Guest Review | Vladimir Sharov, Be As Children (trs. Oliver Ready) | Dedalus Books

Poetry and fiction by Vladimir Sharov, a medieval historian by education, was first published in the late 1970s. Be Like Children was a finalist for the Russian Booker and Big Book awards.

“My own experience has taught me that being at the centre of events makes you the worst possible witness,” writes the main character of Be As Children (p. 39), introducing a sense of uncertainty and improbability that permeates this long, rambling, immersive novel. Continue reading Guest Review | Vladimir Sharov, Be As Children (trs. Oliver Ready) | Dedalus Books

Review | Stranger to the Moon, Evelio Rosero | Mountain Leopard Press

Evelio Rosero’s chilling dystopian parable, Stranger to the Moon, is like the detailed, imaginative nightmare of a fantastic surrealist painting by Max Ernst, populated by the bizarre and often monstrous figures of a creation by Hieronymous Bosch. From the start, the reader is sucked into the mind of one of the undesirable Naked Ones exiled in a wardrobe in a vast but cramped house.

They’re organized, and everything suggests an important part of that organization lies in their resolve to keep us locked inside this house, for all eternity. Because those who have had to leave our house (and managed to return to tell of it) don’t wish to go back outside.”  Continue reading Review | Stranger to the Moon, Evelio Rosero | Mountain Leopard Press

Review | Sarajevo Firewood, Saïd Khatibi (trs. Paul Starkey) | Banipal Books

Saïd Khatibi’s polyphonic novel, Sarajevo Firewood, pays homage to the victims of civil war in Algeria and Bosnia in the 1990s, and gives the survivors a voice. Scarred by erratic memories and traumatic recall – indicative of the psychological wounds of war – writing is a way to come to terms with what happened.

“We might find a mass grave with a café or restaurant in front of it, which changed at night into a dance floor, on which the living took turns to move their bodies while the dead opposite them looked on silently.” Continue reading Review | Sarajevo Firewood, Saïd Khatibi (trs. Paul Starkey) | Banipal Books

Guest Review | Turf Wars (2) Olivier Norek trs. Nick Caistor | MacLehose Press

Turf Wars is the second of Olivier Norek’s Captain Coste trilogy, set in the banlieues of Paris.

Spiralling Upwards

Norek has an unusual C.V. Born in Toulouse in 1975, he worked for a humanitarian charity in in the 1990s, and contributed to the re-construction of hospitals and refugee camps in Guyana and the former Yugoslavia. He then joined the French marines for two years, before becoming a policeman in 1997. After working in the police force in Paris for eighteen years, he started his fourth career: crime writer. To date, he’s published six novels and he was one of the writers for the sixth series of  Engrenages (Spiral).  Continue reading Guest Review | Turf Wars (2) Olivier Norek trs. Nick Caistor | MacLehose Press

Review | Love in Five Acts, Daniela Krien (trs. Jamie Bulloch) | MacLehose Press

Emerging from a time of great turmoil . . . all depending on your experiences over the past two years . . . Love in Five Acts could either strike a strong chord of recognition, inspire relief at being in a secure relationship, or prompt joy at being single and happy.  

The lives of five very different middle-aged women – Paula, Judith, Brida, Malika and Jorinde – loosely criss-cross over each other in a cat’s cradle of love and loss, desire, infidelity and torment. Luck and happenstance play a central role. Continue reading Review | Love in Five Acts, Daniela Krien (trs. Jamie Bulloch) | MacLehose Press