All posts tagged: Pushkin Press

Book Review – ‘The Mystery of the Three Orchids’

Title: The Mystery of the Three Orchids (Commissario De Vincenzi #12) Author: Augusto De Angelis (translated by Jill Foulston) Genre: Fiction (mystery/crime) Release Date: 8th August, 2016 (first published in 1942) Rating: ★★★ “Death is in the air at one of Milan’s great fashion houses. As a new collection is unveiled, and the wealthy rub shoulders with the glamorous, owner Cristiana O’Brian escapes upstairs to discover the strangled body of her servant slumped on her bed – a single orchid by his side. When Inspector De Vincenzi is called in to investigate, the brilliant detective is puzzled; why is Cristiana behaving so suspiciously? And what is her estranged ex husband doing there? As two further corpses appear, each accompanied by an orchid, De Vincenzi must see through dirty tricks and slippery clues in order to uncover the real killer. Augusto De Angelis’s notorious sleuth returns in a cryptic murder mystery teeming with blackmail, deceit and revenge.” (Pushkin Press) This is the third book in the ‘Inspector De Vincenzi’ series that I’ve read (the others were The …

Book Review – ‘Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman’

Title: Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman Author: Stefan Zweig (translated by Anthea Bell) Genre: Literary Fiction Release Date: 4th February, 2016 Rating: ★★★★ “‘The less I felt in myself, the more strongly I was drawn to those places where the whirligig of life spins most rapidly.’ So begins an extraordinary day in the life of Mrs C – recently bereaved and searching for excitement and meaning. Drawn to the bright lights of a casino, and the passion of a desperate stranger, she discovers a purpose once again but at what cost? In this vivid and moving tale of a compassionate woman, and her defining experience, Zweig explores the power of intense love, overwhelming loneliness and regret that can last for a lifetime.” (Pushkin Press) I’m starting to get to the point with Stefan Zweig that any comments I make about his work should be preceded by a disclaimer that goes something along the lines of, “In my eyes, he can do no wrong.” So if you read any further, you should keep in my …

Book Review – ‘Messages from a Lost World’

Title: Messages from a Lost World: Europe on the Brink Author: Stefan Zweig, translated by Will Stone Genre: Non-fiction (essays) Release Date: January 28, 2016 Rating: ★★★★★ “As Europe faced its darkest days, Stefan Zweig was a passionate voice for tolerance, peace and a world without borders. In these moving, ardent essays, speeches and articles, composed before and during the Second World War, one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers mounts a defence of European unity against terror and brutality. From the dreamlike ‘The Sleepless World’, written in 1914, through the poignant ‘The Vienna of Yesterday’, to the impassioned ‘In This Dark Hour’, one of his final addresses, given in 1941, Zweig envisages a Europe free of nationalism and pledged to pluralism, culture and brotherhood. These haunting lost messages, all appearing in English for the first time and some newly discovered, distill Zweig’s courage, belief and richness of learning to give the essence of a writer; a spiritual will and testament to stand alongside his memoir, The World of Yesterday. Brief and yet intense, they are …

Book Review – ‘The Murdered Banker’

Title: The Murdered Banker (Commissario De Vincenzi #1) Author: Augusto De Angelis (translated by Jill Foulston) Genre: Fiction (mystery/crime) Release Date: 23rd February, 2016 (first published in 1935) Rating: ★★★★ “A body is discovered in a Milan apartment, and Inspector De Vincenzi investigates. The apartment happens to belong to and old university friend of his, Aurigi. When the body turns out to be that of Aurigi’s banker, and a phial of prussic acid is discovered in the bathroom, suspicion falls on the apartment’s owner, and De Vincenzi is agonisingly torn between his sense of duty and his loyalty to an old comrade… This intensely dramatic mystery from the father of the Italian crime novel, Augusto de Angelis, is the first to feature his most famous creation–Inspector De Vincenzi.” (Pushkin Press) Although I’ve been reading crime thrillers and mysteries for a couple of years now, I still consider myself fairly new to the genre. I haven’t read any of the authors who would be considered “masters” of the genre, and to be honest I’m not likely to …

Book Review – ‘The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig’

Title: The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig Author: Stefan Zweig (translated by Anthea Bell) Genre: Literary Fiction Release Date: 2nd February, 2016 Rating: ★★★★ “A casual introduction, a challenge to a simple game of chess, a lovers’ reunion, a meaningless infidelity: from such small seeds Zweig brings forth five startlingly tense tales-meditations on the fragility of love, the limits of obsession, the combustibility of secrets and betrayal. To read anything by Zweig is to risk addiction; in this collection the power of his writing-which, with its unabashed intensity and narrative drive, made him one of the bestselling and most acclaimed authors in the world-is clear and irresistible. Each of these stories is a bolt of experience, unforgettable and unique.” (Pushkin Press) The first thing you need to know about this collection is that you have to stick with it. Some of the stories take a little time to warm into but if you take the time to work through them, it’ll be worth it. As a whole, I think the collection is a good showcase of Stefan …

Book Review – Stammered Songbook: A Mother’s Book of Hours

Title: Stammered Songbook: A Mother’s Book of Hours Author: Erwin Mortier (translated by Paul Vincent) Genre: Memoir Release Date: January 5, 2016 Rating: ★★★★ “‘My mother, a house that is slowly collapsing, a bridge dancing to a tremor.’ It started when she could no longer remember the word for ‘book’. Then her mind, her language and her identity began to slip away.  This is Erwin Mortier’s moving, exquisitely observed memoir of his mother’s descent into dementia, as a once-flamboyant woman who loved life and pleasure becomes a shuffling, ghostlike figure wandering through the house. Piecing together the fragments of her lost life, and his own childhood, Mortier asks: what do we become when we lose the repertoire of habits and words that make us who we are? How well do we really know our families? How do you say goodbye to someone who is still there and yet not, suspended between life and death? Stammered Songbook is a heartbreaking and poetic expression of a son’s love; an extraordinary hymn to language; a meditation on time, mortality and how, eventually, we …

Book Review – ‘The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse’

Title: The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse Author: Ivan Repila Genre: Literary Fiction Release Date: November 10th 2015 Rating: ★★★★ ‘”It looks impossible to get out,’ he says. And also: ‘But we’ll get out.‘ Two brothers, Big and Small, are trapped at the bottom of a well. They have no food and little chance of rescue. Only the tempting spectre of insanity offers a way out. As Small’s wits fail, Big formulates a desperate plan. With the authority of the darkest fables, and the horrifying inevitability of all-too-real life, Repila’s unique allegory explores the depths of human desperation and, ultimately, our almost unending capacity for hope.” (Pushkin Press) A novella that goes for a hundred and something pages that basically only has two characters, both of whom are stuck at the bottom of a well, probably doesn’t sound that exciting. And if that’s what you’re thinking, you’d be right, because it isn’t really exciting. What it is, is a thought provoking look at how people survive when the odds are stacked against them, as well as the …

Book Review – ‘Dear Reader’

Title: Dear Reader Author: Paul Fournel Genre: Literary Fiction Release Date: November 3, 2015 Rating: ★★★★★ “Old-school publisher meets e-reader: chaos ensues. There’s a lot of good to be said about publishing, mainly about the food. The books, though – Robert Dubois feels as if he’s read the books, but still they keep coming back to him, the same old books just by new authors. Maybe he’s ready to settle into the end of his career, like it’s a tipsy afternoon after a working lunch. But then he is confronted with a gift: a piece of technology, a gizmo, a reader… Dear Reader takes a wry, affectionate look at the world of publishing, books and authors, and is a very funny, moving story about the passing of the old and the excitement of the new.” (Pushkin Press) Books about books and reading are probably my favourite kind of book. I think they’re a favourite of just about any voracious reader, perhaps because these particular books speak directly to the book nerd within us and we can see …