The daughter of immigrants, Bel Olid is a prizewinning writer, translator and teacher of literature and creative writing. The President of the European Council of Associations of Literary Translators, and President of the Association of Writers in Catalan, she is well known and well respected in Europe for her activism in defense of women and children.
“Those fleeing war are always better received than those trying to escape poverty, especially if the poverty is in a black skin, as if poverty isn’t a bomb that will end up killing you.” (page 14) Continue reading Review | Wilder Winds, Bel Olid | Fum d’Estampa Press
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
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
A profound reflection on the human condition, Intimate Resistance is a welcome alternative to those glib bestselling books by counsellors and guides who synthesize complicated intellectual, scientific and spiritual ideas for instant, easy consumption. Living in the present moment is, perhaps, one of the most overused concepts expounded by the advocates of Mindfulness with the likes of Deepak Chopra (a student of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation), Eckhart Tolle and the followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh a.k.a. Osho, leading the way.
“Society has found itself distanced from Sartrean interpretation and so plays with the idea of finding one’s own personal path to happiness – often only understood as achievement: in other words, success.” (page 13)
Josep Maria Esquirol’s study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence, is underpinned by sound academic argument entwined with the concepts of many the world’s most important and influential philosophers and thinkers – including Arendt, Patočka, Melville, Bachelard, Sartre, Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, Pascal, Voltaire, Camus, Deleuze, Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Freud and others – as he develops his own theories, all the while wearing his learning lightly. Intimate Resistance is a lyrical, lucid, poetic read of imaginative explorations and etymological musings conjuring visual vistas. Continue reading Review | The Intimate Resistance, Josep Maria Esquirol (trs. Douglas Suttle) | Fum d’Estampa Press
Sverker Johansson’s The Dawn of Language, adroitly translated by Frank Perry, weighs in at over 400 pages. We’re in the age of Great Simplifiers: each month produces a new crop of hefty volumes.
The Great Simplifiers
Each new volume aims to survey and simplify complex, important scientific arguments for a fairly well-educated reading public. These tomes resemble each other in their ambitions: they review tons of recent research; they give their readers an impression of the intensity and importance of debates; they’re stuffed with colourful examples to hold their reader’s attention; and – usually – they conclude on a vaguely re-assuring, half-optimistic note. As you look closer, differences become apparent. Continue reading Guest Review | Sharif Gemie | The Dawn of Language: Axes, lies, midwifery and how we came to talk – Sverker Johansson | MacLehose Press