Tag: Books: Translated Texts


Review: The Hottest Dishes of Tartar Cuisine

Posted 12 August, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Hottest Dishes of Tartar Cuisine
By: Alina Bronsky
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

When she discovers that her seventeen-year-old daughter, “stupid Sulfia,” is pregnant by an unknown man she does everything to thwart the pregnancy, employing a variety of folkloric home remedies. But despite her best efforts the baby, Aminat, is born nine months later at Soviet Birthing Center Number 134. Much to Rosa’s surprise and delight, dark eyed Aminat is a Tartar through and through and instantly becomes the apple of her grandmother’s eye. While her good for nothing husband Kalganow spends his days feeding pigeons and contemplating death at the city park, Rosa wages an epic struggle to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, whom she considers a woefully inept mother. When Aminat, now a wild and willful teenager, catches the eye of a sleazy German cookbook writer researching Tartar cuisine, Rosa is quick to broker a deal that will guarantee all three women a passage out of the Soviet Union. But as soon as they are settled in the West, the uproariously dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter and grandmother begin to fray.

I believe I first encountered this book while browsing a list on GoodReads on translated literature. The premise sounded oddly amusing, but it’s also placed in a setting that I like reading from (in and around the Soviet period) plus I read good things about the author online (award-winning and all). So I finally caved last year and picked it up after staring at it for a good long time 🙂

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 25 July, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Pretty sure I mentioned this last time but I seem to be on a roll with these mini-reviews this year 😛 Lots of books I read recently that didn’t warrant a post of their own; included in this batch of mini-reviews are some classics and one DNF *le sigh*


The Major Works
By: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, critic, and radical thinker, exerted an enormous influence over contemporaries as varied as Wordsworth, Southey and Lamb. He was also a dedicated reformer, and set out to use his reputation as a public speaker and literary philosopher to change the course of English thought.

This collection represents the best of Coleridge’s poetry from every period of his life, particularly his prolific early years, which produced The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Kubla Khan. The central section of the book is devoted to his most significant critical work, Biographia Literaria, and reproduces it in full. It provides a vital background for both the poetry section which precedes it and for the shorter prose works which follow. There is also a generous sample of his letters, notebooks, and marginalia, some recently discovered, which show a different, more spontaneous side to his fascinating and complex personality.

I finally got around to reading some of Coleridge’s works when I picked up one of the mini Black Classics (review). I greatly enjoyed it and decided to pick up his collected works. While this is a good collection of his works and ideas, I was much more interested in his poetry and some of his lectures than his essays and his Biographia Literaria, which to be honest I decided not to read at this time.

Anyway, his poetry was interesting, a mix of long epics and shorter poems. His poems reminds me a bit of John Keats, which makes sense given that they were contemporaries, but they aren’t as flourishing or as ingrained in the nature thematics as Keats is. There’s also a more morose feeling to his poems; it’s hard to explain, maybe the book cover had something to contribute to this overall feeling, but there’s that. I wish the poetry was more complete in this collection but nonetheless it’s a solid selection and I enjoyed reading it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Review: Mona Lisa

Posted 13 June, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Mona Lisa
By: Alexander Lernet-Holenia, Ignat Avsey (Translation), Neil Gower (Illustrations)
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

‘Love does not need any comforting. It does not even need requiting. All it needs is itself.’

Florence, 1502. Marshal Louis de La Trémouille’s small army has stopped off en route to Naples, to buy objects d’art for King Louis XII of France. Naturally, Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop is on the shopping list; and during their visit to his house, the young nobleman de Bougainville chances upon the not-quite-finished Mona Lisa. He promptly, utterly and hopelessly falls in love with the woman in the painting, and is determined to find her – despite rumours that she has long ago died. A visit to an empty tomb, assault upon an Italian nobleman’s mansion, duel and execution later, the secret of la Gioconda’s smile is (possibly) revealed.

An entertaining story, told with style – about love, life, art, and the Quixotic things that a man will do to realise his dream.

I found out about this novella whilst parusing through NetGalley a few months back (a dangerous activity–ended up requesting for a number of ARCs, lol!). I’m always open to checking out lesser-known authors and translated works and the premise of this title sounded really interesting. So I was quite delighted to learn that I was approved a copy of this book to read. This book will be available on 14 June 2016.

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Review: The Oresteia

Posted 2 May, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

The Oresteia
By: Aeschylus
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

In the Oresteia—the only trilogy in Greek drama which survives from antiquity—Aeschylus took as his subject the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of Argos.

Moving from darkness to light, from rage to self-governance, from primitive ritual to civilized institution, their spirit of struggle and regeneration becomes an everlasting song of celebration.

This Greek drama piqued my interest after it was mentioned in one of the Sebastian St. Cyr novels (see tag) I was reading at the time. To date the only Greek drama I’ve read has been from Sophocles (err…I never reviewed it? I’m surprised) but I’m always open to checking out more Greek drama and classical theatre, especially as I’m slowly dwindling down on the popular Renaissance/Jacobean titles (I know there’s plenty else out there to check out, not to mention those from other countries, but it’s nice to get through the famous ones first). Anyway, I was quite excited to start reading these plays after writing my board exam a few months ago (case in point) 🙂

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Review: The Flight

Posted 25 April, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Flight
By: Gaito Gazdanov, Bryan Karetnyk (Translation)
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

While summering on the French Riviera, the young Seryozha secretly becomes the lover of the much older Liza – who is also his father’s mistress. As autumn approaches, they reluctantly part: Liza to return to Paris, Seryozha to take up his studies at university in London. When he finds out about their affair, Seryozha’s father attempts to convince Liza to leave his son, for the sake of the boy’s own happiness. She finally gives in – but a sudden, fatal catastrophe changes everything…

It’s been a while since I’ve read some Russian literature, so this book came at a good time (plus the added bonus that I never heard of this author before, so that was cool). This book will be available on 25 April 2016.

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