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iff

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  1. Review of The Bear and the Paving Stone by Toshiyuku Horie, translated by Geraint Howells This short story collection has three stories in it. In the first, the title story, a man visits his friend from Petanque in Western France and has a weird dream involving the footpath becoming bears. Further to this, both recollecting of the past and looking at the present where the narrator gets to know the friend's neighbour and her blind son. The friend is Jewish and there is remembrance to events of World War 2 in the novel. The second story is about the narrator joining a woman on a beach to remember the anniversary of her brother's death (his friend) and the third involves two friends breaking into an old castle, one where the groundskeeper would even refuse the President of the Republic if he didn't have proper authorisation The Bear and Paving Stone * * * * * Sandman is Coming * * * 1/2 The Old Castle * * * * All three stories were very good and I really enjoyed this collection, rather than full plotted stories, this is more about interaction between people than intrinsic plots and complicated storylines. At times, funny, other times heartfelt, it is always a pleasure when a short story collection does not let me down in the reading of it. Good collection * * * *
  2. Review of The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko, translated by Nina Shevchuk-Murray The past is remembered by photos but what of lays behind the people in the photo? The novel is about a TV journalist Daryna Goshchysnka discovers a photo of some members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, active during world war 2 into the late 1940s as the USSR strove to regain control of areas previously occupied by the Nazis. This sets Daryna and herpartner, Adrian to try to find out the history behind the woman in the photo and such, delving into years and years of history, going further than the 1940s when Lviv had been Polish territory. The novel has sections in both the present (or so) and also Adrian's dream where he is dreaming he is part of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army with the women in the picture. This book was a long and at times a hard read but I did really like it, it hit alot of subjects that I like reading about, the concepts of national identity and borders and sure it took some digs at accountants (comparing their car beside a Mnister's Opel Kaddett as being like an accountant beside the terminator. Honestly, the terminator beside me would run a mile, they would be so scared that I would tell them a bad tax liability. Or that "history was written by Accountants"). I was not dissapointed by the novel, there were sections that I liked better than other sections but the last 250 pages were a riveting read. The interview with the Ukrainian politician had me making a check on the copyright date (The politician states that any country moving to electronic voting is basically giving their elections to the Russians). Another excellent part is the conversations with the Ukrainian army as a gatekeeper of their secrets. Considering the politics involved and the threats of Russian interference through takeover of media and Russian political manipulation, it also seems very relevant as we move from 2018 to 2019. This was going to a 4 star review but writing it, it upgrades to 5 star, though definitely not a book for everyone. If you like the topic of the moveability of borders, national identity and less known areas of history, this I found a very interesting read. Zabuzhko's writing is clear and very flowing (which should be praise too for the translator Nina Shevchuk-Murray who has done a superb job with this book) * * * * *
  3. iff's list 2019 January 1. The plot against America by Philip Roth 01/01/19 - 12/01/19 ★★★★★ reread 2. Convenience Store Woman - Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori 13/01/19 ★★★★★ 3. The Orange Groove - larry Tremlay, translated by Sheila Fischman14/01/19 - 19/01/19 ★★1/2 4. My Year of Meats - Ruth Ozeki ★★★★ 20/01/19 - 28./01/19 February 5. call me by your name - andre aciman ★★1/2 28/01/19 - 05/02/19 6. dry season - gabriela babnik, translated by rawley grau ★★ 04/02/19 - 11/02/19 7. clean - juno dawson ★★★★★ 11/02/19 - 18/02/19 8. kingdom cons - yuri herrera, translated by lisa dillman ★★★★ 16/02/19 March 9. Maya's Notebook - isabel allende, translated by Anne McClean ★★★★★ 18/02/19 - 09/03/19 10. Leonard and Hungry Paul - Ronan Hession ★★★★ 1/2 02/03/19 - 09/03/19 11. freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi ★★★★ 12. Four Soldiers - Hubert Mingarelli, translated by Sam Taylor ★★★★★ 13. Number one chinese restaurant - lillian li ★★★ 1/2 April 14. milkman - anna burns ★★★★ 15. home fire - kamila shamsie ★★★★★ 16. the remainder - alia trabucco zeran translated by sophie hughes ★★★★ 17. the brothers - asko sahlberg translated by Emily Jeremiah and fleur Jeremiah ★★ 1/2 18. Lullaby - Leila Slimani translated by Sam Taylor ★★★★★ May 19. Homeland - Walter Kempowski translated by Charlotte Collins ★★★★ 20. E.E.G. by Dasa Drndic translated by Celia hawkesworth ★★★★ 21. Fame by Daniel kehlmann translated by Carol Brown Janeway ★★★★★ reread 22. tell them of Battles, Kings and Elephants - Matthias Enard translated by Charlotte mandall ★★★★★ 23. People In The room - norah Lange translated by Charlotte Whittle ★★★ 1/2 June 24. Woe to Live On - Daniel Woodrell ★★★★ 25. the Last Children of Tokyo - Yoko Tawada translated by Margaret Mitsutani ★★★★ 26. Mouthful of Birds - Samanta Schweblin translated by Megan McDowell ★★★★ 27. The Polyglot Loves - Lina Wolff translated by Saskia Vogel ★★★★★ 28. Under Pressure - Faruk Sehic translated by Mirza Puric ★★★★ 29. French Exit - Patrick Dewitt ★★ July 30. You Would have missed me - Brigit Vanderbeke, translated by Jamie Bulloch ★★★★ 31. white shadow - Roy Jacobsen translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw ★★★★★ 32. A man called Ove - Fredrik Backman translated by Henning Koch ★★★★ August 33. The Man Who Walks - Alan Warner ★★★★ 34. Celestial Bodies - Jokha Alharthi translated by Marilyn Booth ★★★★★ 35. Children of the Cave - Virve Sammalkorpi translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah ★★★★★ September 36. River - Esther Kinsky translated by Iain Galbraith ★★★★ 37. Singer in the night - Olja Savicevic , translated by Celia Hawkesworth ★★★★★ 38. the ten loves of nishino - Hiromi Kawkami, translated by Allison Markin Powell ★★★ 39. Under the Tripoli Sky - Kamal Ben Hameda, translated by Adriana Hunter ★★★★ October 40. the fire starters - Jan Carson ★★★★ 41. the paper wasp - lauren Acampora ★★★★★ 42. Nobber - Oisin Fagan ★★★★ 43. Beneath Another Sky - Norman Davies ★★★★ November 44. Inland - Tea Obreht ★★★★ 45. Frankenstein in Baghdad - Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright ★★★★★ December 46. American Marriage - Tayari Jones ★★★★★ 47. The Rehearsal - Eleanor Catton ★★★ 48. To Leave With The Reindeer - Olivia Rosenthal, translated by Sophie Lewis ★★★★★ 49. The Years - Annie Ernaux, translated by Alison L Strayer ★★★★ 1/2 227 pages 50. The Blue room - Hanne Orstavik, translated by Debra Dawkin ★★★★ 164 pages 51. Vacuum in the dark - Jen Beagin ★★★★ 221 pages longest read - My Year of Meats - Ruth Ozeki 430 pages shortest read - kingdom cons by yuri herrera 102 pages some statistics My top 5 books 1. Convenience store woman by sayaka murata, translated by ginny tapley takemori 2. Home fire by kamila shamsie 3. An American marriage by Tayari jones 4. The paper wasp by Lauren acampora 5. The polyglot lovers by lina wolff , translated by saskia vogel Other favourites are Clean by juno dawson (very funny ya novel) , Freshwater by akwaeke emezi, children of the cave by virve saamalkorpi (wrote like journal entries with some missing about scientific trip to Russia), to leave with the Reindeer by Olivia rosenthal, tell them of battles, Kings and elephants by matthias enard, singer in the Night by olja savicevic, lullaby by leila slimani, Leonard and hungry Paul by ronan hession (enjoyable belated coming of age) debut from a guy I have a few music albums by), four soldiers by hubert mingarelli (Russian civil war novel while waiting for instructions) , and frankenstein in baghdad by Ahmed saadawi
  4. Happy Christmas to all here. Hope you all have a lovely time
  5. Sorry to hear about your dad, Tag. My condolences.
  6. iff

    Rest in Peace

    Author and book reviewer Eileen batters by after car accident https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/former-irish-times-critic-eileen-battersby-dies-following-car-crash-1.3741172?mode=amp She has had a really big influence on my reading choices. Her love of books in translations were what encouraged me to get into them. On a Saturday, the first thing I would do would be to search out to see what she reviewed that week. There have been so many great books that I read because of her recommendations
  7. I have a wee test on non-fiction reads that I like to assess on whether I liked a book or not. If I happen to stumble into the author in a bar or a cafe, would I keep buying them drink to keep them talking so I could stay listening to them. If so, then it is a book I like, if not, then Nope, sorry. Not neccessarily the best model and doesn't work for all Non-Fiction read. This isn't a book where that analogy really works, it is more like a speed dating book. You get to spend 5 minutes with each of the writers and then move on to the next. Honestly for quite a number of the writer, 5 minutes is far too many. Some of these chapters are just plain awfully written (I know I shouldn't make judgements like that as I am also an awful writer but no one pays me for writing stuff). France in particular stood out where the writer seemed to be more interested in attacking regions and countries own identity than trying to ascertain where the French national identity originated from (For a part of this, Norman Davies Vanished Kingdoms is far better). For example, in one paragraph, the French writer criticses any foreigner for making comparisons between Napoleon and Hitler then in the same paragraph, goes on to say about the revocation of edict of Nantes by Louis XIV but instead just instead just partakes in whataboutery to avoid the subject in bringing up Britains policy towards Catholics (an something the person writing the chapter on Britain disagrees with saying that while Catholics might disagree about there being an absence on persecution on Religious grounds.) The French chapters deal a lot in this whataboutery nonsense which just is not good enough in a history book . The writer on the Czech chapter describes any critical discussion on the concept of a Czech national identity as being a forum of a blasphemy. I believe if a person is secure in their national identity, then they wouldn't describe any questions about how the national identity is derived from as blasphemy. This description as being blasphemous seems to me to come from an insecurity on national identity. Poland and Hungary are also poorly written chapters.The chapter on the United States seems to come to the conclusion that the collective national identity is all the work of Thomas Jefferson (unsurprisingly the biography at the end states that writer here has written several books on Thomas Jefferson). There are some interesting chapters, for example Ghana, Brazil and Mexico were fascinating. I think the chapters that work best are the ones with a healthy critical mind and contemplative, willing to admit that there is flaws in the source of national identity and instead of just focusing on the rights of the country but also the wrongs. Italy (as was Germany. Maybe the writers on both chapters because of the countries history see the problem with writing overtly nationalistic tripe) was also a really well written interest chapter on the search for a unifying national identity and the problems that search does bring. Overall I don't think at the end of the night, would I tick any of their boxes that I'd be interested in listening to them talk on their own. * *
  8. I really liked this book. I found Mona to be a very engaging and endearing narrator. A book I really liked reading.
  9. The last children of tokyo - yoko tawada
  10. iff

    Have a Rant!

    Our internet provider has really let us down We had no internet Tuesday night and got in contact with them. Still not fixed by Wednesday evening, in contact again and they had a condescending "did you try plugging it out and back in again" yes several times. Still no fix six days on which is disappointing. Thankfully, Vodafone did give me free 2gb mobile data as a Christmas gift so I can access the internet on mobile only but I am a bit of a miserly Scrooge when it comes to the mobile data. No I need to preserve the data and ration it out. If it continues much longer, I might soon be getting a visit from 3 ghosts. Hope they are the same ones as the muppetts Christmas carol.
  11. The implant is in and then I will be getting the permanent crown. The Whelan's gig was very good. I hadn't been aware of any of the acts playing but good sound, folksy rocky pop it was. Got EPs from 2 of the acts after the gig and they were very nice Thanks I don't really have a preference. Both the French and English CDs get played Thanks
  12. Hope you are feeling better momac. I was at the dentist also this week. 3 weeks til I get my new tooth Just in time for Christmas I think the RDS is cursed for me I was going to Paul simon in July with my mother, then couldn't go as I had my collision with the cow. (The reason I need a new tooth ;( ) Tonight I was going to Christine & the queens. Got to the train station (as the venue is a bit out of the city), looking lost, i asked for directions and was told that the person had heard it was cancelled. We check twitter. Nothing on RDS, nothing on christine's page but MCD had an announcement 1 minute before doors opened that it was cancelled. If they announced it earlier, could have saved myself the train ticket. It is a jinx venue for me. As I am staying in Dublin tonight, I did get a ticket for a gig in Whelan's. No idea who the act is but at least it is on
  13. Review of [/i]The Great War[/i] by Aleksandar Gatalica, translated by Will Firth This is a sprawling novel dealing with the various fronts of World War I, starting with the doctor examinng Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in the morgue. We have the Salon Gatalica if he had so choose could have made this a 1,000 page epic but I think it showed great restraint to just settle on a 400 page novel. Really, it doesn;t need to be any longer than that. This novel has a vast amount of characters recurring in it and the novel was an excellent fictionalised stories of the war with the range of characters from the spice seller in the Ottoman Empire (whose 5 employees fought on different fronts that the Ottomon's fought), the Prussian/Russian front, Italy/Austria , the Salonika front aswell as the much focussed on Western front of the war. Often I feel when we in Western Europe talk about World War I, it is the Western front but one of the things I liked is the focus on the other fronts on this particularly the Salonika front. Spies and espionage also feature too from the singers and entertainers in London and Paris. regardless of gender, nationality or age, from all walks of life from Polish immigrants to France, seamstresses, nobility etc etc. this book is a very full read. If I have one criticism, the novel also ignores Montenegro with just a couple of mentions of it although so did the peace conferences to create the treaties settling World War I. (Until I read Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies, I hadn't been aware of Montenegro's involvement with the war) This was a superb read. I have felt for a while I've need a good non-fiction book about World War I but why when Gatalica and Firth could do so in fiction what many would struggle to do in non-fiction. * * * * *
  14. Review of Hotel Silence by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, translated by Brian FitzGibbon The main characther of this book, Jonas is in his 50s depressed. His marriage has recently ended, as a parting blow, his now ex-wife Gundrun has told him that his daughter Waterlily is not actually biological his daughter, his mother has. His mother in a nursing home likes to talk about wars going on, fascinated by it. On the radio news report, she then listens to the death notices. He has a neighbour also fascinated by bad news stories, he has sold his business to a rival and suicide. Jonas finds his life to be meaningless, end of the genetic line of his family and passes his free time looking at ways that famous authors killed themselves and decluttering his life so that Waterlily doesn't have too many belongings to go through when he does it so he goes on holiday to die, with his tool box (as you do) Upon realising that he doesn't want his daughter to find his body, he decides to take a trip to one of the countries that his mother and neighbour keep mentioning. That description really sounds unappealling and depressing novel. It isn't. Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir has a really unique sense of humour and it is more a comedy than anything else (Her other novel Butterflies in Novmber I feel is a better novel but this is a good novel). Jonas in the war torn country finds himself a man in need and find himself helping the people of the country. Jonas is not a very talkative person, leaving most of the talking to everyone but it works I liked it, the writing was sharp and witty, characters are likeable. If it was a movie, it would be a Wes Anderson movie although I might just be saying that as he had a movie with hotel in the title). Really good book. * * * *
  15. Started pretend I'm dead by jen beagin, which I had bought due to a BGO review
  16. For the day that is today, I finished reading the great war by Aleksandr gatalica
  17. I saw as for the adaptation of this very good book series advertised for sky Atlantic this morning. Starts on sky on 19th November
  18. Review of Fleeting Snow by Pavel Vilikovsky, translated by Julia and Peter Sherwood Fleeting Snow is a novel based on 5 different story structures, which Vilikovsky helpfully numbered (which he says in an interview at the back of my edition "so if you don't like one, you can just skip it"). Vilikovsky at times with this novel shows heartfelt feeling and others, theres a good wit to the narration. Maybe to the most affecting one of the five narratives is the fifth once. This dealt with the narrator's spouse's dementia. For me, this had brought back memories of my paternal grandmother who had alzheimars. The narratives do intertwine and looked at as a whole on a cross as dealing with the question of identity, both personal and linguistics of it (in one strand, it deals with Native American tribe Menominee) and what the concept of identity means, when linked to the wife in the fifth narrative, this can be looked at as a whole. I thought this was a very good and well told story. I think with the dealing of linguistics in it, probably works a lot better in native Slovakian but Julia & Peter Sherwood did really well in the translation on it so it makes a very good read * * * *
  19. Review of Hair Everywhere by Tea Tulic, translated by Coral Petkovich Hair Everywhere is about 3 generations of women in the one family, grandmother, mother and daughter, told in short vignettes, many taking up with just a paragraph from the perspective of the daughter. The mother is sick with cancer in hospital while there is a sadness in the grandmother at the illness of her own daughter. Throughout the novel as the illness progresses in the mother, we also see a maturing in the daughter as she grows. This could be both classified as family drama and a coming of age tale. Coral Petkovich's translation is a clear keeping the text tidy and short to the point prose. Not one word is wasted in it as there isn't many words to the novel but this I thought was a really well laid out and told story. Kudos to both TUlic and Petkovich for making this really readable and likeable despite dealing with illness. They fitted the vignettes into a well made novel, concise but very good. I liked this book a lot. A really tender story about illness and coming of age * * * *
  20. I read the Irish and Scots came up with the idea behind trick or treating. The irish also started the carving vegetables lark but it was turnips. Carved turnips are creepy looking. Good thing when I was a child, it had stopped. I'm pretty sure I would have hurt myself if it hadn't.
  21. iff

    Rest in Peace

    i was coming to post her death too. i really loved asterix as a child, getting the asterix books in the local library so its made me sad even though i hadn't even realised she translated them. i thought her translation of walter kempowski's novel all for nothing was superb.
  22. Which actually happened to be a nickname we had for our dog Sam (now departed sadly) Carrots in particular for him were something he loved.
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