death camp . This is 1960 and Jose has settled in Bariloche a place that a number of Nazis have lived since the war in relative quiet from the rest of the world . Jose wants to carry on his work , that of trying to find the perfect human being. This leads him to a family that have all the qualities he is looking for except their daughter Lilith who has a growth defect . Add to that her mother is now expecting twins and the doctor had previously worked with twins in Auschwitz where he sewed two together like siamese twins to see what happen, but in this case he is fighting to keep them alive as the net is closing around him. We see most of the action through the eyes of the young girl who has a doll called Wakolda that Jose gave here.

Her father occupied the following pages , alongside her brothers , alongside her brothers, also surrounded by numbers and measurements.

she read Homo siriacus

she came last

Her illustration had more details than the others: measurements of almost all her bones, the circumference of her head notations in German, number and more numbers, calculations along with results, a list 0f illnesses … feeling a lump in the pit of her stomach, she gathered up the arms and legs of her doll. She left the dagger , the ring and the notebook where she’d found them. she climbed out the window after making sure that everything was exactly as she’d found it .

Jose notes about lilith  she finds in his office

This book is a clever take on fact and fiction Josef Mengele did spend time in Argentina after the war. This is imaging what would have happened had he decide to hide and carry on what he did it is a story of what is right and wrong in Ethics and how far people will go in the pursuit of perfection. Again as I have found in a number of latin american novel in recent years is the use of the child narrator from Andres Neuman to Marcelo Figueras .Lilith would have died in Auschwitz but here she has grabbed Jose by why she is here as part of what is otherwise a perfect aryan family what is the cause of her in this perfect family.

Have you a favourite novel about nazis on the run ?

Her Father’s daughter by Marie Sizun

Her Father’s daughter by Marie Sizun

French Fiction

Original Title – Le Pere de la petite

Translator – Adriana Hunter

Source – review copy

Well I have another choice for woman in translation month and this is from one of my all time favourite publishers Peirene press ,  they also publish my favourite book by a female writer in Translation Stones in a landslide. So every book by them is usually a gem. Marie Sizun is an example to every one that it is never to late to start writing she taught literature for many years but it wasn’t till she turn 65 and this her first novel came ou in French. She has since written Seven novels and a Memoir.

It’s a winter afternoon in the kitchen of the apartment. They’re both there, the mother standing doing her ironing, a tall figure, and beside her the little girl, sitting in her special chair. They’re not talking at the moment. the child is thinking about what her mother has just said. On the radio a few minutes ago there was some news, news about the war , as usual. When the announcement ended, her mother switched off the radio and still ironing, said something like “your poor little daddy “… or perhaps ” When your poor little daddy comes home ” … offhand like that.

The later is the truth her world is about to change .

There is a memoir feel in my view to this book given that Marie her self was born in 1940 the story in Her father’s daughter which sees a little girl she her world shift after her father arrives home after the second world war. We see the pre father time when in their small apartmnet the child called France is the centre of the mother’s world as she is called My darling by the mother. Of course the world shifts once the father is back in the fold and the child feels as thou she has lost her position in the world to the father. To her the Father was a mythic being in a way having not seen her till she was four and this is what she wants him to become again. As sh opens up to the father a secret is revealed and this will yet again change the dynamics of this relationships.

The child may now have a father but, on the other hand, she might as well no longer have a mother. Because as if by magic her mother is reduced to being a docile wife to her husband, his sweetheart, his servant. Perhaps she no longer feels like it . Beside, indications have been made that she should limit her displays of affection towards her daughter, she should stop sitting her on her lap as she used to, and stop using any excuse to address her with that idiotic “my darling”

The world she knew is about to collapse around her when her father wants to change her relationship with Mum.

What Marie Sizun has done is taken a story that happened a hundred times in a hundred places around the world at this time and that is the return of the lost father figure to the family fold and the child France point of view is told and that is one many children would have had at the time the one of wanting to reject the father figure and for the house to return to normal. Marie Sizun has captured the world so well through a childs eye that innocent way of seeing the world before our thoughts get to grey where we see the world in black and white and in good and evil. Another gem from Peirene and another great book for Woman in translation month . Next time I will be in Argentina and another world war two touched tale.

Have you a favourite book about family returning home  ?

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