Javier Cercas’ award-winning account of 23-F to commemorate thirtieth anniversary

Here is my latest blog for Booktrust:

Javier Cercas

Although we may hear little about Spanish fiction in the UK, we arguably hear even less about Spanish history written by Spanish writers themselves. Hispanists in this country are well acquainted with the likes of Raymond Carr, Hugh Thomas, Paul Preston and Antony Beevor, but will probably not associate Spanish writer Javier Cercas with non-fiction.

Published on 17-01-11. Read on here

Alexander Solzhenitsyn: 'the ultimate realist writer'

Here is my latest blog for Booktrust:

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was born in Kislovodsk in the south of Russia on 11 December 1918. On the anniversary of his birth, I am looking back at the life and works of one of Russia’s greatest writers.

Solzhenitsyn was born into a family of Cossack intellectuals and studied Mathematics and Physics at the prestigious Rostov University in southern Russia. He went on to serve as an artillery officer in the army and despite growing up as a staunch supporter of the Soviet regime, he increasingly voiced his concerns over Stalinist policies. One day in 1945, a letter, in which he had openly criticised Stalin, was found and he was immediately denounced. He spent the next eight gruelling years in a gulag prison. Lucky to survive the ordeal, he was then internally exiled to Kazakhstan.

Published on 10-12-10. Read on here

Amazon’s award sponsorship gets publishers in a flap

Here is my latest blog for Booktrust:

The Best Translated Book award was set up in 2007 by literary organisation Three Percent, so-called because of the paucity of translated works published in the US, which is estimated at just 3% of the total number of books published there every year. To date, the BTB award has offered no cash prize. However, Amazon recently announced its decision to provide $25,000 (£15,000) worth of funds to cover promotional costs and grant cash prizes for the winning entries. That’s $5000 for every author and translator.

Published on 11-11-10. Read on here

Mario Vargas Llosa wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

Here is my latest blog for Booktrust:

It was to my great surprise and delight last week when it was announced that Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa is this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Despite being one of Latin America’s most acclaimed modern-day writers, even 74-years-old Vargas Llosa himself was surprised to win the prize this year. Long thought to have been overlooked, his talents have finally been recognised as the Swedish Academy hailed him as a ‘divinely gifted story-teller

Published on 12-10-10. Read on here

A Taste of the Best Modern Spanish Fiction

Here is my first blog for Booktrust:

Sometimes the prospect of reading a translated novel can seem a bit overwhelming, but it’s not all about the War and Peace’s and Don Quixote’s of this world. Many of you will have come across Lucia Graves’ beautiful translation of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind (La Sombra del Viento), but here I hope to draw attention to a taste of some lesser-known delights from peninsular Spain.

For anyone interested in the history of the Spanish Civil War, you cannot get much better than Juan Goytisolo. Although he has written many great novels, Marks of Identity (Señas de Identidad) tells the story of a Spanish exile’s return from Paris to his family home in Barcelona and provides a fantastic introduction to just some of the literature which was inspired by the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship. Another worthwhile read is Soldiers of Salamis (Soldados de Salamina) by Javier Cercas, which humanely reveals how the Civil War has permeated Spain’s modern-day conscious. Anne McLean’s translation of the novel was notably awarded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2004.

Published on 14-06-10. Read on here

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