The Dry Heart By Natalia Ginzburg

The dry heart by Natalia Ginzburg

Italian fiction

Original title – È stato così

Translator – Frances Frenaye

Source – personal copy

I mentioned on Twitter I was struggling to finish and concentrate on reading books recently. So I decided when I was in Macclesfield the other day to look for a short novella that was from a writer I have enjoyed before as maybe a way to kick start my reading as I hadn’t finished any book for more than a week. So when I saw this from the Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg which I’m sure I’ve seen this month around twitter of this book and others by her. she is one of those writers `I read and knew I would read everything I could get my hands on. Ginzburg, she worked for one of the best publishing houses in Italy. A publisher that had published the likes of Carlo and Primo  Levi, Cesare Pavese and Italo Calvino some of my favourite writers. Since she has been republished in the last few years she has had a revival and after reading this it is welcome to see people reading her.

‘TELL ME THE TRUTH, “I said.
What truth?’ he echoed. He was making a rapid sketch in his notebook and now he showed me what it was: a long, long train with a big cloud of black smoke swirling over it
and himself leaning out of a window to wave a handkerchief.I shot him between the eyes.

He had asked me to give him something hot in a thermos bottle to take with him on his trip. I went into the kitchen, made some tea, put milk and sugar in it, screwed the top on tight, and went back into his study. It was then that he showed me the sketch, and I took the revolver out
of his desk drawer and shot him between the eyes. But for a long time already I had known that sooner or later I should do something of the sort.

The opening is also the end in a way of the relationship

The Dry heart it is told from the perspective of a wife. The book opens as she shoots him between the eyes as she puts it what follows is a sort of remembered version of their time together of her meeting and falling in love with Alberto. She met him one day in the cafe but from the first, there is a sense the relationship is one-sided he asks her about her but when she tries to discover. more about him he is evasive about his life.The two form a bond she likes his interest in what she sees as her boring life as a teacher. They get close but he is always at at a neutral place like cafes or by the river. But then it isn’t til something happens to his mother that she finally gets a glimpse behind Alberto’s facade when he greets her in a dishevelled state. This maybe makes them see him as more human. But she still senses there is a real sense of two souls that shouldn’t be together coming together. Ginzburg draws you into this relationship and how it started and then fell apart from the perspective of some caught in the car crash of a relationship told in a way it is subtly explained and drawn in

BEFORE WE WERE MARRIED, when we went for a walk or sat in a café, Alberto enjoyed my company even if he wasn’t in love with me. He went out of his way to call on me; yes, even if it was raining he never failed to come. He sketched my face in his notebook and listened to what I had to say.

But after we were married he didn’t sketch my face any more. He drew animals and trains, and when I asked him whether trains meant that he wanted to go away he only laughed and said no.

The changes after they marry are the start of the relationship crashing

As I said I wanted a writer that I had enjoyed and this was the case with Ginzburg I had read the little virtues I had thought it was only a couple of years ago it turns out it was four years ago at the time I knew I want to read another from her but hadn’t thought it be so long anyway this is a book that even thou written in 1947 shows the power of great writing as it feels as thou it was written yesterday. it shows the dynamics of relationships are the same. The narrator tells the relationship in a fragmented nature we see how she ends up at the end which is also the beginning of the book shooting Alberto. It shows how a relationship is built bit by bit but like if you build a house on the sand the house is never stable and won’t ever last and this is the case here you read between the lines of the relationship growing there are gaps which we see in this relationship as they get drawn together but even the narrator sees this herself but is in denial or maybe just wants to ignore the faults she sees this is maybe what I like most about the book the sense of human nature in it how blindly we move at times through the world especially those nears to use we sometimes miss the faults and Alberto is a man that has many. it6s the fly on the wall that looks at a relationship from the female perspective that even 75 years later sounds familiar. Have you read any books by Ginzburg if so which should I try next?

Winstons score – a – it is amazing how it is still relevant and reads as thou not was written yesterday.

Moderato Cantabile by Marguerite Duras

Moderato Cantabile by Marguerite Duras

French fiction

Origin title – Moderato Cantabile

Translator – Richard Seaver

Source – personal copy

I picked this up earlier this year with Woman in translation month in mind and it is strange as the book I reviewed yesterday had slight echoes to Duras Lovers as it is set in Vietnam and had a man from Vietnam of Chinese descent at its heart.(I have reviewed lovers a long time ago and another from her a few years ago). So this is my third book from Duras and this is the earliest book from her. I have read the one that put her in the spotlight as a writer when it came out and sold half a million copies. Duras was born in Vietnam or as it was then French Indo-china she lived there most of her early life eventually studying in Paris and living in France during the war where her husband end up a t Buchenwald she nurse him back to life after the war she was part of the Nouveau Roman moment this book was made into a film.

The growing clamor of voices of both sexes rose from the dock. Everyone seemed to be saying the
same thing, but it was impossible to distinguish the words. The sonatina went innocently along, but this time, in the middle of it, the lady could take no more.
“Stop.”
The child stopped. The lady turned to Anne Des-baresdes. “I’m sure something serious has happened.” They all went to the window. To their left, some twenty yards from the building, a crowd had already gathered on the dock in front of the café door. From the neighbouring streets people were running up to join the crowd. Everyone was looking into the café.
“I’m afraid this part of town.” the lady said. She turned and took the boy’s arm.”Start again,one last time, where you left off.”
“What’s happened?”

The event happened during the Child’s lesson.

The book follows Anna she is the wife of a factory owner the book opens as she is at a piano lesson hence the title of the book when the piano teacher asks her child what Moderato Cantabile means`( he is referred to as just the child) as the lesson happens the attention is drawn outside the lesson to a cafe just by them it seems as they something is happening as they stare on the cafe the police come. It turns out there has a murder opposite a lover has killed the woman he was in love with. Well Anna is drawn in so next time she goes she visited the cafe where she saw the action last piano lesson what follows is her revisit the cafe where she meets a worker from her Husband’s business and pumps him for info of what had happened her imaging why it happened the day it happened as he Chauvin fills in the gaps of what happened. As the two are in the cafe on a Friday as the child has lessons. she starts to see this new man in her child at points saying he has similar eyes. This meeting is repeated this describes their lives this is a book where nothing but everything happens if that makes sense most of the book is about the same meeting at the cafe over a number of weeks.

The patronne picked up her red sweater, and didn’t answer. Another tugboat, loaded to the gunwales, entered the port. The child shouted something unintelligible. The man came over to Anne Desbaresdes. “Won’t you sit down?” he said. She followed him without a word. As she knitted,
the patronne followed the tugboat’s every manoeuvre. It was obvious that in her opinion things were taking an unfortunate turn.The patronne picked up her red sweater, and didn’t answer. Another tugboat, loaded to the gunwales, entered the port. The child shouted something unin-
telligible. The man came over to Anne Desbaresdes.
“Won’t you sit down?” he said.
She followed him without a word. As she knitted, the patronne followed the tugboat’s every manoeuvre. It was obvious that in her opinion things were taking
an unfortunate turn.

Red is a recurring motif in the book.

This is one pop those books that subtly hits you as a reader it is about the memory of a place in a way I can see this influence on other French writers including one of my favourites Modiano it is a book heavy on the sense of place. But with a lot of imagination to events by them both that for me in a way mirrors British books around this time I think the relationship between Anna and Chauvin is similar to those of certain books like Billy liar the relationship between Billy and Liz the way the real and imagined events blend or ike in a taste of honey where imagination and reality clash. It is a connection between class also that feeling of her as a repressed wife meeting this rougher man and making a connection. The book is as short as Peirene would call a movie book a book read in a couple of hours falls into that category. It was made into a film but it isn’t online to stream I hope to catch it one day as it is meant to be a French classic film. This is my favourite of the three I have read as it is one of those books that you think is easy but then days later are still making connections and going oh there was this and that there in this book. Have you read this or any books by her ? have you a favourite?

Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac

Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac

Argentinian fiction

Original title – Las constelaciones oscuras

Translator – Roy Kesey

Source – personal copy

I have another from the Grangta best Spanish writer list of a few years ago. This list has thrown up so many great writers over the last few years. Pola Oloixarac is an Argentinian writer she studied Philosophy and has written a number of pieces for various publications including New York times. She has written three novels this is her second the first novel has also been translated into English. She’s a founding editor of The Buenos Aires Review bilingual journal featuring contemporary literature in the Americas

On the final day of 1882, a group of explorers reached the sea that surrounds the crater of Famara, the volcanic mass that rises up from the archipelago of Juba. Like a fortress on the water , the crater’s aerial line shrouded the bay in grandeur. The travelers made land on a beach of black sqand crored by the tails of lizards, and began their climb along a mossy trail through a series of gorges that wound their way through the sinous formations of dark lava. Anchored in the bay,  their ship looked like an old dinosaur, its viscera extracted by parasites who lowered the cages, bronze instruments, wooden traps, and coils of rope into the sand amidst the boulders onshore

The opening as the head to discover new plants.

Dark Constellations is a work that involves three stories the first is a plant biologist on the canary islands discovering new plants. Then in the 1980s, we follow Cassio a hacker at the dawn of the internet we follow him from a kid entranced by computers and girls to a brilliant scholar and then a wonderful hacker.  Then in the near future, we have a group of scientists trying to discover a way of tracking people through there individual DNA. The latter two stories are interlinked as Max in the near future recruits Cassio he was a brilliant hacker in his day. As they use people’s biometric data to project their life and what will happen to them. Meanwhile, in 1882 the scientist Niklas Bruun has discovered a plant that he feels lets him connect with other species. Then in the near future, Max has made Cassio work on this algorithm as it is a new species as Max says. This is a mix of cyberpunk gen X and nods to the great explorers of the victorian age. A trio of tales that are wound together to a scary look at the future.

Cassio broke off all relationships with women, starting with the ones in his house. His natural satellites, Sonia and Yolanda, mother and maid, whom he perceived as inauthentic, united to form an incomprehensibly sadisitc caste. The are of his life coincidedwith the rise of women, considered a “Minority” , toward equal civil rights, but his mental life moved in the opposite direction, Soon his room began to stink of pizza and Coca Cola, sources of essential nutrients for growing young programmers. On the TV, ads showed blue liquids poured onto vaginal products”with wings” which didn’t help in the slightest. Was this what they had inside ?

Cassio struggle with his realtionships with Females whenhe was younger and became radical at times.

This is a clever look at the near future were Tech companies maybe have to much power the thought of DNA and over biometric being used to track us even lay the course of our lives. This is a storyline is one I have seen taken to its climax in the film Minority Report a Philp K dicks story there is a fell here she is a fan of his I have read a couple of his books years ago. From Cassio a rebel hacker his life is a classic blueprint of a lot of Tech giants from a scholar and backyard tech person. Is similar to the likes of Gates and Jobs but here it is set in Argentina. |cassio is also a classic Gen X character a slacker but then like so many gen x he gets caught up in the real world. This is a highly original book I had brought both her books as I had seen her as a writer that challenges the boundaries. Have you read this book?

Things we lost in the fire by Marianna Enriquez

Things we lost in the fire by Marianna Enriquez

Argentinean fiction

Original title – Las cosas que perdimos en el fuego

Translator – Megan McDowell

Source – personal copy

I’m reviewing today another book that tick both Spanish lit month and Women in translation month with yet another talent from Argentina. Marianna Enriquez studied Journalism and social communication, then she took a job as a journalist becoming deputy editor of arts and culture of the newspaper Pagina, She has published four novels and two collections of short stories this is her first work to be translated into English and given the content you can see a journalist eye behind this scary tales as they seem to connect to the dark past of the country.

The dirty kid and his mother sleep on three matteresses so worn out that, piled up , they’re the same hieght as a normal bed. The morther keeps what little clothing she has in several black carbage bags, and she has a backpack full of other things, I couldn’t say what they are. She doesn’t move from the corner, she stays there and begs for money in a gloomy monotonous voice. I don’t like the mother. Not because she’s irresponsible, or because she smoke crack and the ash burns her pregnant belly, or because I never once once saw her treat her son , the dirty kid, with kindness

The dirty Kid the opening story was he there ever or just a ghost touching people to remind them

There are twelve stories in this collection they cover things from kids pulling fingernails out, ghosts, dirty child beggars, and father disappearing. Opening with the dirty kid a woman living meets the dirty kid a beggar at the underground shaking hands and leaving his mark on people but was he really there as there is no sign of him when they come back with the police but there is a dead murder child that fits his descriptions.  There is a burnt beggar which appears in the title story. My favorite from the collection was the Inn a family go to meet the father who is working as a guide for the Inn. But when the guide he tells some tourists about the dark past of the Inn more than he should have done. Which was back in the day a police station one of those used for the dark activities that happened under the Junta. Then we have Adela house were they have three kids trying to challenge each other and eventually build up the courage to enter the local ghost house and they disappear.

For years ,Rocio’s father had worked at the inn as a tour guide: he brought the guest to the archaeological park, to the dam, and to the Salamanca cave, where he told them ghost stories about meetings between witches and devils, or about stinking, red eyed goats; furred snakes; and a basilik with blazing eyes. He was a star employee and was treated accordingly; he used Elena’s 4×4 when his truck broke down, he ate free at the restaurant whenever he wanted, he used the pool and football table without paying and around the townspeople said he was Elena’s lover. Rocio denied it saying her Father wouldn’t get mixed up with his boss, bot that snooty woman.

But when he tells people about the inns dark past he dissappears !! like so many before !!

Another wonderful collection of short stories from a female writer from Argentina I have enjoyed Samantha Schweblin collections in recent years if you enjoyed her collections this is one for you. Like Schweblin stories these are tainted with scars from there past and also the poverty that hits hards in the big city like Buenos Aires where there are so many fallen people on the edges this is a glimpse into there everyday horrific but for many the norm. In the dirty kid I was reminded at times of the great play an inspector calls where the fallen woman was seen by all there in the house and has died but was she the same or even real !! I enjoyed this collection it is the dying embers of the past still there in a piece like the “The INN ” which shows even thou it is now an inn the dark past of the police station is just below the surface. Death, murders, and male violence are all things she touches on in this collection. Have you read this collection?

 

Scar by Sara Mesa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scar by Sara Mesa

Spanish fiction

Original title  – Cicatriz

Translator – Adriana Nodal-Tarafa

Source – personal copy

I am back on with Spanish Lit month but also another for Women in translation month. Here I have one that ticks both boxes a Spanish novel from the writer Sara Mesa. The translator chooses to translate this book after reading a copy at a Dalkey archive applied for a literary translator program when she was given this book to read and after reading it new she wanted to Translate it.  She has written a number of novels they all seem to have similar themes to this of male to female relationships and the power within them. She has been a finalist for the Heralde prize in the past and has lived in Sevilla since childhood.

They discuss their childhoods ofteb. They hadsimilar experiences. They get excited telling about their memories, as if they were trading cards. Public school. Working class neighbourhood. Pelikan pencil cases, seasame street, blue sports jackets with white stripes, La piara ham pate for afternoon snack. Sonia scans a childhood picture for him, hoping to get one from him in exchange where she can make out his current features.

The two have a lot in common and chat about there childhoods.

Scar is a story of two characters. Sonia, she is an ordinary woman and goes on the internet chatting in a forum about literature. As she tries to escape her boring life as a data processor entering figures in a computer. So she becomes someone else at night. she meets the mysterious Knut Hamsun we never know his real name. The two starts by talking and over time a relationship develops. He starts to try and get her to write better with first packages of books from writers and also about how to write. But over time he starts to try and get Sonia into other positions by sending her lingerie expensive La perla, she thinks he stole them more and more come and he starts to try and get her mind as he sends more and more CDs, lingerie, perfume even then shoes stockings as the gifts pile up and this odd relationship gets strange as she is both drawn to this man and then scared about what he really wants. from her. She in the time of there relationship marries but after time the relationship with Knut begins again.

The amount you are able to read is amazing, she tells him. Knut comments extensively about Proust. He doesn’t stop insisting that she should read him too, but not just part of his work, not just one book, his entire oeuvre. He suggests that they study him together, that they analyze his work in depth. I would like nothing more in this world than thatr he sayshe claims to have read Buddenbrooks in five days, the brothers Karamzov in four. In another email he copies marge segments of Against the grain and asks her what she thinks of des Essintes’s views.

They both love books and she admires how well read he is

Sara is another of the talented writers to have emerged from Spain in recent years. This is a novel that brings to life a corner of the modern world that hasn’t been touched in literature much that of the online relationships the world has moved on so much in the last twenty year a fair few relationships start online now. This work also shows the dangers of that world. in Sonia and Knut we see a power relationship as Knut lavishes gifts on Sonia a woman caught in a boring world trying to get out of it is a perfect catch for this man. This is a man obsessed with Sonia and also he really wants to model her by sending her the lingerie although she h=never feels right in it and often it never fits her probably. It touches those dark corners of the human world as this is a story of codependents as much a Knut is a dark figure in this book Sonia also wants Knut. This is a wonderful insight into a new world of online forums and what happens when people meet and fall in love or in a co-dependency! Have you read this book or any of the Dalkey Spanish lit series?

Five for woman in translation month

Stones in a landslide by Maria Barbel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have chosen to do a list of five  books for the woman in Translation month. I have long held this up as the best book I have read from Peirene press for me it captures a microcosm of a world through the eyes of a Conxa a young girl that until she was thirteen knew just the village she grew up in the Pyrenees to move to a bigger village. I would recommend  Peirene books to everyone and they have published a number of great books by women in translation including Mussel feast and The blue room as two other to try. Here is my review of Stones in a landslide .

The white book by Han Kang

 

Image result for han kang white book cover

I loved this book when I read it as I was just getting over the greif of losing my mother and found this collection of Vignettes by Han Kang that wrote her own mother lost a child before she was born and she reflects on how grief is treated in Korea. The rice moon cake child she lost I was touched by that image. If you had read this I would point you in the way of Deborah smiths press she translated this book and started Tilted Axis publishing female writers from Asia.

The tongue’s blood does not run dry by Assia Djebar

 

 

I picked this as she was considered to be a Nobel worthy winner before she passed away a few years ago Assia Djebar was the first writer of Maghreb origin to sit on the French academy. This was a collection of stories and a long novella the later dealt with a woman that was dying and all had a female perspective on the modern Arab world. I will be reviewing soon three books from Nawal El Saadawi that Saqi books have recently reissued.

Trieste by Dasa Drndric

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A powerful tale by another great writer and one I was lucky enough to have met Dasa has a number of books now available in English this was the first to be translated and had the harrowing list of every Italian Jew that died in the second world war. I would also point you towards to more books from that region Farewell cowboy and Hah both from the great Istros books.

The Passport by Herta Muller

 

I read this early on in my blogging Career as it blew my mind with her descriptive skills and imagery it follows Windisch as he attempts to get a passport as a German in a small enclave in Romania. Two other great German books from Women I have read in the last year are The giant Dwarfs and River 

I will be publishing Five more next month from the many female’s writers I have read in the last ten years.

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

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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 ?

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