What a beautiful novel! A funny, ethereal and above all heartfelt love story between two isolated people. Strange Weather in Tokyo was shortlisted for the International Foreign Fiction Prize and could quite easily have won it, in my book. My only criticism (and it isn’t really one) is that it was too easy to read; I flashed through it in a matter of days, buoyed on by an expertly crafted strain of will-they-won’t-they authorship. Continue reading →
The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim (Comma Press), translated by Jonathan Wright. On the day the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is due to be announced, I finally finished The Iraqi Christ, which is shortlisted (edit: and has now won it). This takes my total to three of the six shortlisted titles (and I am just starting on Strange Weather in Tokyo). I have no idea who will win, so instead I should probably talk about The Iraqi Christ instead.
This is a fine collection of short stories by a clearly talented author. Dark, twisted, often fantastical and self-referential, they carry a wonderfully wry strain of humour that matches the often macabre settings we are treated to. The experiences carried in the novel are not exclusive to war torn Iraq; we are also taken to Europe and the experience of Iraqi-as-refugee. I enjoyed these stories the most because the sense of alienation, isolation and disconnect was really tangible. Continue reading →
An Atlas of Remote Islands (and Pocket version, right), by Judith Schalansky and translated by Christine Lo (Particular Books, Penguin).
When I woke up this morning I was worried, because I had no translation to review today. Indeed, I had nothing to review (I’m halfway through three books, which is a situation I hate being in, and other options for review are awaiting a blog post I will be writing tomorrow) whatsoever. Then our extremely cheerful postman arrived with the book on the left, and a feature that I had been planning for next week suddenly became possible. Hey, it is even a translation – perfection is a chance discovery. Continue reading →
The President’s Hat, by Antoine Laurain (Gallic Books). Translated by Jane Aitken, Emily Boyce and Louise Rogers Lalaurie. This is the perfect read for a weekend away – doesn’t take long to read, regular chapters for regular breaks for another G&T and not too heavy in terms of theme or content. I really enjoyed it, but I doubt it will be a book I will ever feel the need to read again. Continue reading →
Fridays are days for fun things! On Fridays we’re going to write
a wee bit about things that we enjoy.
We hope you enjoy them too.
So I’ve been wanting to do a post on the audiobook for World War Z by Max Brooks for quite some time now. I’m still a little bit cynical about ebooks, but this one absolutely floored me with its awesomeness. Continue reading →
Death and the Penguin is wonderfully surreal. Victor, the protagonist, is a an aspiring writer living on his own in a flat in Kiev. Well, nearly on his own. There is also the Penguin, Misha, who Victor bought from the zoo when they were strapped for cash after the break-up of the Soviet Union. They live together quite happily, Victor feeding Misha frozen fish and Misha shuffling about sounding rather depressed.
Then Victor gets a job writing obituaries for a newspaper and things change. Suddenly he has steady money, and even makes a friend or two, but the the people he is asked to prepare obits for start to die. Misha gets a job too, as a silent companion at funerals. Continue reading →
War with the Newts is weird yet wonderful. Sold as a humorous allegory of early 20th Century Czech politics, I was expecting to have my knowledge of Slavonic history stretched to breaking point, but couldn’t resist the title nor the cover artwork. If there were any specific references to Czech politics they passed me by. The novel contains allusions to the League of Nations, the slave trade, and imperialism, but you could get away with not knowing about any of those things. Continue reading →
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is, so far, one of the best books I have read this year. A tale of an extraordinary man looking for one last adventure, there is a back story running through the book that channels the Good Soldier Svejk whilst at the same time critiquing Sweden’s stance of neutrality over the last century. And above all this politicking there is a varnish of beautiful prose that makes the book flow almost too fast, despite it’s length. A fantastic translation, a great book, well worth a purchase.