Guest review | A Little Luck, Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle | Charco Press

A Little Luck is a skilfully structured novel by Claudia Piñeiro, the award-winning  Argentinian crime and suspense writer, in which the role of chance and the choices people make in shaping their destinies are explored. Various dramatic plot twists stack up as the lives of four women become intertwined, with each one pursuing her own version of happiness as she searches for meaning in her existence. The individual stories are woven together, underpinned by the themes of hope, resilience, and the human desire for a little bit of luck to improve their lives. As it is impossible to outline the story without giving the plot twists away, I’ll concentrate on the tone of the work.

Continue reading Guest review | A Little Luck, Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle | Charco Press

LibraryPicks | The Hippie Trail: A History, Sharif Gemie & Brian Ireland | Manchester University Press

The Hippie Trail: A History by Sharif Gemie and Brian Ireland is a rollicking and riveting read, chock-full of vivid anecdotes and insights. It is perfect for armchair travellers dreaming of happier times. How gentrified and commodified the world seems today!

“You can’t trust anybody who’s wearing a tie,” Jefferson Airplane

Gemie and Ireland appraise the broader social and political context, alongside the psychological and cultural worlds of the famously hirsute travellers. The resulting narrative is a blend of analysis and dialogues with eighty authors and interviewees who went on the trail in the late 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s on a quest for adventure, spirituality and escape from monotony, ending up – though not always – in Nepal. By the 1970s, Kathmandu was known as “the Benidorm of the dope trail”. (p. 104) 

Continue reading LibraryPicks | The Hippie Trail: A History, Sharif Gemie & Brian Ireland | Manchester University Press

Review | Rosa’s Bus, Fabrizio Silei, illus. Maurizio A. C. Quarello | Darf Publishers

Rosa’s Bus by Fabrizio Silei, who refers to himself as a “researcher of human stories and events”, is a perfect early learning book for children from the age of seven upwards. Beautifully illustrated by Maurizio A. C. Quarello, and sensitively translated from the Italian by Siân Williams, it is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

What does Grandpa want to show Ben?
Why is Ben being told such a scary story about men in white hoods with eyeholes?
What happened to the dignified lady taken off the bus in handcuffs like a criminal?
Why did her one action and the protest that followed change history?

Continue reading Review | Rosa’s Bus, Fabrizio Silei, illus. Maurizio A. C. Quarello | Darf Publishers

Guest Review | Sharif Gemie | Take Six: Six Spanish Women Writers, (eds) Simon Deefholts & Kathryn Phillips-Miles | Dedalus Books

This welcome collection contains twenty-seven short stories by six influential Spanish women writers, written over the past one hundred and twenty years. The translations are fluent and easily readable, the editing ‘light-touch’ and unobtrusive.

One surprising feature of the stories is the constancy of the themes they address. The stories concentrate on marginalized, frustrated women, their lives stunted by male prejudice and violence. While the formats change, the key issues remain.

Continue reading Guest Review | Sharif Gemie | Take Six: Six Spanish Women Writers, (eds) Simon Deefholts & Kathryn Phillips-Miles | Dedalus Books

Review | IMPOSSIBLE, Erri De Luca trs. N. S. Thompson | Mountain Leopard Press

A prolific and acclaimed writer in his Italian homeland, Erri De Luca’s thought-provoking, philosophical investigation builds in suspense ending with an emotional bomb. Although a work of fiction, to what extent Impossible is inspired by his actual experiences of being sued for an alleged incitement to sabotage to the Lyon-Turin high speed train line on environmental grounds is open for debate. (De Luca was cleared on 19 October 2015 when a not-guilty verdict was pronounced.)

years of lead copyright france24A senator from the centre-left Democratic party supportive of the high speed train line, referred to De Luca as being a relic of the ‘years of lead’, the restless political period of the 1970s-‘80s when left-and-right-wing activists carried out numerous violent attacks, including the abduction and murder of former Prime Minister, Aldo Moro.

Continue reading Review | IMPOSSIBLE, Erri De Luca trs. N. S. Thompson | Mountain Leopard Press

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