Tag Archives: Publicity
We begin with the paperback of Daniel Pennac’s wonderfully prognostic book, School Blues – which has caught the attention of both the Economist:
“. . . Describes what faces a school dunce when the teacher before him cannot recall what it felt like to be ignorant . . . Playfully written . . . “School Blues” joyously combines the profound with the seemingly trivial. It gently reminds readers how ignorant it is to have forgotten what it felt like to have but little knowledge.”
And the Sunday Business Post:
“What makes a good teacher? In this reflective and philosophical account, Frenchman and former teacher Daniel Pennac suggests his own theories for this timeless conundrum, in a drily humorous, yet impressively cohesive way. Translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone, as a manual preaching mutual understanding in the classroom, this is hard to beat. Essential reading for any teacher.”
The Vintage and the Gleaning has made it into the September review pages of the Irish Tatler:
“Written with an authentic voice and infused with beauty, brutality and sadness, this is a compelling observation of men, women and country. A remarkably accomplished debut novel that is unputdownable.”
The paperback of Claudie Gallay’s The Breakers, has been reviewed in the Guardian this weekend:
“ . . . the recursive prose is subtly hypnotic, mimicking the obsessive circularity of mourning and the tendency of insight to be always belated . . . the effect is oddly intriguing.” Chris Ross
Librarian, Aileen Smedley, picks Jacques Bonnet’s outstanding book about books, Phantoms on the Bookshelves for the Lytham St Anne’s Express:
“It is witty, entertaining and slightly intimidating in its breadth. Well worth a read for anyone passionate about books.”
Journal by Hélène Berr has been reviewed in the South Wales Evening Post:
“A harrowing account but an incredibly important piece of writing.”
Jake Kerridge has reviewed Until Thy Wrath Be Past in this weekend’s Telegraph:
“Larsson’s laid-back style makes her unflinching probing of icy depths of the human heart all the more chilling”
Whilst in the blogosphere a senior member of the Royal Navy reviews Until Thy Wrath Be Past for the website dedicated to members of the British army:
“Set in contemporary rural Sweden the author has created a variety of detailed characters each with a richly painted background … The story unfolds at a quick pace and seems straightforward but there are one or two twists that I didn’t expect which make for great reading. Sadly, despite being 300+ pages in hardback this is a very quick book to complete. Good news for some but I enjoyed it so much I wanted it to continue. In fact the storyline was so good I could see this making a really good feature film. A good book and one I enjoyed so much so that I’m going to hunt out more from the author, to that end I’m giving this book 4 out of 5.”
Yet another review for Until Thy Wrath Be Past, this time found on Winston’s Dad blog:
“I’ve read other Nordic crime books over the last few years and this one needs to sit near the top of the pile . . . The crime is realistic – which is more than I can say of some of the other Nordic crime novels I’ve read. I enjoyed reading female leads that I could get on with as a male reader . . . So much better than Harry Hole [Jo Nesbø’s main character] for me. Yes she is the ‘other’ Larsson but Rebecka [Martinsson] is not another Lisbeth Salander, she is a new face for Nordic crime.”
And the Book Bag also gets in on the Åsa Larsson action, with their review:
“The words ‘third book’ might give you cause for concern, but don’t worry. I have to admit that I, too, was an Åsa Larsson virgin. I suspect that there are spoilers for the earlier books in Until Thy Wrath Be Past . . . but it works perfectly well as a standalone. It’s a good story and a neatly-turned plot which can’t help but pull you in. I knew where the story was going but the evolving detail of the background and exactly who has instigated the murders caught me by surprise. Martinsson makes an excellent protagonist too – intelligent, physically courageous and very much her own woman – and an elegant contrast to Mella with her insecurities.”
And last but not least the paperback of The Road continues to be reviewed across the papers. This time in the Daily Express (5 stars):
“From satire to comedy and tragedy this is a fantastic collection translated into English for the first time. Including Stalin’s purges and the Holocaust, these short stories and articles are accompanied by introductions that put Grossman’s life into context.”
And the Sunday Times:
“. . . his vivid dispatches, some newly translated for this superb collection, retain a freshness that only the finest journalism can. The 11 short stories also collected here show a writer of infinite variety, and the bulk of them will enhance his reputation . . . his is a powerful voice of conscience.”
The excellent news for today is that not only will Cees Nooteboom be in conversation with A. S. Byatt on the 17th June at the British Library as part of the LRB World Literature Festival.
but ALSO, 3 stories from The Foxes Come at Night will be read in the BBC Radio Readings Radio 4 Afternoon Reading slot which will be broadcast at 3.30pm on Tuesday 19th July, Wednesday 20th July and Thursday 21st July.
Cees should also be featured in this week’s issue of the New Statesman in the books Q&A section and Time Out are interviewing him tomorrow morning as part of a larger feature on the festival. Cees will also be interviewed on The Strand which is broadcast on BBC World Service around the 16th June.
And in case you’ve not heard the latest news on The Road author, Vasily Grossman, his epic novel, Life and Fate is set to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as part of an eight-hour dramatisation from the 18 – 24th September, starring Kenneth Branagh and will be preceded by a series of free public events to discuss the novel including a special recording of Start The Week at St Peter’s College, Oxford University, on 9 September http://www.bbc.co.uk/
On to warmer climes with a review of the paperback of No-one Loves a Policeman in the Sunday Business Post in Ireland:
“[A] frantic and wryly comic novel … It’s a potent mix that initially appears overly complicated, yet Orsi’s dry writing style – ably translated by Nick Caistor – saves the day for his love-lorn protagonist as well as his audience.” Julian Fleming
The Last Brother is awarded 5 stars as both an excellent personal read as well as a group read by reader, Anne Williams in the May/June edition of New Books Magazine:
“This little gem is just 200 pages long, from a Mauritian novelist, superbly translated by Geoffrey Strachan. It’s an incredibly moving story … a relatively short adventure the two boys have, but it’s told in an achingly beautiful way … Some of the images will stay with me a long time. Tender and lovely, I’d really recommend this one most highly.”
Considering that copies of Beauty and the Inferno only went out on Thursday morning, it is especially gratifying to see the Sunday Times review of it in this weekend’s paper:
“Saviano has come in to a lot of violent criticism over the years, so before offering an opinion on this collection of his work, I should state that I yield to nobody in my admiration for his courage. In writing about the Neapolitan mafia he has put his life on the line and deserves recognition for immense bravery . . . the essays, interviews and reviews in Beauty and the Inferno reflect many of his preoccupations, and share a common theme – the underdog fighting back against the bad guys . . .
What strikes you as you read these pieces is how astonishingly solipsistic Saviano has become during his enforced isolation . . . Saviano constantly says that it’s the writing that keeps him alive, and that’s the only thing he has left . . . His prose is succinct, he never pulls his punches, his message is incredibly important, and the facts he includes are like bombshells . . . he wants us to see that Italy is in abject denial about the seriousness of its current situation. Because of fear or laziness, most Italians, he reports, look the other way, preferring not to acknowledge that the country has been overrun by cement, cocaine, cartels and dismal, dismal television. Only a few priests, campaigning journalists and brave investigators seem to care and, more to the point, even fewer see the connections between those things. That is why Saviano is so angry.”
Tickets for the 2 screenings for Roberto Saviano: In The Shadow of Death at the London International Documentary Festival on the 19th & 20th can now be bought through the LIDF website:
The screenings include a post-screening discussion with some of the leading names in the investigation and research into organized crime within Italy and Europe, including:
Thursday 19th May
- Misha Glenny – British journalist who specializes in southeastern Europe and global organized crime
- John Dickie – Professor in Italian Studies at UCL
- Federico Varese – Professor of Criminology at the University of Oxford
- Elisa Mantin – Director of the documentary who spent a month with Roberto Saviano
- Chaired by: Annalisa Piras - Writer, broadcaster, freelance commentator on EU and Italian Current Affairs, TV producer with 20 years experience in International Journalism, print and broadcast. Dateline Panel at BBC + Contributor/Presenter at BBC Radio 4 + 6 years as Board Member and President of the Foreign Press Association in London
Friday 20th May
- John Foot – Professor of Modern Italian History in the Department of Italian, UCL.
- Federico Ippoliti – Expert on organized crime from Circolo Radio Londra of the London group of the Italian party Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà (Left Ecology and Freedom, SEL).
- Christopher Duggan – Professor of Italian History, University of Reading. Director of Centre for Modern Italian History.
- Gaia Servadio – Vice-President Foreign Press Association, London, and author
- Elisa Mantin – Director of the documentary who spent a month with Roberto Saviano
- Chaired by: Annalisa Piras
John Self’s review of The Sickness for his extremely popular blog site, The Asylum (think Ready Steady Books at its height three years ago) is perfection itself – and very timely given the IFFP awards ceremony coming up on the 26th May:
“Here is something which felt like a very great treat. Admittedly it scratched several of my itches before I even opened it – translated fiction, slim volume, the MacLehose imprimatur – but I was still delighted when I started it and felt myself to be in the presence of something like real literature. The Sickness (La Enfermedad, tr. Margaret Jull Costa) is a small and piercing volume, a literary stiletto; quiet, intense and directed. It exerts an ambiguous pull on the reader’s inner hypochondriac, tickling delicately those intimations of mortality that we cannot look at directly but cannot bear to pull ourselves away from … the richness of the book (it packs a lot in to its 150 pages) is enhanced by Tyszka’s introduction of passages from other authors, from Charles Baudelaire to William Carlos Williams, on the subjects around sickness. It seems to be an acknowledgement that this is a meditation on a subject, disguised as a novel. But for all its provocations, it gets pretty deep into the heart with the central story, which spares the reader nothing.
One of Dr Miranda’s colleagues regularly wonders, ‘Why do we find it so hard to accept that life is pure chance?’ . . . The Sickness helps explain why we find it so hard to understand: because to do so is to accept that life is not a story with a moral, but is chaos which ends randomly. In working this knowledge into a story which takes on an understood form, and splices in a couple of seductive plots, Tyszka is either having his cake and eating it, or subversively spiking the drink.”
The Folded Earth continues to garner global reviews with this one from Belletrista – the website which celebrates female writers around the world:
“rich evocative novel … Roy’s book is gorgeously written. The graceful prose is strewn with insights into the Indian psyche and landscape, and is laced with subtle humour and vibrant characters that together captivate from beginning to end. She tells a simple story set in a little village but, as the poetic title suggests, the earth folds in on itself so that, even in this microcosm, people cannot escape the machinery at work in the greater world: antagonism and hatred between different cultures and religious peoples, and bribery and corruption in political circles, are as ever-present here as they are in the wider sphere. The Folded Earth is an accomplished and enjoyable book. It made me want to rush out to find Roy’s debut novel, An Atlas of Impossible Longing, which was published in 2008 and has been translated already into fifteen languages.”
And this review in the Deccan Herald, which is a newspaper with a circulation of 100,000+:
“The Folded Earth has a poetic quality to it that brings home the wind, the fragrances and the sounds of her tale … Taken as a whole, The Folded Earth is a brilliant read. The slightly slow pace of the story is well balanced by entertaining and engaging narratives that contribute to the story in a real way … In some ways, The Folded Earth makes you believe in re-starting your life, whether there is a need to, or not. Thought-provoking stories are not to be found by the dozen, and The Folded Earth is that much more valuable for the flair with which it has been written.”
PLUS, I can now announce that Cees Nooteboom will be in conversation with A.S. Byatt during the LRB World Literature Weekend on the 17th June. They’ll be in the Stevenson Room at the British Museum at 4.30pm
Tickets: £9 / £6 conc contact 0207 269 9030
Nearest Tube: Holborn
Cees Nooteboom is one of the Netherlands’ most distinguished living authors, whose latest book The Foxes Come At Night, is a series of linked stories set in the islands of the Mediterranean. Nooteboom will be discussing his life, work and travels with the Booker Prize-winning novelist and critic A.S. Byatt.
Hope to see you there
Eureka! People are finally starting to wake up to the joys of Anuradha Roy’s writing. And so, on this fine post-easter Tuesday afternoon, we dedicate our Easter weekend reviews entirely to an outstanding writer.
At home the praise in The Times for The Folded Earth is short, but sweet: “Tender and comical.”
However, across the seas, our American cousins make far more of this talented writer with a tidal wave of reviews for her first book An Atlas of Impossible Longing – which has just been published in the US to much deserved fanfare.
Like the Times at home, The New Yorker treats An Atlas of Impossible Longing to a distinctly succinct review:
“Set in mid-twentieth-century India, this debut novel spans generations and political upheavals … a house full of secrets – a mad matriarch, a neighbour’s murder, unconsummated passions … a search for belonging … Houses serve as powerful metaphors of refuge and claustrophobia, and the novel chronicles both the strength of domestic bonds and the wounds that parents and children, and husbands and wives inflict on each other.” Unfortunately one has to be a subscriber to get the whole review, but if you are, you are in for a mini treat.
For our next review, I think you’ll agree that, they simply do not get much better than this one for An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Marie Arana in the Washington Post:
“Every once in a great while, a novel comes along to remind you why you rummage through shelves in the first place. Why you peck like a magpie past the bright glitter of publishers’ promises. Why you read. No ‘news hook’ will have brought you to it. No famous name on the spine will suggest what’s in store. But as you slip into the book’s pages, you sense you are entering a singular creation, a richly populated world. Curiosity overcomes you. Before long, you are surrendering to the voice of a confident narrator, the arc of an unfamiliar story. And then, suddenly, you are swept away in a tale that is bristling with incident, steeped in the human condition, buffeted by winds of fate. This, you think, is the feeling you had as you read Great Expectations or Sophie’s Choice or The Kite Runner. This is why you read fiction at all. Anuradha Roy’s An Atlas of Impossible Longing is such a book, a novel to convince us that boldly drawn sagas with larger-than-life characters are still possible in a relentlessly postmodern world.”
Good Reads, a US books website, has drummed up some marvellous reader support for An Atlas of Impossible Longing whilst running a competition give-away for 5 copies:
“In the tradition of Henning Mankell, Per Petterson, and Stieg Larsson, Roy is a major foreign success just waiting to storm the American literary scene. This is the novel that will usher her entrance, portraying several generations of family life in India with the sort of warmth, tension, and lavish detail that bestsellers are made of.”
And this fabulous US music website endearingly entitled Large Hearted Boy has a BOOK NOTES series where Anuradha has been invited to create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to her book. As it is the US Anu, of course, chose An Atlas of Impossible Longing:
“It didn’t happen consciously, but An Atlas of Impossible Longing is filled with different kinds of music. Some of it was in my own head as I was writing it, but a lot of music is referred to in the book as well.
India has its own sophisticated, courtly, classical traditions, both instrumental and vocal; there is devotional music, both Hindu and Sufi; there are varieties of folk music in the different regions of India. There are songs in Indian movies, in which the music is influenced by just about everything. All this music happens in many different languages and uses a huge range of eastern instruments such as the sitar, tabla, sarod, ektara and so on, as well as western ones.”
Click here to read more and listen to Anu’s playlist – which, I think you’ll agree, is a lovely way to end this blog.
Monsieur Linh and his Child was reviewed by Allan Massie in the Scotsman:
“This is a novella of an exquisite simplicity, one in which every sentence and every detail go towards the creation of a whole, like every stroke of the brush in a painting. It is a story of loneliness, mourning, endurance, fortitude and the redeeming power of love and friendship. It is also about the illusions that may be needed to enable one to keep going. In its very different way it is almost as remarkable as Brodeck’s Report.”
The Independent ran a feature on their shortlist announcement for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (winner announced on the 26th May) which included The Sickness.
“Our half-dozen contenders not only span a rainbow of subjects, styles and genres. They showcase the translator’s art at its most subtle and forceful. Every one of the 15 works on the long-list kept vocal and persuasive champions on the judging panel (made up of Harriett Gilbert, MJ Hyland, Catriona Kelly, Neel Mukherjee and myself [Boyd Tonkin])… Four works from Latin American writers appeared on the long-list; three still figure here…
Yet this trio – Alberto Barrera Tyszka from Venezuela; Santiago Roncagliolo from Peru; Marcelo Figueras from Argentina – defies all generalisation… Almost half a century after the original “boom” of the 1960s began to reverberate around the literary world, it makes no more sense to issue glib edicts about the nature of the continent’s fiction than it would for Europe or North America. Prosperity means complexity, in art as in life.” Boyd Tonkin
The Road by Vassily Grossman has been reviewed by Leon Aron in The New Republic:
“What should we call the literary age of Vasily Grossman, who wrote Life and Fate, the greatest Russian novel of the twentieth century? There was the “Golden Age,” from Turgenev and Goncharov to Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov. The “Silver Age,” interrupted by the Revolution of 1917, had Blok, Gumilev, the young Mandelstam, Pasternak, Tsvetaeva, Akhmatova, Khodasevich, Mayakovsky, Bely, and the future Nobelist Bunin.
But for what followed we have no name. Yet has there ever been, anywhere, a pleiad as richly talented, and as thoroughly decimated, and as cruelly tormented, as the generation of Russian writers born around the end of the nineteenth century or, like Grossman, in the first few years of the twentieth? On Trilling’s “bloody crossroads” of politics and literature, has bloodier politics ever met finer literature?…”
Milo’s Rambles reviewed Treblinka: A Survivor’s Memory
“It’s hard to imagine that a simple decision to lie about one’s vocation and skills could ever save your life… One cannot stress the importance a document such as Treblinka: A Survivor’s Memory holds in our history; our very being. Without it, and others of its ilk, we would remain to this day uneducated as to the severity of what transpired in camps such as Auschwitz, Sobibór, Bełżec and Treblinka – to name but a few… a poignant account of one man’s struggle to not only see life one day at a time but to make every second count. Rajchman’s authenticity is unquestionable in Treblinka: A survivor’s Memory, his words and passion have lost little significance and power from its Yiddish origin – respectfully translated by Solon Beinfeld.”
Rain Taxi reviews Heaven and Hell
“Stefánsson wrote Heaven and Hell so beautifully that portions of it feel like poetic verse. He reveals dimensions of the Icelandic landscape far beyond the typical cold—the region is alive with its own moods and tension… The town drunk wades around the Village and contemplates his dreadful existence, yet in the next moment he’s flirting outrageously with an old widow. That the author can, in just a few brief paragraphs, make this character’s thoughts sound realistic in opposing situations—one sad and the other riotously funny—reveals a concise hand that knows human nature… ”
Inside Soap magazine has included a review of The Goldsmith’s Secret in their 9th April edition and are giving away 5 competition copies:
“…a love story which ripples across the decades…”
And finally, The Bookbag also reviews The Goldsmith’s Secret:
“Barcelo’s talent is in her minimalist writing; her chosen words are always beautiful and carefully chosen for the highest impact. She somehow combines a lavish and expansive descriptive style with economy; no word is wasted. She also demonstrates a great sense of comic timing, as the lush prose is peppered with the occasional matter-of-fact remark that injects humour at surprising moments and brings the reader down to earth exactly when necessary… Her descriptions create such sparklingly clear imagery, they are almost photographic in the mind…” Susmita Chatto
It’s Valentine’s Day! So what better way to start the MacLehose publicity round-up than with LOVE VIRTUALLY, which has had a bumper crop of reviews this weekend, starting with a 4-star review in the Mirror on Friday:
‘This was a massive, million-plus bestseller in Glattauer’s native Germany, and it’s easy to see why. Short, striking and snappily written, Love Virtually explores the brilliant premise of love by accidental email.’ Henry Sutton
And the Guardian ran their review on Saturday:
‘It’s the beginning of a modern romance… The end is as unexpected as it is inevitable. The book is translated from the German, but the whole thing is tout à fait.’ Ian Sansom
Star Magazine gave our favourite Valentine’s read 4 stars… and lots more more bloggers have given it the thumbs up, beginning with David Hebblethwaite:
‘I warmed to the ebb and flow of the exchange, which is a kind of courtship dance that creates personae for the two correspondents whilst occasionally offering glimpses of the real characters underneath… Whatever reservations I might have had towards the beginning, by the end of Love Virtually I was gripped, wanting to know what happened. The ending is judged perfectly, and paves the way for the sequel, which will receive its English-language publication later in the year.’
Followed by the ever-popular Winston’s Dad:
‘Pleased to say it does something I have wanted to see in Literary fiction for a long time and that is use modern tech as a drive or device for a book in this case it is e mails so he has also dragged the Epistolary novel in to the 21st century with much style and vigour, like Samuel Richardson in the 18th century it is love that is the driving force of this novel’
Essentials magazine gives books to their readers and asks them to review them, and here is one for THE FOLDED EARTH in their March issue:
‘It’s a beautifully written and unique insight into life in a remote community’ Denise Manzor (44, Glasgow)
The Sunday Times also reviews:
‘A gently perceptive story, half comic and half poignant.’ Nick Rennison
Words Without Borders adds their praise for THE LAST BROTHER:
‘A quiet, lyrical coming-of-age novel… The Last Brother is a book of questions, a sweet and sad riddle of two boys — with two very different histories — brushing up against each other ever so briefly in some faraway, forgotten land. The book is rich with metaphor, the language ripe and evocative. And even if the tale itself is doomed to tragedy, Appanah’s telling of it is shot through with bursts of light and transcendence… The Last Brother is that rare book that’s able to explore grand and sweeping themes of history with a masterfully light touch.’ Anderson Tepper
TREBLINKA has been reviewed in the Spectator by Jonathan Mirsky:
‘What is pure fact? Chil Rajchman gets close. Treblinka is his spare memoire of ten months in a place devoted exclusively to execution, where 800,000 people were murdered… It is as ‘unliterary’ as language can be, dry and concise. As Samuel Moyn notes in his insightful introduction, ‘Treblinka is bleak and discomforting, not redemptive and uplifting.’ The events are enough. The author is cutting a woman’s hair. (no one knows what happened to the tons of hair collected in the camps.) She has minutes to live… I quail before such passages and find them nearly unendurable to record.’
Jonathan Mirsky goes on to mention Grossman’s own essay on Treblinka (which is included in this book) and confessing that it had been hard to write about the camp:
‘Why write about it, then?’ some may ask. It is the writer’s duty to tell the terrible truth, and it is the reader’s civic duty to learn this truth.’
WARTIME NOTEBOOKS is reviewed in The Lady:
‘It’s clear from reading these early experiments and drafts what a modern writer Duras was. A novelist determined to pinpoint the truth, she was fascinated by the interplay between memoir and fiction. For her, real life always lay somewhere in between.’ Emma Hagestadt
Living France also reviews WARTIME NOTEBOOKS:
‘Provides an illuminating insight into the life and work of this major European writer’
PHANTOMS ON THE BOOKSHELVES has been reviewed by Resident Magazine:
‘Somehow this book collector’s memoir captures the feel of dusty Left-Bank bookshops with their intriguing yet to most of us impenetrable piles of books in other languages which describe other cultures and events long-forgotten. Written as one man’s story of the books on his shelves, this is also the story of the books on all our shelves.’ Robert Gwyn Palmer
Nicolette Praça, Head of Publicity for Quercus and MacLehose Press
What a great week and weekend of notices we’ve enjoyed! So, without further ado, let’s get on with the round-up…
THE FOLDED EARTH was reviewed in the Daily Mail on Friday:
‘Roy’s attention to individual words pays off as she conveys the full texture of experiences. Who else would think of mountains as ‘fingers’ or call the sky a ‘fluid blue’? Even minor characters are evoked with inventive idiosyncrasy… her prose is so tight with life.’ Laura Silverman
And femalefirst gives Anuradha’s latest novel 4 stars:
‘The plot is enticing… a beautiful story of trying to get over the hill from the past to the present. No matter how difficult Maya’s life becomes, her strength and determination to push forward is an inspiring one. A good read to experience new culture and way of life.’
LOVE VIRTUALLY has hit the Irish media this week with a review in Image magazine:
‘A romantic story by Vienna-born journalist Glattauer, translated by husband and wife team. Oh, to have been a fly on that office wall when it came to Emmi’s marital indiscretion…’
LOVE VIRTUALLY is also still picking up
plenty of website reviews and this recent one, on The Complete Review, also lists lots of other reviews, as well as kindly linking back to our site (and that of our partners, SilverOak).
Whilst the reviewer (who read the book in its original German, as opposed to the English translation) is not crazy about the book, he does note:
‘The concept of such a virtual relationship is also an interesting one to explore… Of course, ‘virtual love’ surely must, in the final analysis, be fundamentally unsatsifying, too, so in a way Glattauer has achieved a certain measure of success… Love Virtually has been a phenomenal (and multi-national) success, a bestseller that has been translated into dozens of languages. I have no idea what chord it is striking (or how it is doing so), but apparently it works for a lot of readers…’ M.A.Orthofer
It may not have been The Complete Review‘s favourite ever book, but bookmonkeyscribbles was overwhelmed:
‘When I picked it up and saw the cover and read the blurb, I thought there was no way this book was for me! I’m certainly no fan of ‘chick-lit’ or anything remotely ‘girly’ so the idea of another soppy romance novel didn’t really entice me. But I decided to give it a go due to it’s massive success overseas, and boy am I glad I did! Leo and Emmi are two fantastic characters whose comical banter just had me giggling away to myself. This is definitely not your typical romance novel! It is so original and incredibly well written in e-mail format that it keeps you turning page after page – never wanting to put it down!
This is definitely recommended for fans of Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife) and David Nicholls (One Day). It really is a great read that will keep you hooked til the end!’
THE BREAKERS is reviewed in U Magazine in Ireland (Ireland’s equivalent of Grazia):
‘This is so atmospheric it transports you straight to the storm-lashed fishing village full of strange characters with old gripes still looming over their relations… it seethes with loss, intrigue and secrets.’
The Skinny (a Time Out-like magazine in Scotland) give THE BREAKERS 3 stars:
‘Villages at the end of the earth share a degree of uniformity in that through their inhospitable settings and eccentric communities, they have an ability to offer solace and redemption to those haunted by or needing to escape the world.
In The Breakers, Gallay has stuck to the template, but managed to create a distinct version: French, rough hewn from an interminable and unforgiving sea, a place where the wind ‘tears the wings off butterflies’ and where the village is built from the wood of infinite shipwrecks… Gallay etches a solitude and disconnectedness into each character and each sentence. Yet despite its aloof, abandoned-lighthouse-like tone, the story has heart. There is an appealing complexity in the relationships, rather than the individual characters, of the odd and curious village community.’ Renée Rowland
A reader of NewBooks Magazine adds her voice:
‘This atmospheric novel is set in the small French village of La Hague on the Normandy coastline. I like the fact that the energy of the sea contrasts so greatly with the desolation and apathy of both the setting and the inhabitants… Overall, a great read that lives up to its French hype.’ Kelly Selby-Jones
The Frenchpaper has also reviewed Gallay’s exquisite book, giving it 4 stars:
‘This book won several prizes in its original French language edition, and has been beautifully translated. It is an evocative mystery… A very French style, beautifully written and, not surprisingly, film rights have been taken up.’ Sandie George
THE LAST BROTHER has been given an amazing review by Dalia Sofer in the New York Times:
‘…beautiful, concise novel… Inspired by the largely unknown story of 1,500 Jews who fled Europe only to be imprisoned in Mauritius from 1940 to 1945 after their ship was refused entry into Palestine (then under British rule), the novel recounts the heartfelt friendship between two boys: David, a Czech orphan, and Raj, an Indian-Mauritian grieving for the two brothers he lost in a flash flood.
In conversational prose that brings to mind a grandfather unburdening himself of an anguished memory… The Last Brother explores grief and the inadequacy of language to address it. Yet if no single word can capture the devastation of bereavement, Appanah shows how the simple power of storytelling can come close… The burden of solitude is central to this novel. Appanah frequently, and skillfully, contrasts weight and lightness — the sorrow of loss versus the joy of love, the horrors of war versus the beauty of friendship, the harshness of nature on some days and its caress on others… the novel, despite its grave content, reads like a whispered fable. Irony has no place here.
The Last Brother is Appanah’s fourth novel, the second to be published in English. Strachan’s translation is faithful and limpid, preserving in large part the rhythm of the French. Appanah’s is a beautiful new voice, one that makes “a kind of music.” If the song it sings is sad, well, it’s all the more lifelike for that.’
And another on the Bookbag website:
‘Told by Raj as an old man, The Last Brother is a story of childhood resistance to a violent and vicious adult world. But it’s also the story of the larger fight against all injustice, whether it be state-inflicted genocide or parental abuse… As Raj looks back on the escape, Appanah exposes just how much his soul has suffered – from his father’s violence, from the death of his brothers, and from his brief and tragic friendship with David. But that friendship was also the source of redemption for Raj. The power of love is a stronger force than we could ever know.
The whole thing is beautiful – from the picture of suffering souls, through the lush descriptions of an exotic island, prey to invincible forces of nature, to the rare and beautiful moments of friendship that are never forgotten. It’s both extravagant and economical – not a word is wasted – and so it’s gorgeous and sad, sophisticated and simple, all in equal measures. The translation is impeccable, too. I found it deeply moving, completely absorbing, and I cried for both boys. Highly recommended’ Jill Murphy
SCHOOL BLUES is still bringing in the odd review as more and more people pick it up and realise just how brilliant it is. This time we have a review in Peace News:
‘Most of his pupils were children and teenagers with varying degrees of learning difficulty, who presented similar symptoms to his own – no self-confidence, no motivation, a predilection for lying, involvement with gangs, drugs and alcohol. He helped them through by taking them seriously, relating to them as individuals and having high expectations. Violence in the French industrial suburbs had led to the condemnation of all teenagers from that sort of area as an evil threat, yet when he went into schools he was amazed by “their liveliness, their laughter, their earnestness, their thoughts and, more than anything else, their vital energy.” A great deal of violence stems from failure at school, and failure at school can be avoided or even overcome if children and young people are treated with the respect they deserve, listened to seriously and, as Pennac eventually dares to put into the mouth of his juvenile self, loved.’ David Gribble
WARTIME NOTEBOOKS by Marguerite Duras has been prolifically reviewed in the weekend papers, beginning with the Daily Mail and the Independent on Friday, and following with the Guardian on Saturday:
Daily Mail: ‘They convey a strong, exotic sense of place – whether it be Thirties Indochina or a magical post-War Italy… and the undeniably erotic charge of war. Ultimately, reading them is a little like hearing a classic LP dissected on a mixing desk: to feel the true fascination of the process and its scattered component parts, you need to experience the slick, finished product.’ Tom Cox
Independent: ‘Duras, who died in 1996, was fascinated by her own story and spent a lifetime re-writing it… Duras’s reminiscences of occupied France are more brutal still. She’s a very modern writer fascinated by the interchange between memoir and fiction.’ Emma Hagestadt
Guardian: ‘Whether you know what happened to the fragments of writing in this collection when Duras reworked them into her novels, or whether you’re reading them raw, with their sudden terminations in mid-paragraph or abrupt notes on how to plot better next time, they are astonishing. They’re like being inside the greatest Henri Cartier-Bresson photographs… the colonial, stratified Indochina of her childhood matches his view of French power abroad… it’s simply caught, the beating at full fury, the humiliation at extreme shame, the hope at its most desperate’ Vera Rule
Wendy Holden reviews LOVE VIRTUALLY in the Daily Mail: ‘I must confess that the prospect of a German novel in which an affair is entirely conducted by email made my heart sink. Hadn’t we been here before? The strange thing is, I rather enjoyed it. It is quite staggeringly straightforward with no subplots or complexities whatsoever, just two characters on whom the reader is forced to concentrate as their originally accidental encounter turns to mutual intrigue and then to desire. It’s the kind of book you can read while doing several other things at the same time, but sometimes that’s just what you need.’
Katy Derbyshire of Love German Books complains that she’s been pipped for the interview with Katharina and Jamie for LOVE VIRTUALLY:
‘Gah! You know when you have the most fantastic idea ever in the whole history of humankind? And then someone else does it first! So, please go now to the blog of British publishing company Quercus, where someone else (Vivienne Nilan to be precise, of Athens Plus newspaper of all things) has done a great interview with Katharina Bielenberg and Jamie Bulloch.’
LOVE VIRTUALLY has been featured on the Lovereading website: ‘Love Virtually is a funny, fast-paced and utterly absorbing novel, with plenty of twists and turns, about a love affair conducted entirely by email. It’s a book that seems to have an amazing effect on all who read it and as a consequence there’s a real buzz in the blogosphere in particular. So why not check out the extract here on Lovereading, get yourself hooked and you won’t be able to resist the temptation to purchase.’
And reader, Shona Lappin, reviews LOVE VIRTUALLY for NewBooks Magazine – the magazine for libraries and reading groups: ‘It shows how important and addictive the Internet can be, the impact it can have on personal lives and emotions and its place in modern society. An added bonus is that the book has a sequel, so there is more to read of Leo and Emmi, I will definitely be seeking it out as I just wanted to continue reading when I came to the end. A love story for the Internet age and one that will not fail to pull you in – excellent.’
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland (PDF; go to the very last page) has reviewed THE PHANTOMS ON THE BOOKSHELVES: ‘A book about books might appear unappealing. Not so with this gem! Bonnet simply, insightfully and beautifully describes the sheer joy of books, from the famous libraries to the pleasure and value of reading, to the future of the “pound of paper”. Anyone who enjoys reading (not just bookworms) will identify with something here while realising there is more to be gained. As Bonnet recorded: “There is something intoxicating about opening a new one.” Engrossing.’ David J. Dickson
THE BREAKERS was also picked up by the Daily Mail: ‘Mystery and romantic tension nudge the narrative along, but the author’s real interest lies in loss and the way it can shape a life as subtly and insistently as the sea. Though bulky, this is a novel strung together from sentences as spare as its geographical backdrop, and a deft translation carries evocative echoes of the French original.’ Hephzibah Anderson