Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"COVERT JOY (“ FELICIDADE CLANDESTINA”) - A Short Story by Clarice Lispector (1971, translated from Portuguese)

The Complete Short Stories of Clarice Lispector, translated from Portuguese by Katrina Dodson (2015) is one of the great translation projects of the 21th century.  I was kindly given a review copy of this work a few months prior to publication. As I read through it in amazement I knew this book would capture the hearts of all lovers of the short story.  Benjamin Moser in his very well done introduction warns us that the work of Clarice Lispector can be like witchcraft craft to those vulnerable to her spell.  I admit to being captivated.  I proudly put her image on my blog sidebar long ago.  Anyone interested in her will surely do a Google search.  They will learn her family, she was very young, left her native Ukraine to move to north eastern Brazil, where many Jews had relocated, to escape vicious anti-Semitic pograms.  They spoke no Portuguese on but Clarice became the greatest of all Brazilian writers.  Sadly as I read this I thought few countries today, including America, would welcome a poor family of five from the Ukraine as new citizens.  

I could not let Women in Translation Month pass without including a post upon a short story by Clarice.  I have read all of her stories at least twice, and am slowly reading them  again and hopefully will eventually post on all 85 stories.  I found a short story perfect for the primary theme of my blog, literary works about people who lead reading centered lives.  

"Covert Joy" centers on a young girl living in Recife, where Clarice grew up.  She loves books totally.  There is a rich girl, a cruel bully girl, who lords it over her poorer but much better looking fellow students.  The narrator can afford to buy books so the bully girl keeps telling her to come to her house and she will loan her a book.  For days on end she makes the girl come back, always with an excuse why there is no book for her today.   Finally the bully's mother intervenes and give the girl a book.  The girl is overwhelmed with joy.  You have to love the close of the story:

"Hours later I opened it, read a few wondrous lines, closed it again, wandered around the house, stalled even more by eating some bread and butter, pretended not to know where I had put the book, found it, opened it for a few seconds. I kept inventing the most contrived obstacles for that covert thing that was joy. Joy would always be covert for me. I must have already sensed it. Oh how I took my time! I was living in the clouds . . . There was pride and shame inside me. I was a delicate queen. Sometimes I’d sit in the hammock, swinging with the book open on my lap, not touching it, in the purest ecstasy. I was no longer a girl with a book: I was a woman with her lover."

I highly recommend Why This World:A Biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser.

Mel u

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Slight a Rebellion of Madison" - A Short Story by J. D. Salinger (first published, December 21, 1946 in The New Yorker)

Born- New York City - January 1, 1919

Catcher in the Rye Published - 1951 - estimated sales 65,000,000

Died- Concord, New Hampshire- January 27, 2010

"Slight Rebellion of Madison" became the basis for Catcher in the Rye.  A modified version of the story appears as chapter 17.  The central character is, of course, Holden Caulfield, he is out of the prep school he hates and back in New York City, trying to hook up with Sally.  I read Catcher in the Rye about fifty years ago.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I could recall, especially the unique style of Salinger.

I read this in an anthology I was kindly given by The New Yorker, Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker.

Mel u

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1812)

Pride and Prejudice (1812) by Jane Austen is one of the most popular novels ever written.  It is on every list of best 100 novels of all time.  I last read it about forty years ago.  I am not sure what motivated me to read it again now.  Maybe I was a desire to have the greatest writers in the world represented on The Reading Life.  

I will just keep my post short.  The plot line focuses on Elizabeth Bennet, one of five daughters of Mr and Mrs Bennet.  All are of marriageable age without when we meet them suitors.  The Bennet's family income is derived from his property but they have a big legal problem.  The estate is entailed, meaning it can be inherited only by a male descendent.  As of now a distant male cousin is inline to inherit the estate, he can turn everyone out if he wishes.  So the plot turns around a search for a husband rich enough to provide for the family for at least one of the girls.  

I throughly enjoyed rereading Pride and Prejudice.  I like the ironic tone of Austen, her subtle observations and her acute character developments.

I have begun rereading Emma, I work I read about ten years ago.  I decided to read it next as there is an entire chapter in The Rhetoric of Fiction by Wayne Booth devoted to the narrative method in Emma and I will reread this chapter after completing Emma.

Mel u

"It's All Up to You" - A Short Story by Sylwia Chutnik (translated from Polish by Jennifer Craft, 2012)

Short stories I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

  1. "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
  2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
  3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
  4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
  5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
  6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
  7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
  8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi
  9. "My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara - Translated from Finnish
  10. "Cast Offs" by Wajida Tabassum - Translated from Urdu
  11. It's All Up to You" by Slywia Chutnik - Translated from Polish

Imagine you are out of work, you are at an office, talking to a woman in personal about working there, an advertising agency.  The woman, the narrator calls her a girl, is just to perfect for words, disgustingly cute, double majored in college, speaks four languages, drives the men wild when she goes out on the town.  The narrator tries to fight her jealousy, her feelings of inferiority but they just keep getting worse.

These darkly hilarious lines show just how the narrator feels about everything:

"What a sweet little bear, that’s fantastic. Even her toys are awesome, and people like her never sweat, and they don’t ever have any problems with their digestive systems. And they don’t go into the pharmacy and ask for Lactovaginal in a hushed voice. “What?” “Lactovaginal.” “Vaginal discharge?” shrieks the lady at the counter. God, yes, vaginal discharge......something down on a piece of paper. She’s already taken her course on how to conduct interviews, which was connected with her Reiki II foot massage and her advanced German classes. She knows what to say. And if ever she doesn’t know, she laughs. I don’t know anything, and I’m traveling around the carpeting by chair. Weee’ll letyouknow. Great. Another job I’m not getting. I turn and look back at the babe through the glass that separates the swells from the plebs, enclosed in their plastic boxes. I feel a terrible hatred, I feel the injustice of it, I feel the shame of it. A woman in a dress suit walks past me and gives my shoulder a friendly clap. “Don’t cry, they might still take you as a cleaning lady—they’re holding the next interviews in a week.” "

As a bit of time goes by, things take a serious turn for the worse.   She is hit by a street car and one of her legs is shattered. She has to take work handing out leaflets for a cosmetic company.  Just when she feels things cannot get worse, the woman from the place that rejected her job application, trying not to look at and certainly not recalling her, takes a leaflet and contemptuously throws it in the trash.

I read this story in Best European Fiction 2013, the entire nine volume series is a goldmine of work suited for Women in Translation Month.

Mel u

Monday, August 14, 2017

"Cast Offs" - A Short Story by Wajida Tabassum (1969, translated from Urdu)

Short stories I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

1.  "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi
9. "My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara - Translated from Finnish
10. "Cast Offs" by Wajida Tabassum - Translated from Urdu

This morning's story "Cast Offs" by Wajida Tabassum was written originally in Urdu. Urdu is spoken by about 150,000,000 million people, in eastern central India and Pakistan.  It is linguistically a form of Hindustani.

Much of Tabassum's work centers on family life in the Hyderabad area.  My quick research indicates "Cast Offs" is her most famous story.  As the story opens the very spoiled seven year old daughter of a wealthy family is being given a bath.  She orders the daughter of the servant woman in charge of her bath to disrobe and get in the tub with her.  Both are seven.  After they get out of the tub the two girls argue over what clothes the servant girl will wear, her clothes are near rags and she resents and does not really understand why she must wear only the other girl's cast off clothes. Her mother fears if her mistress hears of her daughter's attitude they will be thrown out of the house.  Here is the account from the story:

"‘Pasha, I thought … if you and I exchanged dupattas and became sisters then I too could wear your clothes.’ ‘My clothes? You mean all those clothes lying in my trunks?’ Chamki nodded hesitantly, feeling apprehensive. Shahzadi Pasha doubled up with laughter. ‘Oh, no! What a silly girl! You are a servant. You people only wear my cast-offs. All your life you will wear nothing but that.’ Then, with great care, born more out of pride than kindness, Shahzadi picked up the clothes she had taken off before her bath and tossed them at Chamki. ‘Here! Wear these. I have many others.’ Chamki flared up. ‘Why should I? Why don’t you wear my clothes?’ She pointed at the filthy pile lying in a heap. Shahzadi hissed with anger."

The mother was hired when the wealthy girl was a baby, as her wet nurse and she has stayed on since then.  She is grateful for her position and tries to get her daughter to feel the same way.  As the girls turn thirteen the mistress of the house locates a wealthy groom for her daughter and is so kind as to find one for the servant girl also.  The wealthy girl tells the other that all her cast off clothes will be her dowry.  Years of suppressed anger rise up in the servant girl.  She hatches a plot for revenge.  Just before the wedding she enters the quarters of the groom, at the family's house for the wedding.  She seduces him.  Now she laughed to herself that for the rest of her life the wealthy girl will be stuck with her cast off.

When this story was originally published in 1977 it was denounced because many felt the attitude displayed was inappropriate for Muslim women.  Since publication it has been translated into eight languages and made the basis for a popular 1988 Soap Opera.

WAJIDA TABASSUM was born and brought up in Amravati, Hyderabad. She is author of twenty-seven books of fiction and poetry. Several of her stories have been translated into other languages and some have been made into films. Wajida Tabassum writes in Urdu.  She was born in 1935, and died in 2011.  "Cast Offs" was the basis for a popular 1988 Indian soap opera.  Movies were made of her novels.  Commercial she was very successful.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Ladies' Lending Library by Janice Kulyk Keefer (2007, 355 pages)

Ladies' Lending Library by Janice Kulyk is set in 1963, amongst first and second Generation Ukrainian emigrants to Canada, at their summer homes on a beach about six hours from Toronto, where the husbands of the families in the story work.  Sometime ago an enterprising Ukrainian real estate agent bought a stretch of beach land, on Lake Huron.  He then sold lots to members of the Toronto Ukrainian community, who built summer houses where the wives and children would go for eight weeks in the summer.  Being able to afford this meant you were a success in Canada.  We see the struggles of the first generation to fit in and raise their families while their kids have little sense of being anything but Canadian.

One of the mothers lives in a mansion with servants, the other women work very hard doing laundry, cooking watching over their developing teenage daughters.  Their husbands come on week ends.  They pretty much have repair jobs on the houses every weekend.  In 1963 the movie Cleopatra starting Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had just been released.  Everybody, especially the girls, is very into the off screen Romance of the stars.  The girls are obsessed with Elizabeth Taylor's breasts.  In one hilarious scene they conspire to see nude a girl with very large breasts, when that does not quite work out, they steal her bra and take turns trying it on.  

The teenagers are pretty much totally Canadian, their parents try to hang on to their Ukrainian heritage.  In one side plot we learn the tragic story of a sister who had to be left behind in the Ukraine.  After an eight year gap, she rejoined her family in the Ukraine.  There is also the daughter of a family friend, being kept away from the big city as she is growing up way to fast, at sixteen they fear she will disrupt the community.  In a very sad scene, when she loses her virginity, she thinks she can prevent pregnancy by washing up with coke a cola.  

I really enjoyed the narrative methods of Keefer, keeping multiple interacted story lines going.  The characters are very well developed.  We get an excellent feeling for the generational gaps between first and second generation emigrants.  The title of the book comes from the books the ladies read and exchange. The prose is beautiful, the characters are interesting and well individuated.  

I very much enjoyed The Ladies' Lending Library.  This is my first venture into her work and I am certainly interested in reading more of her work

JANICE KULYK KEEFER is a bestselling Canadian author widely admired for her novels, short story collections, poetry, and nonfiction. She has been twice nominated for the Governor General’s Award and is a recipient of the Marian Engel Award, the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry, two first prizes from the CBC Radio Literary Competition, and several National Magazine Awards. The Ladies’ Lending Library is her fifth novel to date and the first to be published in the United States in more than fifteen years. She lives in Toronto.

Mel u

"My Creator, My Creation" - A Short Story by Tilna Raevaara (2012, translated from Finnish)

Short stories I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

1.  "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi
9. "My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara - Translated from Finnish

"My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara is a strange story belonging, I think, to the science fiction genre.  The narrator is a self conscious robotic creation, part sex doll, house hold drone.  As the story opens it is not totally clear what is happening but it looks like her male creator is having some kind of sexual contact with the narrator.  She, I will call her that, is not sure what is happening but it seems like maybe he orgasmed while caressing her.  Yes pretty creepy. He is a member of a group that creates, exhibits, trades and sells automatons of all sorts.  The man, seems your stereotype of a scientific nerd sitting around drinking some days, hanging with others into robots on other days.  He teaches her to read, telling her this will make her more valuable.  She begins to have waking dreams.  He takes her to a big exhibit of creations.  He has friends over to admire her.  It appears they also may sexually be stimulated by contact with her.  She doesn't yet understand sex so as we are seeing things through her eyes we must speculate.  Her creator is short of money so as the story closes he tells her she has been sold.

I think this story might be good for classroom discussion for older teenagers.

I read this story in best Best European Fiction, 2013.  Began in 2010, the series is now in year nine.  I have the 2012, 2013, and 2015 editions.  Judging from these three books, about 33% of the  authors translated are women.

TIINA RAEVAARA was born in 1979 in Kerava, Finland. In 2005 she received her doctorate in genetics from the University of Helsinki. Her first novel, Eräänä päivänä tyhjä taivas (One Day, an Empty Sky) was published in 2008. Her first collection of short stories, En tunne sinua vierelläni (I Don’t Feel You Beside Me, 2010) won the prestigious Runeberg prize. Her most recently work is a scientific exploration of the relationship between dogs and humans Koiraksi ihmisille (About Dogs and Humans, 2011). Her fiction, which draws on elements of science fiction, fantasy, and surrealism, stands apart from the largely realistic mainstream of contemporary Finnish literature. - From The Best of European Fiction, 2013

Mel u

Saturday, August 12, 2017

"Mother" - A Short Story by Urmila Pawar (translated from Marathi)

Information on Women in Translation Month - August, 2017

Works I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

1.  "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi

One of the hoped for results of this year's Women in Translation Month is spotlighting the translations of writings by women from marginalized groups.  There may be no other group of people who were marginalized and culturally degraded by their own religion, by traditions 1000s of years old to the extent as were members of Dalit castes in India, now estimated at 225,000,000.  Caste discrimination is illegal in India now, much as racial discrimination in American, old prejudices to 
not quickly die.

This morning's story, "Mother" is by Urmilaw Pawar born into a Dalit Caste family, in 1949 in Maharashtra.  At age 12, along with her family, she converted to Buddhism when a regional Dalit political leader advised Dalits to reject Hinduism.  She self identifies as a feminist, focusing on the issues women at the bottom of the social scale, women with no real protection.  Urmila Panwar wrote a number of highly regarded short stories about Dalit women, most of which included in the collection of her stories, Mother Wit.  "Mother" is the lead story in this collection.  

Marathi is one of the twenty two official languages of India, spoken by about 70,000,000, mostly on the central western coastal area.

The story is narrated by the older daughter of a Dalit woman, with four children, in her early thirties and recently widowed.  Her husband was a school master, he left her some land and a house.  Her brother in law, whom her husband told her not to trust, has arrived.  He has brought a faith healer to tend to her very ill son.  He urges her to leave her land, in the city, and move to his farm in the village.  She is concerned her children will face serious caste discrimination in the village, her brother in law tells her she will be part of a Dalit community who will defend her.  The woman realizes her brother in law is trying to steal her land.  A terrible quarrel breaks out when the faith healer tells her children she is a demon from a past life trying to ruin their future.  It is obvious this was all part of a plot to get her to move to the village where she will lose her independence.  

The story was translated by Veena Deo.

I read this story in an anthology perfect for Women in Translation Month,  Katha: Short Stories by Women from India.  

A Dalit, a Buddhist and a feminist: Urmila Pawar's self-definition as all three identities informs her stories about women who are brave in the face of caste oppression, strong in the face of family pressures, defiant when at the receiving end of insult, and determined when guarding their interests and those of their sisters. Using the classic short story form with its surprise endings to great effect, Pawar brings to life strong and clever women who drive the reader to laughter, anger, tears or despair. Her harsh, sometimes vulgar and hard- hitting language subverts another stereotype - that of the soft-spoken woman writer. Pawar's protagonists may not always be Dalit, and the mood not always one of anger, but caste is never far from the context and informs the subtext of each story. As critic Eleanor Zelliot notes, there is 'tucked in every story, a note about a Buddhist vihara or Dr Ambedkar.... All her stories come from the Dalit world, revealing the great variety of Dalit life now.'  From Short Stories by Women from India.

The best literary work on Dalits, to my knowledge, is The Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand, 1935.

Mel u

Friday, August 11, 2017

"Tsipke" - A Short Story by Salomea Perl (1916, translated from Yiddish by Ruth Murphy, 2017)

A Link to today's story

"At Hatskel the Butcher’s, Tsipke toiled like a horse. The household there, no evil eye, consisted of ten people, and each one of them screamed and yelled. From the minute the sun came up, she scraped and scoured, washed and polished. From daybreak on, she heard only blistering curses and a stream of abuse. Filth flowed from her in streams, and her hands were black and as bony as two sticks. The butcher called her a common tramp, and the butcher’s wife sent her running a hundred times a day: from the cellar to the butcher shop, from the butcher shop to the attic, from the attic to the barn, and from there barn to the cellar, as if she had legs of iron and the strength of a Russian soldier. Tsipke dared not open her mouth; the butcher’s wife was a real gem, and she would grab Tsipke—for the tiniest little thing—by the head and fling her to the devil himself.  Tsipke never cried. No one had ever seen her weep with tears nor ever heard a sob. Tsipke clucked. She would wedge herself into a corner and cluck for long periods of time, just like a hen that was being kept from sitting on her eggs. The clucking was a type of groan, like a hiccup, like a heart breaking." From Tsipke

Works I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

1.  "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yeddish

This morning's story for Women in Translation Month was originally written in Yiddish.    Yiddish historically was the language of most Central European, German and Russian Jews.  Much great literature was written in Yiddish.  Prior to the Holocaust there were about ten million language speakers of Yiddish, about five million Yiddish speakers were murdered in the Holocaust.  At one point there were estimated 600,000 speakers of Yiddish in New York City.  Most of their children were raised speaking English only.  In Israel Hebrew is preferred to Yiddish.  Today it is estimated there are worldwide 1.5 million speakers of Yiddish.  Strong efforts are being made worldwide to keep Yiddish alive for future generations.  

Most Yiddish literature was written by men, in the culture the total priority was given to the education of boys.  I was delighted to find a just translated from Yiddish short story first published in 1916, in Poland,  by Salomea Pearl, born in 1869 in Lomźa, Poland on the website of the Yiddish Book Center (you can read the story at the link above).

Tsipke is the maid of all work, close to a slave, in the home of a kosher butcher in a shtetl in Poland.  She works from day break to she falls asleep.  Everyone in the household, especially the butcher's wife is very abusive to Tsipke, striking her when the mood strikes her.  Unmarried childless women in poverty, especially those divorced by their husband as Tsipke was, were greatly looked down upon by married women.  The cruelty with which she is treated is very clearly depicted.  Even other house maids say she is abused.  A single man was often respected as a Torah scholar, whereas women did not go to Torah school.  Looking at Tsipke you cannot hardly tell if she is young or old.  She is terribly thin, her clothes are very worn out, she is filthy.  She also has to work in the butcher shop, carrying heavy buckets of water.  The real villain of the story is the butcher's wife.  The story has a pushing credibility but likable close I will leave untold.

Little is known about Salomea Perl (aka Perla); even the date of her death is lost. A brief entry in Zalmen Reyzen’s Leksikon is the only extant source. She was born in Łomża, Poland, in 1869, daughter of the Hebrew scholar Kalman Avigodor Perla, author of the well-known Oytser loshn khakhomim (Mishnaic Treasures), an alphabetical thesaurus of rabbinical sayings. She grew up in Lublin and eventually moved to Warsaw, where she ran a translation agency for many years. She completed a course of study at the Université de Génève in Switzerland and also studied in Paris and London.

Perl began writing in Polish at the beginning of the 1890s and published one book, Z pamiętnika młodej żydówki (From the Diary of a Young Jewish Woman), in 1895. Her short stories, also written in Polish and published in the reformist Polish Jewish journal Izraelita, caught the attention of the young belletrists active in the literary circles of the day. Among them was author and literary mentor I. L. Peretz, who encouraged her to write in Yiddish. She published several pieces in Peretz’s Perets’s bletlekh, but conflicts both with Peretz and in her personal life slowed her creative output; after that she published only sporadically in Yiddish periodicals. - from the website of The Yiddish Book Center.

The translator of this short story, Ruth Murphy, is preparing for publication a bilingual edition of all seven of Perl's short stories.  I look forward to this welcome addition to translated Yiddish literature.

Mel u

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"Arshingar" - A Short Story by Jharna Raham (translated from Bengali, 2010)

Works I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

1.  "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali

This morning's  story, "Arshingar" by Jharna Rahman was translated from Bengali (sometimes the language is called Bangla) by Shabnam Nadiya.  Bengali is the official language of Bangladesh.  It is estimated to have 225 million speakers.

"Arshingar" centers on a married Muslim woman, mother of four girls and two boys, from Bangladesh.  She and her husband live in a huge house owned by her father in law.  The families of her two bother in laws also live there.  Her two married sister in laws stay there also, with their several children as their husbands work in Saudi Arabia, assorted others in the extended family live there also.

Rahman from the opening shocking  sex scene between Arshingar and her husband in which she breastfeeds her baby while her husband hammers away on top of her, afterwards he feeds from the other breast lets us see into the dynamics of her life.  She accepts this as doing her duty.  She is normally always veiled, even other men in the house have never seen her face, even when she dies she will be buried with a veil covering her face.  We get a good picture of her life, we know her family is affluent and her husband in an important man.  A very odd turn event happens as the story winds down which I will leave untold.

In just a few pages this story takes us inside a world closed to all but insiders.

Jharna Rahman was born in 1959. She received her M.A. in Bangla from the University of Dhaka and has been writing for the last thirty years. As a poet, author of fiction, and playwright, she deals with the various crises, obstacles, hardships and potentialities of Bangladeshi society with all its multidimensional joys and sorrows. Her 19 published works include the short story collections Swarna Tarbari, Agnita, Krishnapakhsher Usha, and Perek, the poetry collection Noshto Jotsna Nosto Roudro, and the play Briddha o Rajkumari. An Assistant Professor of Bangla at Bir Shreshtha Noor Mohammad Rifles Public College, she is also a regular singer on national radio and television.

I read this story in an interesting anthology, The Lotus Singers: Short Stories from Contemporary South Asia.

Mel u

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic (2012, translated from Croatian)

Works I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

1.  "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian

So far I am having quite a good time through reading short stories for Women in Translation Month, August, 2017. (Full details are in the link above.)  Yesterday I posted on a story focusing on lesbian lovers in Italy in the 1960s.  By coincidence today's story is about a casual lesbian encounter in war ravaged Zagreb, Croatia.  As the story opens our narrator, a young single woman is walking through Zagreb, it is a place of poverty, rundown and grimy with homeless everywhere.  The narrator was unable to wash her hair as her apartment has only cold water.  She stops in a beauty parlor, only a striking young woman, Zletka is working.  She enjoys the sensual feel of Zletka's hands running through the warm water in her hair.  She returns home but later in the evening decides to go to a disco and runs into Zletka.  It is a very loud place.  They end up returning to Zletka's apartment, spending the night having sex.  Zletka's ten year old daughter wakes them in the morning, asking the narrator what type of tea she would like.  The girl, Milo, is delightful, not all shy or surprised by the sleep over guest.

They part without a future commitment.  This story is basically one day in the life of a young urban Croatian woman.  I read it twice and would read more by the author.  The story was translated by Tomislav Kuzmanovie.  I read this story in a very good anthology with seven stories by women, Best European Fiction, 2012.

MAJA HRGOVIĆ was born in 1980 in Split, Croatia. She studied theater and women’s studies. Since 2003 she has worked as a journalist in the culture section of the Novi List Daily, and has been a member of the editorial board at Zarez—a Journal of Cultural and Social Affairs, where she publishes literary reviews. In 2009 she was awarded first prize for journalistic excellence organized by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Reporting Network (BIRN). Her work has also been published in magazines and news portals such as Nulačetvorka, Cunterview, Kulturpunkt, Op.a, Grazia, and Libela. She regularly writes for the portal ZaMirZINE, concentrating on women’s rights and their treatment in the media. Her first collection of short stories, Pobjeđuje onaj kojem je manje stalo (He Wins Who Cares Less), was published in 2010.- from Best European Fiction, 2012.

Mel u

"Maria" - A Short Story by Dacia Maraini (1963, in Translation 1989)

Works I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

1.  "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian

"Maria", translated by Martha King, is a very moving deftly done story that in just a few pages shows us the prejudices faced by a lesbian couple in Italy in the early 1960 while making us feel they are anchored in particularized reality.

Maria is still sleeping when the narrator quietly slips out of bed to go to her office job at an automobile factory.  The noise at the job is so loud she has to shout to speak to other office workers.  In just a few paragraphs we come to understand her very harsh work environment, we feel her eyes lingering on a young factory woman whose legs remind her of Maria.  When she returns home the apartment is a total mess.  In these beautiful lines we can feel the power of Maraini in her rendering of Maria's thoughts on their then socially unacceptable relationship:

"Maria has a very nice voice. Sometimes, while I wash, clean, put the house in order, she sits on a stool in the bedroom next to the window so she can get the sun on her back, and she talks to me like I wasn’t there. Often I can’t even follow her reasoning, which is deep and complicated, but I lose myself in her voice, which is clear and light and musical like a bird’s. We eat in the kitchen. Maria sits across from me and greedily eats everything I put on her plate. But she doesn’t look at what she eats, because she is thinking; then her face acquires that distracted and worried look so familiar to me. “Have you ever thought what love is between two women?” “No.” “There must be a reason, don’t you think?”   “Why should I love you instead of a man? Why should I make love to you instead of a man?” “I don’t know. Because you like to.” “But why do I like to?” “I don’t know. Because you love me.” “Oh, fine, you fool. But why?” “I really don’t know.” “I think that men and women don’t want to make love together any more so they won’t make children. There are too many of us.” “Do you want some more cod?” She nods yes. She brings to her mouth a big piece of cod –the most economical kind and therefore fatter and more thready –without paying any attention to its taste."

As was very common in Italy in the time, Maria is very left wing.  She lectures the narrator about how her bosses are getting rich from her work.

Normally I'm disinclined to tell the close of the stories upon which I post but as this story cannot be read online and the ending is so powerful I will proceed.

Maria's ultra conservative father, a farmer, has her locked up in a mental hospital because of her sexuality.  We feel the great sadness and pain of the narrator as she goes about the now empty routine of her existence.  After a week she takes a bus ride to the mental hospital:

"A week later I return to visit her. They tell me she has gone away. I’m happy and get ready to go back home when a fat blond girl comes up to tell me that Maria has killed herself. Immediately after she bursts into a gloomy, stupid laugh. I don’t know whether to believe her or not. Then, when the sister takes her by the wrist and drags her away screaming, I know that it’s true."

I read this story in anthology perfect for Women in Translation Month, New Italian: A Collection of Short Fiction, edited and introduced by Martha King.

Dacia Maraini

in Fiesole, Tuscany, Italy
November 13, 1936

Dacia Maraini is an Italian writer. She is the daughter of Sicilian Princess Topazia Alliata di Salaparuta, an artist and art dealer, and of Fosco Maraini, a Florentine ethnologist and mountaineer of mixed Ticinese, English and Polish background who wrote in particular on Tibet and Japan. Maraini's work focuses on women’s issues, and she has written numerous plays and novels.

Alberto Moravia was her partner from 1962 until 1983.

Mel u

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"A Home Near the Sea" - A Short Story by Kamala Das

Works I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

1.  "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam

"A Home Near the Sea" is the third short story by Kamala Das upon which I have posted.  In 2011 I read her "Flight", in 2015 I read "Sweet Milk", which can be read online in Little Magazine.  (My post has a link.) Both of these stories center on a marriage, as does today's story.  "A Home Near the Sea" was translated by Khushwant Singh from the Malayalam language, one of the official languages of India, spoken by 35 million in Southern India.

As the story opens Arumgugham's wife, during a frequent quarrel brought on by him losing a decent job because he was drunk at work, has just hit him in the head.  This has happened before and he has learned to suppress his anger. Because of this they have been homeless for a year or so:

"They had been homeless for nearly a year. He liked the languor of this life but feared the monsoons and the days when no edible food would be found in the garbage heap outside the Ritz Hotel. Hunger always picked up quarrels with him and abused him again and again for having got drunk enough to lose a fine lucrative job. True, he had been irresponsible. Why, on paydays he used to stop at Anna’s paan shop and drink five glasses of hooch which went down like a sword of fire and made him confident. To remove the smell from his mouth, he ate two paans filled with brown chunam and tobacco bits...."

The wife is telling her story to a young beggar man.  She tells him she was once young and comely, with a rich suitor but because of her husband she had lost her youth and beauty.  The man suggests she should look for a job as an Ayah, a helper for the children of a rich family.  He tells her she would get four meals a day and the work would be light.  Of course she longs for this but feels it is beyond her reach.
She begins to almost flirt with the younger man. Such jobs were most often done by women from a Dalit Caste (Untouchable).  Their membership such a caste is confirmed below:

"‘Whose fault is it that I do not own a house?’ continued the wife shrilly. ‘You sold my ornaments. You lost your job. And we were pushed out of our hut. Who was at fault? You or I? Was I not always a dutiful wife to you? I have not slept around with other men like other women of the slum who waited for their husbands to leave for work to begin waving out to passengers on the slow train. I did not want to earn that kind of money. This good-for-nothing man of mine brought me nothing. Not even on Diwali day did he get me a new sari! I suffered in silence. But now I have turned bitter. I talk back to him. I even hit him when he irritates me.’"

Inexpensive prostitutes in India were normally Dalits.  The woman suggests the man stay with them, they know where to find food from the garbage of nice hotels.

The young man begins to talk to her of music, he can sing beautifully.  She begins to cry.  As the story ends, the woman gives their only blanket to the departing man. Her husband is very mad.

One of the stated goals of this Women in Translation Month for 2017 is to focus on literature about marginalized women, short stories about Dalit women are the epitome of such works.

Kerala Das (1934 to 2009-Punnayurklam, Malabar District, India) was born  into a sucessful and prominent family.   Her mother was a famous poet, her father was  involved in the marketing of Rolls Royces and Bentleys in all of India. She also wrote in English but her short stories, which will be her lasting legacy, were in Malayalam.    She also had a weekly newspaper column for many years in which she discussed issues relating to the lives and rights of women.   She wrote about,  at the time,  near forbidden topics such as the sexuality of women.   She was socially and politically active.   At one time she was director of the forestry commission for the Malabar district.  She ran for Parliament and lost.  In 1989 she converted from Hinduisms to Islam.   She changed her name to "Kamala  Suraiyya.     Her work has been translated into French, English, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and several other South Asian Languages.

Mel u

Monday, August 7, 2017

"The Floating Forest" - A Short Story by Natsuo Kirino - the Author of Out, Grotesque and Real World. (Translated by Jonathan Lawless, 2011)

Japanese Literature Challenge - Year 11 - Hosted by Dolce Bellezza

Natsuo Kirino's novels are about the darker side of life in modern Tokyo.  Several years have passed since I read her Award Winning works, Out, Grotesque and Real World.  These works are classics, about those left out by prosperity of post war Japan, about violence, criminals, prostitution, corruption.  I highly recommend them all.  They focus largely on the response of women to these issues.

"The Floating Forest" has nothing at all in common with the world of her novels.  (It was first published in a very good anthology Digital Geishas and Talking Frogs: The Best of 21th Century Short Stories from Japan, edited by Helen  Mitsios).  The characters are affluent and cultured.

"The Floating Forest" is the story of the teenage daughter of a famous Japanese writer who years ago abandoned the girl and her mother to marry another woman.  She is being pressured by literary agents to write a memoir about her childhood.  The literary world is fascinated by her connection to the great writer, whom she has came to hate.  Nevertheless she cannot avoid seeing her resemblance to her father when she looks in the mirror, she knows what she sees as his "evil blood" flows through her. 

One of the common themes of post WW II Japanese literature is that of generational conflict.  We can see this strongly in "The Floating Forest".

From the author's webpage

NATSUO KIRINO, born in 1951in Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture) was an active and spirited child brought up between her two brothers, one being six years older and the other five years younger than her. Kirino's father, being an architect, took the family to many cities, and Kirino spent her youth in Sendai, Sapporo, and finally settled in Tokyo when she was fourteen, which is where she has been residing since. Kirino showed glimpses of her talent as a writer in her early stages-- she was a child with great deal of curiosity, and also a child who could completely immerse herself in her own unique world of imagination.

After completing her law degree, Kirino worked in various fields before becoming a fictional writer; including scheduling and organizing films to be shown in a movie theater, and working as an editor and writer for a magazine publication. She got married to her present husband when she turned twenty-four, and began writing professionally, after giving birth to her daughter, at age thirty. However, it was not until Kirino was forty-one that she made her major debut. Since then, she has written thirteen full-length novels and three volumes of collective short stories, which are highly acclaimed for her intriguingly intelligent plot development and character portrayal, and her unique perspective of Japanese society after the collapse of the economic bubble.

Today, Kirino continues to enthusiastically write in a range of interesting genres. Her smash hit novel OUT (Kodansha, 1997) became the first work to be translated into English and other languages. OUT was also nominated for the 2004 MWA Edgar Allan Poe Award in the Best Novel Category, which made Kirino the first Japanese writer to be nominated for this major literary award. Her other works are now under way to be translated and published around the world. 

Mel u

Sunday, August 6, 2017

J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski (2015)

Born - January 1, 1919 - New York City

Catcher in the Rye - published 1951, Over 65,000,000 copies sold

Died -  January 27, 2010, Cornish, New Hampshire 

I read Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger probably around fifty years ago.  A few months ago my youngest daughter, 19, said one of her friends advised her she must read the book so I bought her a copy.  All I knew about Salinger before I read the best selling biography by Kenneth Slawenski J. D. Salinger: A Life was that he became a recluse, shielding himself from the public in a country house in rural New Hampshire.  

Slawenski does a wonderful job bringing the legend to life.  His biography was a delight to read, with an elegant prose style.  I throughly enjoyed this book.

We see Salinger was born  into an affluent New York City family.  His mother totally doted on him and he got pretty much anything he wanted.  When he told his parents he wanted to be a professional writer, his father was skeptical but his mother supported the idea.  Salinger never finished college.  He had some limited early success selling a couple of stories.  After the United States entered World War II, Salinger joined the army.  He scored high on various tests and tried to become an officer but did not succeed.  After about a year on various American bases in training Salinger was part of the invasion force that went ashore in France on D Day. Salinger spent three years in the army, conducting himself with great fortitude.  He experienced massive death rates among his comrades.  He was designated as  an intelligence official.  His job was to question captured German troops and citizens in towns the Americans occupied.  He was in Paris after the liberation, where he made a life time friend, Ernest Hemingway who helped him deal with the horrors of war.  Perhaps the most traumatic of his experiences was at the liberation of concentration camps.  Slawenski lets us see how all this death, cruelty and violence impacted the raised in a pampered way Salinger.  He often received gift baskets from his mother and he wrote a few short stories about his war experiences.

Salinger was so happy to return home, he was kept for about six months in Germany as his intelligence skills were needed.  Salinger was what would have in 1946 been called "a ladies man".  He had numerous girl friends and like to hang out at elite places in NYC.  He began writing again and Slawenski lets us follow closely the career
Path of Salinger.  He knew he had succeeded when after numerous rejections the super prestigious New Yorker offered him a $30,000 yearly contract to have first refusal rights on all his work.  Salinger struggled with editors and mentors but The New Yorker became his literary home and the editorial staff a second family.

Slawenski shows us the very long genesis of The Catcher in the Rye.  We see Salinger becoming more demanding about the way his work was published and more difficult personally.  He became interested in Zen Buddhism and later was very influenced by the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, a Hindu religious teacher.  

Slawenski devotes a great deal of space to explicating Salinger's short stories, letting us she the impact of Salinger's experiences and his spiritual beliefs.  Along the way we learn a lot about the business side of Salinger's career.  We are there for his three marriages and a late life affair.  As he became more famous reporters sought him out.  I was surprised to learn that the man who murdered John Lennon was reading calmly a copy of Catcher in the Rye when the police arrested him.  He said he was inspired by the lead character Holden Caulfield to kill Lennon.  Also the attempted assassin of Ronald Reagan had a copy of the book in his back pack.  The book in spite of being a great commercial and literary success began to be banned in schools.  

There is much more in this book.  We see Salinger settle in on his 90 acre property in New Hampshire, follow decline of his second marriage, his first was a one year fiasco with a French woman he met while in Europe who some say was a gestapo agent, we admire what a devoted father he became.  We see him become more and more private. His third  marriage was the best.  He had a strange late life affair that Slawenski details.  

This is a first rate literary biography. Slawenski totally knows the work of Salinger.  I for sure want to reread Catcher in the Rye and read the rest of his work.  

Kenneth Slawenski is the author of J. D. Salinger: A Life, on which he worked for eight years, and the creator of the New York Times recommended Web site


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Women in Translation Month - August 2017 - My post on a short story by a highly regarded Punjabe woman writer, Ajeet Cour

Frequently Asked Questions For Women in Translation Month

Women in Translation Month (WITMonth) is an event held every August devoted to spotlighting and promoting English language translations of literary works by women.  Now in year four, this will be my first year of participation.  (All you need to know to join in can be found on The Frequently Asked Questions link above.)

I do not have a count of how many of my 3100 posts on The Reading Life are devoted to translations of works by women writers.  In part I think I am drawn to reading works by women authors to help me understand my three daughters, 24, 22, and 19, growing up at times to fast in a world very different from my time.  I discovered the work of two of the writers depicted in my sidebar, Clarice Lispector and Irene Nemirovsky, through Prize winning translations.  Last month I posted upon two wonderful short stories by Colette, translated from French, a collection of Holocaust poems and letters by Ilse Weber from Czechoslovakia, a newly translated work by Magda Szabo, from Hungary and Japan's Hiromi Kawakami, a multi award winning author.  

I don't have any real fixed plans yet for my participation in WITMonth.  I looked over some of the collections of Indian Subcontinent short stories on my E-Reader and decided to start with a post on a short story by Ajeet Cour, among the highest regarded  of Punjabi writers.  

"Happy New Year", set in Bombay, was translated from Punjabi by Khushwant Singh.  It appears in a very good anthology Our Favorite Indian Short Stories edited by Singh and Neelem Kumar.  There are two central characters, Kupoor and his wife.  Kupoor, a long time government clerk, has just received promotion to the coveted position of personal assistant to the Honorable Minister.  He is no longer just Kupoor, he is Sahib Kupoor.  He received his first "gift" from a businessman seeking a favor from the minister, an expensive bottle of scotch.  His coworkers suggests he should have a New Years Party at his house, to celebrate the promotion.  When he comes home his wife is infuriated by the bottle of scotch, even more she is angered because she will have to prepare a meal for the guests and their wives.  She also castigated him by telling him New Years Day is an English holiday, suggesting he is giving up his heritage.  

As the dinner proceeds his coworkers tell him a story of another sahib who used his contacts to become wealthy through "gifts".  We learn nothing much happens without a proper gift.  Kupoor tries to explain this to his wife but she is mad over the expense of the meal.  This is a very well done story about a marriage.  I enjoyed it a lot.

I hope to participate more in Women in Translation Month 

Mel u

AJEET COUR Born in 1934, Ajeet Cour is one of the better known Punjabi writers. Some of her important collections of short stories are Gulbano, Mahik Di Maut, But Shikan, Saviyan and Churiyan. And among her novelletes are Postmortem, Dhup Wala Sheher, Khana Badosh and Kachche Ranga de Sheher. She is the recipient of Punjabi Academy Award (1984) and Sahitya Akademi Award (1986) for Khana Badosh.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Paris at War 1939 to 1944 by David Drake (2015)

Paris at War 1939 to 1944 by David Drake is a perfect accompaniment to literary works about Paris during the Nazi occupation such as Suite Francais by Irene Nemirovsky and The Occupation Trilogy by Patrick Modiano.  Even though I knew how things would turn out, Drake fashioned an exciting story.

Drake focuses on telling the story of the lives of ordinary Parisians from France's entry into World War Two in September to 1939 up to liberation of Paris in August 1944, prompting a joyous celebration, one I was very ready for when it came.

Drake does a very good job detailing the panic that overtook Paris as the Germans hung banners on the Eiffel Tower.  Huge numbers fled the city.  Those with country relatives or the rich with second homes were lucky.

The Germans were initially ordered not to molest obedient to the rule Parisians.  Drake explains the political dynamics between Vichy France and the occupied region.  We learn of De Gaulle's efforts by radio broadcasts from London to inspire hope and resistance.  The French did not for a long time know who would win the war, some wanted to be on the winning side.  Drake spends a lot of time talking about collaboration with the Nazis and the slow growth of resistance.

Drake lets us understand the infighting between the force of the Gaullists and the allies lead by General Eisenhower.  The American lead allies at first wanted to by pass Paris and march into Germany but eventually the free French brigade and an American division entered the city.  Hitler had ordered the city be totally destroyed but the German general in charge saw the pointlessness of this and surrendered.

We learn of the extreme hardships brought on by food and other shortages, how the Parisians coped.

Much of the story is based on diaries and reminiscences to which Drake had access.  He details very clearly the fate of Jews in Paris.

Paris at War 1939 to 1944 is a very well written fully accessible by non academics history.

I received a review copy of this book.  At $19.95 I would not be a buyer of the digital edition.

Mel u

David Drake has taught at universities in London and Paris and has published widely on French intellectual and cultural history.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Reading Life Review - Paris in July Edition - July, 2017

In July I posted on 5 living and 14 deceased authors, 14 men and five women.
Seven are from France, four Japan, two are Americans. One is from Chile, one Kenya, another Is Hungarian, one was born in Czechoslovakia, another the Ukraine.  I featured one Noble Prize Winner.  Three of the French authors belong on any list of greatest writers of all time.  Two were murdered in Nazi concentration camps and sadly two of my featured writers were in favor of the removal by any means necessary of all Jews from France.  One of the Americans is climbing toward huge commercial success with a forthcoming H B O series based on one of her works of speculative fiction.  James Baldwin becomes more relevant as America enters an era of hatred and ignorance.  Of the living writers, four have achieved great literary success, I fully expect the fifth to join this group.  

Top Row from the left
1.  Guy de Maupassant- a father of the short story
2. Hiromi Kawakami (read but no post this month)
3. Farah Ahamed.  - Prize Winning Short Story Writer
4. Francois Coppée- I like his perhaps overly sentimental short stories
5. Roberto Bolano -  a huge influence on contemporary literature

Second Row from Top

6. Louis-Ferdinand Celine- a chronicler of the dark side
7. Ilse Weber- Holocaust Poet, murdered at Auschwitz
8. Magda Szabo, author of The Door, Hungarian
9. Jean-Philippe Blondel - contemporary French writer
10. Patrick Modiano - Noble Prize Winner

Third Row

11. Irene Nemirovsky- Love her work, image on my sidebar, murdered at Auschwitz 
12. Colette.  Just the name invokes a world
13. Ryu Murakami- Huge best seller in Japan. Close to X-rated works 
14. Nnedi Okorafor- American author of wonderful science fiction and fantasy works 
15. Kobo Abe. Author of The Woman in the Dunes

Bottom Row

16.  Honore de Balzac
17. James Baldwin.  
18. Emile Zola
19. Junichiro Tanizaki-one of my favorite writers 

Blog Stats for July 2017

The most viewed posts were all on short stories by authors from the Philippines 

The top home countries for blog visitors

1. The Philippines 
2. U S A
3. India
4. France
5. U. K.

Since inception on July 9, 2009 there has been 4,714,223 page views 

There are 3103 posts online as of today

My reading in July was dominated by posts relating to Paris, as my participation in Paris in July, hosted by Thyme for Tea.  The Paris related works I read, including short stories, novels and nonfiction were

1.  Colette- Two Early Short Stories
2. The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano 
3. "A Duel" by Guy de Maupassant ( A Franco-Prussian War Story)
4. Life, Death, and Betrayal at The Hotel Ritz in Paris by Tilar Mazzeo (non fiction)
5. How the French Invented Love by Marilyn Yolem (literary history)
6. "The Lost Child" by Francois Coppée 
7. "The Juggler of Norte Dame" by Anatole France- no post
8. A Very French Christmas- A Collection of the Greatest Holiday Stories of France
9. "The Illustrious Gaudissart" by Honore de Balzac
10. After the Circus by Patrick Modiano
11. "Gaudissart II" by Honore de Balzac
12. 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Phillipe Blondel
13. "Noel" by Irene Nemirovsky 
14. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
15. The Madeleine Project by Clara Beaudoux
16. Nais Micoulin by Emile Zola
17. The Occupation Trilogy by Patrick Modiano 
18. Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine

Review Policy.

I am very open to looking at all sorts of new books, including self published 

I offer my great thanks to those who take the time to leave comments.  You help keep me going.  

Spam question.  Much of my spam comments are all on one particular work, Pigeon 
Pie by Nancy Mitford.  Most of the spam comments are generic praise that could apply to any post by anyone.  They are not written as a native speaker of English might and they contain no links or ads.  What can the purpose of these comments be?  None ever make it online but they have persisted for months 

To my fellow book bloggers, the world's greatest readers, keep blogging.  

Mel u