So, I have chosen Annie John as my next 205 Books book. And it had better be good, because I paid more for it than I have ever paid for an ebook. But at least I found one and it fits nicely in with what I was trying to do with the whole challenge.
Annie John was Kincaid’s first novel and like a lot of her work (apparently) draws heavily from her life, though she says it is not autobiographical. When she was about 17 years old, her mother sent her away from St Johns to work as a nanny in New York because her stepfather was sick and couldn’t provide for the family. When she got to her new job, however, Kincaid refused to send any of the money home. She enrolled in courses and was a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine by the time she was in her mid-20s.
So, anyway. I’m reading Annie John. And the next country, which I will start investigating immediately, will be Argentina which will surely be easier to organise.
Another book down. Only about 200 to go. Damn.
Anyway, the Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa, (translated by Daniel Hahn) wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t anything amazing either. The entire thing pretty much takes place in one room with a couple of dream sequences and an excursion or two into a courtyard.
Some reviews of the book complained about the title of the translation seeing the narrator is actually a gecko, not a chameleon, but it is pretty obvious that the characters are the chameleons, not the lizard. The main character sells pasts, bodgying up documents and stories so they can become different people in the present.
Considering it’s a translation, the writing is pretty good. The characters are interesting enough as well, which is lucky seeing it is them that carries what little there is of actual plot.
I’d probably recommend it, seeing it is so short. If it was any longer it would be stretching the friendship.
And there goes Angola. (I didn’t really learn anything at all about the country. There are mentions of colonialism and stuff like that, but it is all pretty generic. Though I do get the feeling that the country was supposed to be another of the chameleons.) Next on the list is Antigua and Barbuda which is looking just as difficult as Angola was.
So, it’s been a while. My excuse is doing layout for POD books and also having trouble finding a book from Angola that sounded interesting and that I was willing to pay for. Apparently lots of books from Angola are no longer available. Why the hell is that? There were a couple of books that had great reviews but are unavailable in ebook! The publishers just have to do a couple of hours work and then it’s free money. Oh well, their loss.
In the end, I paid over $6 for the ebook of The Book of Chameleons. It sounds like one of those ones that could be interesting or a complete piece of crap (For eg, the narrator of the book is a gecko and there is apparently no chameleon at all.) So, wish me luck.
And, in the future, I intend to start looking for books a bit sooner so, hopefully, the long delays don’t happen as often. (And I did read another book in the middle, by the way.
My Andorran book, The Teacher of Cheops, was written by Albert Salvado, an Andorran, but obviously had nothing to do with the place. That isn’t the type of book I would prefer, but there weren’t a lot of choices available. And I have to say, I wish I’d found something else.
The story itself is about a slave who gains his freedom and ends up in Cairo (under a different name) as an accountant. It wasn’t terrible (though not great either) but it needed a serious edit. There were some instances where incorrect names were used. There were lots of punctuation errors and typos. And I’m pretty sure there were times where I’m sure the meaning was the opposite to what it was supposed to be, though I may be wrong because sometimes it was just difficult to work out what I was actually reading.
So, my first rule for people getting a translation done… Get a native speaker of the language you are translating into, not the language you are translating from. If that isn’t possible, after the translator is done, send it to an editor in the new language. Seriously, any half decent English speaking writer or editor could improve the book heaps with one read through. (So, Mr Salvado, if you are reading this, I can do it for you for a price.)
The main character taught Cheops, but it was such a minor part of the story. If you put together all the bits that mention this teaching it wouldn’t even take up a chapter. As stated above, a lot of the language is awkward. There’s head hopping. The characters aren’t particularly deep, especially the minor ones. It takes a long time to get to the meat of the story. I could go on…
I think the translation can be blamed for a lot of the problems, but not all of them. Now I am moving on to Angola and hopefully I can find something written in English.
This one was written in London when Wolfy was about 8 years old and all I can say is that I can hear the Stock, Aitkmen and Waterman influences… Not really, obviously. All I’m going to say (because I can’t remember much of the earlier pieces seeing it was so long ago) is harpsichord. Again. (This one is apparently available in piano versions as well but I didn’t see one quickly.) Though there does seem to be more light and shade than I remember from the others. Perhaps that’s only because there are some other instruments in there helping out.
But not saying anything. So, shhhh.
I have decided that I should try to put the original version of the songs on my Cover Lover posts as well. Or at least the one that made the song famous. So, that is my plan from now on.
So, I’ve been a bit slow with everything on the blog recently because I’ve been working on trying to get some POD books sorted for my Tribes of the Hakahei. This has involved a name change (It is now two books instead of four and the series is called The Bygone Wars— much better) and covers and layout and whatever else. Because of some difficulties with my covers I still haven’t actually finished yet, but I’ve got past the bit I needed to do quickly to get the setup for free. So now I’m having a bit of a break.
So, with that in mind, I have chosen (and actually paid money for) my Andorran book. Albert Salvadó comes from the correct part of the world but the book is called The Teacher of Cheops (which you could probably tell from the cover) and is obviously set in Egypt.
I’m a bit disappointed about that, but finding English translations of books has been a bit difficult. So it is done, and I shall be putting up a review when I finish.