I should in theory wait until tomorrow or the 1st of December to write my monthly summary, but I have other plans for this week, so will wrap up a little earlier. It has felt like a very long month, with the exception of my 4-5 days in Yorkshire, which simply flew by. With the exception of those few days of real holiday, my first in two years, I have been mostly ill (in fact, I had a headache for two of my days in Yorkshire too). I don’t know if my tussle with Covid in October left my body drained and my immune system struggling, but I seem to have caught every single one of the bugs from school and university, with at most a day or two of feeling fine in-between.
So, for anyone wondering where I got all my energy from – wonder no more, for my batteries have well and truly gone this month! I have just about managed to keep the day job going, spent most of my weekends in bed, and have resigned myself that I will be missing out on various projects I wanted to be involved in that have a 30th November deadline.
The only event I was able to attend (on one of the few days when I felt fine) was the Corylus event at the Romanian Cultural Institute in London on the 16th of November, where I got to speak together with the two Bogdans that I’ve been translating: Bogdan Teodorescu and Bogdan Hrib in a debate about BalkanNoir: Is Romania the Wild Wild East of Crime Fiction. The discussion was recorded and I hope we can share the link with you very soon.
Enforced bed rest and a wet mush of a brain might not be conducive to writing or translating, but it worked fine for reading, although admittedly some books were chosed for ease of reading – rather like porridge with honey to soothe a sore throat. I read no less than 18 books, helped by the fact that many of them were novellas. I have even reviewed quite a few of them.
My German Literature Month reads were all novellas, with one exception, so I managed to participate in #NovNov as well.
#GermanLitMonth and #NovNov Reads:
- Marlen Haushofer: We Kill Stella
- Arthur Schnitzler: Casanova’s Homecoming
- Friedrich Glauser: The Spoke
- Jonas Lüscher: Barbarian Spring
- Irmgard Keun: Child of All Nations, transl. Michael Hofmann
#GermanLitMonth that was not a novella (as you can see, I was scrupulously fair, had two Austrians, two Germans and two Swiss writers)
The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz, transl. Philip Boehm
Additional #NovNov Reads:
- Dan Rhodes: Sour Grapes
- Mary Elizabeth Braddon: The Doctor’s Wife
- Brian Moore: The Doctor’s Wife (a review comparing the two of them coming soon)
- Catherine Fox: Angels and Men
- ECR Lorac: These Names Make Clues
- Abir Mukherjee: A Necessary Evil
- Bella Ellis: The Vanished Bride – all the four above were reviewed in a vlog
- Alan Johnson: The Late Train to Gipsy Hill – imagine a fun spy novel, more goofy than seriously chilling, despite the rather serious subject matter
- Christine Mangan: Palace of the Drowned – which did not live up to the blurb and premise – Venice in winter, an author suffering from writers’ block and waning popularity, a creepy old palazzo, an over-eager young fan. Let’s just say that it was verbose rather than truly atmospheric, neither Death in Venice nor The Talented Mr Ripley.
- Margaret Kennedy: The Feast – review to come, hopefully
Surprisingly, only a third of the books I read this month were foreign language books – all of them German. Ten of the eighteen were by women writers and five were in the crime genre (a very low percentage by my standards).
Reading plans for December will be all about snow and frozen climes: Russians and Scandinavians will have pride of place, so that I can snuggle indoors under many blankets while the blizzard rages outside.