Friday, 19 August 2011

A Week in Review

We were delighted with the review of Peter Benson’s Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke in the Guardian, ‘A haunting tale of love, clairvoyance and cannabis’, although Alma Books got a slight rapping for choosing a comically themed cover and title. Read the full review here. A big thank you goes to fellow blogger Jim Murdoch for dedicating a lengthy review to Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke on his blog The Truth about Lies.

The Restaurant of Love Regained by Ito Ogawa has been wonderfully reviewed by the blogs In Spring it is the Dawn and What Sarah Reads. It has also won the Bancarella prize in Italy for food- and cookery-related books. The Premio Bancarella della Cucina was inaugurated in 2006 and the original Premio Bancarella is one of the most prestigious in Italy. It was established in 1953 and awarded the same year to Ernest Hemingway; other winners include Umberto Eco and John Grisham.

We sent Aharon Appelfeld’s Blooms of Darkness to the printers on Tuesday, and it’s already got a review! ‘With short, simple sentences and a brisk pace, the effect of this novel is reminiscent of a film, except that a film would place greater emphasis on dramatic incident and the horror of the situation. As readers, we are left to reflect on such matters for ourselves.’ This is from the East-West Review. Blooms of Darkness is arguably Appelfeld's most personal novel, and tells the story of an eleven-year-old Jewish boy taken in by a prostitute and hidden in the local brothel from the Nazis during the liquidation of the ghettos.

Also in the East-West Review, an entire page on Roger Clarke’s translation of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin.

And talking of classics, I leave you all with the following letter from our recently published Letters to Friends, Family and Editors by Franz Kafka:

[Liboch; Autumn 1902]
To Oskar Pollak,

It’s a strange time I’ve been spending here, as you must have noticed, and I needed a strange time like this, a time in which I lie for hours on a vineyard wall and stare into the rain clouds which don’t want to leave here, or into the wide fields, which grow even wider when you have a rainbow in your eyes, or where I sit in the garden and tell the children (especially a blonde little six-year-old, whom all the women call adorable) fairy tales or build sand castles or play hide-and-seek or whittle tables that - as God is my witness - never turn out well. A strange time, isn’t it?

Or where I go through the fields which now lie brown and mournful with abandoned plows but which all the same glisten silvery when in spite of everything the late-afternoon sun comes out and cast my long shadow (yes, my long shadow, maybe by means of it I’ll still reach the kingdom of heaven) on the furrows. Have you noticed how late-summer shadows dance on dark, turned-up earth, how they dance physically? Have you noticed how the earth rises towards the grazing cow, how trustfully it rises? Have you noticed how rich, heavy soil crumbles under too delicate fingers, how solemnly it crumbles?

Yours, Franz

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