Month: November 2013

Pierre Lemaitre wins Goncourt Prize

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Pierre Lemaitre has won this year’s Goncourt Prize for his Au revoir là-haut [Goodbye Up There]. Only one of his books has been translated into English – Alex, a thriller about a kidnapping. The winning novel is about two French men returning from World War I, ignored, neglected and broke. They decide to do something about it. It got very good reviews in France, particularly because Lemaitre normally writes thrillers. I have a copy and hope to read it in the next few days.

Terézia Mora: Der einzige Mann auf dem Kontinent [The Only Man on the Continent]

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The latest addition to my website is Terézia Mora‘s Der einzige Mann auf dem Kontinent [The Only Man on the Continent]. The novel, told in a mixture of the first and third person tells the story of Darius Kopp, a forty-something, overweight, asthmatic man, from the former East Germany, who is the sole representative on continental Europe of a US company that manufactures and installs computer networks. Darius is married to Flora, a Hungarian immigrant (like Mora), and is generally happy with his life. He has little ambition, likes eating and drinking, spending time with Flora and going out on binges (eating and drinking) with his best friend, Juri. Apart from mindlessly surfing the Internet, he has no other interests or ambitions. The story takes place over the span of a week (though with lots of past history thrown in), a week that will see Darius receive €40000 in cash on account, from a Greek who is installing a computer network, be unable to contact his employers about the issue and seemingly lose Flora. Darius is a man of routine and these issues give him much concern. It is a very funny novel, which gives a picture of Germany which is probably not the conventional image of Germany that foreigners have. Sadly, it has not been translated into English.

Lawrence Durrell: The Dark Labyrinth

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The latest addition to my website is Lawrence Durrell‘s The Dark Labyrinth, originally published as Cefalù. It tells the story of a group of English people on a cruise in the Mediterranean and, in particular, their visit to a (fictional) labyrinth at (the fictitious) Cefalù. We start with one of their number – a poet and antiquarian called Lord Graecen – who is telling his friend Sir Juan Angelos, the discoverer of a temple in the labyrinth, about a disaster in the labyrinth, leaving the rest of the party trapped inside, with apparently, only Graecen able to escape. We then learn the stories of some of the participants in the expedition, including John Baird who worked with a Greek partisan group in the labyrinth during the war, a painter called Campion and an expert on the occult and former spiritualist, called Olaf Fearmax. Durrell tells us their stories, of the cruise and of the expedition and what happens to the trapped people, who were separated after the rock fall. It is a fine story and Durrell makes the connection with the Minotaur story of Greek legend.

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