A quick glance back at Sept to July for Woman in Translation

I have not made many plans for the woman in translation month. I feel as I review just books in translation these days I review as many woman writers as I come across or I am sent. So I decide like Tony have a look back over the last twelve months and a list of woman reviewed here.

Two green otters by Bucket Uzuner – a tale of one woman’s life struggling through 80’s turkey.

Trysting by Emmanuelle Pagano – unnamed voices of lovers talking about love and sex

Woman as lovers by Elfriede Jelinek – two factory girls love lives told through the years.

The Empress and the Cake by Linda Stift – A woman drawn into a bizarre old world of Austria

 

None like her by Jela  Krečič- a macho man searches for some one to replace his great love.

The boy by Wytske Versteeg – a Dutch couple adopt a boy but is he all he seems.

Swallowing mercury by Wioletta Greg – childhood memories of childhood in Poland .

Cockroaches by Sholastique Mukasonga glimpse of growing up in Rwanda before the troubles.

Breathing into Marble by Laura Sintija Cerniauskaite- another family adopt a child as their son is ill.

 

Image of Magdaléna Platzová’s “The Attempt”

The Attempt by Magdalena Platzova- A historian follows a famous anarchist she is writing about.

Our lady of the Nile by  Scolastique Mukasonga – the second book by her now her school years.

Fever dream by Samanta Schweblin – a woman remembers a past as she has a fever in a bed beside a child.

Mirror shoulder signal by Dorthe Nors – a woman learns to drive but all is not as it seems.

Hair everywhere by Tea Tulic – a mosaic of a family life with the mother dying.

Belladonna by  Daša Drndić– academic looks back on his life and history of the 20th century.

 

The children by Carolina Sanin– a woman ends up with a strange boy and tries to find his family.

Eve out of her ruins by Ananda Devi– a young girl growing up in Mauritius.

Our Dead World by Liliana Colanzi– Short stories from Bolivia.

Nona’s room by Cristina Fernandez Cubas– a collection of stories the title about a sister that has a special sister.

Before by Carmen Boullosa- a young girl talking about growing up in Mexico.

twenty books in all. out of 88 books read in the last eleven months.

Abahn Sabana David by Marguerite Duras

Abahn Sabana David

Abahn Sabana David by Marguerite Duras

French fiction

original title –  Abahn Sabana David

Translator – Kazim Ali

Source – title

So a new translation into English from one of the best known French woman writers Marguerite Duras is of course  a good choice for Woman in translation month. Duras is best known for her novel The lover which I reviewed  six years ago . Duras early novels were quite plain and it was to mid way in her career she decide to become part of the french Noveau roman movement , a movement which the writer tries to write a new novel in a new style every time they write a novel.

She is small and slim, wearing a long black dress. Her companion is of medium build, wearing a coat lined with white fur. “I’m Sabana , “she says “this is David. We’re here, from Staadt .”

The man walks slowly towards them.He smiles

“take off your coats.” he says “Please sit.”

They do not answer. They remain near the door

They do not look at him

IThis first meeting between Sabana David and Abahn maybe is a warning for what is to come .

The book takes part over the course of one night and involves four characters . David and Sabana have come to Guard Abahn (A jew) but also under the orders of their boss the cringo. Then later in the evening a fourth man called also Abahn appears after this point the first Abahn is mainly called the Jews by Sabana who is talking about him as David is asleep and she is worried that The Jew will turn on them.Over the course of the night all the problems of the 20th century from Soviet to Nazis have been discussed by the group. Leading to what they are all doing there what  their positions where with in the group and why they have been sent a sort of questioning of meanings and values.Also what happens when Abahn become the Jew when the second Abahn appear the change sparks a change in how he is spoken about !

“Which forest ?” ask Abahn

Tears fall from Sabina’s eyes. She thinks on it

“the forest”

“You don’t know what’s beyond here,” says Abahn. “Where is the forest ?”

she searches her thoughts.

“Where I don’t know. We have to talk about it.”

“The wild forest,” says the Jew.

“Yes” she says, pausing.”Where is it ?”

“Deep within Staadt” says the Jew.

She isn’t crying anymore. She looks at the Jews once more.Her gaze has become somber again, somber and blue.

The forest is in Davids mind as well ” Says the Jew

This talk of a forest for the Jews made me think of the words the Nazis used to disappear Jews inWW2

This is a classic bit of Noveau roman. Duras has drawn on Theatre of the absurd for this piece I was reminded so much of the works of Pinter in particular the birthday party where two characters turn up at a characters house and through the night discuss the power and use of power. This is one of those piece that show power and the abuse of it like in this case the fact Sabana and David have been sent for a dual purpose from the Cringo to Abahn in the Staadt these terms can be interchange with a number of places and political parties within the 20th century. This is what we are drawn to think by  the way  Duras has apart from the dialogue drawn the bare bones of a story over this work leaving us the reader to fill in the parts unspoken or unsaid ourselves. A powerful Novella from one of the best French writers of the 20th century.

Have you read any more books by Marguerite Duras ?

 

Woman in translation reviews from Sept 15 to July 16

I will quickly wrap up all the reviews in the year since the last Woman in translation month.

2015

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Voices from Chernobyl  by Svetlana Alexievich – Her work on the characters and effect of the disaster on all effected.

The woman who fed the dogs by Kristein Hemmerechts The wife of Belgium’s most notorious murder is told.

The defenceless by kati Hiekkapelto Finnish crime novel link to the immigrant girls .

She is not me by Golnaz Hashemzadeh A young womans journey to adulthood as she struggles to be a swede from Iraq

Coup de Grace by Marguerite Yourcenar A novel set during russian civil wart a love triangle of sorts

Memory at bay by Evelyne Trouillot  Two people from Haiti In a Paris hospital from both sides of the Papa doc regeime

Gone to ground by Marie Jalowicz Simon One womans survival as a Jews In wartime Berlin

Decompression by Juli Zeh A love triangle on a hoilday Island

The other woman by Therese Bohman The other woman tells her story a doctor falls for a staff member at the hospital.

2016

wp-1451988344895.jpg

The decision by Britta Bohler – Thomas Mann decides to call the Nazis as he decides to publish a piece against them.

Mend the living by Mayliss De Kerangal A day in the life of a human heart and the two people it touches

Hah BY Birgul Oguz a collection of Turkish short stories

Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye Three woman’s lives connect by family

The story of the lost child by Elena Ferrante – The last part of the story sees the two friends older, but not together

The little communist that never smiled by Lola Lafon – The story in novel for off Nadia Comanecci apt for this Olympic year .

The body Where I was born by Guadalupe Nettel A tale of a girl with a sight problem growing up

The winterlings by Christina Sanchez-Andrade Two sisters return to the childhood home .

Well 17 books isn’t bad in what has been the poorest 12 months of blogging. This is my 1300 post on the blog it is nice it comes as I’ve  managed to post a few reviews this week.

What did you read in the last year by woman in Translation ?

 

 

 

Life begins on Friday by Ioana Parvulescu

Life begins on Friday by Ioana Parvulescu

Romanian fiction

Original title – Viaţa începe vineri

Translator- Alistair Ian Blyth

Source – Review copy

For my second book for Woman in Translation month I move west from Russia to Romania and to a EU prize-winning book Life begins on friday by Ioana Parvulescu. She grew up in Brasov , she came to Bucharest as an 18 year old and in her Eu prize-winning interview unlike most people from the town where she came from she fell in love with the city, fist with its good parts and then with its bad parts. She has written ten book this is her first to be translated into English. May I note this has an after word by Mircea Cartarescu whose book Blinding was hailed as a great book , why this equally challenging book for the reader has fallen on deaf ears ? This is maybe a reason we need woman in translation month.

The people of Bucharest were having a good day. It had snowed, there were still twelve days till the end of the year and twelve hours till the end of the day. The whiteness, which stretched from one end of the city to the other, from Cotroceni palace to the obor district, and from the serban voda cemetry to the flower beds on the Chaussee and then onward, into the horizon, was melting in the afternoon sun. The icicles looked as if they were coated in oil and here and there were beginning to drip onto the heads of the passer-by.

Bucharest in snow then in melts away under the sun in the day.

 

The book follows thirteen days in 1897 the end of that year . It starts when a man is found injured not really knowing who he is . The Man Dan Kretzu or as he is known in this time Dan Cretu has come back to this time from the present or the future (this is not really clear ) But we see him recovering in a house where the father is looking after him and The Daughter Julia is caught up in the world of the novel Vanity fair. This is a glimpse into a city that at this time was a shining light in Europe and also to an age where the human soul was maybe less  weary. But this is seen through modern eyes. Add to this there is also a murder in the background as it happened just by where he was found this 113 day glimpse in the past changes him and also all those he touches.

Today I experienced a great joy. A surprise. It was about time, otherwise I would have said that I was beginning to resemble Amelia from vanity fair, and heaven knows nowadays kind, weepy creatures are more unfashionable than Grandmother’s long nails and her bunches of curls hanging next to her ears.

Julia doesn’t want to be like the Naive Amelia n the book

Ioanna in the interview after winning the EU prize says the main character in all her books in the city of Bucharest and so it is here in this book. The city is full of life here as she choose this time as she felt it was an Epoch moment in both the city itself which shined bright at this time , but also in the sense of human nature she felt the soul of humans was different then we had a future to look forward to the world now has moved on so much. You can see this is Julia the way she is so drawn into a book and into that world of fiction vanity fair was cutting edge when it came out in how it viewed relationships. and Becky sharp was maybe one of the first woman of her own mind many young woman would read about. This is just one line of the book there is a few other threads but this is one of those books you have to read to fully get. I must note know the shame of brexit I have read so many great Eu lit Prize winning books over the last few years with money from the EU to bring us these books in English , which come UK leaving europe will happen no more a sad loss to all us fans of World lit.

Have you a favourite EU Literature prize winning book ?

Gnedich by Maria Rybakova

Gnedich

Gnedich by Maria Rybakova

Russian Fiction

Original title – Гнедич

Translator – Elena Dimov

Well time has flown I was off work last week and had hoped to post a few post but I was so busy , I didn’t get chance any way it is now August and I still have a few Spanish reads to do over the next few days but today is the first day of  Woman in translation month and it seems fitting to start with a great find in a way. I was contacted by Glasgoslav books thanks to my friend Lisa at Anzlitlovers point them in my direction and one of the recent books is this unusual book by the Russian writer Maria Rybakova , who has written a number of novels which have n=been translated into a number of languages , but this is her first book to be translated to English, It was shortlisted for the Andrei Bely prize. Maria Rybakova is from a family of writers her grandfather and both her parents are writers he mother Natalie is editor of Banner a respect lit magazine in Russia

Homer says : youth is alway frightening ,

and the memory of it is the most dreadful or all.

Sing,goddess, it is your amusement

to sing our sorrows, our pain is your glory,

but when you come to me

pretending to be an ac tress

I will agree to suffer, said Gnedich,

and loooked in the mirror with one eye.

In the dark hole of glass he saw

either the cyclops or the hero lover,

then Homer, then suddenly no one really,

just fuinture and the sickly candle

The loss of  his eye draws comparison with Homer world and words for Gnedich

Gnedich is the name of a Translator in the 19th century Russia. He was the first man to translate Iliad by Homer from Russian into English. The book is told in the style of Homers work in twelve songs or Cantos about Nikolai Gnedich’s own life. From his childhood where he had smallpox that leaves mark on the young man who drives him to a become a librarian but also to books, to him discovering Homer and reading him to deciding that his lifetime task was to work on the Iliad  to bring it to a wider audience .All this at a back drop of when Russia as a country was at its height Imperial Russia is brought to life in Homeresque style as we see how one mans quest for the perfect Iliad is his own life’s work. From his own life his best friend also a poet .

Of course , he wanted

the girls to love him,

but they smelted of sweat and they cackler,

showing their blackened teeth,

and Gnedich decided to wait

until Moscow or Petersberg,

where goddesses would walk

in beautiful dresses: they would be the ones to love him,

but the later it appeared they also were afraid

to look at him

and Gnedich decided to wait a little more-

til his death

Sad he like the girls but they don’t like him thus driving more to his book and the work to translate it .

I said this was a unsual work and a perfect example of what we should all be trying to both read and promote during  Woman in Translation month. A work by a female writer, but also a work that you would only find from a small press. Who else would bring a short novel in poetic verse in the style of Homer from Russian and that is no one. It is also a tale of the art and passion of Translators the unsung heroes of world lit that like Gnedich bring the great works to readers in whatever language. The power of the written word to drive one man to transform it into his own language is shown here .  So my journey through some female writers in translation has started in Russia and we will next move west to Romania .

Have you a favourite Novel in Verse ?

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

IMG_20150805_144452

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.

 

That was August on winstonsdad

innocence by Heda Margolius Kovaly

I can’t remember the last time I felt I had blogged enough to be worthy of doing a round-up of my months blogging .Last month was Woman in translation month and through this blog we took a journey around the world . We started in Mexico with The story of my teeth by Valeria Luiselli , the tale of a man selling his teeth as thou they were famous teeth .We then head north to Sweden and a woman falling in love with an artist in a story about how we view love Wilful disregard by Lean Andresson .Then we head to France and a dead bar owner and his customers tell the story of his life and his death in Bar Balto by Faiza Guene .Then a u turn and back up north to Finland and The second book by Sofi Oksanen , when doves disappeared the story of two men during and after the war in Estonia .Then I did a post about my lack of Ferrante fever , I d try to read book one again but be honest still not getting it !!But this next one was a small victory in the type of books I read the exchange of princesses by Chantal Thomas was a great historic novel about a young princesses in France and Spain .Then onto Crime in post war Czechoslovakia and Innocence or murder on the steep street by Heda Margolius Kovaly best known for her memoir she took a slip of American hardboiled crime style and made it her own in Czech style crime in this novel .I then pulled five old reviews from Winstonsdads 500 plus books in translation reviewed .Then we head back on our Journey and to Brazil The passion according to GH by Clarice Lispector is one woman story of how she killed a cockroach the day before in a white room , stunning and the final push I need for the complete  stories which I got this weekend by her .Then I lament the lack of female nobel winners . The I was Asia bound with one of the books of the year The vegetarian by Han Kang the story of one woman after she turned vegetarian in Korea told from three views .The back to France for a third book and Heloise is bald by Emile De Turckheim the story of one girl growing with an older man the apple of her eye .Then back to Korea and another fable tale with the Hen who dreamed she could fly by Sun – Mi Hwang a hen escapes her home and discovers the wider world .Then a non fiction book by a Croatian writer Thank you for not reading By Dubravka Ugresic , a witty and serious look at the world of books from the trivia of western publishing and the reverence of the soviet years of being a writer .Then a slice of great Danish fiction with this should be written in the present tense by Helle Helle , one girls waste years of being at university and not going there but elsewhere .Not bad 12 reviews from woman in Translation .The find of the month was Innocence or murder on a steep street a real gem a slice of american in europe that thankfully missed the censors shredder .

I look forward to this month tomorrow I intend to review a nobel hopeful from Ukraine , then I am doing a classic book from Nigeria , that will start a number of reviews of African based or related books . How is your month looking ?

Woman in translation Five from the Archive

One of the beauty of blogging for six plus years is I have a good selection of reviews to look back on so today as others have I ‘ve decide to look back on five books from the archives

The rest is silence by Carla Gulfenbein

The rest is silence

 

A young boy discovers there is more to his mother dying , when he discovers a mp3 file of her talking .She manage to capture a good child narrator in this book .A great way of how we view the world when young and what happpens when that falls apart .

The last brother by Nathacha Appanah

the last brother

Now off to Africa and a small piece of history told in this book ,Raj and David meet after David arrives with his family of to try and get to Palenstine after the second world war . One first from Maclehose press worth looking back on .

The belly of the Atlantic by Fatou Diome

belly of the atlantic by fatou diome

Now A real early review on the blog is this tale of dreams and migration , seems more fitting now than it did six years ago . One boy follows his football dream but it goes wrong .With recent scenes in France this is a must read african novel .

The tongues blood does not run dry by Assia Djebar

the tongues blood does not run dry

Off to North africa and the late Assia Djebar , a collection of stories that are about the modern role of women in Algeria and North Africa and after the recent arab springs is an interesting look at the past for woman and what could change in the future .

Accabadora by Michela Murgia

accabadora

The story of a woman that sees to the dying a sort of reverse midwife for the dying .As she face up to her job and rural life in general .

 

 

Now also worth noting my good friend Susan from Istros books has a sale on via Impress books of a number of the Female writers they have published in the last few years such as Exile a wonderful short story collection from this year

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