Just a few musings on books I’ve read but been too distracted to review properly:
The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker, tr. David Colmer (Vintage). This won the 2013 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. It’s about a Dutch woman living in Wales having left her husband after an affair. She gets into a strange relationship with a younger man, and there is an odd business about foxes, geese and a biting badger. There’s obviously all kinds of stuff going on under the surface. Weird, unsettling and beautifully written – still not sure what I think of this one.
Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything by Daniela Krien, tr. Jamie Bulloch (Maclehose). An intense love story between a young girl and an older man set just after German reunification, and another one that I’m ambivalent about. I was interested in the political background, the sense of place etc, but found the relationship at its heart rather creepy.
All Dogs Are Blue by Rodrigo de Souza Leão, tr. Zoë Perry and Stefan Tobler (And Other Stories) – described as “a scurrilously funny tale of life in a Rio de Janeiro insane asylum”. Sorry, just couldn’t get into this at all. Maybe I’ll have another try another time.
Richard III by David Baldwin (Amberley) – I had high hopes for this as it is said by Philippa Gregory on the cover to offer “a believably complex Richard, neither wholly villain nor hero”. There were some interesting details I didn’t know, but on the whole I found it too slight to offer any portrait of the man at all. I’d have liked an opinion on the fates of the princes in the Tower but it offers nothing beyond “we don’t know”. Fair, and true, enough, but frustrating!
Slow Train to Guantanamo by Peter Millar (Arcadia): the pick of this bunch! Highly entertaining, often thought-provoking as Millar travels through Cuba by train, chatting to people as he goes and recounting their stories. He is also able to offer interesting parallels with his experiences in the GDR, and I particularly liked the detail about how Che Guevara came by that name. It is, sadly, marred by poor proofreading, but I had been warned of that in advance and I hope that can maybe be fixed in future editions.