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Five books • Friday 5th March 2022

A trip to the wondrous booktown that is Bath and visits to Topping & Co., Persephone Books and Mr. B’s Emporium left Kate with a delightful stack of new books to read. Here are her weekly highlights.

The Translator's Art by Kate Briggs

This Little Art, by Kate Briggs (Fitzcarraldo) I came back from Fitzcarraldo last week with a handful of new books, one of which was this extended essay from translator Kate Briggs. It’s of particular interest to me because Briggs explores the work of Helen Lowe-Porter who was Thomas Mann’s English translator. Lowe-Porter described Buddenbrooks as ‘emotion cooled off and served up on ice’. It’s fascinating.

 

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Melons

Cleopatra and Frankenstein, by Coco Mellors (4th Estate) Turned down by over 30 publishers and now receiving rave reviews. Party girl Cleo meets Frank, older, successful and self-assured. Their romance ‘reshapes their lives and the lives of those around them.’ Pandora Sykes ‘pined for a week’ after finishing it, but will I feel the same? I’ll let you know.

 

Strandings by Peter Riley

Strandings, by Peter Riley (Profile) I’ve been interested in whales ever since reading The Stranding, Kate Sawyer’s memorable novel about a woman who survives the end of the world by hiding in the belly of a beached whale. Peter Riley’s non-fiction book explores the ‘fugitive community’ who descend once a whale is washed up on these shores ‘to claim its trophies’. Did you know that by default stranded sperm whales belong to the Queen? Nope, me neither.

 

Mona by Pola Oloixaric

Mona, Pola Oloixarac (Serpents Tail) A Peruvian writer is nominated for an important literary award and heads for the ceremony in Sweden, where she is stuck in the company of her fellow competitors, who ‘exchange flattery, nurse envy and private resentments, stab rivals in the back and go to bed together.’ And all the time she’s trying to figure out something that happened to her, an act of violence that she can’t remember. Over on Goodreads some don’t know what to think, others loved it and one pithily sums it up as ‘insufferable hot girl lit’. I’m intrigued.

 

Light Perpetual, Francis Spufford (Faber & Faber) Did I mention my book club are reading this one? My library copy turned up today. I loved his last novel, Golden Hill, which we had a lot of fun discussing on episode #44. From the back flap: ‘Spufford is also the author of five highly praised works of non-fiction, most frequently described by reviewers as either ‘bizarre’ or ‘brilliant’, and usually as both.

 

Podcast news

Catch up with me and Laura and the books we’ve been reading in our latest bookshelf episode, out this weekend, and featuring When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut, One, Two, Three, Four by Craig Brown, Fall by John Preston, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and The Sanitorium. It’s newsletter time, too. Sign-up link here.

What are you reading?

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