Friday 2 September 2011

Exotic Lands

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for reviews, with two each for Kapka Kassabova’s Villa Pacifica and Stephen Parkin’s new translation of Edmondo de Amicis’s Constantinople.

The Scotsman praised Kassabova’s handling of the dreamlike, fantastical elements of her new novel, set in an idiosyncratic animal sanctuary on the coast of South America, and went on to describe it as “intelligent, psychologically compelling… a truly mesmerising read.” Kevin Rushby, writing for the Guardian, compared Kassabova to Joseph Conrad, particularly in her “accuracy and economy”, adding: “Kassabova unleashes a smart turn of literary speed with a deliciously unexpected ending.”

Time Out recommended Constantinople for its “lavish detail and curiosities of Istanbul”, noting that de Amicis’s two-volume travelogue is “as quintessentially Victorian as Edward Gibbon’s The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire and Sir Leslie Stephen’s Dictionary of National Biography.” Over at the TLS, Roderick Conway Morris called Stephen Parkin’s translation in for particular praise, describing it as “assured and lively, catching well the spirit of the original”. On the original itself, he was no less complimentary: “Edmondo de Amicis’s book conjures up the eternal harem of Western imaginings, of alluring Oriental deshabille and sensual decadence behind closed doors.”

He also points out that there's a view of Cairo on the cover, not of Istanbul – well, the image was clearly labelled on Getty Images and it was an intentional licence by our designer – totally lost on our exacting critic of course. . .

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