BlogTour The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Ruști

 It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Ruști.  Translated from the Romanian language by James Christian Brown.

About the Author

Doina Ruști  is one of Romania’s most successful writers of historical and speculative fiction. Known for the originality of her novels, Ruști is the recipient of many major Romanian awards, and her books have been translated into multiple languages, including Chinese and German to date. Ruști is known for exploring aspects of fantasy and the supernatural, as well as tackling darker themes such as political corruption. 

She says, “I live in Bucharest, the happiest city in the world, even its name says it (The City of Joy). In all my novels I write about Bucharest. If this city didn’t exist, maybe I wouldn’t be a writer.”

Follow @doinarusti on Twitter, Visit doinarusti.ro

About the Translator – James Christian Brown

‘I am originally from Scotland but have lived in Romania since 1993. I teach in the English Department of the University of Bucharest and translate Romanian books into English. My first book-length translation from Romanian to English was The Păltiniş Diary by Gabriel Liiceanu (2000). More recently I have translated Răzvan Petrescu’s collection of short stories Small Changes in Attitude (2011), the play Mihaela, The Tiger of Our Town by Gianina Cărbunariu (2016), the volume of philosophical talks About the World We Live In by Alexandru Dragomir (2017), and Doina Ruști’s novel The Book of Perilous Dishes (Neem Tree Press, 2022)’

About the book

Bucharest, 1798. – A slave-cook lives in Bucharest, sought after by everyone. His sublime cooking satisfies even the sophisticated tastes of the Prince, who lays claim to him, whisking him off to the Palace. However, no one knows that the cook has in his possession a witch’s recipe book, the Book of Perilous Dishes.

His food can bring about damaging sincerity, forgetfulness, the gift of prediction, or hysterical laughter. And the rightful owner of this book is fourteen-year-old Pâtca, an adolescent initiated in the occult arts. Pâtca comes to Bucharest, to her uncle Cuviosu Zăval, to recover this book, but she finds him dead, murdered, and the Book of Perilous Dishes has disappeared without a trace. All that Zăval has left her is a strange map…

Review

I am eternally grateful for translators who are at the top of their game and able to recreate a foreign language book, so readers from other countries can enjoy brilliant stories that would otherwise remain just beyond our grasp. In this case the translator has in-depth knowledge of language, history and the geographical areas, which absolutely helps to do this story by Ruști justice.

The book starts with an introduction by the translator, which includes the historical context and also why he made certain choices when it came to translating or not translating certain words. At the end of the book there is also the added bonus of a glossary and pronunciation guide.

Pâtca has been preparing for the day when she has to run to save her life – that day has come, it’s time to become who she was always intended to be. She is trained to evoke powers, she is a staunch proud carrier of a special bloodline. A bloodline that determines paths of power, time, space and air.

Her escape and story becomes linked with a man who has become a myth in itself, a cook who creates dishes with intent. Pâtca seeks out her uncle in search of the book containing these dishes, but the book is gone and she is drawn into the rings reverberating from the use of recipes that call upon more than just aptitude and taste.

It’s an intriguing combination of historical fiction and magical realism. It’s on of those books that keeps on giving, worth more than one read – and I don’t say that often. An incredibly intricate read narrated by the young Pâtca, who always seems to be in the midst of confusion, whilst simultaneously being convinced and driven by her birthright. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to read more by Ruști.

Buy The Book of Perilous Dishes at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other reason. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Neem Tree Press.

#BlogTour Children of War by Ahmet Yorulma

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Children of War by Ahmet Yorulma, translated from Turkish by Paula Darwish.

About the Author

Ahmet Yorulmaz was a Turkish a journalist, author and translator. He was born in Ayvalik to a family of Cretan Turks deported to mainland Turkey as part of the Greek-Turkish population exchange decreed in the Treaty of Lausanne. He was fluent in modern Greek and translated novels and poems from contemporary Greek literature to Turkish.

Most of his original works were written with the aim of making people learn about Ayvalık, the city where he grew up. He dedicated himself to Greek-Turkish friendship and rapprochement.

About the Translator

Paula Darwish is a freelance translator and professional musician. She read Turkish Language and Literature with Middle Eastern History at SOAS in London graduating with a First in 1997. She is a qualified member of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters (MITI).

Follow Ahmet Yorulma on GoodreadsBuy Children of War

About the book

Hassanakis is a young Muslim boy of Turkish descent growing up on Crete during WWI. Fifteen generations of his family have lived on the island and until now he has never had any reason not to think he is a Cretan. But with the Great Powers tussling over the collapsing Ottoman Empire and the island’s Christians in rebellion, an outbreak of ethnic violence forces his family to flee to the Cretan city of Chania.

He begins to lay down roots and his snappy dress earns him the nickname of Hassan ‘the mirror’. As WWI draws to a close and the Turkish War of Independence rages, he begins a heady romance with

the elegant Hüsniye. There are rumours that the Cretan Muslims will be sent to Turkey but Hassanakis can’t believe he will be sent to a country whose language he barely knows and where he knows no-one.

Review

My bad, I had no idea the history of Crete was such a geo-political minefield and that the migration associated with it was so complex. A powder-keg of two national identities and religions who live together peacefully, until pot-stirrers looking for power and acknowledgment stoke hatred, which sets the two against each other.

Hassanakis is a young boy, a Muslim boy of Turkish descent who only knows peace and friendship between the Turks and the Cretans of Greek descent. His father starts to speak about rumours of dissent and trouble aimed at anyone of Turkish descent. His fear and paranoia seem to be pulled out of thin air, as he uproots his family to head for a safer location.

The violence they and others encounter leaves a permanent stain on the family as they find themselves in the middle of  ethnic violence. People who have lived on Crete for many generations and yet now find themselves without jobs, businesses and homes. They are targeted, attacked, raped, murdered and those left living become displaced persons.

It’s historical, geo-political fiction or rather a fictional family in the midst of a factual historical setting.

One of my favourite things about this book is the conversations it can generate. After reading it I had a chat with a fellow book enthusiast about the history, so the author achieves both a story and a history lesson at the same time. Now that may not sound interesting to some readers, but it does serve an important purpose.

In times where the curriculum can no longer fit every single bit of history in and the history of the country you live in supersedes the majority of other countries history – many important moments get lost. The kind of important historical moments that help to explain old animosity and scars, conflicts that are often continued over decades and centuries.

It’s a fascinating story of upheaval, displacement and national identity.

Buy Children of War at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Neem Tree Press; pub date 26 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball by Scott Lauder and David Ross

Today it’s my turn and the end of the BlogTour for The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball by Scott Lauder and David Ross.

About the Authors

Scott Lauder was born in Ayrshire, Scotland. Having taught in Greece, Japan, and England, he now lives with his wife and four cats in the UAE where he teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and drinking good coffee. His other books include The Right Thing, A Single Shot, and The Boy-King Tutankhamun.

David Scott Ross has traveled and taught throughout Asia since he first moved there in 1987. He currently teaches in upstate NY, where he lives with his wife and two sons. When David is not writing or teaching, he dreams about becoming a chef, a rock star, maybe an actor, but probably not all at once. At present, he is wrapping up two projects: Pastimes, encounters with a Stone Age people, and Dim, a detective novel.

Follow Scott Lauder @sctlauder on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit meanderingscott.com, Follow David Ross on AmazonBuy The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball

 

About the book

Sara Livingstone’s school trip to the Beijing Palace Museum takes a terrifying turn when an encounter with the ancient Qingming Scroll thrusts her a thousand years into China’s past. With secrets in the shadows and danger around every corner, Sara must take her place in a cosmic battle and find the courage to face an unworldly ancient magic.

Review

From the very beginning there is this question of reality, imagination or perhaps even hallucination. Young Sara isn’t quite sure herself. Nobody else seems to be able to feel or see these odd moments that are throwing her completely off-kilter. The people in her vicinity think she is distracted and has her head in the clouds.

Strange events start happening a few days before Sara goes on a school trip to the Beijing Palace Museum. Occasional blips that feel as if she is being drawn into something or some being is waiting for her. Sounds seem to be louder and she is seeing things that just aren’t there or are they? These odd events come to a head when she encounters the ancient Qingming Scroll on her trip.

The story goes back and forth in time from present to the ancient past, as the reader meets Sara in the present and young boy called Shan Mu/Wu in the past. Their worlds collide when Sara comes across the scroll, however the strange events start before that, which suggests there is something much bigger at play.

It’s a fantasy read interwoven with Asian and Chinese culture, folklore and ancient magic. It’s suitable for both younger and older readers. Based on the last chapter I think this just the beginning of Sara’s adventures and the story of The Three Hares.

You know I am going to have to find out who the other two Hares are, right? That’s definitely a wee bit of a cliffhanger.

Buy The Three Hares at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Neem Tree Press, Paperback pub date 5 September 2019 – £10.99 / $12.99. EBook / Epub, Mobi, PDF pub date 5 September 2019 £9.99 / $9.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Distant Signs by Anne Richter

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Distant Signs by Anne Richter.Translated from German by Douglas Irving. It’s literary and historical fiction.About the Author

Anne Richter was born in 1973 in Jena, in the former German Democratic Republic. Her degree in Romance languages and English included study periods in England, Italy and France. In 2011, Anne was nominated for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, a highly regarded German-language literary award. Her debut novel, Distant Signs, was published in Germany in 2013. Anne is currently writing her second novel.

Buy Distant Signs

About the book

Historic fiction and family saga from East Germany post WWII to just after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Distant Signs provides us with an intimate portrait of families across three generations. In 1960s East Germany, Margret, a professor’s daughter from the city, meets and marries Hans, from a small village in Thuringia. The couple struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of war. As East German history gradually unravels, with collision of the personal and political, acutely observed vigne Kes quietly reveal their two families’ hidden truths.

Review

I spent over three decades in West-Germany or the BRD (Bundesrepublik Deutschland). I was a few years older than the author when the Berlin Wall came down. It’s hard for people outside the country to understand how much of an impact the division of the country has had on the German people. Even now, years after the fall of the wall, they still make the distinction between East and West.

As I was growing up it was referred to as Dunkel Deutschland – Dark Germany, mainly because of the oppressive regime the other side of the wall lived under.

I can remember a young girl joining our school, her family was from East Germany, she turned up in her Young Pioneers uniform. She sat there in a uniform donned with a blue neckerchief in the midst of a room full of kids dressed in a variety of clothes and colours. It never dawned on me at the time to question the how or the why.

It’s also important to know that the focus in history lessons and books was on the division of the country, whereas the sordid details of WW2 weren’t a focus in the curriculum. In the last few decades this has changed and there is a lot of reflection by younger generations determined to deal with the past.

I digress. (As per usual)

Although the above may seem like my usual meanderings, it is important to comprehend that everyone suffers in wartime. I think the author has purposely started this story in the aftermath of the war, so the focus will be on the Germans, as opposed to the Allies and the victims of the Nazi regime.

The attempt to get the reader to envision the characters as victims, and not just as perpetrators or part of said regime. This is especially evident in the stories of Friedrich and Johanna. Friedrich’s account of the Trümmerfrauen and their children, of Johanna and their children starving and without a home.

The same can be said for Hans and Margret, who experience the trauma of war in a completely different way and are both defined by their experiences. As we move further into the future the insidious nature of East Germany becomes almost synonymous with the oppressive regime they thought they had left behind, but wasn’t too different – barring the genocide of course.

It’s literary and historical fiction. Relationships built on the fraught emotional remains of traumatised children, young people and adults. I think it’s probably better to have some historical references or knowledge going into the read, if only for the reason mentioned above.

It’s hard to separate the more horrific narrative from the simple fact that Richter wants the reader to experience the characters and their story as individuals without the added connotations of mass-murder. It can however be done. I would love to read it in the original language too.

Buy Distant Signs at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Publisher: Neem Tree Press Limited pub date 21 Feb. 2019. Hardback Price £14.99, eBook price £8.99

About the translator – Douglas Irving

Douglas Irving is Scottish. He studied German and Spanish at Aberdeen University. In 2014 he completed a Masters in Translation at Glasgow University. His first translation, Crossing: A Love Story by Anna Seghers was published in 2016 in the US to positive reviews. His translation of Anna Seghers’ last work published in her lifetime, Three Women from Haiti, is set to follow.

Neem Tree Press

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