Dilara’s Reads in 2020: January to May

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Dilara’s Reads in 2020: January to May

1Dilara86
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 4, 2020, 3:19pm

Dilara’s Reads in 2020: January to May



This is my third year in Club Read. My previous threads are here:

2018 thread
Q1 2019 thread
Q2, Q3, Q4 2018 thread

I like literary and speculative fiction. I’m interested in world literature and am always looking for books in translation because I can only read fluently in French and English, although I’m trying to improve my Spanish. I’ll be following Reading Globally’s themes again this year. My aim is to read as widely as possible, with a good mix of places and author backgrounds.

My goals for this semester are:

  • Read less in French (I used to read next to no French fiction, but I over-corrected in the last couple of years)
  • Read two books in the original Spanish
  • Read more non-fiction
  • Read books that fit Reading Globally’s quarterly themes: Fascism is back (really excited about this one, but I have no idea where it will take me) and Southern Africa
  • Read more classics, especially from the nineteenth century or older, as well as classics written by women and authors from countries other than the UK, the US and France.
  • Read Chinese fiction
  • Read at least one book originally in a language I haven’t encountered yet - Done. Europa Hôtel by Farhad Pirba, written in Kurdish and Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena, written in Latvian


Carry-overs from 2019


  1. Les furtifs by Alain Damasio
  2. Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey by Gary Paul Nabhan

2Dilara86
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 2020, 3:03am

Places I've visited so far this quarter:

  • Orange and the South of France
  • Arabian peninsula, India, China, Mediterranean countries, etc. (countries involved in the spice trade)
  • Oxford, UK and various "Orient Express countries"
  • The Caribbean
  • France, other European countries, including Spain
  • Song China
  • Paris, France
  • Germany x 3
  • Mali x 3
  • A castle in Brittany (France)
  • Denmark
  • Lacki roma, a Roma village in the Prekmurje region of Slovenia (near the Hungarian border)
  • Toulouse (France)
  • Java (Indonesia)
  • Turkey
  • India, including Mumbai
  • Switzerland (probably)
  • Vietnam
  • Québec
  • USAx2
  • Iceland
  • France
  • Cerbère, French Catalonia (France)




3Dilara86
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 29, 2020, 3:21pm

January reads

  1. The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two by Philip Pullman
  2. La Poésie Antillaise by Morgane Enjalbert and numerous poets from the Caribbean
  3. Mon cousin le fasciste by Philippe Pujol
  4. Le Vrai goût du Mali : Une traversée du pays en 50 recettes by Lydia Gautier and Jean-François Mallet
  5. Quand mon âme vagabonde en ces anciens royaumes by Bertrand Goujard and numerous poets from the Song era
  6. J'apprends l'allemand by Denis Lachaud
  7. Soundjata by Djibril Tamsir Niane
  8. Au château d'Argol by Julien Gracq
  9. Visages by Tove Ditlevsen
  10. Halgato by Feri Lainšček
  11. Une tombe au creux des nuages : essais sur l'Europe d'hier et d'aujourd'hui by Jorge Semprún
  12. Terminus Berlin by Edgar Hilsenrath
  13. Compléments du non by Aurore Lachaux
  14. Méchantes blessures by Abd Al Malik (unfinished)
  15. Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It by Shane Burley (unfinished)
  16. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  17. La Fille du Rivage: Gadis Pantai by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
  18. Les meilleures recettes turques by Leyla Güz
  19. Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous by Manu Joseph
  20. Métaquine, Tome 1 : Indications by François Rouiller
  21. Je ne reverrai plus le monde : Textes de prison by Ahmet Altan
  22. Mãn by Kim Thùy
  23. A Changed Man: A Novel by Francine Prose
  24. The New Faces of Fascism: Populism and the Far Right by Enzo Traverso
  25. Histoire de chambres by Michelle Perrot






Original languages of the books I've read this month:

  • French: 13 and 1/2
  • English: 5
  • Chinese: 1
  • Danish: 1
  • Slovenian: 1
  • Spanish: 1/2
  • German: 1
  • Indonesian: 1
  • Turkish: 1

That's 74% English and French




  • 21st-century books: 18 (including 1 that's a collection of poems from the 19th- to the 21th-century)
  • 20th-century books: 6 (including 1 that's oral history written down)
  • 19th-century books:
  • 18th-century books:
  • 17th-century books:
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books: 1
  • Ancient books:

That's 96% 20th- and 21st-century


  • Number of female authors this month: 6
  • Number of male authors this month: 16
  • Mixed male/female collaborations this month: 3

4Dilara86
tammikuu 3, 2020, 11:35am

Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey by Gary Paul Nabhan





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: USA
Original language: English
Translated into: N/A
Location: all over the world, from Central and South America to Europe to Asia and Africa


This was part of the University of California Press’s collection on food and food ethnology that’s available on Scribd. It describes in very readable, cosy prose spices and spice routes, their history, the people who worked on and off them, with special attention given to Jewish and Muslim merchants, and interreligious relations. There are also a few recipes – one in each chapter. It’s informative, entertaining and very generous in its outlook. A lovely find!

5kidzdoc
tammikuu 4, 2020, 10:41am

>4 Dilara86: Sounds interesting!

6Dilara86
tammikuu 4, 2020, 12:06pm

>5 kidzdoc: It was! And I forgot to say that it's also a bit of a travelogue.

7AlisonY
tammikuu 4, 2020, 2:52pm

>4 Dilara86: Happy new year! I enjoy books like this that are part travelogue, part social history, part random something else (in this case food). Sounds enjoyable!

8dchaikin
tammikuu 4, 2020, 11:19pm

>4 Dilara86: sounds fun. Following and wish you a good year.

9raton-liseur
tammikuu 5, 2020, 8:11am

I found your thread, starred it and therefore should be able to follow it more regularly this year, although it's always a source of temptations! I wish you a happy new year and happy reading!

10Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 2020, 10:22am

Les furtifs by Alain Damasio





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: French
Original language: French
Translated into: N/A
Location: The city of Orange and other places in the South of France (Porquerolles, Gorges du Verdon, Marseille…)
First published in 2019


Cult SF writer Alain Damasio’s long-awaited last novel, Les furtifs was published last March, fifteen years after La Horde du Contrevent. It takes place in a near-future where cities have been bought and are run by multinational companies: Paris is Paris-LVMH, Orange is… Orange (as in the French Telecom corporation), Lyon is Nestlyon, etc. Society is divided in tiers according to the level of service individuals can afford: Standard, Premium, Privilège. Some people survive off-grid on the margins, out of choice, to avoid constant surveillance, or because they are too poor or without legal existence. So far so dystopic.

The novel is centered on Lorca Varèse, a sociologist who has been recruited by the Récif, a military research unit specialising in hunting “furtifs”, stealthy mythical beings whose existence has been hidden from the general public. His move from the counterculture to the army was motivated by the disappearance of his 4-year-old daughter and his fascination with furtifs, who he thinks might have something to do with it. The narration alternates between different points of view (his, his ex-wife Sahar Varèse, his colleagues/friends Saskia Larsen, Hernán Aguëro and Nèr Arfet, and graph artist Toni Tout-fou), indicated by diacritic signs at the start of each part and inside the text (good luck to the translators whose languages actually need those signs). There is no doubt that Lorca is the main and most fleshed-out character however, and that Damasio has put a lot of himself in him. Perhaps too much and in a way that feels at times self-indulgent and conceited, and at others extremely personal and moving. It describes paternal love, the loss of loved ones and how it feels to grieve for your child, with a rawness and honesty that I haven’t encountered often. That is especially the case for paternal love, which in literature, tends to be hinted at indirectly, through characters’ actions, rather than through the direct description of feelings that Damasio had the courage to write.
I wouldn’t want to leave you with the impression that it is at heart an introspective novel, however. It still is science-fiction written by someone who no doubt watched a lot of superhero movies, played a lot of video games and RPGs, and knows how to build suspense.
And it’s not just action and feelings. You can tell Damasio has read Michel Foucault, Deleuze and Guy Debord. There’s a lot of sociological and philosophical theory hidden in plain sight. Not to mention Balinese religious practices. It’s very creative stylistically: there’s a lot of work on typography, on language and communication in general, on the nuts and bolts of the French language in particular (verbal moods and tenses…), and on idiolects (it helps to know English and Spanish as well as French and each character has a distinctive voice – which I think is overdone, but YMMV). That’s not even touching the work on sound which is central to the writing and to the novel’s premise (no spoiler!)

In its themes and general feel, Les furtifs is, I think, closer to La zone du dehors (not my favourite book), even though the use of symbols to tell narrators apart will remind readers of La horde du Contrevent (which I loved). In any case, it is a 700 page experimental novel, and therefore not for everyone. Personnally, I’m torn. Reading it was a rollercoaster of emotion, from total suspension of disbelief to the hardest of eye-roll. I definitely don’t regret reading it, and it is giving me a lot of food for thought, but some of Damasio’s stylistic and narrative choices work better than others.

11Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 2020, 9:42am

Well, this was a hard review to write...

>5 kidzdoc: >7 AlisonY: >8 dchaikin: >9 raton-liseur: Happy New year to you all!

12raton-liseur
tammikuu 5, 2020, 9:59am

>10 Dilara86: Difficult to write, but really interesting to read!
It's interesting to have your detailed point of view on this novel, especially because M'sieur Raton read it a few months ago, which made me decide not to read it (I liked La Horde du Contrevent but did not love it). Maybe a bit overdone, that's the main point I keep from your review and his, but it helps if you consider it as an experimental novel as you did.

13Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 2020, 10:08am

La Poésie Antillaise by Morgane Enjalbert (director), Ricardo Mosner (Illustrator), René Philoctète (Author), Saint-John Perse (Author), Derek Walcott (Author), Edouard Glissant (Author), Ernest Moutassamy (Author), Daniel Maximin (Author), Guy Tirolien (Author), Ernest Pépin (Author), Joseph Zobel (Author), Georges Castera (Author), René Depestre (Author), Léon Gontran Damas (Author), Serge Patient (Author), Karibé Mamba (Author), Sonny Rupaire (Author), Kettly Pierre Mars (Author), Emmelie Prophète (Author), Monchoachi (Author), Aimé Césaire (Author)






Writer’s gender: Mostly male
Writer’s nationality: Mostly French (from Guyane and the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique), also Haitian and Saint-Lucian
Original language: French, Créole
Translated into: I’m going to write N/A – I can’t see a translator for Derek Walcott
Location: N/A or the Caribbean
Published in 2006


Another of those illustrated poetry collections I like, this time featuring poems from Caribbean authors, some well-known, some less so. I enjoyed all of the poems, but I cannot stress enough how much I hate the illustrations. I know Ricardo Mosner is a renowned Argentinian painter and all, but I find it hard to get past all the crypto-blackface.

14Petroglyph
tammikuu 5, 2020, 10:12am

Following along again. Happy reading!

15Dilara86
tammikuu 5, 2020, 11:53am

>14 Petroglyph: Thank you!

16Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 2020, 12:08pm

Mon cousin le fasciste by Philippe Pujol





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: French
Original language: French
Translated into: N/A
Location: France, Spain
Published in 2017


« Viens que je te présente. Voilà Pierre Sidos, le fondateur de l’Œuvre française et de Jeune Nation. Pierre… C’est Philippe Pujol, mon cousin, un journaliste. C’est un bolch*, il est à La Marseillaise, mais ils sont comme nous, ils ont une politique sociale. »

« On répète souvent que le FN spécule sur la peur, sur l’ignorance. Je me rends compte que son meilleur terreau reste la frustration. Un sentiment accentué par l’incessante et universelle peur du déclassement, vivre moins bien que ses parents, que les derniers immigrés arrivés ne nous rattrappent. Pire ! Qu’ils nous doublent. Le dernier arrivé ferme la porte ! Parmi mes connaissances, des Arabes votent Front National – « parce qu’on est français » - et même des gitans – « parce qu’on ne veut pas être pris pour des Roms ». Pire encore ; certains bien blancs comme moi ont été soudain pris de bigoterie**. Pas au point d’aller à la messe le dimanche, mais la civilisation chrétienne leur est tout à coup apparue importante. Leurs parents militaient pour la plupart au PCF, à la CGT ou à la CFDT***. Eux désormais se prennent pour les croisés du XXIe siècle et voient le progressisme dans le passé. »

« Paradoxalement, c’est dans l’idéologie sociale-libérale de gauche que se sont infiltrées les prémisses de la pensée réactionnaire contemporaine. Bien malgré eux, les penseurs du social-libéralisme ont ouvert la voie au populisme. »

« Cette fin de l’approche du monde sous l’angle exploitation-domination favorise étonnamment les regroupements normalement contre-nature autour de ce fameux antipolitiquement correct. La description du complexe (qui n’a rien d’un spectacle médiatique) est perçue comme une pensée unique. Lui est donc préférée une succession de visions simplistes qui s’opposent ou s’unissent ; Le résultat est une étrange coalition des réactionnaires au nom d’une identité nationale dont personne ne partage la même définition. Antisémitisme, islamophobie, machisme et homophobie se côtoient, certains prennent le tout, d’autres une partie seulement. On ne s’unit plus pour des idées communes, mais contre des ennemis communs. L’ennemi du Français de souche. »



* short for “bolchévique”
** bigoterie is a false friend: it means ostensible religiosity in French, not prejudice. Think of Jacques Brel’s song Les bigotes, for example.
*** PCF= French communist party, CGT = a union on the hard left, CFDT = a union that tends to be more sympathetic to some right-wing policies



This was a chance find on my local library’s Fascism shelf. There were other, thicker, more academic, tomes, but I thought I’d start with something easy, plus I’d like to read more non-fiction in common with the rest of you.

Award-winning journalist Pierre Pujol is a lefty. His cousin Yvan Benedetti is a politician and activist on the far right. They hate each other’s politics but they love one another and are in regular contact, meaning that Pujol has been able to follow the far right’s progress almost from the inside. In this book, he analyses the rise of the far right, describes their roots, the way they function and find their way in every area of French society, and in parallel tells us about himself and his relationship with his cousin. I cannot understand how they can be as close as they are. Benedetti is a violent thug and a puppet-master to more violent thugs, as far as I’m concerned. Still, this book is short, enlightening and to the point. The quotes above speak for themselves, I think.

17Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 2020, 12:24pm

The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two by Philip Pullman





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Translated into: N/A
Location: Oxford (UK), Wittenberg (Germany), Prague (Austrian-Hungarian Empire), Geneva (Switzerland), Smyrna (Turkey) and all sorts of places in the Near-East.
Published in 2019


This is the latest instalment in the Dark Material universe. It’s more complex and of a wider scope than the previous volume, La Belle Sauvage, but it’s not quite as breathtaking as the first trilogy. In particular, Pullman seems to have more or less given up on inventing alternate etymological doublets for countries and things, which is disappointing as it was such a powerful, playful and erudite world-building tool.

18rocketjk
tammikuu 5, 2020, 12:30pm

Happy reading in 2020. I'll look forward to following along.

19raton-liseur
tammikuu 5, 2020, 12:49pm

>17 Dilara86: So the Book of Dust is the sequel to His Dark Material? I had not made the link between the two series, thanks for putting me in the picture. It's a shame it's nos as good as the first trilogy, but this was such a great read that I don't think I will be able to resist the urge to read it!

20Dilara86
tammikuu 5, 2020, 12:56pm

>18 rocketjk: Thanks!

>19 raton-liseur: Yes. The Book of Dust is the name of His Dark Material's *second* trilogy. The first volume was La Belle Sauvage. It describes events around the time of Lyra's birth and babyhood. The second is The Secret Commonwealth. In this novel, Lyra is a student at Oxford. The last volume is not yet out, but I hope we won't have to wait long: volume Two ends with the most frustrating of cliff hangers! They are worth reading if you liked the core trilogy, in my opinion...

21raton-liseur
tammikuu 5, 2020, 1:53pm

>20 Dilara86: Argh... The first book that I won't be able not to buy for 2020... Where are my 2020 resolutions going?

I'll start with the first one and might wait for the third to be released to read 2 and 3, I hate it when I have to wait for the next volume and I see there is no sign it will be published soon...

22lisapeet
tammikuu 5, 2020, 7:50pm

>13 Dilara86: What a great cover!

23Dilara86
tammikuu 6, 2020, 4:35am

Le Vrai goût du Mali : Une traversée du pays en 50 recettes by Lydia Gautier (author – explanatory texts), Jean-François Mallet (author - recipes), Mahamadou Sountoura (Bambara translator)






Writers’ genders: Female and male
Writers’nationality: French
Original language: French – with chapter titles and recipe names in Bambara
Translated into: N/A
Location: Mali
Published in 2006


I borrowed this book not knowing what to expect but willing to take a chance: one the one hand it is written by Europeans, and therefore possibly inauthentic and exoticising; on the other, the fact that the recipes are circumscribed to Mali rather than Africa or West Africa is a good sign that the writers have put in the hours. Oddly, the German version of this book, Der Geschmack Afrikas: 50 Rezepte doesn’t mention Mali. It most definitely is a Malian cookbook, centered on the Sahel and the Niger valley – there are no jollof rice or tiep bou dien (well, there is, but it’s not called that) or other recipes from further South, except in the fusion food section at the end.

It turns out I have read – and loved – another cookbook by Lydia Gautier: Thés et mets. Just like Thés et mets, Le vrai goût du Mali isn’t a straightforward cookbook, but rather, a book about history, geography and local customs related to food, in this case Malian. The recipes are classified according to the Malian rather than French mindset. So you don’t get recipes for breakfast, first course, main course, desserts, etc. but marketplace food, and sauces, street food, wedding feasts, fusion dishes, etc. It’s very instructive and engaging. There are plenty of nice photos throughout, of food, places and people. The recipes themselves look perfectly doable, especially with modern technology. We are not always advised on possible substitutes for hard-to-find ingredients, such as pumpkin leaves, fonio, etc. which is not a problem for me because I have access to these through African and Asian shops and a local farmer sells fresh produce at the market when they’re in season. It might be difficult for others, though…
In any case, it was a lovely find.

24Dilara86
tammikuu 6, 2020, 7:59am

J'apprends l'allemand by Denis Lachaud





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: French
Original language: French
Translated into: N/A
Location: Paris (France), Saarbrücken and various other places in Germany
Published in 1998


I discovered Denis Lachaud by chance last year. His last book, Les métèques, caught my eye at the bookshop, because of the title, and then the subject matter (ethnic cleansing in France in a dystopic near-future – perfect for Reading Globally’s Fascism is Back theme, incidently). Having read it, I was intrigued by his other novels, which seem to all deal with marginalised people, transnationalism and complex identities. I managed to borrow J’apprends l’allemand the last time I visited my town’s main library. For once, it wasn’t out!

The Wommel family – Horst, Katarina, Max and Ernst (Max Ernst - get it!) - have German passports, but they live in France, only speak French and seemingly have no relatives in Germany. Germany is a taboo subject for Ernst’s parents, which makes him all the more curious about it. When Ernst decides to learn German at school, and goes on a class exchange in Saarbrücken, he strikes what is described in the book’s back cover as “une tendre amitié” (a tender friendship) with his penfriend Rolf. It goes a bit beyond that in my opinion, unless it is now normal for people to have sex with their friends… Year after year, as the seventies and eighties roll by, he learns more about the country, its people, and their awkward, painful and at times defensive (for the older generation) or reproachful (the younger ones) relationship with the second world war and the nazi ideology, culminating, with Rolf’s encouragement, in the discovery of his own family history. I read this novel in one evening. It was engrossing and written in very easy conversational French (easy for native speakers, that is).

25Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 8, 2020, 4:25am

Quand mon âme vagabonde en ces anciens royaumes by Bertrand Goujard (editor, translator), Dai Dunbang (illustrator), Li Yu (poet), Xia Song (poet), Lin Bu (poet), Kou Zhun (poet), Liu Yong (poet), Fan Zhong Yan (poet), Yan Shu (poet), Ou Yang Xiu (poet), Wen Tong (poet), Yan Ji Dao (poet), Su Shi (poet), Huang Ting Jian (poet), Qin Guan (poet), He Zhu (poet), Zhou Bang Yan (poet), Shi Yan (poet), Mao Pang (poet), Zhu Dun Ru (poet), Song Hui Zong (poet), Li Gang (poet), Li Qing Zhao (poet), Zhang Yuan Gan (poet), Liu Zi Hui (poet), Yue Fei (poet), Lu You (poet), Fan Cheng Da (poet), Yang Wan Li (poet), Zhu Xi (poet), Zhu Shu Zhen (poet), Zhang Xiao Xiang (poet), Xin Qi Ji (poet), Jiang Kui (poet), Liu Guo (poet), Dai Fu Gu (poet), Yan Rui, Liu Ke Zhuang (poet), Ye Shao Weng (poet), Wen Tian Xiang (poet), Zhang Yan (Author)






Writers’ genders: Male and female
Writer’s nationality: Chinese
Original language: Chinese
Translated into: French
Location: China, N/A
Published in 2018


This is a lavishly-illustrated collection of classical Chinese ci poems written during the Song period (960–1279 CE). The translator’s overreliance on typical poetic tricks such as the suppression of articles and unusual word order made them sometimes difficult to understand. Dai Dunbang’s paintings – one opposite each poem – are gorgeous. The Chinese original and the French translation are printed side by side. I have the feeling the publication of this book was rushed: some of the endnotes were incomplete, missing, wrongly numbered, or did not make sense, or they looked like answers to a colleague’s notes (eg, “We could also use this word here” – yes, we know, that is the word I can see on the page...) It seems to be trying to be several things at the same time : a coffee-table book that lay-people can leaf through, a primer to Chinese classical poetry, and an academic-minded tome that sometimes uses Chinese characters in place of pinyin in the middle of French sentences. Despite its flaws, I very much enjoyed this book, and I discovered a number of poets that I would like to know more about, including Li Qingzhao.

26thorold
tammikuu 8, 2020, 4:35am

>24 Dilara86: I've got that on my shelf, I must have bought and read it when it first came out, but I don't remember it at all, apart from the title and that it was "LGBT interest"...

27Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 2020, 4:17am

Soundjata, ou l'épopée mandingue (Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali) by Djibril Tamsir Niane





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: Guinea (Guinea-Conakry)
Original language of the oral version: Manding (with no information as to which specific language(s) of the Manding group the writer’s sources used)
Original language of the written version: French
English version available
Location: the Mali Empire in West Africa
First published in 1960


This is a retelling of the story of Soundjata, who created the Mali Empire in the thirteenth century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_Sundiata) and who is remembered in many a griot’s tale. Griots are oral historians and bards who have been passing on their knowledge to the next generation over centuries. DT Niane’s book is an attempt at committing to paper those monuments of oral literature, and especially Djeli Mamadou Kouyaté’s version (diverging versions are mentioned in footnotes). It has been said that this epic story inspired Disney’s Lion King. Now that I’ve read the book, my opinion is that this is a misunderstanding arising from the fact that Soundjata has been called The Lion King because his father’s clan’s animal is the lion, as exemplified in David Wisniewski's children’s book Sundiata: Lion King of Mali. But who can blame publishers for trying to ride on Disney’s wave? Just as important, and it is certainly mentioned more often in this book, is the buffalo, Soundjata’s mother’s tutelary animal.

Soundjata had difficult beginnings: he was just as ugly as his mother Sokolon, he could neither talk well nor walk as a child, and the kingdom that diviners said would be his was given to his elder half-brother thanks to his evil stepmother’s machinations. Sokolon and her children had to seek asylum in neighbouring kingdoms, until Soundjata came into his own as a hunter, a soldier, a ruler of men and a magician. With the help of his griot, his sisters and his young half-brother, he took back his land and conquered a huge territory comprising modern-day Mali and Guinea, as well as parts of Senegal, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast, earning the nickname Djoul Kara Naïni (ie, Alexander the Great) of the West.

I’m glad I read this book because it is a classic and I’m interested in non-European history and literature, but epic writing is not my cup of tea. Too many descriptions of battles etc. For that reason, it was a bit of a slog for me, but I’m pretty sure a) it would appeal to many readers (in fact, it clearly did: there aren’t many African works in translation catalogued on LT by over 200 people, let alone 515); b) it would make a great action movie.

28Dilara86
tammikuu 9, 2020, 6:11am

>26 thorold: Yes, I noticed your name was on the work page. I was looking forward to reading your review, but there isn't one ;)

29raton-liseur
tammikuu 9, 2020, 10:41am

Lots of interesting books in your thread since the beginning of the year.
>24 Dilara86: This particular title does not really appeal to me, but reminds me of your interesting review about Les Métèques, that sounds more interesting.
>25 Dilara86: Left me wonder if it would be a nice gift for someone who likes Chinese poetry and painting, but your caveat about the notes make me doubtful.
>27 Dilara86: And this one is a nice found. I am also interested in non-European classics so I might get tempted although not sure it will be easily findable.

I hope you'll continue on what seems a very interesting reading spree!

30Dilara86
tammikuu 9, 2020, 11:21am

>29 raton-liseur: It would make a nice gift nevertheless, I think, just for the illustrations and poems. It costs 35 Euros new. There are more photos on the publisher's website: https://www.editionsdelacerise.com/livre/quand-mon-ame-vagabonde-en-ces-anciens-.... They also sell posters of the illustrations. The right thing to do for the publisher would be to sell the faulty version at a discount (through cut-price bookshops, for example), and reissue a new, corrected version...

You're in luck! I just checked, and Soundjata, l'épopée mandingue is available online on Amazon, fnac, Gibert... There are plenty of other versions too, for adults and for children, but I don't know whether they're any good. Look up "Soundjata" or "Soundiata".

31baswood
tammikuu 9, 2020, 1:51pm

>16 Dilara86: "I cannot understand how they can be as close as they are"
I can't either I have trouble getting on with people slightly right of centre

32raton-liseur
tammikuu 9, 2020, 2:02pm

>30 Dilara86: Thanks a lot for all this information!
I have not being buying from big bookstores from quite some time now (only independant bookshops for me), and I am not buying from Amazon anymore (part of my attempt to a GAFA-free life...), but I checked as well, and my favorite bookshop can order Soundjata and has Quand mon âme vagabonde en ces anciens royaumes in stock.
Tempting, tempting...

33dchaikin
tammikuu 11, 2020, 6:26pm

>25 Dilara86: looks beautiful, anyway. and >27 Dilara86: Glad you read your review, because it sounds like a fascinating attempt at capturing what is essentially an artifact. Reading your take...it does sound like a variation of The Lion King, or, I mean, TLK sounds like it could have had this in mind. Just replace elder half-brother with villain and neighboring kingdom with Hakuna Matata...

34Dilara86
tammikuu 13, 2020, 4:56am

>31 baswood: I've been ruminating on this for days, and I came to the conclusion - given how he writes about his cousin - that Pujol has a fascination for strong men. He also feels special as the only lefty who does not get beaten up by Benedetti's thugs. It makes me think of those boys who enjoy special protection by school bullies, but don't get involved themselves. I think he's basically Benedetti's pet and chronicler.

>32 raton-liseur: So, did you give in?

>33 dchaikin: Thanks for chiming in. So, the epic of Sundiata would have been an inspiration for The Lion King (and/or for Kimba the White Lion), rather than a direct retelling?

35dchaikin
tammikuu 13, 2020, 9:04am

I’m just waving my hands, but yes, suggesting something like that. A rough translation from human lore to Disney...

36raton-liseur
tammikuu 13, 2020, 4:31pm

>34 Dilara86: Not yet, not yet. I had ordered La Belle Sauvage earlier that I picked this week end. But my list for my next trip is already filling up. I have to read more to allow myself to buy more...

37sallypursell
tammikuu 13, 2020, 5:54pm

>35 dchaikin: I have had a particular aversion to Disney my whole life. The studio has ruined so many fine children's novels by vitiating the stories and managing to destroy the viewpoints which made these works morality plays for children. Think of Mary Poppins, the Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book.

Of course the contemporary Disney seems to be better, but I never understood why Disney did not write its own stories if the classics were not to their taste.

38dchaikin
tammikuu 13, 2020, 6:57pm

>37 sallypursell: yes to all that. Seriously, Disney warps a lot of good stories.

39rachbxl
tammikuu 14, 2020, 3:14am

>23 Dilara86: ‘...isn’t a straightforward cookbook, but rather a book about history, geography and local customs relating to food’ - the best kind of cookbook! I don’t know much at all about Mali, so I will keep half an eye out for this. I do enjoy dipping into books like this.

>24 Dilara86: I hadn’t heard of Denis Lachaud, but I’ve added this one to my wishlist, and I was able to download a sample of Les Métèques to my Kindle, which I’ll have a look at later.

40Dilara86
tammikuu 20, 2020, 3:22am

We weren't allowed to watch Disney movies at home when I was a child. My parents (well, mainly my mum...) didn't approve for the reasons given above and for the blatant racism of a lot of their content. There was one exception: my dad took us to see The Jungle Book because it's set in India. There were so few films featuring India or Indians, we'd go and see all of them, however inappropriate they were. I saw Heat and Dust at the cinema when I was 8, and was completely traumatised! Of course, I still managed to watch a number of Disney movies at friends' houses... In any case, I kept this rule for my own child, but I probably wouldn't for my (hypothetical) grandchild (on a case by case basis, for new movies).

>39 rachbxl: Looking forward to your thoughts on Les métèques, if you decide to read it.

41Dilara86
tammikuu 20, 2020, 7:06am

Au château d'Argol (The Castle of Argol) by Julien Gracq





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: French
Original language: French
Translated into: N/A
Location: Brittany (France)
First published in 1938


An unsettling and mysterious love triangle with gothic/fantastic overtones.

42Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 20, 2020, 7:33am

Visages: roman( Ansigterne/The Faces) by Tove Ditlevsen, translated by Danièle Rosadoni





Writer’s gender: Female
Writer’s nationality: Danish
Original language: Danish
Translated into: French
Location: Denmark
First published in 1968


I discovered Tove Ditlevsen not long ago, thanks to recent articles in the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/30/best-fiction-of-2019, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/23/translated-fiction-can-open-the-wo..., https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/16/the-copenhagen-tirlogy-by-tove-dit...). (Well, I must have also read some of her poetry ages ago in The Penguin Book of Women Poets.) The Copenhagen Trilogy looked interesting, but I went with Visages because it was her only borrowable book carried by my local library… It’s a detailed description of a woman – a wife, mother and renowned author - slipping into mental illness, probably schizophrenia. Very moving and skilfully written.


43Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 20, 2020, 8:08am

Halgato by Feri Lainšček, translated by Liza Japelj-Carone





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: Slovenian
Original language: Slovene
Translated into: French
Location: Lacki roma, a Roma village in the Prekmurje region of Slovenia (near the Hungarian border)
First published in 1991, published in French in 2017


This was a chance find. Halgato was on display at the library. I’d never heard of Feri Lainšček, but I’m always on the lookout for Slovenian authors, and thought it would probably fit Reading Globally’s Mitteleuropa theme. It turns out Halgato was made into a film in 1995. It’s a tragicomedy centered on the eponymous Halgato, a Roma boy then man and violin-player in post-war Yugoslavia. There’s quite a bit of “essentialising” – about the Gipsy soul, fatalism, etc. – and the amount of racism the author shows Roma people face is breathtaking. This is counterbalanced with a bit of slapstick humour, which I didn’t get on with.

44Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 20, 2020, 8:35am

Terminus Berlin (Berlin… Endstation) by Edgar Hilsenrath, translated by Chantal Philippe





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: German
Original language: German
Translated into: French
Location: Berlin (Germany)
First published in 2006


Terminus Berlin’s main character is a Holocaust survivor and Jewish German writer living in exile in New York. He decides to go back to Berlin at the end of the eighties, where he witnesses the end of the GDR, the rise of neonazism, and has a lot more sex than he previously did in the US, where women – allegedly – only have sex with men if they’re rich, even managing to impregnate a teenager, which again, he wouldn’t have been able to do in the US, because they frown down on that sort of behaviour over there. It’s all sufficiently tongue-in-cheek to allow for plausible deniability on claims of sexism and rape apologia. On the good side, there’s food for thought on the subject of how both Germanies and Germans dealt with the nazi legacy. Still, I can’t say I enjoyed this fictional autobiography very much.



45Dilara86
tammikuu 20, 2020, 8:43am

Compléments du non by Aurore Lachaux





Writer’s gender: Female
Writer’s nationality: French
Original language: French
Translated into: N/A
Location: France, including the Toulouse area
First published in 2019


This is a short stream-of-consciousness book where Aurore Lachaux mourns her father and expresses all her anger at the inhumane way employees – whether they are middle-aged engineers like her father before his early death, or substitute teachers, as she is – are treated by HR and the system.



46Dilara86
tammikuu 20, 2020, 9:30am

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: British (born in Japan)
Original language: English
Translated into: N/A
Location: A fantasy Britain in the Dark Ages
First published in 2015


A lovely allegorical story about Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple who set off on a journey to their son’s village on the other side of the Great Plain at a time of unease between Britons and Saxon settlers, not long after King Arthur’s death. There might be dragon to slay or not and what might look like a quest, but it is a slow-paced, meditative read.

47Dilara86
tammikuu 20, 2020, 9:55am

La fille du rivage : Gadis Pantai (The Girl from the Coast) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, translated by François-René Daillie





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: Indonesian
Original language: Indonesian
Translated into: French
Location: Java
First published in 1965


This novel was inspired by the early years of the author’s grandmother in nineteenth-century Java, at a time where Java was functionally a feudal society under Dutch rule. The Girl from the Coast, whose name we never learn, was a pretty fisherman’s daughter whose beauty earns her a marriage to a local nobleman – the Bendoro – aged 14. She then lives a life of complete subservience in the Bendoro’s household, where she is too lowly to be considered a “proper wife”, until she gives birth to her first child, at which time he sends her back to her parents, as he did with all his previous 14-year-old brides. There is a lot of social and political criticism crammed into this slim fictional biography.

48Dilara86
tammikuu 20, 2020, 9:59am

Les meilleures recettes turques by Leyla Güz and Régine Teyssot





Writer’s gender: Female
Writer’s nationality: Turkish, French
Original language: French
Translated into: N/A
Location: Turkey


A slim collection of Turkish recipe, a lot simpler and blander than I would expect.


49Dilara86
tammikuu 20, 2020, 10:22am

By the way, did any of you go to a La nuit de la lecture (UNESCO Reading Night) event last Saturday? My town paid hommage to Toni Morrison, with readings and music in different libraries. I went to the one closest to me. It was nice and cosy.

50raton-liseur
tammikuu 20, 2020, 10:58am

>49 Dilara86: I must be living in a cave, as I have not heard about this event at all. Nice to hear you liked it. Maybe I should think about attending next year?

Quite a lot of reviews posted today, I really enjoyed reading them and seeing the variety of your reading!

51Dilara86
tammikuu 21, 2020, 10:35am

>50 raton-liseur: La nuit de la lecture is a really good idea and I hope it takes. Of course, it will only work if librarians are able and willing to go beyond their job's description... In my local library, we had the Toni Morrison musical reading I already mentioned, and then (herbal) tea and games. We read tongue-twisters picked at random, and were encouraged to create book-spine haikus with books from the library's shelves. It's actually quite a good way to discover new titles...

52raton-liseur
tammikuu 21, 2020, 1:17pm

>51 Dilara86: Interesting! As a volunteer librarian I have no job description, so maybe that's for me!

53dchaikin
tammikuu 21, 2020, 1:30pm

Interesting about the UNESCO reading night. I’ve never heard of this, no clue if it had anything happening here, in the US. Enjoyed the peak at all these books you’ve gone through.

54Dilara86
tammikuu 22, 2020, 10:52am

Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous by Manu Joseph





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: Indian
Original language: English
Translated into: N/A
Location: Mumbai and Gujarat (India)
First published in 2018


A fast-paced satirical and political thriller set in Mumbai and inspired by the Ishrat Jahan case (warning: this Wikipedia article contains a photo of corpses) and the rise of the BJP, those cryptofascist thugs. A movie might be in the works...
Akhila Iyer is a medical student and online prankster. When a building collapses close to her home, she goes to investigate, and as the smallest and fittest person on site, volunteers to crawl through the debris to get to a survivor. Alarmed by his mumblings about a terrorist called Jamal, she’ll have to decide on how to act, as will the secret service(s). The humour and politics are not subtle, but then again, neither are the real-life events and politicians on which the novel is based. I was struck by how similar Manu Joseph’s take on Indian corruption and politics was to Pavan K. Varma’s in Being Indian, which I read last year.



55Dilara86
tammikuu 23, 2020, 11:42am

Une tombe au creux des nuages : essais sur l'Europe d'hier et d'aujourd'hui by Jorge Semprún, translated by Serge Mestre





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: Spanish
Original language: French and Spanish
Translated into: French (when necessary)
Location: Nominally Europe, but mostly Germany
First published in 2010


This a collection of speeches Jorge Semprún wrote over the years on subjects related to Europe and the Second World War, including the Holocaust and Jorge Semprún’s experience in Buchenwald. Most of them were given in Germany and draw heavily on German philosophy. The title “Une tombe au creux des nuages” was taken from a poem by Paul Celan. Some essays were more interesting or less of a slog than others. I don’t really regret reading this book, but I was looking for something more cohesive and organised.



56Dilara86
tammikuu 24, 2020, 2:55am

Je ne reverrai plus le monde : Textes de prison (I Will Never See the World Again) by Ahmet Altan, translated by Julien Lapeyre de Cabanes





Writer’s gender: Male
Writer’s nationality: Turkish
Original language: Turkish
Translated into: French
Location: Turkey
First published in 2019 (French translation)


Ahmet Altan is a Turkish novelist, journalist and newspaper editor. His sympathy for the Kurdish and Armenian minorities is well-known. Like so many civil servants, teachers and writers, he was put in prison during the wave of arrests following the 2016 coup. He was first charged with sending a subliminal (!) pro-coup message on TV, then with the less hazy, but just as ridiculous, crime of "conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization", and sentenced to life imprisonment, as was his brother Mehmet Altan. In I Will Never See the World Again, Altan writes in pared-down prose about his arrest and his life in prison. He comes across as thoughtful, erudite and kind. These memoirs were longlisted for the 2019 Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction. I have to read some of his fiction.

57Dilara86
tammikuu 24, 2020, 3:44am

Mãn by Kim Thùy





Writer’s gender: Female
Writer’s nationality: Canadian (lives in Québec, born in Vietnam)
Original language: French
Translated into: N/A
Location: Montréal (Québec, Canada), Vietnam, France
First published in 2013


So much wasted potential. The first chapters were stylistically interesting and the story looked promising, but it descended into airport pap fairly quickly. I don’t think I’ll ever find a good novel that includes recipes.

58raton-liseur
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 24, 2020, 4:16am

>56 Dilara86: It might be a tough book, I am not sure I am in the right mood for that at the moment. But if he has written fiction (that might be tough as well), I would be interested in hearing what you think of it.

59raton-liseur
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 24, 2020, 4:17am

>57 Dilara86: Are you looking for that type of books specifically? You might creat a new sub-genre (or does it already exist?)
Have you read Como agua para chocolate, I think there are some recipes in this book. I remember it as a good enough book.

60avaland
tammikuu 24, 2020, 8:51am

Interesting about Pullman's 2nd trilogy, I had not realized there was one. While I read the first -- so long ago, I may pass on the 2nd trilogy as I'm sure it will show up eventually in the HBO series. There are so many more books to read!

61thorold
tammikuu 24, 2020, 9:31am

>57 Dilara86: Top of my “do not read” list of novels-with-recipes would be Es muß nicht immer Kaviar sein, by the great Austrian filler of airport bookstall shelves, Johannes Mario Simmel. Basically James Bond in an apron.

62Dilara86
tammikuu 24, 2020, 10:40am

>58 raton-liseur: I'll you know about his fiction when I get hold of it. No local library has any of his books apart from his memoir, for some reason... There is no graphic violence in Je ne reverrai plus le monde. I think we've all heard terrible things about Turkish prisons, but it never gets quite as bad as this for Altan, and he doesn't dwell on unpleasant situations.

>59 raton-liseur: I can't say I'm looking for that type of books specifically, but I like cooking and I like literature, and wished that books that mix the two were less disappointing... I've read Como agua para chocolate/Chocolat amer/Like Water for Chocolate, Mãn, Nine Rabbits, La cuisine totalitaire/Küche totalitär: Das Kochbuch des Sozialismus and probably others that I can't recall right now, and although they were not awful, they didn't enrich my life in any way... One novel that sticks in my mind as a great disappointment is John Saturnall's Feast. It doesn't contain recipes, but it is about food. It ticked so many boxes for me (food, magical realism, history, witches...) on the face of it, and yet... One exception is Vie et passion d'un gastronome chinois/The Gourmet by Lu Wenfu, which I loved. I've had more luck with literary cookbooks: I usually enjoy writers' cookbooks, such as Mémoire gourmande de Madame de Sévigné, Les carnets de cuisine de George Sand, but then my expectations are probably lower for these...

>60 avaland: The second trilogy is very recent! The first book came out a couple of years ago, the second last year, and the third isn't published yet! Has the HBO series started airing? I saw the trailer a few weeks ago, and it looked striking, although I'm not sure why they moved the story to the Forties.

>61 thorold: That's a shame. I looked at the reviews, and they're quite enthusiastic!

63raton-liseur
tammikuu 24, 2020, 10:50am

>60 avaland: I'm tempted by the Altan, but there are so many temptations, I see if it goes beyond temptation.

I was about to recommand Vie et passion d'un gastronome chinois, which I read a few years ago as well.
That's right that I can't think about many books with mix cooking and litterature that I would recommand. Nice challenge, though, so I'll keep thinking about it.

64Dilara86
tammikuu 24, 2020, 10:56am

>63 raton-liseur:
I was about to recommand Vie et passion d'un gastronome chinois, which I read a few years ago as well.


You sort of did! I bought it after reading the excerpt you copied on the "page 100" thread of the French forum.

65thorold
tammikuu 24, 2020, 11:50am

Tagmash: https://www.librarything.com/tag/fiction,+recipes

It seems to be a popular idea: there are more than 500 hits, including quite a few food-based crime series.

The only one there I’ve read apart from Simmel and Esquivel is Butterflies in November, which I liked. It has a memorable recipe for “undrinkable coffee”, inter alia. And knitting patterns.

Lobscouse and spotted dog is supposed to be good, but probably not unless you’ve read Patrick O’Brian.

Simmel was a genius at what he did, well-researched, slick, funny novels that made the reader feel sophisticated and enlightened without any actual intellectual challenge. But that was sixty years ago. If you read it nowadays you’d probably just see the tasteless WWII nostalgia and blatant sexism (this is all about how much better cooking would be if we let men do it...), and the shameless name-dropping and brand-snobbery.

66Dilara86
tammikuu 24, 2020, 11:57am

I've just had a look at the tagmash. Some authors churn 'em out! Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson looks interesting.

I'll try Butterflies in November: I liked Miss Iceland by the same author. I'm intrigued by the "undrinkable coffee"...

67raton-liseur
tammikuu 24, 2020, 1:08pm

>64 Dilara86: Happy you enjoyed it, then!

68rhian_of_oz
tammikuu 27, 2020, 6:54am

I don't see The Last Chinese Chef in your library. There aren't recipes but it is about food. I thought it was quite lovely but a lot of reviews refer to it as "light" which is a fair description.

69Dilara86
tammikuu 27, 2020, 11:11am

>68 rhian_of_oz: Thanks for the rec!

70Dilara86
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 2020, 3:24am

Histoire de chambres (The Bedroom) by Michelle Perrot





Writer’s gender: Female
Writer’s nationality: French
Original language: French
Translated into: N/A
Location: Europe and the USA, but mainly France
First published in 2008


This is a social history of bedrooms, from the kamera in Ancien Greece and the cubiculum in Rome, to today’s modern bedroom. Michelle Perrot writes about sleeping habits, bedroom furniture, and types of bedrooms – from one-room dwellings where whole families live, work and sleep, to aristocratic private apartments, to hospital dormitories and prison or monastery cells. A whole chapter is devoted to Louis XIV’s bedroom ceremonies: he rose and went to bed in public with elaborate rituals in a public bed chamber. Then, when once the courtiers were gone, he moved to his private – or the Queen’s, or his mistress’s – bedroom. As befits a historian specialising in women’s history – she wrote a History of Women in the West in five volumes -, female experiences are covered. As expected coming from a French writer, she mainly – but not exclusively (Emily Dickinson, Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Teresa of Avila and Thomas Mann make an appearance, for example) – quotes French novelists: Proust of course, François Mauriac, George Sand, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, etc. She focuses on literary sources, which is frustrating when you’re looking for hard data. This book is eminently readable, and great for trivia, anecdotes and reading recommendations, but not so great for a synthetic, scientifically accurate survey of the subject matter.

71edwinbcn
helmikuu 2, 2020, 1:41am

Nice! Two years ago, I read Bill Bryson's At home. A short history of private life, which describes the social history of various rooms in the home.

72Dilara86
helmikuu 3, 2020, 10:56am

>71 edwinbcn: Sounds interesting!

73Dilara86
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 2020, 2:05pm

February reads

  1. Textermination by Christine Brooke-Rose
  2. L'explication by Alain Badiou and Alain Finkielkraut
  3. Anthropologie by Eric Chauvier
  4. L'Embellie by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
  5. Le racisme hitlérien: machine de guerre contre la France by Andrée Viollis
  6. Onanisme: roman by Justine Bo
  7. Susto by luvan
  8. Ma Bible des microbiotes by Danièle Festy and Anne Dufour
  9. Madame Béate et son fils by Arthur Schnitzler
  10. Œuvres poétiques complètes by Li Qingzhao
  11. Kamouraska by Anne Hébert
  12. Il est de retour by Timur Vermes (unfinished)
  13. Cadavre exquis by Agustina Bazterrica
  14. A la recherche du texte perdu by Ricardo Bloch
  15. Europa Hôtel by Farhad Pirbal
  16. Le lac de Grunewald by Hans-Ulrich Treichel
  17. Le Bal des folles by Victoria Mas (unfinished)
  18. La patte du corbeau : La fuite by Yahya Amqassim
  19. Titus n'aimait pas Bérénice by Nathalie Azoulai
  20. Bérénice by Jean Racine
  21. Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman
  22. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  23. Divertir pour dominer: La culture de masse contre les peuples by Offensive
  24. Désirs de femme by Abd Al-Rahîm Al-Hawrânî
  25. Pilates - Votre outil santé by Anne-Flore Jaulneau
  26. Noir Sur Blanc by Ketty Steward
  27. The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov





Original languages of the books I've read this month:

  • French: 14
  • English: 3
  • Icelandic: 1
  • German: 3
  • Chinese: 1
  • Kurdish: 1
  • Arabic: 2
  • Spanish: 1
  • Russian: 1


That's 63% English and French


  • 21st-century books: 19
  • 20th-century books: 4
  • 19th-century books:
  • 18th-century books:
  • 17th-century books: 1
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books: 2
  • Ancient books:

    That's 85% 21st- and 20th-century




    • Number of female authors this month: 14
    • Number of male authors this month: 12
    • Mixed male/female collaborations this month: 1
  • 74Dilara86
    helmikuu 6, 2020, 1:12pm

    L'explication by Alain Badiou and Alain Finkielkraut, moderated by Aude Lancelin





    Writers’ gender: male (with a female moderator)
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: France
    First published in 2010


    This is the transcript of a discussion between two public intellectuals on opposite sides of the political spectrum. They’ve had words before, and this is an attempt at understanding how and where they disagree exactly, and at finding common ground other than the fact that they’re both called Alain and are both secular Jews. Alain Badiou is a marxist – formerly maoist – philosopher, well-known for his anti-capitalist, anti-nationalist, anti-racist, anti-colonialist and pro-Palestinian views. He’s had his share of controversies. It took him a long time to admit that communist regimes had behaved criminally, but he’s done his mea culpa now. Alain Finkielkraut, is a radio presenter on France Culture and an académicien, and at this point in time, a parody of a reactionary grumpy old man, always ready to mouth off about The Youth of Today and the fact that France is going down the pan because of all those foreigners. His English Wikipedia page does not give a clear picture of his politics and the long list of controversies he’s been involved in.
    The book is in four parts: national identities and nations; Judaism, Israel and universalism; May 68; and communism. I was expecting to find both men too extremist for me. This didn’t happen. To me, Badiou was the sane voice, no doubt an idealist with no practical political answers, but his arguments were logical and his outlook, compassionate. On the other hand, my opinion of Finkielkraut went down, and God knows it wasn’t high before. I thought he was a reactionary, big C Conservative, but after reading this book, I now think he is clearly racist, fascist and unhinged.


    In French, “explication” can mean two things: it can be a straightforward explanation, or it can be used euphemistically for an argument or even a fight. Badiou and Finkielkraut managed to keep to the first. It wasn’t a pleasant read because they still talked at cross purposes sometimes (and Finkielkraut is scary), but I’m a lot clearer about their respective positions, and I didn’t have to buy or borrow a book with Finkielkraut as a sole author…

    75dchaikin
    helmikuu 6, 2020, 2:25pm

    Finkielkraut sounds like some members of my family

    76Dilara86
    helmikuu 7, 2020, 2:32am

    >75 dchaikin: My commiserations. My grandparents had their moments as well. It's not pleasant.

    77Dilara86
    helmikuu 7, 2020, 6:01am

    Lettres à Yves (Letters to Yves) by Pierre Bergé





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: Paris (France), Marrakech (Morocco), etc.
    First published in 2010


    I found this book in a Little Free Library. Its NRF cover stood out among the usual mass paperbacks and ancient France Loisirs hardbacks. I thought it would be a badge of literary quality. It wasn’t. The writer, Pierre Bergé, was haute couture designer Yves Saint-Laurent’s life and business partner. I have no particular interest in fashion, but I’m always curious about people’s domestic lives, and I also thought there might be some interesting political content in it (Pierre Bergé was a gay rights activist and one of the few businessmen who supported the French socialist party).
    I feel bad criticising this book because it contains 107 pages of heartfelt letters Pierre Bergé wrote to Yves Saint-Laurent in the year after his death, but I don’t think it should have been published. Bergé might have been a reader – and he does let us know about it - , but he was a graceless writer. He alternates between Dear Diary-type entries and direct addresses to YSL that we can’t always make sense of (“I saw Bill today. You know how he is.”), and paragraphs explaining or justifying his behaviour and the way their lives turned out. He paints a picture of a jet-setting co-dependent couple, with one half – Yves Saint-Laurent – deeply depressed and addicted to drugs and alcohol, and both halves seeking solace and sex elsewhere. There weren’t many insights and the writing was awkward. The book is going straight back to its shelf in the Little Free Library. Hopefully, someone else will like it more than I did.



    78Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 2020, 6:33am

    Le racisme hitlérien: machine de guerre contre la France by Andrée Viollis


    Available online on the Gallica website



    Writer’s gender: Female
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: France and the rest of Europe
    First published in 1943


    Andrée Viollis was a feminist and antifascist writer, and one of the first female war journalists. I discovered her name recently, thanks to Alain Badiou, who mentions her in L’explication.
    This work is a passionate anti-nazi pamphlet written during the Second World War by Viollis who was then in her seventies, living in Lyon, and part of the Résistance. Obviously, it was published and distributed clandestinely (by the Mouvement National contre le Racisme). In it, she describes what witnesses have been telling the Résistance about death trains and camps, denounces the nazi ideology, advocates for Jews, and criticise Vichy, with a good dollop of French patriotic rabble-rousing.

    79Dilara86
    helmikuu 8, 2020, 3:08am

    Métaquine, Tome 1 : Indications by François Rouiller





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: Swiss
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: unspecified, but has to be Switzerland
    First published in 2016


    François Rouiller is a pharmacist by day, and a SF writer by night. In Métaquine, he explores the machinations of Big Pharma and its underhand attempts at selling us drugs for every complaint, in a near future where some people are so addicted to Virtual Reality, they’ve become vegetables. A pharmaceutical company has developed a new drug to cure hyperactivity in children called Métaquine, which they’re pushing aggressively as a cure for as many ailments as they can make up. François Rouiller created a bold multiple-voice narrative to tell his story. Although I recognise the cleverness and the effort it took, I found the voices overdone, artificial and annoying. I don’t think I’ll be reading Métaquine, Tome 2 : Contre-indications. I’d like to know what happens to the characters – volume 1 ended with a cliff-hanger – but I don’t think I can take another 600 pages of contrived inner monologues. Someone tell me the end?

    80raton-liseur
    helmikuu 8, 2020, 4:20am

    >79 Dilara86: I like the conclusion of your review. Unfortunately, I won't be this good samaritan, and thanks to your review, won't even read the first volume...

    81Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: helmikuu 14, 2020, 9:02am

    A la recherche du texte perdu (In search of lost text) by Ricardo Bloch, Marcel Proust and Google Translate





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: 50 languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu, then back into French
    Location: France
    First published in 2019


    When I came across this book at the bookshop, I was so certain it was for me after reading the back cover, I just looked at a couple of pages inside before buying it. That’ll teach me! The book’s basis is simple: take the first page of Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past/In Search of Lost Time), translate it into another language using Google Translate, then machine-translate it back into French, and laugh at the results. Rinse and repeat with 50 different languages. That’s a couple of hours’ work at best, and anyone with an Internet connection can do it. It did not occur to me that someone would have the nerve to publish this straight-up, without commentary. Well, someone did.
    Daniel Pennac – bless him – wrote a six-word (!) preface for this book, which is more than it deserves.

    82thorold
    helmikuu 14, 2020, 3:57am

    >81 Dilara86: You can just imagine the sales pitch to the publisher: “The world is full of clever people who will want to have this on their bookshelves and enjoy laughing at themselves for buying it...”

    When Google translate first came out, we used to do that with Shakespeare sonnets on long afternoons in the office. Or with communiqués from higher management...

    83Dilara86
    helmikuu 14, 2020, 9:09am

    Heh. I'm a (technical) translator, and spend most of my days post-editing (meaning, rewriting in decent French) machine-translated communiqués from higher management...

    84Dilara86
    helmikuu 14, 2020, 11:20am

    Ma Bible des microbiotes by Danièle Festy and Anne Dufour





    Writer’s gender: Female
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: The human body
    First published in 2019


    This is a comprehensive and accessible family health reference book about human microbiota: one of the latest – and most far-reaching - trends in health, nutrition and well-being. The authors are respectively a pharmacist and a journalist specialising in nutrition and aromatherapy. They explain in chatty, “women’s magazine” prose (which in passing, I find annoying), the roles that the microbiota (the microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts…) that live in and on us) play – or could play (research pending) - in a number of illnesses and complaints, such as IBS, UTIs, food intolerance, hypothyroidism, asthma, obesity, etc. They advise us on how to maintain a healthy skin, gut, eye, vagina and mouth microbiota and how to balance or boost them if necessary through nutrition and the use of probiotics. There’s then a one-week program to kick-start lifestyle changes in different areas, including nutrition, hygiene and physical exercise, that should set us on a path to a healthier, more balanced microbiota. The last part of the book is a recipe compendium.

    I’m torn about this book. On the one hand, it’s quite comprehensive and methodical, and it contains a lot of applicable advice, but on the other hand, I couldn’t help noticing that the authors contradict themselves here and there. Is moisturising good or bad for the skin? Should we wash our hands regularly to avoid picking up bacteria, or not? If it depends on the context, it wasn’t made clear… And there are some glaring blind spots, such as make-up, which we’re expected to wear. Surely, if we’re advised to switch to unscented washing powder and stop applying products to our skin, we should be going makeup-free if we can, rather than just be told to apply makeup away from the eyes? I keep picturing people doing their shopping while wearing ballet-dancer stage makeup – the type where the under-eye line is drawn half an inch from the lower eyelid, and makes people look like manga characters… The makeup thing leads me to another blind spot: men. The writing is as grammatically neutral as the French language can be, but culturally, it is clear that the intended readership is female: they wear makeup, they shave their legs but not their faces, they have vaginas, and the program and recipes are geared towards women’s appetites, needs and habitus… There are just a few lines about penises – as a subsection of the vaginal microbiota chapter -, and it contains absolutely no practical advice. Given the fact that men and women are socialised differently, and that health pursuits, unless they are sports-related, are already coded as female, I fear most men would dismiss the book’s advice, and that would be a shame.



    85rocketjk
    helmikuu 14, 2020, 12:10pm

    >81 Dilara86: >82 thorold: Several years back, for some reason I know longer recall I ran Google translate on a Facebook message that was in Finnish and got this:

    I asked for building mest, workmen could switch me my thing. He didn't understand a word. Where in reality I lived all these years? It's not a book language? Roy Kauppi, petya kauppi, to now, help!

    For some reason, I cut and pasted it into a Word doc on which I keep odds and ends that amuse me and/or that I want to remember.

    86Dilara86
    helmikuu 14, 2020, 12:34pm

    >85 rocketjk: It's a prose poem!

    87baswood
    helmikuu 15, 2020, 9:07am

    >81 Dilara86: Yes a lot of fun but.........

    At our last Assemblée général of the comité des fêtes I usually do a translation of the Presidents report for the english members. This year the president passed me a copy of her report (in English) and told me she had already translated it for me to read out. When I got to the second paragraph I was reading that we had problems with traffic circulation: the centre of our village has five houses and one small road. I realised it was a google translation.

    88Dilara86
    helmikuu 16, 2020, 11:57am

    >87 baswood: This is funny!
    What's your status post Brexit? Have you asked for a "carte de séjour", or are you naturalised? I'm curious because my partner is British and the bureaucracy is driving him up the wall...

    89Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: helmikuu 16, 2020, 12:04pm

    Kamouraska by Anne Hébert





    Writer’s gender: Female
    Writer’s nationality: Canadian (Québec)
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: Québec City, Sorel, Kamouraska (Québec, Canada)
    First published in 1970
    There is an English translation


    Celui qui dit “le” table au lieu de “la” table, se trahit. Celui qui dit “la Bible” au lieu des “Saints Évangiles”, se trahit. Celui qui dit “Élisabeth” au lieu de “Mme Tassy”, se compromet et compromet cette femme avec lui.



    Emotional repression, love, sex and murder in Canada.
    Fifteen-year old Élisabeth is married to Antoine Tassy, seigneur de (lord of) Kamouraska, in Victorian Québec. She’s too young and innocent to realise that she’s now shackled for life to a violent and suicidal alcoholic. Three years and two pregnancies later, a dark, handsome American stranger walks into her life, and things take an even more dramatic turn.

    The writing is gorgeous: very poetic and evocative, and fairly challenging as far as form is concerned. But this modern classic of French-Canadian literature was a bit too highly-strung and “windswept” for my taste. Think Wuthering Heights meets Thomas Hardy meets Maria Chapdelaine meets Virginia Woolf. It was turned into a movie back in the seventies (https://elephantcinema.quebec/films/kamouraska_2832). The trailer gives a good idea of what to expect…

    90Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: helmikuu 17, 2020, 10:04am

    Œuvres poétiques complètes (Li Ching-Chao: Complete Poems) by Li Qingzhao, translated by Liang Paitchin





    Writer’s gender: Female
    Writer’s nationality: Chinese
    Original language: Chinese
    Translated into: French
    Location: China
    First published in 1971 (French edition)


    Li Qingzhao was a Chinese female poet from 11th-12th century. I discovered her recently, in an anthology of poetry from the Song Dynasty (Quand mon âme vagabonde en ces anciens royaumes). Thankfully, her complete poems, beautifully translated by Liang Paitchin in the seventies, were available in my library’s stores. Li’s poetry is extraordinary; Liang’s work is stellar.

    91Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: helmikuu 16, 2020, 12:36pm

    Cadavre exquis (Cadáver exquisitoTender is the Flesh) by Agustina Bazterrica, translated by Margot Nguyen Béraud





    Writer’s gender: Female
    Writer’s nationality: Argentine
    Original language: Spanish
    Translated into: French
    Location: Argentina
    First published in 2019


    A virus has made all non-human animals unfit for consumption. Because apparently, becoming vegetarian is not an option – meat is too addictive – the Argentinian authorities have institutionalised cannibalism. First, with undesirable people (criminals, illegal immigrants…), then through human farms. It’s silly and stomach-turning at the same time, and I feel my time could have been better spent than with this novel. The cover's nice, though...


    92Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: helmikuu 17, 2020, 10:02am

    Le lac de Grunewald (Grunewaldsee: Roman) by Hans-Ulrich Treichel, translated by Barbara Fontaine





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: German
    Original language: German
    Translated into: French
    Location: Malaga (Spain), West Berlin and Gliesmarode, near Hanover (West Germany)
    First published in 2010


    It’s the eighties. Paul has just finished university in West Berlin. He’s waiting for a teaching post to come through, but it will take years. Meanwhile, he’s spending a year in Malaga, teaching German for a pittance and having an affair with María, who happens to be married and pregnant. Back in Berlin, more years come and go while he’s still waiting for that job (or indeed, any job), and for María (or any other woman for that matter) to choose him. Paul is clueless and strangely passive, and frankly unsympathetic. He has zero emotional intelligence and is completely self-involved. For example, he’s annoyed by his mother’s behaviour following his father’s death, and someone has to point out to him that she might be depressed. He still won’t offer his support. His conduct towards his girlfriends is appalling, but he always fears that he might be too nice and submissive. I usually don’t have a lot of patience for antiheros of that sort, but this novel is the exception. The irony was omnipresent but gentle. I’m sure a lot of it went over my head. No doubt people who know more about the sociology of Berlin neighbourhoods and Germany in general would get a lot more chuckles out of it than I did, but it was still enjoyable.

    93Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: helmikuu 18, 2020, 8:31am

    Unfinished Books


    Le Bal des folles (The madwomen’s ball) by Victoria Mas





    Writer’s gender: Female
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: Paris, Hôpital de la Salpétrière, the psychiatric hospital where Charcot worked.
    First published in 2019


    I had really good hopes for this novel which tells the story of women committed to the Salpétrière asylum where Charcot used them for his lectures/shows, but I could not get on with the writing. It was clichéd and artificial, like a bad TV film. No point in going on.


    Il est de retour (Look Who's BackEr ist wieder da) by Timur Vermes, translated by Pierre Deshusses





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: German
    Original language: German
    Translated into: French
    Location: Berlin
    First published in 2012


    I enjoyed the first 50 pages, and just as I was starting to wonder what was in store that made so many people give up this book in disgust, I became more and more aware that Hitler was a vessel for the author’s criticism of modern life. It is unlikely that they would have the same pet peeves, especially regarding the vulgarity of modernity and the loss of a human scale. Has he never looked at a picture of a Nazi rally? It felt crass and uninformed.



    Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It by Shane Burley





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: USA
    Original language: English
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: USA
    First published in 2017


    Nothing awful about this book. It’s just that I read it as an e-book, and realised that I find it difficult to take in what I read on a tablet. There wasn’t much point in soldiering on in the circumstances, especially since it was so clearly aimed at US citizens, and I’m not one.



    Méchantes blessures by Abd Al Malik





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: France, USA
    First published in 2019


    This is a novel written by author and Rap Artist For The Intellectuals Abd Al Malik (he wrote a book on Albert Camus). I had read his autobiography, which was OK, and thought I’d venture further, but I found this novel clunky and gave up fifty pages in. I’ll still borrow his collected lyrics from the library at some point because I recognise the artistry in rap, but just can’t get into the music and I can’t hear the words properly. (That’s my Senior Moment!) Reading them seems like a good way in.



    94dchaikin
    helmikuu 19, 2020, 1:46pm

    Just stopping by. I was catching up. Reading your last post, I’m wishing you a good book next. Intrigued by Li Qingzhao.

    95baswood
    helmikuu 19, 2020, 1:56pm

    >88 Dilara86: Ah yes Brexit - I have a "carte de séjour" so feel reasonably succour. I am also married to a french woman ( that is a naturalised french woman), We both handed in our dossiers for naturalisation at the Préfecure eighteen months ago and Lynn got her result about 6 months ago. I am still waiting to hear.........

    96sallypursell
    helmikuu 19, 2020, 6:12pm

    >87 baswood: This had me laughing out loud. It sounds like something that would happen to me, although it never has.

    97Dilara86
    helmikuu 20, 2020, 3:12am

    >95 baswood: That's strange... A few years ago, when I was living in the UK and had to have my carte d'identité renewed, the préfecture lost my file. After a seven months' wait, the consul shouted at them down the phone, and then, hey presto! it reappeared !

    98raton-liseur
    helmikuu 20, 2020, 8:11am

    >93 Dilara86: A few bad picks, I hope your current read is more satisfying!
    Just to let you know, I am currently reading Je ne reverrai plus le monde by Ahmet Altan, bought after I read your review a few weeks ago. What an incredible read, thanks for putting this book on my radar!

    99Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 2020, 2:10pm

    >98 raton-liseur: I'm looking forward to your review !

    Meanwhile, I'm woefully behind in mine... I'll try to write at least a couple this week. I've read some very interesting books and it would be a shame not to review them.

    100Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 13, 2020, 9:44am

    March reads

    1. The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg
    2. The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke
    3. Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena
    4. Jamila by Chingiz Aitmatov
    5. Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi
    6. On s'y fera by Zoya Pirzad
    7. Le Manteau fantôme by Vitomil Zupan
    8. Tous les hommes n'habitent pas le monde de la même façon by Jean-paul Dubois
    9. Je reste ici by Marco Balzano
    10. De Shanghai à Paris: Mon regard sur la nouvelle Chine by Bo Xu
    11. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    12. 20 Recettes de Délicieux Desserts by Pierre-Emmanuel Malissin
    13. Voyage autour de ma chambre by Xavier de Maistre
    14. And the Wind Sees All by Gudmundur Andri Thorsson
    15. Shadows on the Tundra by Dalia Grinkevičiūtė
    16. Under the Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda






    Original languages of the books I've read this month:

    • French: 5
    • English: 1
    • Finnish: 1
    • German: 1
    • Latvian: 1
    • Russian: 1
    • Arabic: 1
    • Farsi: 1
    • Slovenian: 1
    • Italian: 1
    • Icelandic: 1
    • Lithuanian: 1



    That's 37% English and French


  • 21st-century books:12
  • 20th-century books: 3
  • 19th-century books:
  • 18th-century books: 1
  • 17th-century books:
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books:
  • Ancient books:

    That's 93% 21st- and 20th-century




    • Number of female authors this month: 6
    • Number of male authors this month: 10
    • Mixed male/female collaborations this month: 0
  • 101raton-liseur
    maaliskuu 2, 2020, 3:47pm

    >99 Dilara86: Posted!
    >100 Dilara86: Three books read in March already! We are the 2nd of March! I understand, with such a reading rate, that you are behind in your reviews!

    102Dilara86
    maaliskuu 3, 2020, 3:53am

    >101 raton-liseur: They're all novellas, though! I found a treasure trove of translated fiction on Scribd, at last. I could only find American stuff until recently, which was disappointing, but it now looks like I have access to Peirene Press's complete back-catalogue. They specialise in short translated novels and novellas. I've bookmarked so many books that had been in my wishlist for years from them and others... I'm very, very happy!

    103Dilara86
    maaliskuu 7, 2020, 6:47am

    Pilates - Votre outil santé by Anne-Flore Jaulneau





    Writer’s gender: Female
    Writer’s nationality: French (probably)
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: N/A
    First published in 2019


    I was under the impression – and no doubt the librarian was too, or she probably wouldn’t have bought it – that this was a pilates exercise book aimed at the general public. It isn’t. It’s clearly intended for teachers, physiotherapists and other sports or medical professionals. I still read it from cover to cover because I found it interesting, but I couldn’t use it for what I wanted, which was: open it, find a routine, and have my own accessory-free pilates session in the comfort of my own home when my teacher’s on holiday. I laughed at the medical jargon. You can’t just lay on your back when you can be in dorsal decubitus!


    104Dilara86
    maaliskuu 9, 2020, 10:05am

    The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov, translated by Andrew Bromfield





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: British (ethnic Uzbek born in Kyrgyzstan, then part of the USSR)
    Original language: Russian
    Translated into: English
    Location: Kazakhstan
    First published in 2011


    This is a novella published by Peirene Press, which is my new favourite publisher! I had found The Railway by the same author not quite to my taste – the humour was a bit too unsubtle and it dragged on. This was much better! There are some common themes between the two – railways and trains for a start, and of course the experience of living in the USSR. The story centers on a Kazakh boy who lives with his grandparents, uncle and mother in a railway house in the middle of the Kazakh plains, with only one other family in the vicinity, and a nuclear testing facility further away. It is very clear that the local population was sacrificed in the name of progress.


    105Dilara86
    huhtikuu 13, 2020, 9:30am

    I'm insanely behind on my posts and I doubt I'll be able to fully catch up, but I'll at the very least keep up with my monthly recaps.

    106Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: toukokuu 6, 2020, 4:13am

    April reads

    1. Our Musseque by José Luandino Vieira
    2. Greetings from Grandpa by Jack Mapanje
    3. Bhimayana : Histoire de vie de Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar by Srividya Natarajan
    4. Lament for Kofifi Macu by Angifi Dladla
    5. Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (unfinished)
    6. When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head
    7. The Golden Age Cook Book by Henrietta Latham Dwight
    8. Amours by Léonor de Récondo
    9. Knock by Jules Romain
    10. Mireille by Frédéric Mistral
    11. Ici, on parle français by Poltu
    12. Le Larron qui ne croyait pas au ciel ou l'Épopée des Andes vertes by Miguel Angel Asturias
    13. The Return of Vaman - A Scientific Novel (Science and Fiction) by Jayant V. Narlikar (unfinished)
    14. The Heart of Redness by Zakes Mda
    15. One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan
    16. Ni cru ni cuit by Marie-claire Frédéric
    17. When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro






    Original languages of the books I've read this month:

    • French: 3
    • English: 9
    • French and English: 1
    • Portuguese: 1
    • Provençal: 1
    • Spanish: 1
    • Tamil: 1



    That's 70% English and French


  • 21st-century books:10
  • 20th-century books: 6
  • 19th-century books:1
  • 18th-century books: 0
  • 17th-century books: 0
  • 16th-century books: 0
  • Medieval books: 0
  • Ancient books: 0

    That's 95% 21st- and 20th-century




    • Number of female authors this month: 4
    • Number of male authors this month: 11
    • Mixed male/female collaborations this month: 1
    • Non-binary authors: 1

  • 107Dilara86
    huhtikuu 13, 2020, 10:28am

    Mireille, poème provençal (Mirèlha, Mireia or Mirèio, a provençal poem) by Frédéric Mistral, translated by Mistral himself





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: Provençal
    Translated into: French
    Location: Provence (France), of course!
    First published in 1859


    Frédéric Mistral is a Provençal poet, if not The Provençal poet. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1904, the only author writing in a regional language to receive it to this day.

    To be perfectly honest, I started this book in 2016 for a themed read I can't remember, gave up, then intended to pick it up again for Reading Globally's Mediterranean quarter but didn't, and finally read it last week. I took my time not because it was a difficult or boring read, but because the font in my PDF was tiny and unconfortable on the eye and impossible to enlarge on my old Kindle. Once I got into it however, I was hooked by the language and the images.

    Mireille is a long poem in 12 cantos telling the story of the thwarted love between Mireille, a girl from a well-off farming family, and Vincent, a poor basket-maker. I read the French translation in prose Mistral did of the original Provençal verse and it was lovely. Project Gutenberg has a public domain English translation in verse here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/56008. I'm not sure that it's aged well, but it's available and it's free... The French version is available here: https://bibliothequenumerique.tv5monde.com/livre/117/Mireille and you can read the original Provençal online. Mistral has fallen out of fashion and the poem is not widely read anymore - which is a shame because it’s evocative, very readable and full of local Provençal colour - but Mireille was a success at the time and was even made into an opera by Gounod in 1864, and a film in 1933.

    108Dilara86
    huhtikuu 13, 2020, 10:40am

    Jamila by Chingiz Aitmatov, translated by Fainna Glagoleva





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: Kyrgyz
    Original language: Kyrgyz, then self-translated into Russian
    Translated into: English
    Location: Kyrgyzstan
    First published in 1958


    Jamila/Jamilia/Djamilia was written in Kyrgyz and Russian in the fifties by Chingiz Aitmatov, a Kyrgyz writer in what was then the USSR. My version explains that the spelling “Jamila” is faithful to the Kyrgyz pronunciation of this first name. “Jamilia” with a “i” is a transliteration from Russian that reproduces what would be a Russian mispronunciation of this name.
    Jamila is Aitmatov’s best-known novel and it was very well received at the time, widely praised and translated. I had been meaning to read it for years. I was a bit hesitant at first because I was led to believe that it might be the type of love story that’s an ode to the feminine mystique, which I find annoying. By the time this misconception was corrected, the book had disappeared from the library. Thankfully, I found the Fainna Glagoleva translation from 1969 on Scribd recently. It’s a bit awkward in places, but perfectly serviceable. It takes place in a Kyrgyz village during the Second World War, peopled solely by children, women, and elderly or disabled men, who try as best they can to do the work. Jamila, sister-in-law to the boy narrator, falls in love with Daniyar, an injured soldier and an outsider from the village. I’m glad I was able to read this short novel eventually.

    109Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 13, 2020, 10:56am

    Bérénice by Jean Racine and Titus n'aimait pas Bérénice by Nathalie Azoulai





    Bérénice by Jean Racine
    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: Ancient Rome
    First published in 1670

    Titus n'aimait pas Bérénice by Nathalie Azoulai
    Writer’s gender: Female
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: Seventeenth-century and contemporary France
    First published in 2015



    Titus’s father Vespasian has died and Titus is about to succeed him as emperor. But to be accepted by the Roman people, Titus feels he has to repudiate the woman he loves, Bérénice, queen of Palestine, because she is foreign and a queen. This is the premise of Racine’s famous play, Bérénice. In Titus n'aimait pas Bérénice (Titus did not love Berenice), Nathalie Azoulai tells of the end of the long-standing affair she had with a married man, and how she immersed herself in Bérénice and the whole of Racine’s oeuvre as well his life, as a catharsis to her heartache. Most of the book was taken with a fictionalized biography of Racine, with awkward reconstructions/inventions of Racine’s thoughts, which is exactly the sort of thing that I find off-putting in historical fiction. I liked to read Azoulai’s thoughts about Racine, his writing, his modernity, his relevance, and I found the contemporary autofictional framing moving. I wished there had been more of those, and less of the second-rate biography.
    On the plus side, it spurred me to read Racine’s Bérénice, which, shamefully, I hadn’t read before. I enjoyed both the play and Racine’s minimalist, classical language, and there is no doubt that reading Azoulai's book beforehand made me more sensitive to their qualities.

    I suppose I should read Suetonius next, and possibly also Titus Andronicus...

    110thorold
    huhtikuu 13, 2020, 10:59am

    >107 Dilara86: That’s one I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, ever since seeing monuments to Mistral all over the South of France and only having the vaguest idea who he was...
    I was reminded of it by reading James Pope-Hennessy’s Aspects of Provence last year. He was a big Mistral enthusiast, especially keen on the memoirs. Have you read those?
    The wiki-link to the Provençal text in your post seems to be broken, but there’s a parallel text version via BnF: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k7490v/

    111Dilara86
    huhtikuu 13, 2020, 11:17am

    >107 Dilara86: I haven't read Mistral memoirs, no. One day...
    Thanks for the link!

    112Dilara86
    huhtikuu 13, 2020, 12:03pm

    Books I did not finish


    Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong





    Writer’s gender: I think they don’t want to gender themself?
    Writer’s nationality: USA
    Original language: English
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: N/A, Vietnam, USA
    First published in 2016


    I did not finish this poetry collection not because I did not enjoy it but because it disappeared from Scribd before I got round to finish it. I liked what I read.


    The Return of Vaman - A Scientific Novel by Jayant V. Narlikar





    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: Indian
    Original language: English
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: India, the UK…
    First published in ?


    I think I downloaded this book as part of a humble bundle. I’d heard of it as one of the few Indian SF novels available, and I was really looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get on with it. You can tell Narlikar is not a writer. I plowed through the pages and pages describing a cricket match at the start of the book, read the “sciency” introduction to the book’s main conceit (a scientist finds a way to change objects and people into their mirror images), then decided that it wasn’t going to get better and bailed. This book is the equivalent of my dad’s Internet history - cricket and science and technology articles – but without the Asian epic history movies. I know because I had to close several months’ worth of tabs in his browser once, before someone convinced him that he should not open a new tab every time he looked up something and that he should close a tab once he’d finished with the page. And it was about as tedious as closing hundreds of tabs manually...

    113Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 14, 2020, 10:18am

    Bhimayana : Histoire de vie de Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (Bhimayana: Experiences Of Untouchability) by Srividya Natarajan, S. Anand, Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyam, translated by Laurence Vilaine





    Writer’s gender: 3 male writers/illustrator, 1 female illustrator
    Writer’s nationality: Indian
    Original language: English
    Translated into: French
    Location: India
    First published in 2012


    This graphic biography tells the life of Ambedkar, the Indian militant who advocated for the rights of the Dalits until his death in 1954. Editions Mémo have recently made the French e-book version available for free online (https://www.editions-memo.fr/bhimayana-un-roman-graphique-sur-linde/ or https://www.editions-memo.fr/livre/bhimayana/ for browsing). Thanks to its Pardhan Gond illustrators, it looks like no other graphic work I’ve seen. Recommended.




    114rocketjk
    huhtikuu 13, 2020, 1:19pm

    >107 Dilara86: I read a biography of Mistral quite a few years ago: Lion of Arles: A Portrait of Mistral and His Circle by Tudor Edwards. The entirety of my review, posted in 2008, many years after my reading of the book, was, "A little dry, but an interesting portrait of this poet from Provence who tried his best to keep the Provencal language alive." But from this bio I learned that Mistral wasn't only, as you aptly put it, "the Provencal poet." He was at the forefront of a movement to try to revive and maintain the language, at least in literary works. During the 1990s I was teaching English as a Second Language to adults at an international ESL school in San Francisco. I had one student from Provence. I had recently read this bio. But when I asked her if she spoke any Provencal she basically sneered at me, saying, "No. My grandmother speaks that."

    115raton-liseur
    Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 14, 2020, 10:01am

    Nice to have you back here and with lots of interesting reviews. It's understandable that you are behind on reviews, with 12 books read in April, and we are only the 14th! Ok, some are short books, but that's still quite a record!

    >109 Dilara86: France Culture has a podcast of Bérénice, that I listened one or two years ago. It is read by actors from La Comédie francçaise, and it is really worth the hour or two that it lasts, if you are in a book listening mood.

    116raton-liseur
    huhtikuu 14, 2020, 10:03am

    >114 rocketjk: I can picture well the reaction of your student.
    Today, regional langagues have a bit more consideration in France (from a small fringe of the population), but I tend to think that it is too late to keep those languages actually alive.

    117rocketjk
    Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 14, 2020, 11:26am

    >116 raton-liseur: My wife and I traveled in Brittany in 2005, on our honeymoon, in fact. At that time, there was a strong movement going there to revive (or maintain, I don't remember which) the Breton language. I don't know how that effort is going. My marriage is going great, though, so at least the honeymoon took! My understanding from that trip is that Napoleon, in an effort to unify the empire, did his best to suppress all of the local languages/dialects. I don't think you even need suppression, though, nowadays. Modernization, and in particular TV, I think has done the job.

    For a while I had a roommate who had been brought up in both the Bellinzona region of Switzerland and in Milan. She had a beautiful framed photo of some very old apartment buildings in Milan. She pointed out one of the buildings to me and said, "The people who live in that apartment building are the only people left who speak the old Milanese dialect."

    The Basque language took a major hit due to brutal suppression by Franco. When my wife and I vacationed in the Pyrennees, we saw signs for adult school Basque lessons. The kids were being taught the language in school and many of the old people still spoke it, but that generation of younger adults needed lessons. The signs said, "Learn Basque so you can talk to your parents and your children!"

    I know that linguists have an agreed tipping point of native speakers needed to keep a language alive. I don't recall what that number is, though.

    118Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: joulukuu 6, 2020, 6:43am

    Reviving this thread so that I at least have stats for 2020...

    May reads

    1. Manuel de survie à l'usage des incapables by Thomas Gunzig
    2. Vivre à la campagne au Moyen Âge: L'habitat rural du Ve au XIIe siècle (Bresse, Lyonnais, Dauphiné) d'après les données archéologiques by Élise Faure-Boucharlat (unfinished)
    3. Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot
    4. Dance by the Canal by Kerstin Hensel
    5. The Looking-Glass Sisters by Gøhril Gabrielsen
    6. L'Anonyme de Bordeaux : l'itinéraire de Bordeaux à Jérusalem (Itinerarium Burdigalense) by Anonymous
    7. The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield
    8. La Pipe cassée, poème épitragipoissardihéroïcomique by Jean-Joseph Vadé
    9. Changes : A Love Story by Ama Ata Aidoo
    10. Le Dernier rêve de la raison by Dmitri mihajlovitch Lipskerov






    Original languages of the books I've read this month:

    • French: 3
    • English: 3
    • German: 1
    • Norwegian: 1
    • Latin: 1
    • Russian: 1


    That's 60% English and French


  • 21st-century books: 6
  • 20th-century books: 2
  • 19th-century books:
  • 18th-century books: 1
  • 17th-century books:
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books: 1
  • Ancient books:

    That's 80% 21st- and 20th-century




    • Number of female authors this month: 6
    • Number of male authors this month: 4 (assuming the Itinerarium Burdigalense was written by men)
    • Mixed male/female collaborations this month:

  • 119Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: joulukuu 6, 2020, 7:38am

    June reads

    1. Ces murs qui nous écoutent by Spôjmaï Zariâb
    2. Le nègre vous emmerde by Claude Ribbe
    3. Le Suicide et le chant: Poésie populaire des femmes pashtounes by Sayd Bahodine Majrouh
    4. La marque de Cassandre: roman by Tchinguiz Aïtmatov
    5. The Invention of Tradition by Eric Hobsbawm
    6. The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island by Cathy Erway
    7. Guide des genres et sous-genres de l'imaginaire by Apophis
    8. La Cuisine bien-être : Cuisine végétarienne & vegan by Peter Lehman
    9. Le monde de Lucrèce, 4 by Anne Goscinny
    10. Please Take Photographs by Sindiwe Magona
    11. Le Naturalisme by Emilia Pardo Bazan
    12. Le Libraire by Régis de Sà Moreira (unfinished)
    13. Artiste by Jeanne Mairet
    14. Paul à Québec by Michel Rabagliati
    15. Lettres sur la race noire et la race blanche by Gustave d'Eichthal
    16. La Saint-Simonienne by Joséphine Lebassu d'Helf






    Original languages of the books I've read this month:

    • French: 8
    • English: 3
    • Persian: 1
    • Pushto: 1
    • Russian: 1
    • German: 1
    • Spanish: 1


    That's 69% English and French


  • 21st-century books: 7
  • 20th-century books: 5
  • 19th-century books: 4
  • 18th-century books:
  • 17th-century books:
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books:
  • Ancient books:

    That's 75% 21st- and 20th-century



  • Number of female authors this month: 7
  • Number of male authors this month: 9
  • 120MillieWhitehouse
    joulukuu 6, 2020, 6:46am

    Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

    121Dilara86
    joulukuu 6, 2020, 7:03am

    July reads

    1. Les couleurs de l'amour by Rumi
    2. La montagne du festin by Alissa Ganieva
    3. Notre père la forêt by Anatoli Kim
    4. La Dictatrice by Diane Ducret
    5. Les miroirs vagabonds ou la décolonisation des savoirs (art, littérature, philosophie) by Seloua Luste Boulbina
    6. Eugénie by Antoine de Baecque
    7. La septième croix by Anna Seghers
    8. Il fut un blanc navire by Tchinghiz Aïtmatov
    9. Le hollandais sans peine by Marie-Aude Murail
    10. Forever ma sœur by Florence Dupré la Tour
    11. Alzen, histoires d'une ruralité des origines à nos jours by Denis Mirouse, et al
    12. Parc naturel régional des Pyrénées ariégeoises : des gens de valeurs by Bénédicte Boucays, et al
    13. Dictionnaire de l'Ariège by Olivier de Marliave, et al
    14. Poitiers au siècle des Lumières by Jacques Marcadé






    Original languages of the books I've read this month:

    • French: 9
    • English: 0
    • Russian: 3
    • German: 1
    • Persian: 1



    That's 64% English and French


  • 21st-century books: 9
  • 20th-century books: 4
  • 19th-century books:
  • 18th-century books:
  • 17th-century books:
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books: 1
  • Ancient books:

    That's 96% 21st- and 20th-century




    • Number of female authors this month: 7
    • Number of male authors this month: 4
    • Mixed male/female collaborations this month: 3

  • 123Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: joulukuu 6, 2020, 8:14am

    September reads

    1. Un feu au cœur du vent : Trésor de la poésie indienne, des Védas au XXIᵉ siècle, edited by Zéno Bianu, too many authors to list
    2. Une histoire politique du pantalon by Christine Bard (unfinished – will borrow it again from the library at some point)
    3. La route des clameurs by Ousmane Diarra
    4. Porte de la Paix céleste by Shan Sa
    5. Persepolis 1 Persepolis 2 Persepolis 3 Persepolis 4 by Marjane Satrapi
    6. Cœur tambour by Scholastique Mukasonga
    7. Riche, pourquoi pas toi ? by Marion Montaigne






    Original languages of the books I've read this month:

    • French: 9
    • English: 0
    • Various languages, mostly from the Indian subcontinent, plus English and French: 1



    That's over 90% English and French


  • 21st-century books: 8
  • 20th-century books: 1
  • 19th-century books:
  • 18th-century books:
  • 17th-century books:
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books:
  • Ancient books:
  • Various periods: 1

    That's 90% 21st- and 20th-century




    • Number of female authors this month: 4
    • Number of male authors this month: 2
    • Mixed male/female collaborations this month: 1 (but mostly male)

  • 124Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: joulukuu 6, 2020, 8:54am

    October reads

    1. Mafalda 1 by Quino
    2. Les Jango by Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin
    3. Les Marrons and Un proscrit de l'île de Bourbon à Paris by Louis Timagène Houat
    4. Les Nouveaux penseurs de l'islam by Rachid Benzine
    5. Faithful and Virtuous Night: Poems by Louise Glück
    6. Le pays des autres by Leïla Slimani
    7. Poème sans héros ; Requiem ; et autres œuvres by Anna Andreevna Akhmatova
    8. Le Club des gourmets et autres cuisines japonaises by Ryoko Sekiguchi
    9. L'effet maternel by Virginie Linhart
    10. L'Islam est-il hostile à la laïcité ? by Abdou Filali-Ansary
    11. Les gâteaux invisibles : Super légers, moins de pâte, plus de fruits by Céline Mennetrier
    12. Tuer, ne pas tuer by Tchinghiz Aïtmatov
    13. Cette peau couleur d'ambre, compiled by Inta Geile, various female Latvian authors
    14. Fastes : poèmes by Édouard Glissant
    15. La cuisine de l'exil by Stéphanie Schwartzbrod
    16. Les Ailes by Mikhaïl Kouzmine
    17. Les émotions by Jean-Philippe Toussaint






    Original languages of the books I've read this month:

    • French: 11
    • English: 1
    • Arabic: 1
    • Spanish: 1
    • Russian: 3
    • Latvian: 1



    That's 67% English and French


  • 21st-century books: 11
  • 20th-century books: 5
  • 19th-century books: 2
  • 18th-century books:
  • 17th-century books:
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books:
  • Ancient books:

    That's 89% 21st- and 20th-century




    • Number of female authors this month: 8, plus 7 authors or 1 short story each in a Latvian anthology
    • Number of male authors this month: 9
  • 125Dilara86
    joulukuu 6, 2020, 9:16am

    November reads

    1. Capital et idéologie by Thomas Piketty (started in September, finished at the end of November)
    2. Transsibérien by Dominique Fernandez
    3. The Red Laugh and The Seven Who Were Hanged by Leonid Nikolayevich Andreyev
    4. Ce qu'il faut de nuit by Laurent Petitmangin
    5. Et toujours les Forêts by Sandrine Collette
    6. L'homme rouge et l'homme en noir by Kim Leine (unfinished)
    7. À quoi bon la révolution si je ne peux danser by Ece Temelkuran (unfinished)
    8. A Greater Music by Bae Suah
    9. Le consentement by Vanessa Springora
    10. Le lièvre d'Amérique by Mireille Gagné
    11. Poésie des troubadours - Anthologie, directed by Henri Gougaud, various authors but quite conspicuously no trobadora
    12. Sonnets and India To England (a poem) by Nawab Nizamat Jung Bahadur
    13. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (browsed)
    14. Lettres aux étrangers, compiled by Vincent Duclert, various authors
    15. L'Amour est une région bien intéressante : Correspondance et notes de Sibérie by Anton Pavlovitch Tchekhov






    Original languages of the books I've read this month:

    • French: 6
    • English: 3
    • Russian: 3
    • Danish: 1
    • Turkish: 1
    • Korean: 1
    • Medieval Occitan: 1
    • Various languages, including Greek, Latin, French, English, German, Hungarian



    That's 53% English and French


  • 21st-century books: 10
  • 20th-century books: 4
  • 19th-century books: 1
  • 18th-century books:
  • 17th-century books:
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books: 1
  • Ancient books:
  • Various periods: 1

    That's 82% 21st- and 20th-century




    • Number of female authors this month: 5
    • Number of male authors this month: 8
    • Mixed male/female collaborations this month: 1
    • I *think* they do not wish to be gendered: 1

  • 126Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 12:51pm

    December reads

    1. Le Bois de Klara (Visitation) by Jenny Erpenbeck - owned by 33 of my top 100 similar libraries and 6 of my interesting libraries. I thought I'd like it more than I did.
    2. Écrits autobiographiques - Le Docteur Jivago by Boris Pasternak
      Includes :

      • Sauf-conduit (Safe Conduct) – finished 06-12
      • 125-page illustrated biography – finished 03-12 - fantastic
      • Lettre posthume à Rainer Maria Rilke - finished 08-12-2020
      • Hommes et positions (autobiographical writings) - finished 10-12-2020
      • Le docteur Jivago - finished 27-12-2020
      • Deux lettres de Chalamov - finished 28-12-2020
      • Le dossier de l'affaire Pasternak (letters, articles, instructions from the Politburo and the Department for culture regarding the publication of Dr Zhivago and the Nobel Prize scandal) - finished 29-12-20

    3. Les Nomades, mes frères, vont boire à la Grande Ourse - 1991-1998 by Abdourahman A. Waberi - a lovely small poetry collection
    4. Three Poems about the City by Tahir Hamut - a taste of Uyghur poetry
    5. Âme brisée by Akira Mizubayashi - I should really write a review about this novel
    6. Caligula by Albert Camus - I don't read many plays, although I do go to the theater from time to time - but not in the last 9 months (covid). This may be why I managed to read two this year!
    7. Jusqu'à Sakhaline (édition de 2009) by Jean-Hugues Berrou and Pascal Rabaté, with Chekhov quotes - so disappointing
    8. Chantiers by Marie-Hélène Lafon - a great discovery! I hadn't heard of her before she won the Renaudot a couple of weeks ago. She's Annie Ernaux's experimental cousin from Auvergne (Cantal). Really looking forward to reading Histoire du fils
    9. Le Matrimoine de Paris : 20 itinéraires, 20 arrondissements by Edith Vallée - a subject close to my heart. This is a travel guide that takes us through various Parisian landmarks of historical significance for women, or linked to famous women. The writing wasn't great, and some choices were dubious.
    10. Derborence by C. F. Ramuz - my first encounter with the famous Swiss Romand writer, but definitely not my last.
    11. Unemployed Councils in St. Petersburg in 1906 by Sergei Malyshev, read online at https://elpiquetero.org/2017/01/04/how-the-bolsheviks-orgasnised-the-unemployed/, thanks to LolaWalser
    12. Le démon du soir ou La ménopause héroïque by Florence Cestac, a comic book about a woman who decide to divorce, leave her work and start a new, more fun, life as she reaches 60
    13. Tu rêves, Lili, an illustrated children's book by the Guadeloupéen illustrator and comic book artist Aristophane Boulon. Poetic, with beautiful, full-page illustrations.
    14. Le jour où mon père s'est tu by Virginie Linhart
    15. Ma part de Gaulois by Magyd Cherfi






    Original languages of the books I've read this month:

    • French: 13
    • English: 0
    • Russian: 2 (or 6, if the works in the Pasternak collection are counted individually)
    • German: 1
    • Uyghur: 1


    That's 62% English and French


  • 21st-century books: 11
  • 20th-century books: 10
  • 19th-century books:
  • 18th-century books:
  • 17th-century books:
  • 16th-century books:
  • Medieval books:
  • Ancient books:

    That's 100% 21st- and 20th-century




    • Number of female authors this month: 5
    • Number of male authors this month: 9
    • Mixed male/female collaborations this month: 0

  • 127Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: joulukuu 29, 2020, 2:51am

    My favourite reads this year were:

    Knock ou Le Triomphe de la Médecine by Jules Romains - a family favourite and a reread
    The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
    Œuvres poétiques complètes by Qingzhao Li - the Chinese medieval poet's collected poems
    Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel by Zora Neale Hurston
    La montagne du festin (The Mountain and the Wall) by Alissa Ganieva
    Il fut un blanc navire (The White Steamship) by Tchinghiz Aïtmatov
    Filles de la Terre : Apprentissages au féminin (Anjou 1920-1950) by Frédérique El Amrani-Boisseau
    Capital et idéologie by Thomas Piketty
    Faithful and Virtuous Night: Poems by Louise Glück
    A Greater Music by Bae Suah
    Derborence by C. F. Ramuz

    4 books originally written in French - France: 3; Switzerland: 1
    3 books originally written in English - USA: 2; UK: 1
    2 books originally written in Russian - Russian Federation (Dagestan): 1; USSR (Kyrgyzstan): 1
    1 book originally written in Chinese - China
    1 book originally written in Korean - South Korea

    6 were written by women, 5 by men.

    128Dilara86
    joulukuu 27, 2020, 5:56am

    Books in languages that I hadn't encountered before:

    Indonesian: La Fille du Rivage: Gadis Pantai by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
    Pushto: Le Suicide et le chant: Poésie populaire des femmes pashtounes by Sayd Bahodine Majrouh
    Kurdish: Europa Hôtel by Farhad Pirbal
    Latvian: Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena
    Provençal: Mireille by Frédéric Mistral

    Honorary mentions:
    There were also a few poems in Marathi (Namdev, Tukaram), Panjabi (Amrita Pritam) and Telugu (C. Narayana Reddy) in an Indian poetry anthology, and three poems in Uyghur read online, but they don't amount to a full book.
    Written in French, from Manding (no specific Manding language was mentioned) oral sources: Soundjata by Djibril Tamsir Niane

    129raton-liseur
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 5:26am

    Impressive list! You had a busy reading year, and I hope you enjoyed it.
    A few titles caught my eyes in >127 Dilara86:, let's see if I let myself be tempted...

    130Dilara86
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 5:46am

    Quels titres te tentent ? Je suis curieuse...
    Mon objectif est d'écrire au moins quelques lignes sur ces onze livres.

    131Dilara86
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 7:03am

    Âme brisée (broken soul / broken sound post) by Akira Mizubayashi (name/surname order as per author’s wishes)





    Writer’s gender: male
    Writer’s nationality: Japan (he lives in France, and writes both in French and Japanese)
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: Japan, France (and in particular, Mirecourt)
    First published in 2019



    Japanese author Mizubayashi wrote this novel in French, just like the other book of his I read, Mélodie : Chronique d’une passion, about the death of his beloved dog.
    The title of this novel is a play on the various meanings of the word “âme“ in French: soul, core and the part of a string instrument called a sound post in English (I had to look it up).
    Rei is a Japanese boy whose father was taken by the Japanese police in 1938, along with his Chinese friends and fellow amateur musicians, and never returned. He is left with a broken soul and his father's broken violin. Philippe, a French journalist living in Japan at the time and a friend of his father, adopts him and takes him to France with him. Adult Rei, a violin-maker married to a bow-maker, is haunted by his past.
    You can tell Mizubayashi specialises in eighteenth-century literature. There’s something very uncontemporary about this novel in the way it eschews allusions in favour of full explanations – there is a lot more “telling” and a lot less “showing” than what we’re used to in modern writing. This means that I was able to understand things that would have gone over my head otherwise, such as parallels with specific pieces of classical music (by Schubert, Bach and Berg), and literary works (The Cannery Boat and How Do You Live?, which incidentally is about to be published in English). It also makes for a plodding and psychologically unsubtle novel. I loved its premises (music, literature, multicultural protagonists), but I found its execution somewhat unconvincing. Still, it was an enjoyable and original read.


    132Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: joulukuu 28, 2020, 10:11am

    450232::Knock ou Le Triomphe de la Médecine by Jules Romain



    First cover showing Louis Jouvet as Knock, second cover showing Omar Sy as Knock



    Writer’s gender: Male
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: as small village in Auvergne called Saint-Julien-Chapteuil
    First published in 1923


    I don’t read many plays, but this one I’ve read several times, first in primary school, then as an adult. I’ve also watched the Fabrice Luchini version on TV, and my then 10-year old brother play one of its scenes for the end-of-year school show. It’s an adult play that’s accessible to the whole family, and a comedy with a serious message about the commodification of medicine and the power wielded by quack doctors. I read it again during our first lockdown because it felt so suited to the times…

    1954 radio play
    "Est-ce que ça vous chatouille ou est-ce que ça vous gratouille ?" - the most famous scene from the 50s film with Louis Jouvet
    Full 1952 film with English subtitles

    133raton-liseur
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 10:32am

    >130 Dilara86: Eh bien... Le géant enfoui d'abord, car j'ai découvert cet auteur il y a peu et le voir dans ta liste de titres préférés titille ma curiosité. Il fut un bateau blanc aussi, qui fait depuis longtemps partie des titres qui trottent dans la tête. Le voir ici réveille aussi mon intérêt.
    Et puis des titres qui résonnent comme un appel à la rêverie ou au voyage: Their eyes were watching God par exemple.
    Je lirai avec intérêt les notes que tu pourras faire sur ces quelques titres.

    134Dilara86
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 10:40am

    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston





    Writer’s gender: female
    Writer’s nationality: USA
    Original language: English
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: Florida
    First published in 1937


    I’d been meaning to read this novel for years, and I’m glad I finally did it this year, on Scribd. The story is moving and meaningful, the writing is gorgeous. Of course, as a non-native and non-US English speaker, I had to get used to the vernacular, which was just challenging enough without being offputting. In any case, the novel was well worth the effort.

    135lilisin
    Muokkaaja: joulukuu 28, 2020, 10:42am

    >131 Dilara86:

    You MUST read his Une langue venue d’ailleurs which is his book about his love affair with French and how he came to master it. I loved the bit about his inability to use pet names for people as that is very foreign to Japanese culture. His insights were delightful to read, alongside his journey.

    However I did find his Petit éloge de l’errance to be a real bore.

    136Dilara86
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 10:57am

    La montagne du festin (The Mountain and the Wall) by Alissa Ganieva, translated by Véronique Patte





    Writer’s gender: female
    Writer’s nationality: Russian Federation (Dagestan)
    Original language: Russian
    Translated into: French
    Location: Dagestan (a Caucasus state that’s part of the Russian Federation)
    First published in 2012 (2017 for the French translation)


    This was my second book by Dagestani author Alissa Ganieva, and I loved it. It ticked so many of my boxes: magical realism, Caucasus/Central Asia setting, religion…


    137Dilara86
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 11:03am

    >133 raton-liseur: Sans vouloir l'affirmer absolument, je pense que ces livres te plairaient !

    >135 lilisin: Thanks for the recommendation! I've added it to my wishlist.

    138raton-liseur
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 11:14am

    >136 Dilara86: I liked the title, and seeing the cover, I might find it difficult to resist. Same for Mais leurs yeux dardaient sur Dieu (though your cover is more evocative than the newish Zulma edition).

    139Dilara86
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 11:59am

    Il fut un blanc navire by Tchinghiz Aïtmatov, translated by Lily Denis





    Writer’s gender: male
    Writer’s nationality: USSR, then Kyrgyzstan
    Original language: Russian
    Translated into: French
    Location: Kyrgyzstan, more specifically the countryside near Lake Issyk Kul
    First published in 1970


    You never know what you’re going to get with Aitmatov – I’ve had a couple of disappointments – but when he’s on form, he’s terrific! This is the story of a little Kyrgyz boy who lives with his grandparents in the forest, near Lake Issyk Kul. His parents work and live in the city, and don’t visit. He daydreams about the white ferry he can see from afar, on the lake, bathes in a little pool his grandfather made on the riverside, and listens to his grandfather’s stories about the legendary white maral deer, the tribe’s totem animal. Things take a dramatic turn or three, and I cried. The Waterbabies come to mind (with a lot more nature writing, and a lot less Victorian sentimentality). Aitmatov was passionate about protecting the natural world, and his descriptions of landscapes and animals are extraordinary.



    140Dilara86
    joulukuu 28, 2020, 12:45pm

    Filles de la Terre : Apprentissages au féminin (Anjou 1920-1950) by Frédérique El Amrani-Boisseau, preface by Christine Bard





    Writer’s gender: female
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: the Anjou area of France
    First published in 2012


    This fat tome was a PhD thesis about the lives of working-class girls/young women born in the late 19th, early 20th centuries in Anjou, reworked into a book. As is the case with most theses, its subject is a bit niche, but the final book is perfectly accessible and very interesting. It also opened my eyes to the deplorable conditions poor countryside girls lived in until the mid-twentieth century. For example, I discovered that although school was compulsory until age 16, or 14 for pupils who passed the “certificat d’étude” (an end-of-schooling exam), hardly any of them stayed in school after the age of 12, exam or no exam. In fact, the brighter you were, the earlier you left school because you’d learn everything quicker… And then, you’d start your working life as a farm girl or a maid, just one step removed from an indentured servant. If you were lucky, you’d get a couple of years’ apprenticeship with the local seamstress, where you’d learn to sew, obviously, but also gain access to more middle-class markers, such as fashionable clothes, more refined manners, and personal hygiene habits. That would make you quite a catch for upwardly-mobile young men, and make you feel superior to the local peasants, even if you ended up marrying one. And even if you did study until the age of 16, because there were separate schooling systems and qualifications for the working-class and the bourgeoisie, you could become a nurse, a stenographer or a primary school teacher, but you could never go to university.



    141Dilara86
    joulukuu 29, 2020, 3:04am

    Faithful and Virtuous Night: Poems by Louise Glück





    Writer’s gender: female
    Writer’s nationality: USA
    Original language: English
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: N/A
    First published in 2014


    I first heard of Louise Glück when she won the Nobel Prize. I liked what the Nobel committee said about her poetry, and immediately sought her out on scribd and started reading. Her understated, contemplative poetry moved me. I'll be reading more of her.



    142Dilara86
    joulukuu 29, 2020, 3:57am

    A Greater Music by Bae Suah, translated by Deborah Smith





    Writer’s gender: female
    Writer’s nationality: South Korea
    Original language: Korean
    Translated into: English
    Location: Germany, Korea
    First published in 2003 (Korean) and 2016 (English translation)


    Somehow, I managed to read two erudite books with Asian protagonists who love classical music and travel between European and Asian countries, in almost the same month! This novella, however, was much less didactic, and a lot more atmospheric, than Âme brisée. It’s a sad, melancholic book about a Korean woman’s relationships with another woman, and with two men in 90s and contemporary Berlin, that all serve to show her social, romantic and cultural alienation. It’s also a book about her relationship with Germany, literature, music and language. Her life is full of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and missed opportunities, all described with skill and sensitivity. I’m really looking forward to reading Bae Suah’s other novels!



    143Dilara86
    joulukuu 29, 2020, 11:20am

    Derborence (When the Mountain Fell) by C. F. Ramuz





    Writer’s gender: male
    Writer’s nationality: Switzerland
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: Derborence, in the Valais canton in Switzerland
    First published in 1934


    C. F. Ramuz is one of Switzerland’s most renowned authors (although he seems to be half-forgotten in the rest of the world). His face is on the 200 Swiss Franc note, and the French Pléiade collection of Great Authors™ published his collected novels in 2005.
    In Derborence, C. F. Ramuz imagines what happened when, in 1714, a landslide engulfed an alpine transhumance village, killing all men (the women were in the main village down in the valley) and cattle... The writing is haunting.

    This picture shows where it happened (although the lake was formed after a subsequent landslide).




    144Dilara86
    joulukuu 29, 2020, 12:14pm

    Capital et idéologie (Capital and Ideology) by Thomas Piketty





    Writer’s gender: male
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: the whole world, but France, the UK, the US are looked at in more detail, followed by India, China, the USSR, Haiti, Sweden…
    First published in 2019


    1200 pages on the history of taxation, inequality and wealth, with a final section floating ideas for limiting poverty and financial inequality (although the historical sections are written with an eye to the present). It sounds dry but it’s fascinating and written in a way that’s both clear and lively. He argues against unchecked capitalism, essentialism, fatalism and trickle-down economics, which made me feel so much more hopeful about the world.
    It’s quite a long read, but it isn’t at all a difficult one, because Piketty has learned the lessons of his previous book and has made it as accessible as possible. (Capital in the Twenty-First Century topped the bestsellers charts, but also the most abandoned books list.) It takes a bit of stamina to get to the end, but I’d say that it’s readable by anyone who studied academic subjects in high school – in fact, it reads a lot like a school manual, with a lot of hand-holding and recaps at regular intervals. They, by the way, bulk up the book by a fair amount, as do the numerous graphs.


    Piketty is a very good public speaker (at least in French). If you understand French and would rather watch a video, there are plenty to choose from. I enjoyed this talk at the University of Geneva: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLbjK0vubjQ

    145Dilara86
    joulukuu 30, 2020, 7:15am

    Chantiers by Marie-Hélène Lafon (touchstones on the blink)





    Writer’s gender: female
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: France, especially Cantal and Paris
    First published in 2015


    Marie-Hélène Lafon is a writer and a French, Latin and Greek teacher I discovered recently, when her last book, Histoire du fils was shortlisted for the Prix Renaudot, which she subsequently won. I’m on the waiting list for Histoire du fils, but Chantiers was available straight away, and sounded interesting, so I borrowed it out of curiosity.

    In a way, Marie-Hélène Lafon Annie Ernaux’s mirror image. They come from a similar provincial, working-class background (a Cantal farm in Auvergne for Lafon, a village café in Normandy for Ernaux), they both were the first members of their families to go to university, they both became French teachers, they are both very sensitive to class difference and markers, and “mépris de classe” (there has got to be an English equivalent for this phrase, but I can’t think of anything right now – “class contempt” doesn’t ring true), and they both write perceptively about it. They however made opposite stylistical choices. Where Ernaux made the conscious decision to write in brief, simple sentences with everyday vocabulary so as not to alienate people like her parents, Lafon is a lot more experimental. She writes in complicated, meandering, stream-of-consciousness sentences, is not afraid of using technical terms, and plays with form, sounds and words.

    In Chantiers (which means both construction sites and works in progress), she explains where she comes from, what her interests are, how she acquired and developed them, and how they nourish her work, starting with grammar, and including classical music and literature. It doesn’t read at all like your run-of-the-mill memoir however, and more like an Editions de Minuit essay. If you’re not dead-set against experimental writing, it’s well worth a read. It manages to both explore form and give a sense of heart and sincerity!



    146thorold
    joulukuu 30, 2020, 7:55am

    >145 Dilara86: That sounds interesting, I hadn’t heard of her. Noting. >144 Dilara86: sounds interesting too, but I’m not sure it’s interesting enough to get through 1200 pages...!

    “mépris de classe” — somewhere between “snobbery” and “class prejudice”, perhaps?

    147Dilara86
    joulukuu 30, 2020, 10:52am

    >146 thorold: I'll try and report on Histoire du fils when I get to it. I really enjoyed Chantiers. To me, the writing was challenging without being too abstruse or dry.

    sounds interesting too, but I’m not sure it’s interesting enough to get through 1200 pages...!
    Take away the charts and repetitions/recaps, and it's probably more like 800 pages, if that makes a difference to you motivation?

    “mépris de classe” — somewhere between “snobbery” and “class prejudice”, perhaps? With a hint of smugness?

    148raton-liseur
    tammikuu 3, 7:36am

    >145 Dilara86: Interesting. I discovered Annie Ernaux this year and never read nor planned to read Marie-Hélène Lafon, but the comparison between both makes it interesting. I'm not a Edition de Minuit fan, though (traumatised by a school read of L'Emploi du temps by Michel Butor...)

    >144 Dilara86: I really like to listen to Thomas Piketty as well, but will not find the stamina to read though his books. Great you did!

    149Dilara86
    tammikuu 3, 7:45am

    >145 Dilara86: I bet you were not the only traumatised pupil!

    150Dilara86
    tammikuu 3, 7:49am

    Le jour où mon père s'est tu (The day my father stopped talking) by Virginie Linhart





    Writer’s gender: female
    Writer’s nationality: French
    Original language: French
    Translated into: N/A
    Location: France, mostly Paris
    First published in 2008


    Virginie Linhart is the daughter of Robert Linhart, a maoist sociologist and famous (former) public intellectual, and Nicole Colas-Linhart, a renowned biophysician. Robert Linhart was – with Benny Lévy – at the helm of a small but influential Maoist movement in the sixties. His outlook on the world and on how to bring about a revolution having been disproved by the May 68 events, he took a backseat, and became a manual worker at a car factory for a year, then turned his experience into The Assembly Line. He kept up his militancy work until 1981, when he had a massive breakdown (he suffers from bipolar disorder), attempted suicide, and stopped talking outside of work, except for the odd mumbled 2-word sentence or grunt.

    In this book, Virginie Linhart takes her father’s illness as a step-off point to talk about the far left movement in the sixties, and in particular, about the effect it had on her and on the children of other Trotskyist and Maoist militants. This is by no means a rigorous academic study. She grew up in the small microcosm of “Latin Quarter” far-left intellectuals, the majority of whom studied at the ENS Paris, and gravitated around Louis Althusser. I don’t think Linhart made any kind of effort to reach children outside of this bubble. Mostly, she stumbled upon them at parties or in the street, or she got their contact details from their parents, which shows how incestuous the élite is. These children were brought up by people, who were for the most part 1) completely engrossed in politics and social change advocacy; and/or 2) having a sexual revolution; and/or 3) quite self-involved; and (all of them) 4) extremely liberal about everything except the value of a good, classical education in élite, selective schools. Many of them were culturally Jewish and were Holocaust survivors or the children of survivors (she has her theories about why that is). The only person she interviewed who was raised by “normal” leftist parents is Thomas Piketty. It is clear that she was neglected, as were others, but that it wasn’t the case for everyone. Against all odds, Lacan’s grandchildren, for example, were fine.

    In the end, Virginie Linhart comes across as just as self-involved and prone to self-congratulation as her parents. I found this book annoying yet interesting, although I would only recommend it to the keen amateur historian of the sixties.



    This will be my last review for 2020. I've almost finished compiling my stats, which I'll post shortly, and then on to a new year! My new 2021 thread is https://www.librarything.com/topic/328186#n7370405

    151raton-liseur
    tammikuu 3, 8:17am

    >150 Dilara86: I audio-read L'établi in 2018 or 2019. It was interesting to read to your review, which gave me some background I did not bother to look for. Interesting review, but I am not an amateur historian of the sixties so I'll pass and will shortly go and find your 2021 thread!

    152Dilara86
    Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 10:28am

    My stats for the year

    I made nice Excel graphs, but I can't seem to be able to turn them into pictures with a decent resolution... So here are my number breakdowns instead.

    Number of fiction/nonfiction/cookbook works in 2020 (finished and unfinished)


    • 162 fiction books
    • 50 nonfiction books
    • 10 cookbooks




    Original languages

    I read:

    • 108 French books (some unfinished)
    • 28.5 English books (some unfinished)
    • 20 Russian books
    • 9 German books
    • 5.5 Spanish books
    • 4 Arabic books
    • 3 Chinese and Farsi books each
    • 2 Danish (1 unfinished), Icelandic, Korean, Latvian, Slovenian, Turkish (1 unfinished) books each
    • 1 Finnish, Indonesian, Italian, Kurdish, Latin, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Occitan, Portuguese, Provençal, Pushto, and Tamil book each
    • 1 book with various Indian languages



    Books I've read, sorted by period


    • 21st-century: 132
    • 20th-century: 54
    • 19th-century: 10
    • 18th-century: 2
    • 17th-century: 1
    • 16th-century: 0
    • Medieval: 6
    • Ancient: 0
    • Mixed: 2