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10 April 2024

The International Booker Prize Shortlist for 2024 Announced

In the past few days I’ve finally had time to get back into reading. I’ve started Chris McGillion’s The Sand Digger’s Skull, which is the second book in his East Timor Crime Series. I’ve got about fifty pages to go, so I’m expecting to get another review out this Friday. I may have more to say about Chris’ books in this blog next week.

But for now, it’s that time of year again as Booker season starts to get more serious. We have a long-term project to read and review all the Booker Prize winners since 1969, and all the International Booker Prize winners since 2016. Last week I reviewed Alan Hollinghurst’s 2004 winner, The Line of Beauty. You can check out the Booker Prize project by clicking here.

Below is the Booker International shortlist for 2024. I won’t have time to read any before the winner is announced 21 May, but I will definitely read and review the winner as soon as I can after that.

Crooked Plow by Itamar Vieira Junior
Translated by: Johnny Lorenz

Deep in Brazil’s neglected Bahia hinterland, two sisters find an ancient knife beneath their grandmother’s bed and, momentarily mystified by its power, decide to taste its metal. The shuddering violence that follows marks their lives and binds them together forever.

Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck
Translated by: Michael Hofmann

Berlin. 11 July 1986. They meet by chance on a bus. She is a young student, he is older and married. Theirs is an intense and sudden attraction, fuelled by a shared passion for music and art, and heightened by the secrecy they must maintain. But when she strays for a single night he cannot forgive her and a dangerous crack forms between them, opening up a space for cruelty, punishment and the exertion of power. And the world around them is changing too: as the GDR begins to crumble, so too do all the old certainties and the old loyalties, ushering in a new era whose great gains also involve profound loss.

Mater2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong
Translated by: Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae

Centred on three generations of a family of rail workers and a laid-off factory worker staging a high-altitude sit-in, Mater 2-10 vividly depicts the lives of ordinary working Koreans, starting from the Japanese colonial era, continuing through Liberation, and right up to the twenty-first century.

Not a River by Selva Almada
Translated by: Annie McDermott

Three men go out fishing, returning to a favourite spot on the river despite their memories of a terrible accident there years earlier. As a long, sultry day passes, they drink and cook and talk and dance, and try to overcome the ghosts of their past. But they are outsiders, and this intimate, peculiar moment also puts them at odds with the inhabitants of this watery universe, both human and otherwise. The forest presses close, and violence seems inevitable, but can another tragedy be avoided?

The Details by la Genberg
Translated by: Kira Josefsson

A famous broadcaster writes a forgotten love letter; a friend abruptly disappears; a lover leaves something unexpected behind; a traumatised woman is consumed by her own anxiety. In the throes of a high fever, a woman lies bedridden. Suddenly, she is struck with an urge to revisit a particular novel from her past. Inside the book is an inscription: a message from an ex-girlfriend. Pages from her past begin to flip, full of things she cannot forget and people who cannot be forgotten. Johanna, that same ex-girlfriend, now a famous TV host. Niki, the friend who disappeared all those years ago. Alejandro, who appears like a storm in precisely the right moment. And Birgitte, whose elusive qualities shield a painful secret. Who is the real subject of a portrait, the person being painted or the one holding the brush?

What I’d Rather Not Think About by Jente Posthuma
Translated by: Sarah Timmer Harvey

What if one half of a pair of twins no longer wants to live? What if the other can’t live without them? This question lies at the heart of Jente Posthuma’s deceptively simple What I’d Rather Not Think About. The narrator is a twin whose brother has recently taken his own life. She looks back on their childhood, and tells of their adult lives: how her brother tried to find happiness, but lost himself in various men and the Bhagwan movement, though never completely.

- bikerbuddy

5 April 2024

A minor disaster this morning

Yesterday I posted an intention to stop talking about updates to this website. But that didn’t mean I hadn’t more to do. This morning I started modifying a menu that I ‘stole’ from the W3Schools site, which is a great resource to learn how to make websites, or be lazy like me and take shortcuts.

I’d got the menu the way I liked it in a test file, so all there was to do was to copy it over. That’s where things went wrong. I hastily copied and pasted the code right over the top of the code for this page, which I had only modified in its current form last week. My intention had been to do these final updates on the menu this morning and then back everything up. Which meant I had two issues.

First, I had no backup of this new page format. So I had to put the page back together using the old version of the About/Blog page in accordance with the new styling file. That was time I hadn’t planned on using.

The second problem I couldn’t fix. I’d wiped out the blog posts for this month when I copied over the page and I hadn’t kept a copy on my computer for the blog post of the 1 April. You know . . . I was going to back it up with the rest of the website!

So the blog post for the 1 April has now disappeared into the ether. If you’re wondering why I went to the bother of changing the menus, try resizing the window this page appears in, making it really narrow . . .

- bikerbuddy

4 April 2024

Finalising Updates and what comes next

Yesterday I finished updating all the Golden Age of Crime reviews – they have a different format to regular reviews – after I’d finished updating all the regular reviews. It seems I’ve been doing updates for a month or more. This morning I finished updating the blog archive, which is an archive of all posts that originally appear on this page each month. You can access the archive from the list on the right side of the Blog page.

As I updated the archive I realised that the blog seemed so much more interesting in the last few years than currently. Even with major updates being undertaken in those years. I think I’ve become bogged down in the technicalities of the site over the last month. So I thought I’d make a list of what has been done, and then preview a couple of things to get away from talk of updates.

What has been done:

  • A subscription panel now appears on appears all reviews (except Moomin reviews, which still require an upgrade).
  • Subscription emails have and will continue to go out every week or fortnight (depending on activity on the site) to keep subscribers informed about what is happening on the Reading Project.
  • The menu at the top of each page is now loaded differently, which sets up another upgrade down the track, allowing me to adapt the website for mobiles (hopefully).
  • The columns in reviews are now created through flex boxes, also better suited to a mobile adaptation.
  • This blog page has been separated from the About page, which cleans up the presentation and makes it easier for the page to be adapted to mobiles.
  • A lot of checking and correcting has been done across the site. Lots of little errors fixed. No doubt many still exist.

Coming up

  • I am currently reading The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, which has been delayed somewhat by all the website work I’ve been doing.
  • Victoria is currently reading Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent which she has been slow on because she is heavily invested in training for a half-marathon she is participating in next month.
  • Jenny and I are going to Norfolk Island next month. Norfolk was the home of Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds and many other books. I hear her house is open to the public, so I hope to visit. I also intend to read her novel, Morgan’s Run before we go. The image on the right is the cover of a copy I found in a local street library. Morgan’s Run is partly set on Norfolk Island, and I intend to visit as many places mentioned in the novel as I can while I’m there. I may even make another video while we’re on the island.

- bikerbuddy

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