Review A Little Luck, Claudia Piñeiro

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.

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Spotlight Highlights, Beyond Words Festival, 2023

This year’s Beyond Words Festival at the Institut Français du Royaume Uni featured a great line-up from across the Channel. Throughout the week, the  Institut Français du Royaume Uni in South Kensington, London, was bustling with people eager to see their favourite French authors in conversation with their British counterparts discussing not only their latest books, but many things words and ideas from France, past and present.

The first event I attended was A Gallic Evening with Muriel Barbery, Antoine Laurain and Jean-Baptiste Andrea, chaired by Viv Groskop. Gallic Books publish “the very best of what the French are actually reading.”  Over the past decade, they have brought over one hundred authors to the British reading public.

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Review Take Six: Six Spanish Women Writers

This welcome collection, Take Six: Six Spanish Women Writers, edited by Simon Deefholts & Kathryn Phillips-Miles 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.

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Review Thirsty Sea, Erica Mou

Erica Mou (b. 1990) studied Literature, Publishing and Journalism at the University of Bari. She is an Italian singer-songwriter and the recipient of numerous international awards. Thirsty Sea, winner of the Readers’ Award of the Lungano Literary Festival 2020, is her debut novel, trs. Clarissa Botsford. Erica wrote this book at the kitchen table of her rented accommodation in London.

Héloïse Press champions world-wide female talent by giving voice to emerging and well-established female writers from home and abroad.

The image maybe be near-perfect but what lies behind it? Inside a person is like inside the sea: all that lies beneath the surface is not immediately visible.

BePresent

Nicola is an aeroplane pilot, a very good cook and the ideal son-in-law. He is “the kind of person who doesn’t kill spiders but catches them in jars and frees them out of the window”. He is a perfect catch for Maria who runs an oddball eco-friendly business. As a gift-buying consultant, she is paid by clients to come up with ideas for presents. So her shop is just a big empty space with a table, a chair and a phallic sculpture in the corner reminiscent of Rocking Machine, the art piece created by Dutch sculptor and artist Herman Makkink for Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange. There is “nothing on sale, no shelves, just brilliant ideas.”

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Review My Pen is the Wing of a Bird, New Fiction by Afghan Women

Afghan women have been in the news again since the Taliban have banned Voice of America, the BBC and Deutsche Welle after women students and teachers protested peacefully in response to secondary schools for girls being shut down. Writing in Afghanistan is once again a taboo craft for women.

As a schoolteacher put it: “The Taliban are scared of an educated girl. When a girl is educated, a family will be educated. And when a family is educated, a nation will be educated. Ultimately, an educated nation will never, ever nourish the motives of terrorists.” www.democracynow.org

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