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Once upon a time J David Simons, who has returned to his home town in Glasgow, lived in Japan. He has now channelled some of that experience into his third novel, much of which takes place in Hakone, 100 kilometers from Tokyo.  This by way of explanation, as to why I chose to read An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful for January in Japan. (The event organiser may, of course, rule the entry invalid ….)

Nevertheless this is a fine novel.  There are, in fact, other adjectives I’d like to use but I’ve decided I’m not going to repeat those used in the title … although both apply.  The novel is also unafraid to tackle the controversial. See if you can spot the controversy from the publisher’s blurb.

An eminent British writer returns to the resort hotel in the Japanese mountains where he once spent a beautiful, snowed-in winter.  It was there he fell in love and wrote his best-selling novel, The Waterwheel, accusing America of being in denial about the horrific aftermath of the Tokyo firebombings and the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  As we learn more about his earlier life, however – as a student in Bloomsbury, involved with a famous American painter – we realise that he too is in denial, trying to escape past events that are now rapidly catching up with him.

How many themes and subjects that interest me can be pulled from that synopsis?  Let’s see: the writer’s life, from getting his 1st break to becoming a much-lauded elder statesman; Bloomsbury; art history; secrets from the past.  The argument about America’s war record in Japan not so much, because all war subjects distress me.  However, given that both sides of the argument are fairly represented (and at times very creatively in the form of extracts from a novel within the novel) I have to say that at no stage did my interest wane.  There is further controversy in that personal secret; one that comes back to haunt our protagonist but only because he is a celebrity once married to another, whose autobiography tells all.  Politically correct society will judge him, although surprisingly I did not. (There were, I found, convincing mitigating circumstances.)

As I’ve read and reviewed both of Simons’s previous novels (here and here), I know he is, to quote the blurb, “a skilled storyteller” and so I was expecting nothing less than a darn good yarn.  So it proved to be.  His style is detailed without being overly descriptive and verbose.  The book is populated with characters to  love (the literary agent), to hate (the protagonist’s wife, Macy Collingwood), and those who are a little more ambiguous (Edward Strathairn, the eminent author himself).  The action spans East and West. The cultural differences between Japan and the West and between Britain and America are demonstrated through the behaviour of the characters – nowhere more tellingly than in the contrast between Edward’s American and Japanese loves.  While present and past narratives converge convincingly into a dramatic finale, there is mirroring along the way that I found – I give in, there’s no other word for it – exquisite.

There are other enjoyable touches including multiple references to Nobel Laureate Kawabata’s novel, Snow Country, which has duly been added to my wishlist, recognition of the importance of literary translators, and some thought-provoking linguistic theory.

“…. a linguistic theory I’m putting forward about the Japanese. The way they put the verb at the end of the sentence.”

“Meaning?”

“The Japanese want to know the details first before they take action. Same with the Germans and their verb.”

“And we English-speakers?”

“Oh, that’s easy.  We’re all about “I” with a big, capital letter.  Even in the middle of a sentence.  Only culture to do that.  But  usually it’s “I” right at the beginning followed by a verb.  We put our big selves first, then we do the action, then we worry about the details later. I, I, I, I.  That’s what we English-speakers are all about.  But does our grammar create our culture of egotism? Or does our culture create our grammar?”

In the course of his literary duties, Edward Strathairn must perform public readings and answer audience questions.  These scenes are playful vignettes of the “toil” of contemporary authors.  At one such event I attended, a mega-selling author, (Mark Billingham, I think) stated his belief that it takes 3 novels for an author to really hit his stride.  Novels 1 and 2 were good, but with this one, I reckon Simons has now taken possession of his 7-league boots.

 4_stars.GIF

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Winner of the 2013 Booker Prize

Winner of the 2013 Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award

Was I surprised that a crime novel won the Booker prize last year?  Not really.  Stuart Kelly, one of the judges, had revealed his penchant for literary crime at a Bloody Scotland event the year before.  I had an inkling …..

 Was I surprised that an historical novel took the prize for the second year running?  I was, although I realise that the judges weren’t having a The Luminaries vs Bring up the Bodies debate.  Although now that I have finished, I am.  Catton’s novel isn’t winning.

The crux of my problem is this.  I didn’t approach The Luminaries in the right way.  I had a copy and, after hearing Catton speak at last summer’s Edinburgh Book Festival about how a major concern was to make this novel an entertaining read, I was looking forward to reading it immensely.  Then I was offered a review copy of the audio book, which I accepted.

I began mid-October of last year.  It’s a massive undertaking particularly when I only listen to audiobooks when driving.   A 20 minute commute to work, 40 minutes per day, 5 days a week. I reckoned that it would take about 8 weeks to work my way through it.  Except that I never felt like listening the way home (concentration levels zilch after work) and then there were times when I didn’t feel like listening it at all ….. because in places it was just taking too long to get anywhere.  This book is not designed to be listened to in 20 minute snatches when concentrating on the roads; it is a book requiring long periods of attention, during which the reader or the listener can savour, even delight in the resurrection of the 19th century adverb and the author’s cleverness. 

How do I know?  Because I got home on the 30th of December and I still had about 10 hours listening time remaining.  At that rate, it would be time for the next Edinburgh Book Festival and I’d still be listening to it! So I decided to read to the end.  I was disheartened to realise that, after 2 months, I had only reached page 478.  Still 350 pages to go.  

3 reading sessions (about 4 hours) and I finished it on New Year’s Day!  This confirmed that a) I had approached it all wrong; b) if I’d read it, it would have probably taken me a week to 10 days to read cover to cover, and I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.  This is taking nothing away from Mark Meadows’s reading, which is excellent, very listener-friendly, but ill-suited to the short bursts of attention I was giving his performance.

Much has been made of the structure.  I’m going to ignore the astrological references - of which there are many, some overt, others hidden, and which I find regrettable. I will, however, concentrate on the golden spiral; the rules of which dictate that each section must be half the length of the preceding.  In practice, the first section is 170,000 words (360 pages) long, and the 12th section only 96 words.  I admire the cleverness of this but it does mean that the beginning sections of the book do go on … and on … and on. If you love Dickens and Trollope, this is for you.   If not, you must persevere because there is a payback ….. eventually.  I haven’t seen this mentioned elsewhere but there comes a point (page 700) when the forward motion of the story stops and we begin to go backward in time.  That transition is seamless and from here on in, all the missing pieces of the jigsaw appear ; questions are answered, not always explicitly, it is true, but that is entirely in keeping with Catton’s ethos of a literary crime novel.

Anyway, I have reached the end to find myself in a state of ambivalence.  I enjoyed the modern take on the 19th century epic in which Catton throws away the decorum of the originals, exploring in detail themes that could only be mentionly obliquely in those days. I enjoyed too the packaging of the novel that is both reminiscent of its ancestors yet highly original.  At times though the packaging got in the way and I found myself thinking, is this a case of all style and no substance?  I don’t find myself quite believing that accusation though, even if not able to speak coherently for the defence.  And so I break my new reviewing rule (only to review 4-star reads or above) with my first “review” of 2014.  Heck, I worked hard to get to the end page.  For that reason alone the moment deserves to be recorded for posterity.

35_stars.GIF

Other opinions: Here’s a man who loved reading it.  Here’s a woman who loved listening to it.  And here’s someone who simply ran out of patience!

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This one’s all about the numbers.  The 3rd blog post in a row about the Canongate catalogue, a small homage on my part to mark their 40 years in publishing.  It is also number 26 in my progress through books I associate with EIBF over the years – target is 30 by the end of the year to mark the 30th year of the Edinburgh Book Festival.  I may have bought this on Michel Faber’s personal recommendation in the Canongate Popup Shop in 2011 (story here) but he was chair at Jenny Erpenbeck’s event that same year.  So I’ve seen him on an EIBF stage – it counts!

And then there’s the fact that this fits in so well with my Sinister September reading.  The first page is far too long to quote but it’s a real shocker.  It leaves the main protagonist, Siân sitting blot upright in bed.  Me too.

Siân is a troubled soul, wounded both physically and emotionally from her experiences in Bosnia.  Returning to Britain alone, she joins an archaeological dig in Whitby. Each day she must climb the 199 steps to the abbey – a staircase which serves the purpose of transporting her from her unhappy present to a happier future via a distracting gothic mystery from the past.   On those steps she meets and befriends Mack, a bit of a hunk, and Hadrian, his lush of a dog. Mack is dealing with his own emotional issues.  He is in town from London winding up the estate of his recently deceased and estranged father.  Let it be said he is chalk to Siân’s cheese and their friendship/potential romance would be a non-starter if weren’t for an old bottle which contains a fragile manuscript.  Mack seeking to extend his time with Siân agrees to let her extract the manuscript to see what it contains.  And it’s an intriguing mystery linked to Whitby’s vampiric past with parallels to Siân’s own story.

There isn’t a happy ending and that signals the outcome for Siân and Mack but the time spent unravelling the manuscript allows Siân to establish a second relationship which will satisfy her emotional needs.

The second novella, The Courage Consort, also concerns itself with emotional healing.  Middle-aged Catherine Courage is feeling suicidal.  Dissatisfaction with her childless marriage and her controlling husband lie at the heart of her problem. Once again there’s a sit up and take notice beginning.  This time I can quote it as it is only a sentence long.

On the day the good news arrived, Catherine spent her first few waking hours toying with the idea of jumping out of the window of her apartment.

The Courage Consort, a singing ensemble led by Catherine’s husband, Julian, is setting off for a two-week stay in the Belgium countryside to practice a challenging modern piece for a festival performance.  The ensemble, of which Catherine is the soprano, consists of differing personality types who are destined to clash when in prolonged close proximity.  These clashes are amusing to read as is the satire on modern music, performance art and artists.  Gothic elements appear too as the accommodation is close to a forest, replete with threats and mysterious human cries.

Interwoven throughout the adventure and the musical noise  (noise being the right word – the ensemble have been landed with something awful) is a show not tell story of a marriage gone wrong.  The moments Catherine and Julian share are anything but intimate, and his constant putdowns of her are painful to witness. Yet Catherine finds unexpected support in the other female member of the ensemble, a young, no-nonsense German single mother.  Her recovery is complete after she spends a night alone in the forrest.  What happens is not explained and that I found an anomaly in an otherwise precise piece.

(Note to self: Could it be as simple as Catherine has faced down her personal demons so there is no need to explain?)

The 199 Steps  / The Courage Consort 

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At the half-way point of EIBF 2013 and I’m just over half-way through my 30 events for the 30th anniversary challenge. Here’s a synopsis of the 1st week in photos.

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I’ve taken loads of notes and words will follow although whether I’ll ever blog it all is doubtful. Yesterday though, when I’d filled my notebook, I tried live tweeting. Not as easy as it looks, I can tell you. Still I’ll try some more during week two – that way I’ll be able to keep up with myself.

For now though, some favourite moments from EIBF 2013 Week One.

3) Rick Gekoski’s indiscretions re judging the Booker prize. Details in last paragraph of this article.
2)The moment Ian Rankin forgot he was chairing Maj Sjöwall’s event and answered an question from the audience instead of directing it to her. (Bet he thought we didn’t notice …)
1) Jonathan Coe’s anecdote re what can be lost in translation. (I’ll tell you next translation Thursday.)

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There are a number of interesting literary magazines being published at the moment. My current favourite is World Literature Today. Its mixture of features, interviews, extracts from forthcoming translations and poetry never fails to fascinate. I find the reviews scattered throughout particularly deadly to the bank balance.

I have a digital subscription but for the 350th issue I decided to treat myself to the hard copy. This, of course, had nothing to do with the fact that Julia Franck, author of the unforgettable German book-prize winning Blind Side of the Heart graces the front cover.

All I can say is that in the flesh this magazine is a wondrous thing and I wish the hard copy subscription was affordable. But the price of postage from USA is extortionate and that’s the reason why I’m limiting this blog hop giveaway to Europe.

The first copy sent to me went awol. I received a replacement copy in December, just 5 days after requesting it. (Too late, unfortunately for German Literature Month – aha now you know the reason I ordered it ….). This giveaway copy, originally ordered early October, dropped through the letterbox in January. Now that it has finally arrived in Europe, let’s keep it here.

You can view the table of contents here.

To enter for the giveaway, which is open to anyone with a European address, simply leave a comment. And while it won’t increase your chances of winning, I’d be delighted if you would write a word or two about the best piece of translated work you’ve read recently.

You have until midnight 13.02.2013 to enter. The winner will be selected via random.org and will be notified by email on the 14th. I reserve the right to select another winner if I do not receive a forwarding address within 3 days.

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The Literary Blog Hop is hosted by Judith. Hop across to find a host of other blog-hopping giveaways and enjoy your weekend.

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have already gone awry.

My PC has broken and must be sent away. This means a) I will be offline for a fortnight at least; or b) I must get to grips with the wordpress ipad application and work out how to get photos from camera to ipad; or c) Blog photolessly.

Given that I am in the middle of a digital photography course and am grappling with apertures and shutters and bracketing and … I have enough technology challenges to contend with, so I’m going offline and will use the additional time to attack the TBR.

Thanks to the definition of books in the post being legitimate entries for this year’s TBR Double Dog Dare, I availed myself of the opportunity to preorder a few titles. I didn’t go mad and restricted myself to just 4 books, all translations. 2 from German (Snow White Must Die, Going to the Dogs), 1 Catalan (The Sound of One Hand Killing) and 1 from Japanese (The Gate). That should wIll keep me happy for the next 3 months. It will – I’m combining the Double Dog Dare with a book- buying ban …. for the whole 3 months (orders placed prior to 31.01.12 don’t count).

Specific plans included participation in blogging events January in Japan and Long Awaited Reads I had a very enticing reading list at the ready. (See footnote.) But – here it comes – my reading group decided that this is the month for the 1194 pages of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I’m afraid that all other reading plans are suspended for the foreseeable future.

This is going to take time. The print is small and it’s not exactly plot-driven or the first 98 pages, (3.5 hours to read) weren’t. At least my enforced blogging break may help me get through it. See you on the other side ……

Footnote
Original reading choices for January in Japan
Japanese Short Stories (Folio Society Anthology)
The Devotion of Suspect X – Keigo Higashino
Original Long Awaited Read Choices
Journey by Moonlight – Antal Szerb
The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

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I had a great reading year: 91 books, 25536 pages (You bet, there’s a spreadsheet somewhere in the background.) 64 keepers. How on earth to distill them down to the best of 2012.

I have deliberated and deliberated and then, I deliberated some more. Finally I asked myself this question, which baker’s dozen would you take with you if you ever had to downsize? Suddenly, it became easy.

Best Debut Novel : The Lighthouse – Alison Moore

Best Hommage: Tom All-Alone’s – Lynn Shepherd

Best Non-Fiction: Reading the Pre-Raphaelites – Tim Barringer

Best Novella: The Brothers – Asko Sahlberg

Best Poetry Collection: The Musicians of Edinburgh – Ron Butlin

Best Short Story Collection: Drifting House – Krys Lee

Best Suspense Novel: Alone in Berlin: Hans Fallada

Favourite Anglophone Literary Novel: The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng

Favourite Translated Novel: The Scent of Lemon Leaves – Clara Sánchez

The Most Charming: Sydney Chalmers and The Shadows of Death – James Runcie

The Most Technically Accomplished Novel: Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel

The Most Irreverent: Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets – Don Paterson

The One I Should Have Read Sooner: Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey

To pick my book of the year, I asked, if you had room for only one book, which would it be? My answer is (and really, how could it be otherwise given my nom-de-net…).

What would your answer be?

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A quick reminder that the special edition of 5 Dials Magazine, devoted entirely to contemporary German literature is available to download today!  (If it’s not available when this post appears, it soon will be ……)

I’m planning on reading it and posting a review Friday evening. So, if you feel like sneaking another #germanlitmonth – or rather #germanlatemonth (see footnote) - readalong into this extension week, please join me. My  #germanlitmonth co-host, Caroline, has assured me that she doesn’t mind this very British disregard of deadlines.  Hey, the buses are always late here and the habit’s contagious.

Not sure, you want to download?  Then read this interview from the editor, a kindred spirit, if ever I found one.  Now how can you resist?

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Footnote:  #germanlatemonth copyright @SeamusDuggan

 

 

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Venue: County Halls, Stirling
Date: Saturday 15th September
Occasion: The inaugural Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival

From left to right:
In the red corner: Literary critics:  Stuart Kelly and Professor Willy Maley
Referee Chair: Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh Book Festival
In the blue corner: Crime Writers extraordinaire: Ian Rankin and Peter James

Nick Barley introduced the motion: Is it time a crime novel won the Booker? Before arguments began, he took a vote. In an auditorium packed with 300 crime-writing enthusiasts, only 3 hands (my own included) voted against the motion. The critics were onto a hiding to nothing.

Peter James opened the arguments quoting the founding objective of the Booker Prize. It was a quest to get the British public reading good novels and there are years when the judges forget this. He quoted a friend of his who wanted to kill the judges who voted for The Bone People, a book which was putting him off reading. James argued against the prejudices of Gilbert any-book-that-makes-me-want-to-turn-the pages-can’t-be-worth-reading Adair and insisted that many a classic novel would have originally be found on the crime shelves: Therese Raquin and Bleak House

Professor Willy Maley took the house by storm. Unfortunately he delivered his speech, in which there was punchline after punchline, so rapidly that I had no time to take copious notes. Besides which, I was laughing too much. Crime writers are being greedy, he said. They already have readers, mega sales, and money from their own prizes. They can’t have the literary Booker as well. He quoted James Kelman’s blistering attack against the genrification of fiction. He also claimed the superiority of the free form and subject matter of literary fiction. A literary novel may contain a crime. A crime novel has no choice.

Ian Rankin talked about crime novels transcending their genre. The problem, he said, is that as soon as a crime novel does this, it ceases to be a crime novel! Crime novels can be political novels, as in Scandinavia and France. They can also be literary, particularly if they have the word snow in the title: Snow falling on Cedars and Snowdrops being cases in point. There is mystery in all writing, he argued. It is, by its very nature, the art of withholding information.

Stuart Kelly defended the right of any prize to define its own criteria. The convention of the genre is a blunt instrument on which to measure crime fiction. Crime and Punishment is as fine a literary crime novel as there ever was and he based his own opposition to the motion on the basis that crime novels have already won the Booker: Something to answer for, Rites of Passage, The Blind Assassin, The True History of the Kelly Gang, Vernon God Little, and Wolf Hall.

Additional points brought out during audience questions:

Peter James: How ironic is it that the Booker Prize is funded by the literary estates of Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming and Dennis Wheatley? Greene’s Brighton Rock changed all the rules. Not only did the mind of the criminal suddenly become the plot but it was the first crime novel to attain the status of literary fiction. There are no rules in crime fiction now, he said. in fact, crime on the spine is purely a marketing tactic.

Stuart Kelly listed other crime novels that can easily be labelled literary: Asta’s Book and King Solomon’s Carpet, both by Barbara Vine; John Le Carre’s The Constant Gardener and Allan Massie’s novels set in Vichy France. He added that he would be delighted if Sophie Hannah won the Booker one day. Her novels are exceptional, he said.

As you can see this was a very civilised bout in which the opposing sides sometimes forgot which side they were on. Peter James, the most rigorous defender of the right of a crime novel to win the ultimate accolade, made the most outrageous statement of all. Despite all my arguments, he said let’s be quite clear. I’d rather have my gallbladder removed without anaesthetic than win the Booker Prize!

Let’s be quite clear, I thought, I’d perform that operation on you as payback for your snide opening comments about Keri Hulme’s wonderful novel. And so, when Nick Barley asked if any of the original 3 opposers of the motion wished to defend their position, my hand rose of its own accord and I crossed swords with Mr James, defended The Bone People, and uttered something about no matter how good a crime novel is, I have never awarded 5-stars to one.

Driving home I realised I was talking nonsense. I have and it was to China Mieville’s The City and The City. (Mr James, I herewith return your gallbladder.) Even so, I would not have been happy for it to win the Booker in 2009, not in the year of Wolf Hall.

Anyway back to the debate. The chairman asked for a second show of hands and there were now somewhere in the region of 20 hands raised opposing the motion. Meaning minds had shifted from the idea of a crime novel winning the Booker and the defenders of the literary faith had won the day!

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Those who followed German Literature Month last year know that Wednesdays really are wunderbar because they are giveaway days!

This year Caroline and I are splitting the giveaways into two batches.  The first, this one, is a goody bag designed to complement the first half of the month during which we’ll be reading novellas and literary novels.

Novellas, lots of lovely novellas

I have 4 novellas to start us off.  (Novella defined here as under 130 pages.  Nothing more sophisticated than that.)

The first two are by a favourite author of mine, Stefan Zweig.  Actually, if you measured inch count on my book shelves, he’d be my favourite author and Pushkin Press, who are busy translating and publishing almost everything he ever wrote, must be by such reckoning be my favourite publisher.  They have contributed two recently translated novellas to German Literature Month II.  Both fantastically emotional reads.  Burning Secret reviewed here and Fear reviewed here.

I don’t know much about about the two novellas sent from Haus Publishing – other than they are published by a small publishing house, located in a quiet corner of Cadogan Place in London – a hidden treasure, if you will, that I’d like to share with you.  I can vouch for the impeccable taste of whoever chooses their list.

Finally for those who prefer their literature longer, Caroline, my German Literature Month co-host, is offering a copy of the 272-page long, The Bridge of the Golden Horn.

Can’t make your mind up which you want to read? Here’ are the blurbs from all 5 titles:

Burning Secret – Stefan Zweig (1913)
Set in an Austrian spa where a lonely twelve-year-old is befriended by a charming and enigmatic baron.  As the boy gradually becomes infatuated with him, the older man heartlessly brushes him aside to turn his seductive attention to the boy’s mother.

Fear – Stefan Zweig (1913)
Irene Wagner has been married for eight years and is tired of her bourgeois and predictable existence as wife and mother.  She starts an affair with an up-and-coming young pianist but finds herself being blackmailed by her lover’s former mistress.  Irene is soon in the grip of an astonishing fear.

A Minute’s Silence – Siegfried Lenz (2009)
The delicately paced structure of Lenz’s novella begins with the memorial ceremony for a popular young English mistress, Stella Petersen, seamlessly alternating between this scene and eighteen-year-old Christian’s memory of a summer love affair with his tutor. They keep their mutual attraction concealed at school and as the season goes on the lovers continue to meet discreetly.  Tragedy strikes when Stella goes on holiday with friends, sailing around the Danish islands. As the yacht returns to Hirtshafen at the end of the trip, a storm breaks. Before Christian’s eyes his beloved is flung overboard and fatally wounded. Lenz was twenty or thirty pages into writing A Minute’s Silence when his wife of fifty-six years died. Grief-stricken, he suffered from a serious bout of writer’s block and it seemed he would never finish the novel. With the passage of time, Lenz found that he could write again and complete this tender love story. Despite the obvious distance and difference of Lenz’s own long marriage and the brief, youthful passion of Christian for Stella, Lenz has wrought a well-aimed response to Auden’s famous request: ‘Tell me the truth about love.’

On the Edge – Markus Werner (2004)
When the cynical divorce lawyer Thomas Clarin finds himself at a table on the terrace of the Bellavista Hotel beside Thomas Loos, an eccentric, ageing philologist, hey strike up an unlikely conversation. Soon Clarin’s questions tease out stories from Loos’ past, and as both men slowly reveal more of themselves they are forced to question their opinions on love and life. The men are opposites; they intrigue and repel each other. But as the mystery of Loos’ past deepens, we begin it wonder if all as it seems.

The Bridge of the Golden Horn -  Emine Sevqi Ozdamar (2002)
The Bridge of the Golden Horn is a coming-of-age novel, a sentimental education that is also a political, cultural and intellectual one. In 1966, at the age of 16, the unnamed heroine lies about her age and signs up as a migrant worker in Germany. She leaves Istanbul, works on an assembly line in West Berlin making radios, and lives in a women’s factory hostel. But this novel is not about the problems of assembly line work – it’s a witty, picaresque account of a precocious teenager refusing to become wise, of a hectic four years lived between Berlin and Istanbul, of a young woman who is obsessed by theatre, film, poetry and left-wing politics. These are sometimes grim years, particularly in Turkey, but they also have a hope and optimism that seem almost unimaginable today.

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How to enter
Are you feeling adventurous?  Just leave a comment and let pot luck decide which title will wing its way to you.
Maybe you want to be entered for something specific?  Just let me know in comments and I’ll see what I can do.
And that’s it – oh, besides the committment that if you win, you will read and blog about it during November. (If you haven’t got a blog, just let me know by email what you thought of the book.)

Competition open internationally.  Winners will be chosen in some random manner and notified by email on Monday 1st October.

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