o/t: October’s leisure reading

Fewer than usual books this month, due to work-related and other pressures on my time, but for me a very rich month’s worth of reading. The links are to my GoodReads notes on the various books.

The Panda Theory by Pascal Garnier
Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Man who Went Up in Smoke by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
Without Mercy by Renate Dorrestein
The Treasure Hunt by Andrea Camilleri
Shadow by Karin Alvtegen
The Book of Murder by Guillermo Martínez
The Door by Magda Szabo

I’m also midway through Magda Szabo’s novel The Door, and will add in the link once I’ve completed and noted it, perhaps tomorrow.

Eleven books, then, counting the Szabo. Of these, 5.5 are by women, 5.5 are by men. All of them are, of course, in translation. My considerable thanks to MarinaSofia, whose consistently entertaining findingtimetowrite blog offers me constant reminders that I shouldn’t deprive myself by lazily confining my reading to UK/US writers.

After Translation Month I was undecided whether November should be British Isles Month or Stonkers Month (focusing on a few of those books that are so bloody ‘normous that in one case they’ve been on my shelves for the best part of two decades, never quite getting chosen because of the commitment they represent). In the event, someone sent me a book to review that’s by a UK author, so British Isles Month it’s going to be.


20 thoughts on “o/t: October’s leisure reading

    • Sorry to hear about the mislaid mojo! It happens to all of us from time to time.
      Quality probably the same
      I felt I was very lucky this month. Only one book that disappointed me, and even then it wasn’t an actual dud: just a book that wasn’t for me.

    • As you say, very cleverly done — quite superbly put together. And I loved the way he managed to morph from the acid humor and the sentimentality of the first half seamlessly into the chilly horror* of the second.

      *I’m using the term “horror” not in its sense as a literary genre but because the attitudes and events have the capacity to horrify — at least, that’s what they did for me. The trouble was, I also found them all too credible.

  1. Awww, thank you for the kind mention – and I hope you’re not cursing me too much for adding to your TBR list. Sounds like a good mix of books you’ve had in October. Look forward to your British Isles month…

    • I hope you’re not cursing me too much for adding to your TBR list

      Not in the slightest! I value very much the way that your blog, more than any other, pushes me to broaden my leisure-reading habits a bit — at least in terms of culture of origin.

      A lot of the books you talk about are hard for me to find here, or at least to obtain through the local library system, especially the newer titles, but that doesn’t matter. There are plenty of other good books out there, often earlier titles by the same authors.

      • How often are you folks stumbling over horrible translation? Most of the reason I haven’t tackled the MILLENNIUM novels (aka THE GIRL WHO’S REALLY A WOMAN BEING CONDESCENDED TO ALMOST UNIQUELY BY HER ANGLOPHONE PUBLISHERS) because of all the warnings about the atrocious translation, and certainly the Penguin translations of Borges are among the worst I’ve read. (Sadly, hassles between DiGiovanni and the Borges estate have been keeping the books Borges and NTD translated together out of print.)

        • I didn’t have any quibbles with the translations I read this month, and I couple I thought were quite splendid, but I do know what you mean. In the past few years I’ve begun checking who the translator is before I buy, and there are a couple whose work I tend to shun. At the same time, though, I feel a bit guilty: really the publisher should be putting a decent copyeditor through any stodgy translations that come along — and maybe that’s the difference I’m sometimes spotting, not the quality of the translator her/himself.

          On the subject of translations, there’s a fascinating essay here (PDF): https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3j7_dvfTDHRaDg2N21xb0tMTUk/edit

          I’ve read the first two of the Larssen books and had no worries about the translation, which seemed okay to me. (I enjoyed the first book but thought the second was a bit of a stinker, so I’m dragging my heels about reading the third.)

      • BTW, J/P, are you a resident or did you go full-tilt citizen…if the latter, happy voting tomorrow (if the former, sorry about that last big one)(at least the Canadians had rather better news)(delightful hearing about record-breakingly long, wearying campaigns in Canada and the UK, those being nearly one fifth or less of the Usual Election Cycle here in the Cradle of Influence-Peddling…I mean Democracy…)

        • No, I’m still a Brit. What’s both hilarious and depressing (I have family there) is how the whole thing is already falling apart in Cameron’s and the even more noxious Osborne’s hands. As you say, the news from Canada is a lot more cheering.

          I’ll be supporting my wife when she goes to vote tomorrow.

      • It’s been mostly readers of the original Swedish who’ve found the MILLENNIUM translations dire…we Finally got a direct translation of SOLARIS in English….maybe we’ll get better eventually, to the extent that’s the case…

        • It’s always difficult evaluate the validity of such criticisms. If you’ve read the article I linked to, I imagine you’ll agree with me that Haas’s “improvements” to the UK’s version of the translation were anything but (except for the title, which I’d say is far better for the change). It may be that what the Swedes are complaining about is changes Reg Wotzit has effected to make the book read better in English.

          Or, of course, they may be right! Who knows?

  2. Pingback: Halloween, The World Series and at-home Horror on Monday Morning Diary (November 2) | Wonders in the Dark

    • can’t beat Nordic Noir
      Well, yes, although some of the Scandinoir I’ve read has been bilge, too!

      The best of the Scandis I read this month was the Alvtegen.

  3. A nice idea to focus on translations for a month! I think you’ve got better Garniers to look forward in the future. Moon in a Dead Eye and How’s the Pain? are my faves of the four I’ve read so far. 🙂

    • So I’ve been told about the Garniers. I have The Front-Seat Passenger in my sights next.

      I was very tempted just to keep going and have November as Translation Month #2.

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