Tag Archives: translation

#Bookreview THE BLACK NOTEBOOK by Patrick Modiano. Memory, fiction, writing and we’ll always have Paris

The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano
The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano

The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Mariner Books

Literary Fiction

Description

A writer’s notebook becomes the key that unlocks memories of a love formed and lost in 1960s Paris.

In the aftermath of Algeria’s war of independence, Paris was a city rife with suspicion and barely suppressed violence. Amid this tension, Jean, a young writer adrift, met and fell for Dannie, an enigmatic woman fleeing a troubled past. A half century later, with his old black notebook as a guide, he retraces this fateful period in his life, recounting how, through Dannie, he became mixed up with a group of unsavory characters connected by a shadowy crime. Soon Jean, too, was a person of interest to the detective pursuing their case–a detective who would prove instrumental in revealing Dannie’s darkest secret.  The Black Notebook bears all the hallmarks of this Nobel Prize–winning literary master’s unsettling and intensely atmospheric style, rendered in English by acclaimed translator Mark Polizzotti (Suspended Sentences). Once again, Modiano invites us into his unique world, a Paris infused with melancholy, uncertain danger, and the fading echoes of lost love.

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“1960s Paris, a mysterious girl, a group of shady characters, danger . . . Modiano’s folklore is set out from the beginning . . . and sheer magic follows once more.” — Vogue

“The prose — elliptical, muted, eloquent — falls on the reader like an enchantment . . . No one is currently writing such beautiful tales of loss, melancholy, and remembrance.” —Independent

“Sublime . . . [A] magnificent novel that reawakens days long past, illuminating them with a dazzling light.” — Elle (France)

In the aftermath of Algeria’s war of independence, Paris was a city rife with suspicion and barely suppressed violence. Amid this tension, Jean, a young writer adrift, met and fell for Dannie, an enigmatic woman fleeing a troubled past. A half century later, with his old black notebook as a guide, he retraces this fateful period in his life, recounting how, through Dannie, he became mixed up with a group of unsavory characters connected by a shadowy crime. Soon Jean, too, was a person of interest to the detective pursuing their case — a detective who would prove instrumental in revealing Dannie’s darkest secret.

The Black Notebook bears all the hallmarks of this Nobel Prize–winning literary master’s unsettling and intensely atmospheric style. Once again, Patrick Modiano invites us into his unique world, a Paris infused with melancholy, uncertain danger, and the fading echoes of lost love.

“Never before has Modiano written a novel as lyrical as this . . . Both carefully wrought and superbly fluid, sustained by pure poetry.” — Le Monde

Patrick Modiano is the author of more than twenty novels, including several bestsellers. He has won the Prix Goncourt, the Grand Prix National des Lettres, and many other honors. In 2014 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. He lives in Paris.

Mark Polizzotti has translated more than forty books from the French, including Modiano’s Suspended Sentences. He is director of the publications program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
About the Author

PATRICK MODIANO was born in 1945 in a suburb of Paris and grew up in various locations throughout France. In 1967, he published his first novel, La Place de l’étoile, to great acclaim. Since then, he has published over twenty novels—including the Goncourt Prize−winning Rue des boutiques obscures (translated as Missing Person), Dora Bruder, and Les Boulevards des ceintures(translated as Ring Roads)—as well as the memoir Un Pedigree and a children’s book, Catherine Certitude. He collaborated with Louis Malle on the screenplay for the film Lacombe Lucien. In 2014, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy cited “the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the Occupation,” calling him “a Marcel Proust of our time.”

 

MARK POLIZZOTTI has translated more than forty books from the French, including Patrick Modiano’s Suspended Sentences, and is director of the publications program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Black Notebook
The Black Notebook

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Mariner Books for providing me with a free ARC copy of this novel that I gladly reviewed.

This is the first of Patrick Modiano’s novels I read, so I can’t comment on its similarities or differences with the rest of his oeuvre or how well it fits in with his usual concerns.

The novel, translated into English by Mark Polizzotti, is a wander through his memories and the city of Paris by Jean, a writer who fifty years ago, when he was very young, kept a black notebook where he wrote all kinds of things: streets and people’s names, references to writers he admired and events he experienced, sentences people said, rumours, he recorded information about buildings that were about to disappear, dates, visits to places, locations…

The story can be read as a mystery novel, as there are clues referring to false identities, strange men who meet in underground hotels, breaking and entering, robberies and even a serious crime is hinted at. There’s a police interrogation and suggestions of political conspiracy/terrorism, as the original events take place shortly after Algeria’s War of Independence, and a few of the characters are Moroccan and have a reputation for being secretive and dangerous. There is also Dannie, a woman a few years older than Jean, who has a central role in all the intrigues, or at least that’s how it seemed to him at the time. What did he really feel for her? Is he revisiting a love story? Although it is possible to try a conventional reading of the novel, the joy of what French theorist Roland Barthes would call a readerly approach to it, is in making up your own meaning, in accompanying Jean in his walks not only around the real Paris, but also the Paris of his memory, those moments when he feels that he can almost recapture the past, through reading his notes, and relive the moment when he was knocking at a door, or observing outside of a café. Sometimes, more than recapturing the past he feels as if he could bridge the gap of time and go back: to recover a manuscript he forgot years ago, turn off a light that could give them away, or ask questions and clarifications about events he wasn’t aware of at the time.

The narration, in first person, puts the reader firmly inside of Jean’s head, observing and trying to make sense of the same clues he has access to, although in our case without the possible benefit of having lived the real events (if there is such a thing) at the time. But he insists he did not pay enough attention to things as they were happening, and acknowledges that often we can only evaluate the importance of events and people we come across in hindsight when we can revisit them with a different perspective.

The writing is beautiful, fluid, nostalgic, understated and intriguing at times. The book is also very short and it provides a good introduction to Modiano’s writing. But this is not a novel for readers who love the conventions and familiarity provided by specific genres and who want to know what to expect when they start reading, or those who like to have a clear plot and story, and need solid characters to connect with. Here, even the protagonist, Jean, remains a cypher or a stand-in for both, the reader and the writer.

I enjoyed the experience of reading this book, although as mentioned it is not a book for everyone. But, if you love Paris, enjoy a walk down memory lane, like books that make you work and think, have an open mind and are curious about Modiano’s work, I recommend it.

Links:

Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B010R3862I/

Hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0857054899/

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0544779827/

Thanks for reading

Olga Núñez Miret

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#Interviewsintranslation Estrella Cardona Gamio (@EstrellaCG ) and LETTER TO CHARO. Small is beautiful

Hi all:

I’d been promising you more interviews and here is a very special one for me. I loved the novel Carta a Charo when I first read it in Spanish and I was lucky enough to be asked to translate it. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a Spanish writer, Estrella Cardona Gamio, and her novel Letter to Charo.

First, the author tells us a bit about herself.

Author Estrella Cardona Gamio
Author Estrella Cardona Gamio

I have a BA in Fine Arts and I’m an author of novels, stories and children’s tales, I have also been a member of the Spanish Association of Journalists and Correspondents, and I’ve contributed editorials and short tales to different publications. I have also collaborated in radio with my own featured programmes. My first novel was self-published in paper years back, El otro jardín (The Other Garden). In March 2006, I published a book of short stories, La dependienta (The Shop Girl), with a publishing company in Madrid, hybrid publishing. In 1999, my sister, María Concepción, registered the publishing company C. CARDONA GAMIO EDICIONES (that started as an online publishing company that same year). From 2006 we started publishing books in paperback format and from the 28th April 2012 we are on Amazon, in Kindle format, broadening our horizons.

Letter to Charo by Estrella Cardona Gamio. Translated by Olga Núñez Miret
Letter to Charo by Estrella Cardona Gamio. Translated by Olga Núñez Miret

Here are the questions:

  • When and how did you start writing? I started writing novels when I was eight years old, instinctively copying others. I was an avid reader and wanted to imitate the writers I read. It was a game to start with but with time it stopped being one.
  • Describe for us your experience as an independent (self-published) writer: Very satisfying. Like many first-time writers, I went through the litany of sending inquiries to publishing companies and finally when Amazon reached Spain, I found what I was looking for, a serious and honest company. My official baptism of fire in the indie world couldn’t have been better.
  • Is there a moment that you remember with particular affection from your career as a writer, up to now? For me, the experience of writing is already the best of all moments.
  • What made you decide to translate your novel Carta a Charo (now available in English as Letter to Charo)? The fact that the action of this novel, now Letter to Charo, develops through the exchange of letters, between London and Barcelona, and I thought it would be very appropriate to translate it, and as you are an excellent translator (her words, not mine) I approached you with the project.
  • Tell us a bit more about your novel. It’s a novel written with plenty of love and I enjoyed the possibilities the interaction between the protagonists all immersed in the same novel, but so different between them, gave me, as they progressively share with us their thoughts and their personality. Charo’s character is a jewel, a true finding, as without her there would be no novel.
  • Do you have any advice for your writer colleagues (and especially for new writers)? Not to feel disappointed if they are not successful from the very beginning. Writing is a beautiful but thankless profession. We shouldn’t look for millions of sales, or for becoming one of the top ten writers, we should try to write well and not lose our patience in the process. All the writers who persevered triumphed in the end and that’s the important thing.

Here a review, written by a publisher, Marlene Moleon:

“Epistolary novels allow us to get close and personal with the intimacy of a character in a way not possible through any other narrative form. It is like entering the world of a person as she is, without embellishments or interpretations on behalf of the narrator. Estrella Cardona Gamio shows us her mastery of the genre with LETTER TO CHARO.

A short novel where rich human feelings and passions fit perfectly in the short number of pages given.”

Link to Letter to Charo:

http://relinks.me/B01LY90NED

 

Follow Estrella Cardona Gamio:

http://www.ccgediciones.com

http://www.estrellacardonagamio.com/blog

https://www.facebook.com/estrellacardonagamioautora/

https://twitter.com/EstrellaCG/

 

Thanks so much to Estrella for her interview and on my behalf for her words and to her and her sister Concha for the opportunity to translate this great novel, thanks to all of you for reading and don’t forget to like, share, comment and CLICK!

#Author. Should you think about translating your book? 2. Lost in Translation. Adventures when translating your book for China

Hi all:

You might remember that last week I wrote a post asking the above question and listed a few reasons why authors might consider translating their books. (In case you missed it, here it is. As I translate from English to Spanish and vice versa I had prepared a talk about the subject and it occurred to me that I could sample some points of it here). I found the discussion that followed the post interesting, and Teagan Geneviene (I recommend her blog if you love great stories and recipes, check it here) reminded me of a story I had told her about some of my experiences when using Fiberead to get my book translated for the Chinese market.  And I thought you might find it interesting. I surely did.

It brought to mind how I had started originally the presentation about translations…

Here it is:

What does the word ‘translation’ bring to your mind?

In my case, it always makes me think of a scene in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Bill Murray plays an actor filming a spirits’ advert in Japan (I think it was brandy) and the director is giving him instructions. As he doesn’t understand Japanese, there is an interpreter. The director talks for several minutes, gesticulating, quite intensely. He eventually stops talking and the interpreter just tells him that he wants him to say the lines looking at the camera. ‘Is that all he said?’ Yes, we’re never quite sure. (By the way, you can watch the scene that goes on, here:

Of course, that’s interpreting (rendering live and orally a conversation, conference, speech…) whilst translation implies a written piece of work, but there are connections.

It also makes me think of the risks of mistranslating texts. In the case of the Bible mistranslating a Hebrew word and instead of rendering it as ‘beam of light’ it ended up becoming ‘horn’ and we have poor Moses depicted with horns (and not only in Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, that judging by the small size of the horns, makes me think that he wasn’t that convinced about the translation). Oh yes, if you’ve used Google Translate (that seems to be improving, to be fair) you know all about that.

And now, I wanted to tell you a bit about my experiences with Fiberead, that is a website that offers you to get your books translated for the Chinese market. If they are interested, you give them the rights to the translation for a number of years, and you spilt the earning with them and with the translating. Yes, team…

What happens is that a team leader or manager decides that your book is worth translating, and then they set about getting a team of translators to translate the book. I’m not sure how the division of work is made, but I know you get notifications when evidently translators provide a sample translation and the team leader decides if it’s good enough. Once they think they have a big enough team, they start the process. The beauty of it is that they contact you with questions if they have them. In general in my case it’s been mostly the team managers but sometimes also other members of the team.

I realised when they started to ask me about my YA novella Twin Evils?, asking me if Lucifer and Satan were the same, and asking for the meaning of references to angels playing harps or being dressed in white, that of course, although the novella is not religious, such content would not be understood in a mostly non-Christian country. And although I tried to send them links to images of angels playing the harp, I am also aware that some links to websites might not work there. We might assume that certain things are common knowledge, but the world is huge and people’ s beliefs and lifestyles very different to ours.

Some of the other questions showed extreme literalness. It might be to do with the language, but when I tried to explain that I prefered to allow the readers to make up their minds as to why characters might say or do certain things (whatever I thought the reason was) they wanted a full explanation. I suspect ambiguity is not a well-received quality.

I had some interesting and curious exchanges too, like a policeman who told me he was translating one of my thrillers (so far, although not published yet as they’re still in production, they are working on both of my Escaping Psychiatry stories and have also translated Family, Lust and Cameras, so they seem intrigued by my thrillers) and really enjoying it, and I had the manager for the translation of one of my books asking me for help understanding a couple of pages she was trying to translate for a different project.

Ah, and to give them their due, they caught a mistake that neither I, nor quite a few readers and editors of both my Spanish and my English book had seen, so, kudos to them.

Here I leave you the cover of the other one of my books available so far (and that although it hasn’t been out very long, it seems to be doing much better than Twin Evils? and for sure much better in the Chinese version than in Spanish and English).

Family, Lust and Cameras by Olga Núñez Miret version for the Chinese market
Family, Lust and Cameras by Olga Núñez Miret version for the Chinese market

Thanks very much for reading, and if you’ve found it interesting, please, like, share, comment, and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

 

#Writers, if you dream of your books reaching new markets, now you have a chance. #Translationpromotion English-Spanish. 50% OFF

Hi all. I’m promoting my translating services (English-Spanish) this month through my blog, and I thought I’d share it here too.

Check Unsplash.com for great photos
Check Unsplash.com for great photos

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know that apart from writing, reviewing books, and talking about books, I also translate book from English to Spanish and from Spanish to English. I started by translating my own books because I wanted to make sure my parents and my friends back home could read them, (although I’m Spanish, from Barcelona, I’ve lived in the UK since 1992) but in the last couple of years I’ve also been translating books by other writers. You can check some of those here.

Due to family matters I haven’t had much chance to promote my services until now. To get things started I’ve decided to offer a special promotion. 50% discount of all translations. It is a time limited offer.

My usual tariff is $40/1000 words but this will be slashed in half. If you’re thinking about translating your book in the near future, you can take advantage of this offer and reserve a spot at this price for a deposit. If you’d like to discuss your project in more detail, you can e-mail me at mmxrynz@hotmail.com

Great NASA pic from Unsplash again
Great NASA pic from Unsplash again

As an author, I know we live for our readers and want to ensure that our books can reach readers wherever they are and in whatever language they read. I won’t lie to you. There are other options to get your books translated, like Babel Cube where you can offer your books for translation for a split royalties’ deal, but you have to give control over the process to Babel Cube and they control the production of the book and the distribution rights for five years. I know quite a few of us are self-published authors and we are used to being in charge, or at least closely supervising, all aspects of our book production, so this might not be an attractive option for all. There are many places where you can find translators, including Fiverr if you’d prefer to be in charge of the process and you have the funds to invest and the time to check and vet. It’s your decision.

As you know, I blog in Spanish and English and I’m happy to share the books I translate with some of the readers and writers groups I belong to and to write a feature about them in my blog. But I’ll happily do that even if you get the translation done elsewhere. You only need to let me know.

Thanks to all for reading this and I’d be specially grateful if you like it, share, and comment. And send me an e-mail if you want to ask me any questions. (Ah, I’m happy to check translations done by others if you want a second opinion or a second pair of eyes).

#Bookreview of Shiny Bones by Enrique Laso (@enriquelaso). Translation by Olga Núñez Miret. You don’t need to be weird to solve the case, but it helps.

Hi all:

Although I bring you a book review, because the circumstances are a bit special (I’ve translated the book to English and therefore these are my impressions of the book in Spanish, rather than a rigorous review of the book in English) I decided not to follow the usual format, because I’m somewhat involved in the process. But I wanted to bring you the book, because we’ve had the writer as a guest before, and because I’m very excited about this project. I also leave you some information about where to contact me if you’re interested in translating your work to Spanish.

But first:

Shiny Bones by Enrique Laso. Translation Olga Núñez Miret

Shiny Bones de Enrique Laso. Traducción Olga Núñez Miret
Shiny Bones by Enrique Laso. Translation Olga Núñez Miret

A NEW ETHAN BUSH NOVEL
The FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit special agent Ethan Bush must investigate a serial killer in Nebraska…
A GRIPPING HEART-STOPPING THRILLER
The monster lives in each one of us. We are beasts that have learned, over the centuries, to control ourselves, to restrain our basic instincts and live peacefully in society. We are, after all, fully domesticated and well-trained beasts.
Only on rare occasions, the wild animal that hides deep in our entrails goes on a rampage, giving rise to an insane nightmare…

If you enjoyed novels like ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ or TV series as ‘Criminal Minds’ or ‘True Detective’… this is the story that you have been waiting for.
FROM THE NOVEL:
The county police had cordoned off the zone less than an hour after the boys’ find. A pathologist established that the remains were human, although a large part of the skeleton was missing. In fact, what was missing was what would have been most helpful in the task of identifying the body: the cranium.
“Do you have any clues as to how long have those bones been here?” the sheriff asked, perplexed. His head was full of the terror that he knew would grab hold of his entire community just a few hours later.
“Not long. And one of the boys has told us that he comes for walks in this area often and they weren’t here a few days ago.”
“But this stiff croaked some years ago, don’t you think?” asked the sheriff, pointing at what looked like a tibia. Never in his life had he seen such a thing, and it perturbed him.
The pathologist looked at the grayish sky, where clouds were growing and thickening threatening to release a good downpour. But that storm would only be a child’s game in comparison with what was hanging over the county where he lived.
“I don’t know,” he replied, laconic.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” asked the sheriff, who felt he’d got a completely senseless answer. These were the remains of a skeleton; therefore one didn’t need to be an eminence in medicine to deduct that the guy, no matter who the hell he or she was, would have stopped breathing a very long time ago.
“These bones have been thoroughly cleaned. They have been manipulated. Without studying them in detail, right now I can’t tell you if the owner died yesterday or over ten years ago.”

THE BLUE CRIMES review on Amazon:
‘And so proceeds Enrique’s THE BLUE CRIMES and the manner in which he places Ethan Bush and team in the resolution of crime is tense, suspenseful, and at all times involving. This is quality mystery writing by a voice new to most of us – a welcome addition to the thriller genre’
Grady Harp, TOP-100 Reviewer/ Hall of Fame/ Vine Voice

Shiny Bones by Enrique Laso. The second Ethan Bush novel. Translation Olga Núñez Miret. You don’t need to be weird to solve the case, but it helps.

As I had mentioned when I read the first novel in this series, thrillers that purport to follow the investigation of complex crimes usually have two fundamental elements that go almost hand in hand: the crimes and the investigation (which allow the readers to put their wits to the test), and the investigators, individuals or teams, and less often, the criminals.

It is true that if the crimes are highly intriguing or very strange the book might be interesting even when those doing the investigating aren’t gripping individuals. On the other hand, there are times when the personality and the adventures of those doing the detecting are more interesting than the crimes themselves (as is the case in many ‘cozy mysteries’ like many of Agatha Christie’s novels). The best novels of the genre manage to achieve a balance between the two.

Shiny Bones has a bit of everything. The case is extremely convoluted and twisted, clearly the work of a complex and traumatised mind (and no, I’m not taking about the writer), but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to solve, quite the opposite.

And we also have Ethan Bush, an FBI psychologist who comes back, as arrogant, intelligent and annoying as before (in The Blue Crimes). The mature Etan Bush of years later offers us his comments and reflections, not only about the case (where he keeps many things quiet, of course), but also about his own actions, therefore acting as an ersatz reader (or perhaps more accurately, author).

This time Ethan doesn’t have his team at his disposal (that in fact is not “his” team, as his boss keeps reminding him throughout the novel), and he’s obliged to work with the Nebraska State Patrol, the local force, and has to try and reach a compromise with them, although that doesn’t mean he doesn’t try to use all the tricks in the book to get his own way. His intelligence, his skill manipulating people, and even his feelings are put to the test in this case that’s a big challenge for him.

To those of you who enjoy solving the cases whilst you read the novel, I’m afraid I have to tell you that, although you’ll have many suspects, you won’t be able to guess who did it. Even with that it will make you think and question many things.

Personally I am eager to go back to Kansas to discover who murdered Sharon Nichols, a case that’s central to The Blue Crimes but never solved, and I’m waiting anxiously the arrival of Las libélulas azules (The blue dragonflies).

As I mention above I’m happy to disclose that I’ve translated the novel. The book has also undergone professional editing/proof-reading. Due to this circumstance I haven’t shared this review in selling channels, although the original is a review of the Spanish novel, rather than of my own efforts in translation.

Link:

relinks.me/B01A4O3ZD0

Just in case you’d like to know more, I interviewed Enrique for Lit World Interviews, here and I reviewed his first novel in the series The Blue Crimes, here.

Ah, if you think you’d like to know more about getting you books translated, in this page I talk about it (I talk about other things too but, keep reading…). And if you want to see examples of books I’ve translated, you can check here.

Thanks very much to Enrique for this opportunity, thanks to you all for reading, and remember it’s good to like, comment, share, and feel free to click too. 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

#Bookreview ‘Havana Jazz Club’ by LolaMariné (@bcnlola) Love doesn’t conquer everything but art is a great consolation. And an opportunity

Hi all:

I have quite a few reviews that I have accumulated and I plan on sharing some in the coming weeks, but I saw an opportunity for other people who love to review books, and also a chance to help a Spanish author whose books I enjoy.

Lola Mariné (here her Amazon page) is from Barcelona too, and although I haven’t met her personally, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with her on a variety of occasions, mostly in Facebook. Yesterday, through Twitter, she sent me a message to let me know that one of her novels ‘Havana Jazz Club’ that I read a while back and thoroughly enjoyed (although when you read the review you’ll see that enjoy is not perhaps the best word to use, as the book really pulls at one’s heartstrings) had been translated to English (it was chosen by Amazon and they’ve managed the translation) and was now available to reviewers in Net Galley, FREE. I am signed to Net Galley and it’s a great way to get a flavour for new books (both from independent authors and publishing companies, big and small) and yes, it gives one access to books before they are published. Not all the books (some have copyright restrictions and it might depend on where you live if you have access to it or not).

As the book is not going to be officially published until late in August, I thought I’d take the chance to leave you my review for the Spanish version (translated, don’t worry), and would see if any of you who might be signed onto Net Galley could be interested in reviewing it too. I didn’t see any restrictions on the page that is this one:

https://s2.netgalley.com/catalog/book/69985

First I leave you some information about the book and the author.

Havana Jazz Club by Lola Mariné
Havana Jazz Club by Lola Mariné

Description

Translated from Spanish by Rosemary Peele

Like Lady Day, Billie is young when she falls in love for the first time. Lured by her new playboy husband, the beautiful, trusting woman leaves her close-knit and caring family in Cuba to follow him to Spain. Once there, he reveals his true—and violent—nature, and Billie chooses the dangers of the street over the abuses of the man she once loved. Soon she finds herself with trouble to spare and nowhere to turn, but when her voice lands her a spot at the Havana Jazz Club, she discovers a new, unconventional family in a city far from the one she left behind. And with every high note and heartbreak, Billie skirts destiny to write her own song.

A Note From the Publisher

Lola Mariné is a writer, licensed psychologist, and actress. Born in Barcelona, she worked in show business in Madrid for twenty years before returning to her hometown. There, she earned a degree in psychology while teaching theater workshops to children. She has contributed to four anthologies, Tiempo de recreo (Playtime), Dejad que os cuente algo (Let Me Tell You Something), Atmósferas (Atmospheres), and Tardes del laberinto (Evening of the Labyrinth), and wrote Gatos por los tejados (Cats on the Roofs), a collection of short stories. Her first novel, Nunca fuimos a Katmandú (We Never Went to Kathmandu), was published in 2010.
And here, my review (a word of warning. As explained this is a review of the original Spanish book, although considering Amazon has handled the translation I assume it will be good, but I’ve downloaded the book and will try and check as soon as  I can).

Havana Jazz Club by Lola Mariné. Love doesn’t conquer everything but art is a great consolation

The novel Habana Jazz Club by Lola Mariné narrates the adventures of Billie, a Cuban girl, daughter of a woman who adores jazz and decides to call her Billie as an homage to Billie Holiday, despite everybody telling her that ‘it’s a boy’s name’. Billie inherits her mother’s love for music, particularly jazz music, and luckily for her, that love never disappoints her. Unfortunately, the rest…

I’ve never been to Cuba and I only know about it what I’ve read in books or watched in movies. I wouldn’t dare to comment on how realistic or not the description of Billie’s life before leaving Cuba is, but her home life is endearing and loving and shows us a close and happy family. Although we all know mothers’ are always right, unfortunately Billie ignores her mother’s advice and her mistrust, and marries a boy, who isn’t only handsome but also knows it, Orlando. Billie leaves Cuba and a big chunk of her heart there, and follows her husband, and things don’t work well for them. Billie’s story once they arrive in Spain becomes one of domestic violence and exploitation. And things only go from bad to worse, to the point when she ends up living in the streets of Barcelona, where she is rescued by her guardian angel, Armando. And when things start to look up, the men in her life continue making her miserable. And I won’t tell you anything else because you must read the novel.

Lola Mariné has written a masterful melodrama. There are irredeemable baddies, goodies as sweet as sugar, terrible suffering, and talent and music, plenty of music. There were moments when I couldn’t help reading ahead convinced of what would happen, and that it would be bad, but the same as when we’re dragged by a fast current, I couldn’t do anything else but let myself go and see if I came up, unscathed, at the other side. And despite her trials and tribulations, and the disasters that pepper her journey, or perhaps because of them, the protagonist makes her dreams come true (in a small-scale but…), and creates a family made up of people who love her because she is who she is, and not because she’s been born here or there, or because it is their duty.

The part I enjoyed the most (and I loved it all) was when towards the end, the author, first through Gerardo and later through Billie herself, reflects upon the nature of creativity, about what the really important things in life are, and the tranquillity of feeling happy and comfortable in one’s own skin, without pretending or having to worry about appearances. I hope we can all reach such a state at some point in our lives.

If you enjoy novels with a heart, with unforgettable protagonists, and the stories about self-improvement and personal achievement, I wholeheartedly recommend it to you.

Here is the link to the novel in Amazon, but as I said, it’s not published  yet. Although you can pre-order it.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U2ZMTZC/

Sorry for not following the usual format but it’s a bit of a novelty. And once the book is out and the author has had a chance to recover, I’ll try to bring her here for an interview. She’s a fascinating woman.

Thanks so much for reading, and you know, if you’re interested, like, share, comment, and CLIC! And if you do, don’t forget to leave a review!

 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

#Interviews-in-Translation. @ElExpecial (Roberto López-Herrero). Nothing Normal about ‘Normal’ and a humorous take on Twitter and murders

Hi all:

As you know I’ve been bringing you authors who write mostly in Spanish but who’ve been exploring other markets through getting their works translated. They’ve all been special in their own way, and Roberto follows suit, as you’ll see when you read his biography. Here he is, Roberto López-Herrero.

roberto-lopez-herrero

Biography

According to Wikipedia: Roberto López-Herrero (born in Madrid in 1970) is a Spanish writer, screenwriter, actor, director and presenter of TV and radio programs.

He has worked in a variety of programs at national and autonomic level amongst the most important Pecado Original (Original Sin), Saturday Night Live, El Método Gonzo (The Gonzo Method), En Antena (On the air), Un paseo por las nubes (A walk in the clouds) and A 3 Bandas (Three Way) on TV. But the piece of work that has brought him public recognition has been the narration of Ninja Warrior, the mythical Japanese programme. He’s working on the new episodes of the programme.

As an actor he has played in some episodes of TV series such as Maneras de Sobrevivir (Ways to survive) or Saturday Night Live.

On the radio he has worked in Te doy mi palabra (I give you my word, Onda Cero), El Jardín de los Bonsais (The garden of the bonsais. Protagonistas – Punto Radio), La Mirada Cítrica (The citric look. En días como hoy – RNE), and he has collaborated in Queremos Hablar (We want to talk, Punto Radio).

In the nineties, Roberto López-Herrero co-founded Ediciones Cronópolis, a publishing company of role games active between 1993 and 1997. Some of the role games published by Ediciones Cronópolis were created by López Herrero himself, for example Superhéroes Inc.1 o Jurasia.

He is the founder of the humor website El Expecial.

He is the author of two humor novels: “Antonio mató a Luis en la cocina con un hacha porque le debía dinero” (Antonio killed Luís in the kitchen with an axe because he owed him money) and “Una conspiración mundial secuestró a mi perro para que yo no contara todo lo que sabía” (A world conspiracy abducted my dog to stop me from telling everything I knew) and of the noir novel “Normal”, but personally, says Roberto, I’m Rober.

When and how did you start writing?

“I’ve always written, in fact in 1993 I created a micro-publishing company with two friends and we published some adventure books, but it was a pre-technological era and it was impossible for us to make it work.

I wrote my first novel, «Antonio mató a Luis en la cocina con un hacha porque le debía dinero» in 2013. How did I start writing? I imagine it came from reading a lot since I was a child and wanting to tell my own stories.

What could you tell us about your experience as an indie writer:

“It has been a fabulous school. I’ve done and learned to do everything: from formatting to marketing, but it is exhausting.

What’s been the best moment (until now) in your experience as a writer?

“When my wife read my first novel and she encouraged me to publish it. Closely followed by the day when I reached number 1 in Amazon.

What are your favourite genres?

“For entertainment, my favourite genre is science-fiction, in its hardest version, the farthest away from the space opera. For my formative reading I choose a bit of everything, from the classics to the latest books as one can learn from everything.”

What made you decide to translate your novel? And how did you go about getting a translator?

“A friend of mine told me that my third novel, Normal was like a film script and Hollywood should become aware of it. That’s how I discovered babelcube.com and I decided to put my books there. The rest just seemed to happen by itself, interested translators started to appear and today they read me in English, Italian, French…”

Normal by Roberto López Herrero
Normal by Roberto López Herrero

Tell us something about your book.

Normal is a police procedural novel where the murderer is absolutely “normal” according to demographics, and the members of the police who are chasing after him are also “normal”, and that makes me think that we don’t really know what being “normal” means.

Any advice for your writer colleagues (especially those starting up)?

Work every day, hard, as if you were working in an office. You must be rigorous with your timetable and at least, produce two thousand words per day. (It isn’t mine, it’s Stephen King’s and I’d say it has served him well.)

I understand that ‘Normal’ should be available in English version shortly, but in the meantime, you can check all his books here:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Roberto+L%C3%B3pez-Herrero&search-alias=digital-text&text=Roberto+L%C3%B3pez-Herrero&sort=relevancerank

Personally, I’m fascinated by the title of this one (actually, the dog one too, but this one is a murder in Twitter) so…

Antonio killed Luís in the kitchen...
Antonio killed Luís in the kitchen…

Antonio killed Luis in the kitchen with an ax because he owed him money by Roberto López-Herrero (Author), Anca Dora Costa (Translator)

Police officer Pepe Gómez little imagined the troubles he’d get involved in when he was assigned the investigation of Luis`s murder. At first it seemed very simple but as the clever researcher enters the curious world of Twitter to investigate, an international conspiracy comes to light.

Psychopaths with multiple personalities, TV presenters addicted to alternative therapies, beautiful and sexy hackers and a lot of different characters are part of this novel`s author`s universe, Roberto López-Herrero, who, to prove his healthy mental state, made his debut with a plot of intrigue and passion, emulating Agatha Christie herself.

Or what do I know.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBCS69O/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00ZBCS69O/

Just in case you read in Spanish, here is the link to «Normal» (I’ll keep you posted when it becomes available in English).

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JZ4S4JG/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00JZ4S4JG/

Thanks to Roberto López Herrero for being my guest, thank you to all of you for reading, and if you’ve found it interesting, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

#Interviews-in-translation. Today, @BlancaMiosi and Waldek

Hi all:

As you’ll remember I promised you last week that I’d bring you interviews with some well-known independent writers I’ve met in groups of writers who first and foremost write in Spanish. As some of them have had books translated to English in recent times, I thought it was a good opportunity for you to get to know not only the writer, but also their work.

Today, I’m  very pleased to bring you Blanca Miosi. Although she’ll tell you more about herself, I can tell you that she’s one of the authors that  many independent writers see as their mentor, as she has worked hard not only to share her knowledge with others but also to promote her colleagues and help them along in their careers.

Author Blanca Miosi
Author Blanca Miosi

Mini biography

Born in Lima (Perú) of a Japanese father and Peruvian mother, Blanca Miosi has been living for the last three decades in Venezuela. She is the author of Waldek, the boy who confronted the Nazis a novel based on the life of her husband, a survivor of the Auschwitz and Mauthausen camps. First published in its original Spanish as La Búsqueda (Editorial Roca) the work received international acclaim and won the 2007 Thriller Award. In 2009, Miosi published El Legado (Editorial Viceversa), a family saga based on Erik Hanussen, the notorious Berlin clairvoyant and personal counsel to Adolf Hitler. In 2011, and as an independent author with Amazon.com, Blanca Miosi published La búsqueda, El Legado, Dimitri Galunov, El Manuscrito I. El Secreto; El Manuscrito II El coleccionista and Amanda. Her novels occupy first ranking positions among Amazon’s best sold titles in Spanish. Her next launch : El rastreador.

How and when did you start writing?

I started writing in 2001, suddenly, about an idea that had been going round in my head for several days. I simply sat down and started to write. Since that day I’ve never stopped.

Describe your experience as an independent writer.

It is one of the best experiences in my life, much better than what happened to me when I published with publishing companies. From the moment I made that decision, my life as a writer took on a definite and momentous course. All my books are now published in Amazon, I control my earnings, the sales and can make the changes I choose.

What’s the moment you remember most fondly (until now) of your experience as a writer?

The amount of time my book ‘The Manuscript’ stayed in the first place in the rankings in Amazon.com and Amazon.es. I simply couldn’t believe it. It was the first time one of my books had reached so many people. Then, ‘La búsqueda’ (the Spanish original version of ‘Waldek’) was number one in all categories in Spanish for fourteen months. It will always be an unforgettable time for me.

What made you think about translating your work?

I had always wanted to enter the English market, as I believe my novels have international themes that could be of interest for the general public.

Do you have any advice for your fellow writers (and especially new writers):

My fellow writers are as knowledgeable as I am, as we started down this path together.

To new writers I would tell them not to publish before they have revised and edited the book well. One shouldn’t waste any opportunities, as they might not come around again. A badly written book will rarely have a second chance, even after being edited and reviewed.

Here is Blanca’s Amazon Page, in case you want to check more information:

http://www.amazon.com/Blanca-Miosi/e/B005C7603C/

I asked Blanca to share one of her books with us.

The book is called ‘Waldek. The Boy Who Defied the Nazis’ and tells the story of Blanca’s husband, Waldek Grodek, who was a concentration camp prisoner as a child and survived to tell the tale.

Waldek, by Blanca Miosi
Waldek, by Blanca Miosi

Description:

Waldek, The Boy who Defied the Nazis (La Búsqueda in Spanish) chronicles the dramatic and heroic story of Waldek Grodek, who experienced first-hand and at a very young age the German occupation of his native Poland. Many decades later, while visiting the UN offices that granted compensation to the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps, Waldek reflects on the events that started when he was made prisoner and taken to Auschwitz and Mauthausen and, in the years following his liberation, subjected him to the whims of European and Latin American totalitarian regimes, international espionage and the Mossad. Waldek Grodek is a memorable character whose unique perspective and amazing life story deserves to be told.

After more than 154 weeks, Waldek, The Boy who Defied the Nazis (La búsqueda) still occupies the top 10 ranking on Amazon Spanish language. A thriller that is well worth reading.

Link:

http://rxe.me/1S2FOA

This is a review that I think might give you some idea about the opinions on this book:

“I feel so happy that Blanca Miosi’s first novel translated into English is “Waldek, the boy who defied the Nazis”, published in Spanish with the title La búsqueda (The Search).
I have read several Miosi’s novels. She is a great storyteller, but this one is her MASTERPIECE.
The novel begins with the story of a Polish Catholic child, her husband in real life, which was in the Nazi concentration camps. Anyone could say: Another sad and devastating history of concentration camps! But no, in this novel the story begins just after that. How to survive? What gives meaning to life? It is the search for meaning what defines the story.
“Waldek” is a heartbreaking and intense historical thriller.”

And, just in case, I’ve also read Waldek, and here is my own review:

Waldek by well-known (to the Spanish reading public) author Blanca Miosi is the chronicle (novelised) of a life. It is indeed a novel but based on a first-hand account by Waldek Grodek of his life. The volume I discuss is the translation of the author’s bestseller La búsqueda (The Search).

All lives are extraordinary but some (be by design, by good or bad luck or by fate) are more extraordinary than the great majority. This is one of them. Waldek was born in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe not, it depends on your point of view).

Being born in Poland and being a teenager at the time of Hitler’s invasion is not very lucky. His decision to be actively engaged in the resistance (however modest form it could take at such young age) could be seen as the first of many unwise (or at least detrimental to his own well-being) decisions he would take over his life. It lands him in a concentration camp (first Auschwitz and then Mauthausen). He manages to cope with his experience by focusing on survival at all costs and trying not to think too far back or ahead. This portion of the book is fascinating but hard to read, no matter how many books on the subject and personal accounts you have read before. Indeed it’s true that each person’s suffering is different to anybody else’s, and so are the defence mechanisms they use to survive.

I will not go into detail about all the adventures Waldek goes through in his life, but let me say he travels to South America, he sees success but also poverty, he is forced to live in circumstances not of his choosing more than once, but he survives.

One of the qualities of this book as that it succeeds in not turning the protagonist into a hero or a Saint. He remains a human being, who might not fully understand or like what he feels he has to do, who is not always consistent, and who loves and hates at times against his best interests and irrationally. He remains a complex and credible human being, even if not always a likeable one. Personally we might question some of his decisions, his expressed thoughts and ideas, and wonder how many of his sometimes surprising reactions and attachments might relate to his early traumatic experiences, although he never allows himself any excuses and pushes on.

Novels like this one, that take place in recognisable historical times and situation, make us question what would we do.  And if we’re honest with ourselves, we might not like the answers we get. Would we be more generous or less? Would we take more risks, or fewer? Would we be as naïve? Would be have pursued justice at all cost (even our own), or decided on forgiveness? Can we truly know?

This being a first-person narration it presents a very specific perspective on the events and we can’t but question how much the narrator tells us and how much he censures. I did feel that there were many things I didn’t know or heard about, and those will keep me thinking, and that’s something I appreciate in a book.

However accurate we might believe all the details are, the story is a page turner, and no matter what our personal feelings for the protagonist might be, we want to know what happens to him and try to solve his puzzle. Blanca Miosi writes fluidly, with enough detail to allow us to create a mental picture of the locations and people, and she is particularly skilled at making us hear Waldek as if he was sitting next to us telling us his story. I understand that the author tried at first to publish the story (of her now dead husband) as a personal account and was told by a publishing company that those did not sell very well and they would only be interested if it were a novel. Several years of hard work resulted in this book. The novel is not only Waldek’s journey through life, but also Blanca Miosi’s search for her literary voice, and it is a success in both accounts. If you dare to go on this journey with Waldek and the author, I’m sure you won’t regret it. See what you discover.

Thanks so much to Blanca for sharing her views and her work with us, thanks to you all for reading, and you know, please, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

Forthcoming #authorinterviews. Bringing you some authors you might not know. #Interviews in translation

Hi all:

L'Ateneu Barcelonés
L’Ateneu Barcelonés

As you well know, here in Lit World Interviews we love to bring you news and information about authors, particularly independent authors, and their work.

I have met many authors through the interviews, reviews, and features, and always enjoy the advice and tips on writing that a number of experts (I’m not one of them) offer us.

Some of you must know I’m originally from Barcelona, Spain, and I’ve always published my books both in English and Spanish (and have always done my own translations. More recently I have started translating other writers’ books too. See here if you want a bit more information). Thanks to that, and to the kindness of many of my colleagues in social media, I’ve met many writers. In some ways, knowing people who publish majoritarily in English, and others whose first language is Spanish, I feel I’m in the position to be a go-between, and introduce you all. I get to read great books in English that don’t exist in Spanish versions, and I feel bad that some of my friends and fellow authors might not get a chance to read them, and the opposite is true too. I’ve read fantastic books in Spanish, some of them great successes at an independent level, that are not available to the English reading public.

Some writers have been lucky to have their books picked up for translation, or have decided to get them translated at their own cost, and I thought I’d make use of my connections to bring you interviews with some of those authors.

I hope you’ll enjoy meeting some of my writer friends from the other side of the language divide.

Coming soon…

Thanks for reading!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

#Book #Review A Journey to Happiness (Passage to Thailand) by Paloma Caral. A journey to the depths of consciousness

A journey to happiness  (Passage to Thailand)by Paloma Caral
A journey to happiness (Passage to Thailand)by Paloma Caral

Hi all:

Before my review I wanted to share a word of clarification. I have a personal connection with the book I’m reviewing today. I have translated it to English. I have no commercial stake in the sale of the book (I’ve provided the translation but don’t share in the sales) but wanted you to know that my review (that I’m not posting in official sites as I appear in the credits) is a translation of my review of the Spanish version of the book as I wouldn’t dare comment on my own work. I try to be as unobtrusive as I can when translating as I want the final result to be as close as possible to the original. So any faults you might find with the book will probably be mine and the merits are Paloma’s.

And without further ado…

A journey to happiness (Passage to Thailand)

  • File Size:948 KB
  • Print Length:184 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage:Unlimited
  • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language:English
  • ASIN:B00UXZH6DG

A journey to the depths of consciousness

The title of this novel describes it perfectly. Initially the story is presented from the pont of view of Sara, a young woman who decides to start taking classes at a martial arts school, although what she is trying to do is to find herself. Marc, one of the teachers of the school feels a special affinity for Sara from the very beginning and knows that she needs somebody to help her.

But, although the story returns to Sara, the main part of the novel follows Marc, who discovers many family secrets he wasn’t aware of, including a young half-sister, Carlota, who accompanies him in his journey to Thailand.

His journey to a temple in Chiang Mai, is also ours. Through the narration of several of the characters, including the abbot of the temple, and later a young novice, we learn the story of the Buddha and some of his ideas. The reflections and reactions of the characters, especially those of Carlota, help us question and explore Buddhist philosophy, and at the same time provide us with a human and emotional centre. Carlota is a girl confronted by a situation that would be terrible and cruel at any age who grows and discovers that you make your own happiness.

Marc goes from being an intuitive and “good” man to a man who reaches enlightenment and becomes a master of more than just martial arts, and the father of a unique family.

And to complete the transformation, Sara also goes in search of her own happiness and I found her adventure truly inspiring.

This is not a novel full of action and drama, but a reflective novel where ideas and philosophy are at a premium. The psychological portraits of the characters help us live the story and experiment in the first person their discoveries and revelations.

If you’re only looking for action, romance and standard adventures, I don’t recommend you this novel. But if you dare to go embark on a journey exploring ideas and confronting prejudices, I recommend you this book by Paloma Caral, an author whom you should follow closely. She’ll open up the doors of your mind and your spirit.

The Spanish version of the book has been on the best-sellers list for over a year now.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4.4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Kindle: $3.04

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

Book Review. The Manuscript 1. The Secret

the Manuscript 1. new coverTitle:   The Manuscript 1. The Secret
Author:   Blanca Miosi
ASIN:  B0141S2FOA
Published:  New version 16th August 2015
Pages:  255
Genre:  Suspense, thriller

As a writer, a book titled ‘The Manuscript’ will always be intriguing to me, and Blanca Miosi’s book did not disappoint me. From the very beginning you are thrown in at the deep end and have many questions that make you keep reading.

The writer protagonist of the book, Nicholas, is having trouble writing. And right in cue, a strange man gives him a magical manuscript of sorts. It is unclear what the magic is, but Nicholas becomes fascinated by the content of the manuscript to the point that he has to go and pursue the story, no matter at what cost.

The novel flows well, and the changes in point of view narration add layers of complexity to the book, and make us feel closer to the characters, a complex array of people, from all walks of life and different corners of the world. Business corporations, Mafia, Colombia cartels, Nazi concentration camps’ experiments, writers block, love triangles, genetics…all have a part to play in this novel that’s deceptively simple. Fictional situations mix with well-known historical characters and create a compelling narrative that will leave you wanting more.

I’ve read many books and one can’t help but guess what will come next. Believe me, I tried, but the book kept going in unexpected directions.

Well-paced, with a great story, likeable main characters and some fantastic minor ones, a great dose of intrigue (and some magic) it is not surprising it was a best-seller in its Spanish version. I’d be surprised if the English version doesn’t do even better.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  
Kindle: Free at time of writing the review

Thanks all for reading, thanks to Blanca for her book and you know, if you’ve enjoyed it, like, comment, share and CLICK

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com