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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Blog entries on '05 December 2005'

Monday 05 December 2005

Ellis on Saturday

Ellis chooses his Christmas books. Here he is (not for the first time) on Ian McEwan's Saturday:


A scandal far greater than the Dreyfus case, a betrayal more historic than that of Judas – the failure of the Booker Prize judges to award the prize to what is quite simply the most outstanding novel of the decade was (and I do not say this lightly) the single most shocking and tragic event of 2005.

No one has ever captured the joy of Mercedes ownership quite so movingly before - or the Greek epic dimensions of a game of squash. No one understands the problems of the modern world more acutely than McEwan, or the sinister destructive forces that threaten a quiet Saturday – namely, the working class, many of whom are in the grip of an uncontrollable disease which makes them belligerent and violent; a ghastly rabble of selfish, stupid anti-war marchers; incomprehensible Muslims, some of whom are quite literally mad.

Ian McEwan brilliantly reminds us that there are small-minded people and fanatics everywhere, full of resentment toward those of us for whom the only word is civilised.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Monday 05 December 2005

Embracing the Infidel

I'm going to be interviewing Behzad Yaghmaian, author of Embracing the Infidel: Stories of Muslim Migrants on the Journey West very soon, but I thought I should mention his fine book first and tell you to go and take a look at Behzad's website:


In a tent city in Greece, they huddle together. Men and women from Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, and other countries. Most have survived war and brutal imprisonment, political and social persecution. Some have faced each other in battle, and all share a powerful desire for freedom. Behzad Yaghmaian lived among them, listened to their hopes, dreams, and fears–and now he weaves together dozens of their stories of yearning, persecution, and unwavering faith. We meet Uncle Suleiman, an Iraqi veteran of the Iran-Iraq war; once imprisoned by Saddam Hussein, he is now a respected elder of a ramshackle tent city in Athens, offering comfort and community to his fellow travelers…Purya, who fled Iran only to fall into the clutches of human smugglers and survive beatings and torture in Bulgaria…and Shahroukh Khan, an Afghan teenager whose world at home was shattered twice–once by the Taliban and again by American bombs–but whose story turns on a single moment of awakening and love in the courtyard of a Turkish mosque.

A chronicle of husbands separated from wives, children from parents, Embracing the Infidel is a portrait of men and women moving toward a promised land they may never reach–and away from a world to which they cannot return. It is an unforgettable tale of heartbreak and prejudice, courage, heroism, and hope.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Monday 05 December 2005

Appelfeld wind Nelly Sachs Prize

Israeli author - and RSB favourite - Aharon Appelfeld, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Hebrew Literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, has won Germany’s prestigious Nelly Sachs Prize for literature for his "harrowing autobiographical stories of escape from the Nazis" (via TEV). More at the European Jewish Press. (Read an interview with Appelfeld in the Boston Review, originally published way back in December 1982.)


For more on Nelly Sachs (joint winner of the 1966 Nobel Prize for Literature) see her page at Pegasos. Or read Paul Celan and Nelly Sachs: Correspondence. Also see Steve's superb review of Appelfeld's A Table for One. (Green Integer have two Sachs titles: Michael Hamburger's translations of Collected Poems I (1944-1949) (out about now) and Collected Poems II (1950-1969) (out January).)

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Monday 05 December 2005

Thanks Bloglines!

Thanks to the good folk at bloglines for moving over the old site's rss subscribers to one of the new feeds (for more on RSB's webfeeds). For readers/subscribers who haven't seen the site since its makeover a couple of months back, welcome back, and please do take the time to have a good look around the site.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Serendipoetry

Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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