April 2017 Wrap-Up

April was once again a month taken up by shadowing duties for the Man Booker International Prize.  For the sixth year in a row, I’ve been making my way through a longlist of (allegedly…) the best examples of fiction in translation published in the UK over the past twelve months, and that’s reflected in the reviews listed below.  While I’ll be having a closer look at a few of the titles, especially those that have made our Shadow shortlist (revealed in a matter of days!), I’m now free to diversify my reading a little, and I’ll be discussing that in a little more detail towards the end of the week.

Still, that’s for the future – let’s wrap up the past…

Total Books Read: 11
Year-to-Date: 43

New: 9
Rereads: 2

From the Shelves: 3
Review Copies: 5
From the Library: 3
On the Kindle: 0 (0 review copies)

Novels: 9
Novellas: 0
Short Stories: 2
Non-Fiction: 0

Non-English Language: 10
(2 Japanese, Chinese, Albanian, German, Hebrew, Polish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic)
In Original Language: 1 (German)

Books Reviewed in April were:
1) Kong’s Garden by Hwang Jung-eun
2) Judas by Amos Oz
3) Petit Piment (Black Moses) by Alain Mabanckou
4) The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke
5) The Traitor’s Niche by Ismail Kadare
6) Im Stein (Bricks and Mortar) by Clemens Meyer
7) A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman
8) Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg
9) Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors
10) The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen

Tony’s Turkey for April is:
Yan Lianke’s The Explosion Chronicles

Bloated, dull, crude – this was easily the weakest of the books on the MBIP longlist, and it deserves to be plucked and placed in the deep freezer for Christmas.

Tony’s Recommendation for April is:
Roy Jacobsen’s The Unseen

With the vast majority of my April reviews involving MBIP longlisters, it’s little surprise that one of them is my recommendation, and while not all of them impressed, there were a few gems there.  Amos Oz’s book was perhaps the slowest burner of the selections, but it’s one that may well take out the main prize, and even if Bricks and Mortar didn’t make the official shortlist, I was impressed (by a book I initially thought wasn’t for me).  However, my pick this week is Jacobsen’s Norwegian story of a woman standing tall in the face of adversity, a novel reminding us that life wasn’t always full of hashtags and WiFi 😉

May will see me having a little more freedom in my reading choices, but that’s always relative.  You see, while I’ve been hard at work on my Booker reading, more interesting review copies have been arriving, and there are several that I’m keen to have a look at.  Back to normal business, then – you’ll see the results very soon…


8 thoughts on “April 2017 Wrap-Up

    1. Stu – It is nice to dive into something different, but I’ll definitely be doing a bit of rereading in a couple of weeks (parts, if not whole books).


  1. I take it from your comment that you didn’t exactly like The Explosion Chronicles 🙂 🙂
    I might take it off my reading list just on the basis of your strong reaction….


    1. Karen – It’s not totally devoid of merit, and it has its moments. I suspect it was the wrong book at the wrong time for me, and as another of our judges (Grant, possibly…) said, last year Yan’s work was a novelty, this year it was just more of the same. There are reviewers around who would dissent, however…


  2. I don’t know why you appear somewhat temperamentally and intermittently in my reader feed, so I’m glad for this round-up, as there were a few reviews there that I hadn’t read yet. Stu seemed to like The Explosion Chronicles better than you, so I had tentatively put it on my TBR wishlist, but am unsure now after your condemnation of it.


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