A Nobel Double Two by Svetlana

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I have in the last few days received two books from last years Nobel winner. This the first book that arrived Second hand time is a selection of interviews she has taken to form a piece on the post soviet world and how it has formed a new world and in her use of many voice to individual monologues see how the post soviet society is affecting the every man and woman on the street. This is the first new work from her since the Nobel win to reach us in English and is out from Fitzcarraldo editions. Penguin are also releasing new editions of her previous books I have reviewed this one in its earlier release as Voices of Chernobyl I had reviewed this last year as it was the only book I could get before the Nobel prize was announced .So as with Patrick Modiano the year before we now have a number of books from this wonderful Non fiction writer whose ability to work the people she talks to into a chorus of voice on the soviet and post soviet world she grew up in .

Have you read any books by her ?

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Globetrotter by David Albahari

Globetrotter by David Albahari

Serbian fiction

Original title – Svetski Putnik

Translator – Ellen Elias-Bursac

Source – library book

I had long want to try Albahari he is a writer that has always got good reviews over on the complete review with =three of his books getting -A score on the site. So when I saw this in the library system I thought be a great chance to read David  Albahari A Serbian writer , who also translates books from English into Serbian, he has won a number of prize including the Ivo Andric prize .Plus this was also published by Margellos world republic of letters a imprint of Yale press that I have a fondness for .

After that we visited the gray wolf, the buffalo, the bat, the golden eagle, the swan, and the hummingbird, and Daniel Atijas told me that the collection reminded him of a similar natural history museum in Belgrade, which he hadn’t thought of for years, and, come to think of it, he hadn’t been there for ages, for so long, in fact that he wasn’t even certain whether it was still up and running.But when he’d last visited, probably on a school trip, he had wanted to stay there forever.

A tour of a museum brings back a school trip and Daniels home town of Belgrade

Well now globetrotter is one of those tricky to describe books as it is set in Banff in Canada at a yearly art event ,but is mainly about former Yugoslavia  and the outfall of the recent war . A writer visits the art centre in Banff as a guest writer for three weeks. This writer Daniel Atijas is the main character but we see him through the eyes of the narrator of this single paragraph who is a Canadian  painter he has painted many faces of Daniel as he is attracted to this man but as he painted the many faces we see the story of Daniel but also what lead to him being in Canada the war in Yugoslavia but also the writers place in the world he says how many writers have left their homeland become Emigre writers . Does distance and history change how a writer writes ? As the two grow closer the reader discovers more about Daniels past and what he sees as his future as a writer. We also see a slowly unfolding love affair as the painter is so captured bu this Serbian writer and his tales but also by his face that seems to tell its own story .

Daniel’s room, I noticed that my misgivings had been unwarranted. The grief was still there on the grandson’s face, but by then, if I can put it this war, his was only half the grief, the other half had slided over Daniel Atijas faces, at least for that evening and night, looked less and less like the face I had been drawing and because of which I was sitting where, by all accounts, I should not have been.

The painter sees how the loss of a Croatian touches the Serbian writer when he is told by the grandson of the Croat .

I loved this it easy to compare the book to Thomas  Bernhard and many central european writers  as he writes in a similar breathless style to David in this the action is like one story coming at you at a pace. But for me it is maybe how David want Daniel and the unnamed story told a brief meeting of minds in three weeks that seemed to have touched both artist and writer in some way. This is a story of dealing with having a new home far away from your home but also ones own past a classic exile tale, but also Like Daniel David himself visited Banff in 1994 just as the story in the story was his own story and to add to the mix of Banff the translator herself visited it in 2001. So Daniel story is really Davids story of how he is trying to carry on as a writer in exile .I loved this it is a wonderful book that tells much about the writer but also those early years of the collapse of the former Yugoslavia remind me of me years at the same time in Germany working in a factory with a mixture of  Balkan refugees from Bosnia , Kosovo and Croatia

Have you read David Albahari ?

Sudden death by Álvaro Enrigue

Sudden death by  Álvaro Enrigue

Mexican fiction

original title – Muerte súbita

Translator – Natasha Wimmer

Source – review copy

Well it is Thursday and this translation Thursday I bring to you all one of the biggest stars in Mexican Lit, in fact part of what we may say is the Power couple of mexican fiction as Alvaro is married to fellow Mexican writer Valerie Luiselli. He has won a number of prizes and one of his books was picked on a list of the best recent books from Mexico .. I have read his book before I brought a copy of Hypothermia which came out a few years ago that was a collection of short stories this is his first novel to be translated into English.

At the collegiate church of Ottery St Mary, under Lacey’s rule, a group of novices had been using at the roofed gallery of the cloister to play matches against townies. In those day tennis was much rougher and noiser than it is today some were attackers, others defenders, there were no nets or lines, and points were won tooth and nail, by slamming the ball into an opening called a dedans. since it was invented by Mediterranean monks, it had redemptive overtones.

The rearly tennis so much different I once saw a court in Oxford for what is now known as Real tennis

Now the shock for you all the book is set of a fictional game of tennis , although this appears to be what we in the uk would call real tennis which is a slightly different game that game before the modern game we know. The match is between the Italian Painter Caravaggio (I mainly know about him from the Derek Jarman film in the 80’s about him ) he is playing the Spanish poet Francesco de Quevedo a quick-witted poet that wrote prose satire and many poems. As the match unfolds in other chapters we travel the world from England with Thomas Cromwell and Henry viii then through to latin america and the dying Aztec empire as they also play a game with the Spaniards there . whilst the two are cheer on from the sidelines by many well-known figures of the time Galileo, Saint Mathew and Mary Magdalene all cheer the two the vulgar Italian painter well-known for his pictures (he did paint the first still life of the modern age in his basket of fruit and the Spanish poet still trying to keep in favour with the royal court of Spain via this match.

Scarcely had Jean Rombaud disembarked at Franciscopolis – such a ridiculous name of the port of Le Harve until the death of King Francis I – before he began to spread the rumour that he was in possession of the darksome braids of Anne Boleyn and the he would make tennis balls with them that would at last gain him entry to the closed courts, where the nobility sweatedt hrough one shirt per game, five per set and fifteen per match. He had always felt that his freshed washed lions mane gave him the right to hardwood and tile: to play for sport rather than money .

I love the story of the ball it is great fun tale one of those odd stories that could be real or could be fake.

I have said before that I hate tennis , well in this case it didn’t matter as the match is just a small framing device to capture two figures that maybe show the world of the time the match is set is in change this is the golden age of discovery, When The world was moving from one age to another even the ball in this story has its own story it is made from the hair of the late Anne Boeyln. Enrique plays with what a novel is this like an earlier novel from Mexico I read By Jorge Volpi , shows how history can be made to serve the present also be caught in one match a duel between two artist to the end as the world around them sees an empire fall a man marry many woman and even the crowd have their stories to tell along the way .Of course with Wimmer translating this book it will of course bring many to connect this to Bolano, but for me they are just two great writers and for me Enrique has maybe more in common with Volpi than Bolano. This is one of those book that defies pigeonholing as a novel one of those that break the mould.

Hve you read anything by Enrique ?

Man booker international prize prediction post 2016

Well today is the day before the Man booker announce the first Man booker international prize longlist, the new name for the Indpendent foreign fiction prize. I don’t see much change in the books being picked this year Boyd is still the chair and so I feel the list may have a similar feel to other years. Last year i was miles of the mark with my predictions so lets see how I do this year with my 13 choices .

1.

The great swindle by Pierre Lemaitre

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This won the French Prix Goncourt slow burning book but very much an homage to french writing of the time the book is set ww1 and just after . My review 

2

The Meursault investigation

themeursaultinvestigation

I said this when I reviewed it every few years a book in translation seems to break free and become a  favourite of every one and this book is one such example. A retelling of Camus outsider from the Arab point of view .My review

3

Exiles by Ciler Ilhan

This was my favourite short story collection from last year and Ciler bravely touch many taboo subjects in Turkish society such as Honour killings . My review  

4

Submission by Michel Houellebecq

MichelHouellebecqSubmission

A dystopia france where a Arab led coalition has taken charge seen from a laid back lectures point of view who doesn’t see whats happening to it is too late. This is the one that was on the cover of Charlie Hebdo the week the magazine was attack My review

5

The vegetarian by Han Kang

A triptych of stories around a womans choice to become vegetarian and also her sexual awakening in a way. I like this book although was a tad over hyped by some. My review 

6

She is not me by Golnaz Hashemzadeh

 

She Is Not MeI think one World edition title should be pn the longlist they took uk by storm publishing 21 titles last year most of those in translation I loved this tale of trying to fit in as a teen in Sweden.My review 

7

Wilful disregard by Lena Andersson

 

A love story a woman falls for an artist and it is down hil from there . I loved the beauty of the writing in this one .My review 

8

What became of the white savage by Francois Garde

 

A man become shipwrecked in the 1840 and goes native in the Australi of the time . This is the story of that time ansd what happened when he returned to france a Priz Goncourt first novel winner .My review 

9

Signs preceeding the end of the world by Yuri Herrea

Signs Preceding the End of the World_CMYK SMALL

A sister takes two messages to her brother in the US a mythic like trip as Yuri has removed any sense of place or time to the story. My review 

10

My documents by Alejandro Zambra

Another short story collection this time by the Chilean Aljandro Zambra, I loved these I said when I reviewed his novellas he would be a great short story-teller . My favourite was one about a disgraced footballer that fake an injury during a world cup match . My review 

11

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila

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A high octanne look at  life in Congo as there is no law and people trying to make money steal money and some just to get by the best they can in this mad world . My review

12

The boy who stole Attila’s  horse by Ivan Repila

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Two boys fell down a well this is the tale of what happened after that .Well written .My review

13

Well I decide to name a trio of Spanish books that just on the edge in my opinion two I reviewed on I am part way in .

Out in the open by Jesus Carrasco

The Ilogic of Kassel by Enrique Vila-Matas

In the night of time by Antonio Munoz Molina

 

10 female writers for International woman’s day

I’ve decide to look back and bring ten female writers in translations for International woman’s day today. There is a lack of women in translation that needs addressing but if we knew how many male female writers where published in each country we may then know better what in translation is the right amount if that makes sense.Anyway today also saw the Bailey prize longlist so if you fancy a walk on the other side of lit and want to try ten female writers in translation instead of the Bailey longlist here you go –

1.

Stones in a landslide by Maria Barbal

stones in a landslide

One my all time favourite books , this the story of Conxa a young girl sent to another village that seems another world in her eyes although only a few miles from her home we see here grow up in this wonderful Novella . My review 

2 The Belly of the atlantic by Fatou Diome

belly of the atlantic by fatou diome

An early review on the blog follows two siblings drawn from Africa to europe one the sister in france the footballing brother dreaming of playing top flight football in France for me this book is more relevant than when I reviewed it six years ago. My review

3 Exiles by Ciler Ilhan

 

A powerful collection of short stories that lay bare modern turkish life. I loved the way she weaved recurring themes and motifs into these stories .From american involvement in Turkey to Honour killing no subject is taboo in this collection . My review 

4.

Innocence or Murder on a steep street by Heda Margolius Kovaly

innocence by Heda Margolius Kovaly

A czech crime novel written by a writer who translated the best known Noir writers in Czech pays homage to them in this story better known for her non fiction work under a cruel star about her time under communism. my review 

5

Thanks for not reading by Dubravka Ugresic

thanks you for not reading

A collection of essays around the world of books takes the two-fold look back at the years under communism when writers where in one way gods to the modern-day when she sees Joan Collins opening London book fair and ask why the west has fallen for Celeb memoirs and fiction . My review 

7

Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich

voices from Chernobykl

When she won the nobel last year few people had read her books I had managed to read this just before. Her style is to talk to every one involved in a situation and then writer their stories but it is the way she draws you into the lives affected and the wider picture of the fallout of the Chernobyl disaster. My Review 

8.

The passion according to GH by Clarice Lispector

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One of the writers I have really enjoyed the last few years is the late brazilian modernist writer Clarice lispector this follows one womans descent into madness over the course of one day. I have her stories to read soon and another novel so there is plenty of her to read out their. My review 

9

The woman who fed the dog by Kristien Hemmerechts

The Woman Who Fed The Dogs

The story is based on the wife of Marc Dutroux the most Well known  serial killer in Belgium history one woman who saw but didn’t see what he was doing. The book lives you wondering whether see was a bystander or more. My review

10.

Decompression by Juli Zeh

Juli Zeh

A clever take on the love triangle story from the upcoming German writer Juli Zeh .My review 

There is many more female writer in translation on the blog to find but here is a good selection of fiction and non-fiction.

 

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