Arno Geiger’s new book, The Old King in his Exile [High Wycombe: & Other Stories, 2017] is an uplifting memoir of the years in which he came to terms with his father’s transition into Alzheimer’s. Given that this is a situation we are all more likely to experience than ever before, these first-hand accounts can ease us more gently into understanding and into the ability to adapt and cope with what can only be a frightening experience without such help.
Here is another witty book from the sharp pen of Juan Pablo Villalobos; I’ll Sell You A Dog [High Wycombe: And Other Stories, 2016]. Last time, three years ago, the main ingredient was quesadillas, sometimes without cheese. This time it’s tacos but don’t ask what’s in them. Translator Rosalind Harvey does deliver the full flavour of the prose, however. The publisher’s blurb says it is about ‘everything that can be done to fend off the boredom of retirement and old age, while still holding a beer.’
The title of The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera is a neat joke that the reader will latch on to as they work their way through this novella [High Wycombe: & Other Stories, 2016, translated by Lisa Dellman]. It’s a short book and worth reading despite it being another sort of apocalyptic vision like we found in his earlier Signs Preceding the End of the World that I rated very highly in my review.
Lunatics, Lovers and Poets, according to Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, are ‘of imagination all compact’; cut from the same tree, hewn from the same rock, hard to tell apart, who knows! To mark the 400th anniversary year of the deaths of both Shakespeare and Cervantes, the ever-enterprising publisher & Other Stories has published an anthology of twelve short stories. Intriguingly, the six Spanish writers take Shakespeare as their starting point while the English take Cervantes. In the English edition, the Spanish stories appear in translation while in a Spanish edition hispanophones can read the English rendered into their language. To top it off, Salman Rushdie contributes an introduction. For 83p a story this must be one of the year’s best buys.
Swedish writer Lina Wolff has both lived and worked in Italy and Spain, experience she has put to use in her first novel, Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs [High Wycombe: & Other Stories, 2016]. An eye-catching title is never a disadvantage and this one does have its origin in the text but you would never guess it until you come across the reference. Wolff’s novel is cleverly constructed and conspicuously well written; aided in the English version by the excellent translation by Frank Perry.