Monday 20 February 2023

Book Review: Monsieur Linh and His Child, translated by Euan Cameron

145 pages (in my library's large print edition) of absolute magic. This story will make you cry whilst filling you with hope and joy. Two middle aged men meet on a park bench. The two men do not share a language but they share so much. One is a native of the western country, presumably France, where they meet, he is a widower still grieving the loss of his wife. The other appears to be much older, life-ravaged and is also grieving. His is the loss of his wife years ago, his son and daughter in law and all their small village of 12 families by war. His past is now only memories, lost smells, one faded photo of him and his wife and the babe in his arms. They friendship blossoms over cigarettes and talking even though neither understands the others words they understand the sentiments. Monsieur Bark mistakes the other's good day greeting of Tao-lai as his name and the child's Sang diu as Sans Dieu. This mistake is not a problem until it is.

This is the first work I've read by Philippe Claudel and I found it to be a well crafted, hugely moving, short read.

Sunday 19 February 2023

Book Review: Accabadora by Michela Murgia, translated by Silvester Mazzarella

Accabadora Accabadora by Michela Murgia
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I was first attracted to this book by its title, a word I did not know.

Bonari Urrai is a childless widow in 1950s Sardinia who adopts Maria Listru when her mother can no longer afford to raise her. Bonari is a seamstress who not only physically but metaphorically 'good at getting the measure' of people. She gives Maria a good home, an education but she has a secret. That secret lies in the meaning of the title word which I am not going to spoil here.

The book flows well in English, the style reminded me of the great Latin American writers and has won Italian Literature prizes. Her translator is Silvester Mazzarella who also translates Swedish works by Tove Jansson. It is a shame not more of Murgia's work has been translated

This book impressed me. A short book 204 pages in English, that I could not put down. Her characters of Bonari and Maria are well done, there is a good level of texture in the story, a sense of time and of the small rural community in which most of the storyline takes place. A recommended afternoon read.