The king’s fool has had a distinct, privileged and vital role to play at royal courts throughout history. Mahi Binebine’s fool is contemporary, even though the story reads as though it happened in a distant past, since it is inspired by the fate of the author’s father and brother at the court of King Hassan II of Morocco. Continue reading Review | The King’s Fool, Mahi Binebine | MacLehose Press
The French Muslim community numbers nearly 6 million, according to Joseph Downing, author of French Muslims in Perspective: Nationalism, Post-Colonialism and Marginalisation under the Republic. The largest in Western Europe, it has more often than not been under a harsh spotlight following years of terrorist attacks, national debates over the hijab, the burkini and the right to offend and blaspheme.
Most are modest Muslims leading normal lives, appreciative of laïcité (secularism) and its freedoms, while the number of violent extremists is estimated to be only in the few thousands – “less than 1% of the French Muslim population become jihadists” – though this reality is not that which is portrayed by the mainstream Media. Many are fashioning new Islamic institutions and developing new ways of listening, reasoning and teaching.
Established in 2019, Fum d’Estampa Press publishes award-winning Catalan language poetry, fiction and essays in English translation. Its founder, Doug Suttle, tells us what inspired him, why the attraction to Catalan language and literature in particular, and what is so special about Barcelona.
Tell us a bit about your childhood and where you grew up.
I grew up in a leafy suburb of south London before heading up to Nottingham for my teenage years.
Were your parents great readers? What were the books that made you fall in love with reading?
My parents read a lot. They always have. I remember my father reading The Lord of the Rings and The Little Grey Men Go Down the Bright Stream to me as bedtime stories when I was a child. I remember going to sleep dreaming of Shadowfax and Ring Wraiths! I was also surrounded by Penguin Ladybird books about history and explorers, etc. I then quickly moved into reading whatever I could get my hands on. I think I was a pretty avid reader growing up. And that’s thanks to my parents.
A journalist, translator and editor . . . how did you end up in Catalonia?
Long story! I was looking for a change and had been travelling around Latin America for a while but was keen to try out something a little closer to the UK. I ended up in Catalonia. It’s got it all – mountains, an amazing coastline, wonderful cities, and a rich, varied culture.
In translating the novel Forty Lost Years into English, Fum d’Estampa Press and Peter Bush have gifted Anglophone readers a forgotten gem of twentieth century fiction that not only offers us a fresh view on the effects of the Spanish Civil War, the ensuing exile many were forced into and Franco’s dictatorship, but also a text which remains strikingly relevant and present.
First published in Catalan as Quaranta anys perduts in 1971, and enjoying a second wind when republished in 2016, Forty Lost Years is narrated by Laura Vidal and covers forty years of her life, starting in the 1930s when she is a young adolescent.
Pierre Lemaitre, the Prix Goncourt-winning French novelist and screenwriter behind the Paris Crime Files a.k.a. Verhœven series, is brought to English-language readers by the publisher behind Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbø. So much for having a shrewd eye for genuinely original storytelling and talent-spotting big hitters from foreign climes, not just once but again and again and again . . . chapeau!
Rosy & John, translated by word wizard Frank Wynne, is published today. It is the fourth and last book in the Verhœven series. The opening description of an eight year old boy seeing “the body of his father soar into the air as though a giant hand has punched him in the solar plexus” when a bomb explodes in a Paris street, evoking the November 2015 Paris attacks, is both globally apocalyptic and highly personal. Continue reading Spotlight | Rosy & John, Pierre Lemaitre #FrenchNoir | MacLehose Press