Booker night, damm I’ve not read any


Tonight sees the booker winner announced and like last year I have not read a single book from the shortlist .I last read the full shortlist in 2009 in the early days of this blog. But my tastes have shift or have they ? I watched the artsnight show presented by Ben Okri about this years shortlist and by the end of the show went damm Stu what you doing . THis years list maybe is the one that I should have tried . I have read Anne Tyler and Tom McCarthy  before and connected with both Tyler writes great family drama and McCarthy is talented writer if a little overrated imho but C was thought-provoking. I was brought A little life by Hanya Yangihara by Amanda for my birthday, but have yet to get to it. When the list was first announced a the longlist stage I would put money on A little life, BUt it is the last three books that Ben Okri really sold me and reminded me of what years ago I loved in the booker .Marlon james has written about the attempt  killing of Bob Marley , The fisherman by Chigozie Obioma could herald a new voice in African writing it seems and draws on the oral tradition of His homeland .Then there is  Sunjeev Sahota book about immigrants in Sheffield from India (I only live ten miles from Sheffield so this appeals on the level I don’t think there is enough immigrant lit ).I wish BBC had shown the Okri show at the start of the shortlist (I know it couldn’t have been done , but they could have done all longlisted writers maybe). Next year I shall take more note and maybe raise my eyes out of my current translated read and look at what makes the shortlist and in the mean time will pick up the three books by James, Obioma and Sahota as and when I see them. I’m not going hazard a guess at a winner but for fun will pick some comparable translated books similar in one or many ways to the shortlist.

A little life by Hanya Yangihara  – The tower by Uwe Tellkamp – another epic book about growing up , not as much about abuse but the abuse of  power that they saw by the state at the time .

A spool of Blue thread by Anne Tyler -When doves disappear by Sofi Oksanen a story that goes back and forth in time like the Tyler story does.also there is a link between the two main characters .

when the doves disappeared by Sofi oksanen

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy A project for revoloution in New York by Alain Robbe-Grillet A challenging  experimental novel from France set in america as Satin island is a play on Staten island in New York .

alain robbe Grillet

The fishermen by Chigozie Obioma – Our Musseque is another tale of African life tough and brutal as well but seen through the eyes of kids .


A Brief history of seven killings by Marlon james – The anatomy of a moment by javier Cercas another book about a moment in history , this was about the attempt coup in the early 80’s in Spain .


The year of runaways by Sunjeev Sahota – She is not me by Golnaz Hashemzadeh  Another story of immigrant life in Sweden not Sheffield thou .


She Is Not Me

Euro 2016

Well I’m in the middle of watching England finish their qualifying for Euro 2016 and thinking about what I could do next year book related, like my world cup of writing post that I did five years ago for the 2010 world cup (I missed last times as the whole three percent thing was running and also there was so many countries that had so little available at hand it would been hard to have done something .So I fancy a swing at either a solo challenge or some sort of football/book related posts like I did in the world cup of writing post relating memories of writers and footballers together. A look through the qualified teams –



Czech republic



Northern Ireland












Then four more from the eight best third place teams which will be decided tonight .The list makes my eyes light up for a number of reasons, Romania,Poland are two countries I have great books on my shelves to read. Memories of football you can’t go pass Northern Ireland at the world cup in 1982 beating Spain the host nation to top the group,  Gerry Armstrong  pictured above  and those Billy Bingham boys or shocking  moments like Austria and Germany playing a deliberate  score a win to Germany that meant both countries qualified for the next round also from 1982.I’m sure I will get something fun and different together mix books and football again.

Arno Who? Library stash a whole heap of german books

Arno Schmidt

I Promise I will review a book next but as ever time has runaway this evening so , I decide to show you the nine books I just ordered that had come to the library today , I’ve a few more in the pipeline . First off this is one of two I really got excited about when I ordered it from the library ,The eggplant republic is a book by the writer that has been compared to Joyce amongst others Arno Schimdt is best known for his epic novel Zettels Traum (which is huge and is currently being translated into English and is due out on Dalkey Archive a some point in the next couple of years) .This book is about a journalist visiting  a jet power island .I can’t wait this is one of the names I want on this blog .

Christa wolf

What remains is a collection of stories by the late East german writer Christa Wolf , the title story is described as a East German writers journey into a Kafkaesque world .

Marie Jaolowicz Simon

Gone to Ground by Marie Jaolwicz Simon a true story ,She disappeeared into Berlin in 1941 removing her yellow star and becoming someone else for the rest of the war .I was reminded of a film I saw years ago were a Jewish boy joined the Hitler youth in Berlin during the war Europa , Europa I think it was called .

Juli Zeh

I had tried  a previous Juli Zeh book , but didn’t get into it so left it , but this love triangle story of a couple that are  learning to dive whilst on holiday  and the wife falling for the diving instructor .

W G Sebald

Sebald talks about the six writers the influenced him as a writer in this book , I read all his novels as they came out and not read a book by him for a few years,so this will be one I will savour I think.I may also find a new writer to try from his six writers .

peter stamm

Another novel by Peter Stamm , I reviewed seven years a couple of years ago ,I like his sparse style but only just got round to him again .A women who became a widow in a car crash and has horrific injuries trying to get her life back together.

Bernhard Aichner

The story of Blum whose husband is killed by the men he is investigating , this sends her on a killing spree as her dark past is unlocked . A crime novel for German lit month .

Joesph Brodsky

One of two none German books for after German lit month Watermark is Nobel winner Joseph Brodsky prose piece about his visit to Venice .built around 48 short chapters .

Claude simon

Another of the Noveau Roman writers Claude Simon conducting bodies another experimental novel .

So one of my two surprise finds from the library the other is even better than Arno Schimdt .

Happy international Translation day


“The original is unfaithful to the translation.” Jorge Luis Borges


Without translation, I would be limited to the borders of my own country. The translator is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world. Italo Calvino

Translation is the art of failure. Umberto Eco


Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes.” Gunter Grass

I’ve choosen four quotes by writers whom I have read because of Translation , this blog wouldn’t be here with out the hard work of the many translator and their translations .So today we raise a glass to them and say Bravo for all the hard work and here is too many more books in tranalstion for Winstonsdad .

Hurma by Ali Al-Muqri



Hurma – Behind the Veil of a Jihadi Bride

Hurma by Ali Al-Muqri

Yemeni fiction

Original title – Hurma

Translator – T M Aplin

Source – review copy

Don’t create
Don’t rebel
Have intuition
Can’t decide

Typical girls get upset too quickly
Typical girls can’t control themselves
Typical girls are so confusing
Typical girls – you can always tell
Typical girls don’t think too clearly
Typical girls are unpredictable (predictable)

Typical girls try to be
Typical girls very well

I choose a powerful female voice , the slits and typical girls as there are no typical girls really !!

It’s rarer and rarer these days I get to add a new country to the list of countries I have read books from,so when the chance to read this book by the respected Yemeni writer Ali Al-Muqri came along I wasn’t going to say no.He has twice been on the lists for the Arab Booker prize with his novels Black Odour and the Handsome Jew .This is his first book to be published in English .

Two cultural videos

I’m going to play the films on Lula’s Mobile phone,She used it to record the films as we watched them that day – she was very keen on making her own copies .

Two naked bodies.A man and woman .Licking and sucking .Groans and Moans .Opening and entering .Zeet-meet.The bodies entwined,face to face in a sitting position,the he lies on his back and she climbs on top of him and rides him like a horse rider mounting her steed,she rides him and rides him all the way .

The porn they watch is eye-opening and very secret in Yemen .

Hurma is the story of one young girls journey from being a girl into a women.It is a journey behind the Burka ,to the everyday life of being a woman in Modern Yemen.This is a family tale of a daughter trying to escape her world in a way.Her brother is socialist and has given up on religion,her sister is a extravagant girl who is maybe to sexual for the world see lives in . What we see here is behind the scenes as Hurma discovers her self and through the words of the Egyptian pop star OM Kalthoum (she is one of the biggest Arabic stars ),through her tape finds a way outside the world she lives in.Hurma decides to choose another path to that of her brother and sister and live behind the veil,but even this leads to men that aren’t suited and turn out top be the wrong men.

Cpuld the song have another meaning ?Didn’t the Arabic teacher at the academy tell us the meaning of a line of poetry is in the belly of the poet ?

Nothing is beyond the reach of a people 

When their feet are firmly in the stirrups .

Such beautiful words .. how slow am I ? why haven’t I appreciated the beauty of these words before ? There’s nothing a people can’t do if they set their sights on it and really go for it .Nothing is impossible .

I do wonder given the first quote could this be read another way still to the way the writer wanted ?

This is a crushing look at the inside world of being in Yemen,we often here it mentioned in Middle east affairs , but maybe know little of the country itself.So we see here what it is like growing up in a country with strict Islamic rules and how people live behind the veil (I hate that term,but can’t see any other way to describe it may step into the skin of being a female in the Arab world ).Hurma isn’t her name but a name she takes meaning in arabic Sancity a pointer of the direction she has taken .Arablit pointed out  the three long taboo subjects of Arabic literature are Politics ,religion and sex .Well in this book we see a fair bit of sex underground porn,sexual awakenings .Politic the brother is political shows the views in the modern Arabic world  and Hurma is the view into religion or the lack of it at times .the violent double standards for women are shown here we know they are there things like this happen but it hasn’t alway been written or discussed in fiction.A powerful book topical,also one of the most eye-catching cover this year I think .Another great Arabic title from Darf publishing.

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