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

2022 in Review (part 2): Fiction and Nonfiction from 5 Indie Presses, Andrey Kurkov & The Children’s BookShow

Lack of time has meant that mastering the TBR&R pile has been a frustrating challenge this  year. Many fantastic books have been published in 2022 by independent trade publishers championed via The BookBlast Diary over the years. The intermittent support is mightily appreciated of a couple of donors who stepped into the breach when official funding organizations turned us down not once but three times apparently due to form filling-errors on our part, and our being based in London as opposed to the regions. Titles which caught the eye in 2022, listed in order of publication month, include:

LES FUGITIVES | The Child Who, Jeanne Benameur. Translated by Bill Johnston | 136pp May 2022 ISBN 978-1838490423

In your head of a child there are sudden bright skies wrested from a low, lingering, unfathomable sadness. Your mother has disappeared. Never mind that she was never entirely present, it was her smell, her warmth, her silent hands, that you relied on to feel that you truly existed.

Continue reading 2022 in Review (part 2): Fiction and Nonfiction from 5 Indie Presses, Andrey Kurkov & The Children’s BookShow

2022 in Review (part 1): Annie Ernaux, Olivier Guez, Empire Windrush & more    

What an odd post-pandemic year 2022 has been, deranged in so many ways, over and beyond the realities of Brexit hitting home, and the depressing normalization of exploitation by the Government and giant corporates across the board, as we enter “a different kind of recession where there are still lots of jobs but the recession is around our wages,” according to James Reed

Continue reading 2022 in Review (part 1): Annie Ernaux, Olivier Guez, Empire Windrush & more    

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 | The Intimate Resistance, Josep Maria Esquirol (trs. Douglas Suttle) | Fum d’Estampa 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

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