Our dead world by Liliana Colanzi

 

 

 

Our Dead World  by Liliana Colanzi

Bolivian Fiction

Original title – Nuestro mundo muerto

Translator – Jessica Sequeira

Source – Personnel copy

As I said the other week , I have been adding a few new titles from my own money to the tbr pile , this is a new writer from Bolivia , I was attracted by the fact there has been so little lit from the country , Liliana Colanzi is  writer , journalist and editor . She currently lives in New York this is her third collection of stories and the first to be tranalstated into English by her

She ran to the bathroom, hoisted her foot on the toilet bowl and lifted up her skirt . She took the razor and without breathing made a crosswise cut on her thigh where some old scars were fading , she gave herself three ,four ,five quick slaps on the face until the bathroom mirror returned an image of burning cheeks . Then she tucked her hair behind her ears a, cleaned the blood from her thigh with a piece of toilet paper, flushed it away and went back to bed , where she stayed reading Maira Dimma’s The marvelous Secret of the souls in Purgatory until she fell asleep.

A girl marks herself in the opening story of the collection

 

Now this is a strange collection of short stories , mostly all have a hint of  sci-fi in there  nature , I was reminded in part of Early Murakami and other writers  . It has a mix of real and surreal worlds touching. A wave in one story comes across a university coming across making the students kill them selves, this is stories about stories . A man on Mars see ghostly animals in the desert of Mars as memories of his home on earth surface . , a family gather for that yearly photo and sparks fly . A dead youngster is being buried and a daughter and her  religious mother discuss what happens after you die  . A couple on the run in Paris run into a killer as they  arrive in the city , but are they to be dinner .

The day we arrived in Paris the police confirm the cannibal is hiding in the city. He lands on a commercial flight and the airport cameras show him passing through security controls, barely disguised in a copper coloured wig. He wears a Mickey mouse T-Shirt and has a distinct beauty and fragility that makes him look like an adolescent rock star than a butcher. It’s May and raining and from the seventh floor of the hotel the streets of Paris look like an Ocean off moving heads with colourful umbrellas floating here and there.

A couple in Paris the same time as a potential killer .

This is a short collection of eight stories that mix real life and magical realism.But also a future that could be where creatures have gone and come back in ghostly views , echos of Amazion Indian  powers and magic. I felt this is a nice short taster of what could be a new voice from her country , has already won a major prize for Spanish female writers under 35 .This is a writer trying out styles  a mix of everyone from Classic JG Ballard with the sense of abandon worlds and Murakami earlier works , where explained things happen this crops up in Colanzis work like in Early Murakami books . Also a nod to Borges this is a collection from upcoming new writer .A collection you can read in an evening .

Butterfly wings by Mohamed Salmawy

 

Butterfly wings by Mohamed Salmawy

Egyptian fiction

Original title أجنحة الفراشة

Translator – Raphael Cohen

Source – Library edition

I took some short novels from the library to read on my time off , but as ever when you are away time was short sightseeing and spending time with amanda but I did manage to read this great Arabic novel by Mohamed Salmawy . Salmawy is the president of the writers union of Egypt and secretary-general of the Arab Writers and also editor of a leading daily newspaper. This book came out just before the events of 2011 , so in a way is quite insightful about what happened then .

Doha imagined that meeting Ashraf al-Zayni on the plane had been a chance encounter.It would be over when the flight ended and they went their separate ways- she to Milan for the annual fashion show and he to Palermo in Scilly for the international NGO conference. Fate , however had something in store for her that she neither expected nor imagined.

The three and a half hours of the flight from Cario to Rome left an impression that would remain with her for the rest of her life.She had never met anyone like Ashraf al-Zayni before .She saw in him something she not seen in other politicians, plus  he had brought back to life something inside her that she had not believed still existed

The chancce encounter leaves an impression on the both .

This is a story with two main characters in it Doha is a fashion designer , a sort of link between the west and arab world , she comfortably travels between here homeland and The fashion world of Italy . Her husband is a leading figure in the Murbareck regime . We see their privileged world . But after a chance encounter with Dr Ashraf a man from the opposition she meets when they are both in Rome after talking to him she sees a new insight into her world . But even with this sense the wind may be changing in her homeland she returns and like the old saying about chaos theory a butterfly wings flapping can change the world the butterfly appears time after time whether flying or in patterns on the clothes Doha is wanting to show , the two meet later in the book as the tables are turned slightly from their first meeting  . Add to that a couple of small side stories about a man waiting to meet his internet wife and a pair of brothers hunting for the real mother.

Unable to rest, Doha flicked through The butterflies of Egypt , she came to a photograph of the mural in the tomb where the ancient  Egyptian artist had painted a picture of the butterfly . The tomb belonged to a noble called Nob Amun. According to the book , there were fifty-eight indigenous species in Egypt , which was a relatively small number in comparison with other countries. This was due to Egypt’s desert environment . Neverless , Egypt’s butterflies had adapted to the harsh conditions and were able to survive and maintain their beauty despite hardships

LIke the country itself the butterflies make a good metaphor from the Egypt post Arab spring .

This is another book that captures the can of worms that was opened in Egypt when Murbarek regime was on the verge of collapsing as part of the Arab spring A figure like Ashraf , is a passionate voice of a the young people on the street we saw so much in the TV coverage  clever wanting a bright future , which as we know never really happened . There is also echos of this change in the brothers seeking their mother a new mother maybe is clever metaphor for a new country and leadership. I also love the subtle use of butterflies as a recurring Motif throughout the book. But also a larger motif of the country emerging as a butterfly from it catalyst moment of the riots being the start of something beautiful like a pure white Butterfly. This is clever look at the recent past of Egypt.

That was the month that was May 2017

  1. War and turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
  2. The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen
  3. Traitors Niche by Ismail Kadare
  4. Fish have no feet by Jon kalman Stefansson
  5. Monte Carlo By Peter Terrin
  6. Mourning diary by Roland barthes
  7. Bodies of summer by Martin Felipe Castagnet
  8. Hair everywhere by Tea Tulic
  9. Belladonna by Dasa Drndic
  10. The Children by Carolina Sanin
  11. Listening for Jupiter by Pierre-Luc Landry

Things got back to normal on the blog this month after a couple of lean months review wise. I managed to finish the man booker longlist. I managed to read books from 10 countries .No new Publishers this month but the second book from Notting hill editions the Barthes Diary. So I have reviewed 49 books this year on the blog leaving me on course to read over 100 books this year.

Book of May

Belladonna by Dasa Drndric

It is a tough month as there has been a number of books that have touched me the Barthes is a great book for me at the moment but in the long run Dasa’s book is one that needs to be read Andreas Ban is a anti hero that shows us , what we need to be thinking about.

None book discovery

 

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I am due to leave work tomorrow after 17 years , I am sad but also looking forward to my new job in three weeks. I have just brought a Lomo La sardina Camera for my holiday next month, a retro camera with flash filter should make some memorable photos from our holiday.

Looking forward

 

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I have had a little extra money last few months so have slowly been getting some US translations from publishers like Open letter, Dalkey archive , Deep Vellum and archipelago books . The Castagnet from this month was the first of these books , I have a Magdalena Tulli I am reading at the moment. How was your month and what plans have you to read next month ?

Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes

French Memoir

Original title –Journal de deuil

Translator – Richard Howard

Source – personnel copy

I said I got this after reading a piece about books written after losing a close family member. This was also a chance to add Barthes to the blog , I have his Mythologies on my shelf that i read many years ago. He was one of the best known french thinkers , literary theorist , semiotics and was of the school of structuralism and post structuralism  . This was published many years after Barthes own death which happened a couple of years after the diary when he was hit by laundry truck on the way home from a dinner given by the president Mitterand

Every morning  around 6:30 in the darkness outside , the metallic racket of the garbage cans.

She would say with relief: the night is finally over (she suffered during the night , alone , a cruel business)

His mum was Ill like my mum sometimes suffering is best gone .

 

Having lost his father at a very early age , so was very close to his mother , so when he lost her in october 1977 he started to writer these short passages about his live, his mourning , his mother and how he is coping over the space of two years. We see the emptiness of the world with out his mother , he worries about how long he should feel this and that . The way grief can overtake him all of a sound .

Reread for the first time this mourning diary, tears each time there was any question of her – of her person – not of me

So emotivity returns

fresh as on the first day of mourning

I know this feeling so well-looking back is sometimes to hard I am going head long into a new life!!

This is a tough book to describe it is like a collection of thought more than a straight diary . The form of it was notes of paper he collected over those two years that he hadn’t done much with, he did after this write a piece about the pictures of his mum and who he felt about them , almost as thou he had healed more than when  these piece were left. two years earlier. We sense this is the first real taste of death that made him Barthes question his own death in a way it is more following the journey of grief that we are meant to take , I will show examples of each from the diary its self.

  1. denial isolation -“In the sentence “she is no longer suffering “, to what , to whom does “she ” refer? what does that present tense mean ?”  He has a sense of deinal to the present of the no suffering .
  2. Anger -“.. That this death fails to destroy me altogether means that I want to live wildly madly and that therefore the fear of my own death is always  there, not displaced by a single inch.” I sense anger here driving him wildly and madly to danger !
  3. Bargaining -“My overcoat is so deary that I know Maman would never have tolerated the black or grey scarf I always wear with it , and I’m keep hearing her voice telling me to wear a little colour .For the first time , then , I decide to wear a coloured scarf (scotch plaid)” I sense him bargaining with his mother
  4. Depression -” autumn 1921 Proust nearly dies (overdose of veronal).- celeste “we’ll all meet in the valley of Jehosphat”-“Ah! do you really believe there’s a chance of that? If I were sure of meeting Maman again , I’d die right away ” A sense of depression in the way he said he would die to meet his maman again .
  5. Acception -“- I write my suffering less and less but in a sense it grows stronger, shifting to the realm of the eternal since I no longer write it ” Acceptance of a sort that the writing stage is over for him.

This is one mans touching journey a book of thoughts regrets and making his way through his personnel grief . I was so touched in so many ways this is a book that will linger with me for the rest of my life .

 

 

A book to help with Mum’s passing

I read a piece last week by Scott Esposito called On books we read (and write) to get by . The piece was about Naja Marie Aidt on her  struggle to get by with the death of her son . She was given a number of books by her fellow writers one of those was Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes , which hit me as it followed his life a year in little sections after his own mothers death, I have just had a numb hole in my heart and mind for the last few months as I put my Mum’s passing to the back of my mind as I struggle to process all that I have lost.This arrived yesterday and I already read half of it as a shared journey . This may not be the total but maybe like Naja reading her books which lead to her own book as she puts it her (translated ) Grief is giant fucking monster that destroys everything  , she wrote a book about her son Carl and how she dealt with the loss  .I’m not talented enough maybe to write a book about mum but I want her to be remembered so I may write something even if she gets a mention in a review.Have you ever find solace in a book ?

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