Monday, 24 June 2013

Granta 123 Goodreads Review

Hilary Mcgrath's Reviews > Granta 123: The Best of Young British Novelists 4

Granta 123 by Granta: The Magazine of New...

's review
Jun 23, 13  ·  edit

Read in May, 2013

Fantastic and varied writing in this collection. I had a hard time pacing myself so that I could fully enjoy each author. Overall, a wonderful sample of these authors’ works and I look forward to getting my hands on their next novels. A common theme seemed to be the experience of immigrants in Britain or elsewhere (Indians in Dubai). We reap the rewards of such a multi-cultural society with the variety of stories produced from the immigrant experience.

I listened to the audio version and realise that one of the downsides of listening (as opposed to reading) is that it’s hard to spell the names of the characters in the stories for review purposes.

Most memorable stories:

Tahmina Anam: Anwar gets everything
The story of Indians brought to work on building sites in Dubai. We get a glimpse into their living conditions, the demands to send money home, their difficult working life. One of the workmen thinks he is entitled to more--a girlfriend, air-conditioning, trips to the cinema--but ends up washing windows on a swaying platform on one of the highest buildings in the middle of a sandstorm. Anwar advises him not to look down.

Naomi Alderman: Soon and in our days
I loved this tongue-in-cheek tale, a humorous piece about Judaism in Britain, which makes us think about religion in society. Praying to the Prophet Elijah, we have a sneak preview of what would happen if he did come down on Earth. It’s not often that I actually LOL when reading, but I did here. A memorable line about Greta, who didn’t like goat's cheese. I need to read more from this author. Listening to her podcast on the Granta website, I believe she is now mentored by Margaret Atwood. Looking forward to reading more.

David Szalay: Europa
Told through the eyes of a Hungarian immigrant as he accepts a job as minder for Emma, this is a fascinating insight into his world. Emma is brought to a hotel for her first job as a prostitute. The minder reflects on his role, while attracted too to Emma, and sits with Emma’s boyfriend in the car waiting.

Evie Wyld: After the Hedland
Set in the Aussie outback among sheep shearers, the main character, a woman, tells of the tough existence and the difficulty of being a woman in this world. She is running away from something so she has no choice but to stick with what the outback throws at her. Looking forward to reading the finished novel.

Adam Thirlwell: Slow Motion
Written in conversational style, the main character really takes the reader into his head. ‘What I thought was this…’ We know his every thought as he tries to dispose of a girl's body, a girl who he woke up with but doesn’t remember going to bed with.

Sanjeev Sahota: Arrivals
Indians working and living in a cramped flats in Sheffield. Most of them are illegal and know they have no choice but to accept the worst jobs with toughest conditions. The main character got married in order to have a proper visa but doesn’t dare suggest to his wife that they move in together. He describes his days making chapatti before work, sharing the house, buying supplies from different shops to avoid chances of being caught as illegals in Britain. They go to work in van in the freezing cold, yet are thrilled to see snow for the first time. There is respect for elders, and a curiosity to know from which region in India each new person comes. I was totally engrossed in this story and am looking forward to completed novel.

Many other stories and authors worth reading in this collection.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Rain and cherries

I was going to write a post about the incessant rain we've been experiencing here in France since about January, but instead I'm going to put up a couple of photos of the produce of my cherry tree.

A month ago:

and today:
We've had clafoutis. We've had bowls of fresh cherries. We've had an interesting rhubarb and cherry tart. Hopefully we'll have lots of jam if the birds stick to the deal and only take the cherries from the top that we can't reach.
But, back to the subject of the weather...
The slugs are having a ball. Can't you just savour how delicious my hosta must have been.
Usually at this time of the year I'm busy weeding, digging, sowing (last year I grew everything from seed) but this year, nada. I haven't sowed a single tomato plant yet. Could this be a summer sans tomates? I have no potager for the first time in years.
So I ran around the garden a couple of weeks ago to see what was growing. These beautiful roses and campanules:

...apples, chives, garlic, gooseberries, kiwis...


I really hope to update this with better news in a few weeks. And I have to admit, the bad weather is good for my writing.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Salon de la Caricature, Marciac

The caricature and drawing festival took place this weekend in Marciac in the Gers, France. A small festival in its 11th year, it was the first time I went along.

Marciac is already well-known for its jazz festival every August. The village (1,300 inhabitants) hosts an international jazz festival that welcomes over 200,000 visitors every year. This year we have tickets for Joe Cocker #cantwait.

Some of the cartoonists visited the local schools on Friday and thus, we were harrassed into attending by a 10 year old who loves drawing.

I had my caricature done, of course. A great likeness I'm told. The artist was Kaya and she was enjoying her first visit to Marciac. The banter among the artists was entertaining.

A child at the table next to mine told the artist 'If you mess up, it's OK, cause I got Kaya to draw me earlier.' She was about six.

But I did wonder what's in it for them?

They sat for three days and drew and drew for no monetary gain(afaik).

It made me think of all the writers who spend hours slogging over a piece of flash fiction or a short story or a poem only to publish it in their blog or website. A lot of work to give art away for free. Yet I was so impressed with my cartoonist I will certainly seek out her work and perhaps buy some in the future.