Back to the lending library for an audio book, where I came across a prolific German thriller writer who burst onto the scene in Germany in ’06 knocking The Da Vinci Code of of 1st place on the best sellers list, his books have been translated into French over a 10 year period and are now becoming available in English.
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Jérôme Ferrari’s book ‘The sermon on the fall of Rome’ a ‘Goncourt Prize winner’ which has now been translated into English by Geoffrey Strachan is a book of many layers centred on a village in Corsica (which could be a village in any disappearing rural community), following one family from the first photo ever taken in the village at the end of the First World War, where all of the family were present except the central character of the first layer, Marcel, up to tragic events in the present day and the death of Marcel. A perspective is drawn using excerpts from St. Augustine’s Sermon on the fall of Rome. On the 24th August 410, an army of Visigoths sacked Rome, causing amongst other things a large number of refugees to flee towards North Africa Tell me more
As of today I am a grand father!
After ‘Queen of the South’amongst other books translated from Spanish into English and French, since turned into a television series, read easily ten years back, his latest book translated into French but not yet into English ‘Le Tango de la Vieille Garde‘ which can be thought of a little like the song ‘Every time We say goodbye, you know I cry a little‘ is a film waiting to happen.
The story set in three distinct periods, the late twenties, the late thirties and the early sixties follows Max and Inzunza two characters from different worlds, her rich, with no worries for tomorrow and he poor surviving by scams.
In the late twenties they meet on a transatlantic liner from Spain to Argentina, She with her wealthy composer husband working on a Tango (a simple bet with Ravel to better his Bolero) and he as the House dancer, suave and debonair, surviving by ripping off rich women. He takes them through the back streets of Buenos Aires to the birth place of the true Tango and lives a passion with Inzunza before disappearing with her valuable pearl necklace.
We meet them again in the late thirties in Nice between the Spanish civil war and WW2, he by now an accomplished cat burglar and she estranged from her husband, they once again are passionate lovers before events force a second separation.
The third confrontation is in their twilight years where Max who has come through difficult times meets once again Inzunza with her son (A chess champion challenging the Russian world champion) and at the bequest of Inzunza becomes embroiled in a dangerous case of burglary.
Throughout we are aware of their unrequited love, (if only life could let them be together).
As always these stories are intertwined. This is once again a compelling story, worthy of an English translation, I’d pay to watch the film.
Le Tango de la Vieille Garde: First published in Spain in 2012
Translated into French by François Maspero, published by Seuil in 2013
Here is a major Spanish suspense story writer with his second book to be translated into English (May 2015), which I read in advance in French as ‘Toutes les Vagues de l’Océan’. A journey through time and place (Europe from the 1930’s to present day) and a darker journey through a families awful secrets. This exceptional historic panorama is painted (unusually for me) from a Spanish perspective. Read on
Welcome to a recent French Writer, Romain Puértolas, who literally burst on the scene from October 2013 when his first book ‘L’extraordinaire voyage du fakir qui était resté coincé dans une armoire Ikea’ topped the French best seller list and was then translated into English as The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe. I read this book back in 2013 and was enchanted by this highly imaginative story. You can get more info on this at ‘The Fakir‘
So when Marie-Claude met Him at the Paris book fair, she got me a signed copy of his latest book on audio ‘La petite fille qui avait avalé un nuage grand comme la Tour Eiffel’ Translated as ‘The Little Girl….’ Romain Puértolas writes his books in three to four weeks and does so on his cell phone! This in itself is quite remarkable.
His two books are quite incredible, stories passing from one fantastic part of a story to the next, a real ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ but with humans. ‘The Little Girl…’ Is a story about the choice between good lies and bad truths, it involves Providence a post woman, a trip to Morocco to see a little girl dying from Cystic Fibrosis, a volcano in Iceland and an amazing journey.
This book, although not as mischievous as ‘The Fakir’ is equally satisfying and finally a pleasant read.
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La Petite Fille….: First published in France by Le Dilettante in 2015
Le Fakir ….: First published in France by Le Dilettante in 2013
Translated into English as The Fakir …: by Sam Taylor and published in 2014 by Harvill Secker
As I mentioned in an earlier Post About Philip Kerr who treats the theme of Germany before during and after the Second World War, he tends to repeat themes and his main character Gunther is mixed up with high placed name dropping nazis which detracts for me from his well written and well paced novels.
So when I came across a German writer treating, in this book, the Weimar Republic, through a detective novel this interested me both as a period and a comparison.
The book is part of a series involving the inspector Gereon Rath, the title in English is The Wet Fish, which we learn is a name given to closed unsolved cases. Incidentally the rights for this series have not yet been sold in English. Tell me more
Browsing through Lire Magazine’s September edition on the subject of french novels, I came across a write up of the latest novel by Simonetta Gregio ‘Les Nouveaux Monstres’ and mentioning her previous book La Dolce Vita, explaining that this novel begins with Eckberg and Mastroianni in the film La Dolce Vita, Tell me more
I had read nothing of the 2014 Nobel prize winner’s work. I had seen him on the television in the 90’s and was aware of the difference between the flow of the language in his books and the relative difficulty I had seen in his verbal expression in the television interview.
So I began my initiation into Modiano by his prix Goncourt novel ‘Rue des Boutiques Obscures’ translated into English as Missing Person where his main character Guy Roland, an employee of a private detective agency, searches from the start to the end his own real identity which he forgot in an event unknown ten years earlier.
The book was written in the 70’s and the characters include elderly White Russians and their community as well as events in ex pat communities around the Second World War, this is a hunt, clue by clue for his elusive past. We are as unconvinced of the probability that he is on track as is he, we travel through Paris at the present day (the 70’s) learning about the different groups of people his contacts belong to, everyone ends up trying to help him, generous in their own ways and we are eventually sucked into thinking that out of the improbable comes the possible.
The book is about the quest we all lead for our own identities and the generosity we can inspire through openness.
Many of you may have read Modiano, I found this a compulsive read and will read more, perhaps his latest work ‘Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier’
First published in France in 1978 by Gallimard
Translated into English as Missing Person by Daniel Weissbort and published in 1980 by Jonathan Cape
I’m not normally an avid reader of historical fiction, but was tempted by the author Jean Teulé, an established French author and the subject matter Montespan, the husband of the famous favourite of Louis XIV of France. As Jean Teulé explains, in the century where Versailles is built, there are 5000 people who live in Versailles, in and around the king and only two toilets. Tell me more
The 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner has been at the back of my mind as a novel to investigate, well, since It won the prize I guess, I chose the long dark evenings of February for this pleasure. Tell me more