Tag: Books: Translated Texts


Review: Bloodhoof

Posted 10 June, 2019 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Bloodhoof
By: Gerður Kristný, Rory McTurk (Translator)
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Bloodhoof is the re-casting into compulsively spare modern verse of an ancient Eddic poem – but this only begins to hint at its attractions. It is a minimalist epic telling of the abduction of Gerdur Gymisdottir from the land of giants to the court of Freyr of the ‘wolf-grey eyes’, and the subsequent events culminating in the birth of her son and her hopes of being saved by her own kin.

It is full of iron-hard rocks and ice, serpents in the breast gnawing at the harness of hope, but also wide-reaching fields of corn whispering in the breeze and a throne carved with beasts and dragons-heads. You could read the whole book in perhaps half an hour but it will take many months or years to begin to clear the ghosts and long-dead heroes from your mind.

I first encountered this book while I was in Iceland; there was this bookstore I had visited the first time I was there and revisited it again recently. However I didn’t pick up a copy of this book until I returned to Canada–bought way too many books as it was at the time!

Bloodhoof was a wonderful read. I don’t remember encountering the original Eddic poem when I read the poems a few years back, but thankfully this book has an introduction that introduces the original poem and where Kristny draws her sources from to write this book. I especially love the fact that this book is bilingual, with the original poem in Icelandic set at the top and the English translation at the bottom; Icelandic is a complex language but I always appreciate it when a book is bilingual like that, you can refer to it. The poem itself is minimalist but rich in imagery and feeling.

Suffice to say I really enjoyed this poem and glad I picked it up 🙂

Rating: ★★★★★

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from The Book Depository

Two Book Reviews

Posted 5 June, 2019 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The following are two reviews (sort of) that didn’t warrant a post of their own. Unfortunately this post is a bit of a downer, but I also didn’t want to pass them off and not post about them, if that makes any sense lol.

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Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was
By: Sjon
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

The year is 1918 and in Iceland the erupting volcano Katla can be seen colouring the sky night and day from the streets of Reykjavik. Yet life in the small capital carries on as usual, despite the natural disaster, a shortage of coal and, in the outside world, the Great War grinding on.

There, sixteen-year-old M·ni Steinn lives for the new fashion – the movies. Asleep he dreams altered versions of them, their tapestry of events threaded with strands from his own life. Awake he hovers on the fringes of society. But then the Spanish flu epidemic comes ashore, killing hundreds and driving thousands into their sick beds. The shadows of existence deepen and for M·ni everything changes.

Capturing Iceland at a moment of profound transformation, this is the story of a misfit in a place where life and death, reality and imagination, secrets and revelations jostle for dominance. With not a word wasted, this mesmerising and original novel is the work of a major international writer.

It’s funny, I was actually eyeing this book the last time I was in Iceland but didn’t pick it up at the time. So this time around when I went I did have it on my mind to pick up a copy 😉

It’s my first Sjon novel so I’m not sure how it holds up compared to his other books. I thought it was an interesting read, reading how the Spanish flu affected Iceland, what life was like in Reykjavik in the early 20th century. There is also the added factor of what it was like to be a homosexual in Iceland in the early 20th century (though Mani I think was bi? I wasn’t sure if it was intrigue or infatuation re: Sola).

All in all it was an interesting read, although the epilogue chapter seemed tacked on and a bit of a leap for me. Nonetheless I’m glad to have picked it up and to have finally read a novel by Sjon.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Visit the author’s official website

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Waitress in Fall
By: Kristin Omarsdottir
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

For over three decades, the work of Kristin Omarsdottir has thrived in the vanguard of Icelandic literature. Waitress in Fall offers anglophone readers the first substantial selection of her poems in translation. Spanning thirty years and seven collections – from her first to her latest – this wide-reaching introduction celebrates a vital voice in contemporary European poetry.

Kristin Omarsdottir’s work resists the sweet, the neat or the certain. Her poems delight in the lush mess of actual life, in its hands and fingers, lemons and clocks, socks, soldiers, snow, knives, mothers, nightstands, sweat, and crockery. The domestic is at the heart of the poems, but it is a domesticity tinged with threat: something `clear and ominous’ persists between the lines.

These are surreal, unsettling landscapes, in which children lap milk from trees and car tyres are `soft as skin’. But Kristin’s poems are also full of laughter, sex, and love. They accept vulnerability as a condition of intimacy. Erupting `wherever thirst is ignited’, they are not afraid to strike, to rage, recognising a right – a responsibility – to risk the necessary word, even to `wound the language’.

This book kept following me in Iceland: at the bookstore, then at the airport, so I decided to pick it up, lol. As I haven’t heard of this poet until I visited Iceland this time around, picking up a book that spans much of her work these last few decades seem like the best place to start. It’s a great collection that indeed touches on the above topics, especially that of love and intimacy, and certainly raises that of everyday things we see, touch, and do to new heights. Definitely worth checking out.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: The Case of Comrade Tulayev

Posted 25 January, 2019 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Case of Comrade Tulayev
By: Victor Serge
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

One cold Moscow night, Comrade Tulayev, a high government official, is shot dead on the street, and the search for the killer begins. In this panoramic vision of the Soviet Great Terror, the investigation leads all over the world, netting a whole series of suspects whose only connection is their innocence—at least of the crime of which they stand accused. But The Case of Comrade Tulayev, unquestionably the finest work of fiction ever written about the Stalinist purges, is not just a story of a totalitarian state. Marked by the deep humanity and generous spirit of its author, the legendary anarchist and exile Victor Serge, it is also a classic twentieth-century tale of risk, adventure, and unexpected nobility to set beside Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and André Malraux’s Man’s Fate.

This book has been sitting on my TBR pile for a few years now. It has elements that I like in a novel: set during a period of history that I had studied extensively, a mystery with many implicated elements to it, never really heard of it but hailed as a great novel (okay, not a necessity when I pick up a book but it’s enough to pique my interest, lol.

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Review: Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet

Posted 9 July, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet
By: Amara Lakhous
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

It’s October 2006. In a few months Romania will join the European Union. Meanwhile, the northern Italian town of Turin has been rocked by a series of deadly crimes involving Albanians and Romanians. Is this the latest eruption of a clan feud dating back centuries, or is the trouble being incited by local organized crime syndicates who routinely “infect” neighborhoods and then “cleanse” them in order to earn big on property developments? Enzo Laganà, born in Turin to Southern Italian parents, is a journalist with a wry sense of humor who is determined to get to the bottom of this crime wave. But before he can do so, he has to settle a thorny issue concerning Gino, a small pig belonging to his Nigerian neighbor, Joseph. Who brought the pig to the neighborhood mosque? And for heaven’s sake why?

I’ve been eyeing this book for years. From the intriguing and absurd title to the Italian setting to the timely issues of immigration in the EU at the time with the expansion of members, I was very keen to read it. After having it on my wishlist for ages, I finally picked it up a few months ago–yay! 🙂

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Review: Selected Poems

Posted 12 February, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Selected Poems
By: Giuseppe Ungaretti
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970) was a pioneer of the Modernist movement in Italian poetry and is widely regarded as one of the leading Italian poets of the twentieth century. His verse is renowned and loved for its powerful insight and emotion, and its exquisite music. Yet, unlike many of his peers, Ungaretti has never been adequately presented to English readers. This large bilingual selection, translated with great sensitivity and fidelity by Andrew Frisardi, captures Ungaretti in all of his phases: from his early poems, written in the trenches of northern Italy during World War I, to the finely crafted erotic and religious poetry of his second period, to the visceral, elegiac poetry of the years following the death of his son and the occupation of Rome during World War II, to the love poems of the poet’s old age.

Frisardi’s in-depth introduction details the world in which Ungaretti’s work took shape and exerted its influence. In addition to the poet’s own annotations, an autobiographical afterword, “Ungaretti on Ungaretti,” further illuminates the poet’s life and art. Here is a compelling, rewarding, and comprehensive version of the work of one of the greatest modern European poets.

I honestly don’t remember now how I first came across Giuseppe Ungretti’s poetry. What I do remember was that the moment I did come across his poems, I knew I had to check out more. Not a lot of his poetry is available in English but I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy of this collection featuring some of his selected works.

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