#Blogtour The Stars Among Us by Sanja S. Jungic

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour The Stars Among Us by Sanja S. Jungic.

About the Author

Sanja S. Jungic’s bestselling debut novel, Zvijezde medu nama (The Stars Among Us) was published in Croatian in 2019. The novel was inspired by Sanja’s real life experience on the set of mega-popular show Game of Thrones, gaining a lot of press interest. 

This prompted Sanja to write her second novel, Ti si moje sve (You are My Everything), whilst having Zvijezde medu nama translated into English by the renowned Croatian translator Neven Divjakinja. 

Sanja is very excited to see her bestselling debut published in English for the first time. She lives in Zagreb with her husband Saša and their pets Toya, Cecilije and Egidije. You can find out more about Sanja at sanjasjungic.com. Connect with Sanja on Facebook sanjasrdicjungic, Twitter @ssshedreams1988 and on Instagram @sanjasjungic

About the book

Nora is as shocked as her friends and family when she quits a perfectly good job to become an extra in a Hollywood movie being filmed in Dubrovnik. She hopes it will help her move on from a painful break-up and give her breathing space to find out what she wants to do with her life.

To Nora’s delight she discovers that she loves every minute in her new “temporary” career. It doesn’t hurt either that the handsome assistant director, Ivor, takes more than a passing interest in her. But then events take a dramatic and unforeseen turn when Lucas Winter, world-famous actor and Nora’s teenage heartthrob, unexpectedly arrives on set…

The Stars Among Us is inspired by the author’s real-life experience of being an extra on the set of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Review

Nora is probably braver and more reckless than a lot of her peers. Discarding everything to follow what others consider to be a pipe dream, but isn’t it better to have tried than to always regret not trying at all. There she is in a strange country, struggling financially, and having her first taste of the world of show business. 

The work of an extra on a movie set isn’t very glamorous, however things start to look up when Nora connects with the assistant director. That in itself brings certain complications to the table, but nothing like the whirlwind of emotions heading her way when destiny charts her life with the possibilities of two endings.

The writing was a little he said, she said and a bit YA-ish at times which may or may not be the lack of voice coming through via translation, or the style of the author. An emerging voice with a strong premise though.

I think the sentiment that I took from this book, and indeed it is a lens through which I would view my own choices in life, is that: without your story there, wouldn’t be our story. It’s hard to navigate emotional minefields and baggage to get to the specific details and core of your emotions, and said emotional baggage, where you can accept the aforementioned and view it with such simplicity.

Sometimes you have to wade through the forest to get to the tranquil beach. Do you forget the trek, the scratches or the journey – no, but it fades with time as you enjoy the destination you ultimately chose. Nora embarks on a turbulent adventure indeed.

Buy The Stars Among Us at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Blunder by Mutt-Lon

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Blunder by Mutt-Lon, translated by Amy B. Reid.

About the Author

Mutt-Lon is the literary pseudonym of author Nsegbe Daniel Alain. His first novel, Ceux qui sortent dans la nuit (Those Who Come Out at Night, 2013), brought him critical acclaim when it received the prestigious Ahmadou Kourouma Prize in 2014. Les 700 aveugles de Bafia (2020), published in English as The Blunder, is his third novel and the first to be translated into English. He lives in Douala—Cameroon’s most international and cosmopolitan city—and speaks English fluently.

About the Translator

Amy B. Reid is an award-winning translator who has worked with authors from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti. Among her translations are the Patrice Nganang titles Dog Days: An Animal Chronicle (2006) and the trilogy comprised of Mount Pleasant (2016), When the Plums Are Ripe (2019), and A Trail of Crab Tracks (2022), as well as Queen Pokou: Concerto for a Sacrifice (2009) and Far from My Father (2014) by Véronique Tadjo. 

In 2016 she received a Literature Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for When the Plums Are Ripe. She holds a PhD in French from Yale University (1996) and is a professor of French and Gender Studies at New College of Florida.

About the book

Cameroon, 1929. As colonial powers fight for influence in Africa, French military surgeon Eugène Jamot is dispatched to Cameroon to lead the fight against sleeping sickness there. But despite his humanitarian intentions, the worst comes to pass: seven hundred local villagers are left blind as a result of medical malpractice by a doctor under Jamot’s watch.

Damienne Bourdin, a young white woman, ventures to Cameroon to assist in the treatment effort. Reeling from the loss of her child, she’s desperate to redeem herself and save her reputation. But the tides of rebellion are churning in Cameroon, and soon after Damienne’s arrival, she is enlisted in a wild plot to staunch the damage caused by the blunder and forestall tribal warfare. 

Together with Ndongo, a Pygmy guide, she must cross the country on foot in search of Edoa, a Cameroonian princess and nurse who has gone missing since the medical blunder was discovered.

As Damienne races through the Cameroonian forest on a farcical adventure that unsettles her sense of France’s “civilizing mission,” she begins to question her initial sense of who needed saving and who would save the day.

Review

Damienne is both the main character and simultaneously the colonial example, ergo a perfect example of the irony and humour the author uses to bring readers this moment of important history. She embodies the white saviour, the colonial attitude towards indigenous people of all countries usurped, used and modified to embody foreign replicas of the home country.

She returns after over three decades to Cameroon, to the scene and aftermath of a terrible injustice and her the part she played in said injustice, and the attempt to stop bloodshed and tribal warfare.

When I read books like this, that have a factual core in the midst of the fiction, and one that has been swallowed into the black hole of history. Forgotten, as many fatal mistakes, atrocities, and in general inhumane acts in the name of colonial regimes. The victors write the history, and in doing so they often omit the details that don’t fit in with the white-washed written narrative.

The blunder of Jamot, as it is known, is one of these overlooked omissions – a tragedy that has probably become a bit of a tale of horror passed on through the generations. The need for some people to play the saviour supersedes the necessity for accountability when they make mistakes.

Some translators have the ability to translate both word and voice, which Reid certainly does very well, however I think I was more impressed with the fact its apparent the story was consumed and understood with such clarity. In fact the note by said translator at the end is the perfect add-on to a fascinating read.

Buy The Blunder at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher Amazon Crossing; pub date 12th July 2022 | Paperback £6.99 UK. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Homecoming by Anna Enquist

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Homecoming by Anna Enquist, translated by Eileen Stevens.

About the Author

Anna Enquist studied piano at the academy of music in The Hague and psychology at Leiden University. She is the author of the novels The Masterpiece; The Secret, winner of the 1997 Dutch Book of the Year awarded by the public; The Ice Carriers; Counterpoint; Quartet; and the international bestseller The Homecoming, which received the Prix du Livre Corderie Royale-Hermione for its French translation. 

Anna is also the author of A Leap, a collection of dramatic monologues, as well as numerous poetry collections, including Soldiers’ Songs, for which she was awarded the C. Buddingh’ Prize; A New Goodbye; and Hunting Scenes, winner of the Lucy B. and C.W. van der Hoogt Prize.

About the Translator – Eileen Stevens

Eileen Stevens earned her MA in linguistics with a specialization in translation from the University of Amsterdam. Her many Dutch-to-English translation credits include Connie Palmen’s Your Story, My Story; Karin Schacknat’s In and Out of Fashion; Vera Mertens’s The Concentration Camp; and Ineke van Doorn’s Singing from the Inside Out. She has also translated numerous essays on classical music and the arts. A New Jersey native, Eileen spent twenty-five years working as a professional violinist in a Dutch orchestra and has lived in Amsterdam since 1990.

About the book

After twelve years of marriage to English explorer James Cook, Elizabeth has yet to spend an entire year with her husband. In their house by the Thames, she moves to the rhythms of her life as a society wife, but there is so much more to her than meets the eye. She has the strength to manage the house and garden, raise their children, and face unbearable sorrow alone.

As she prepares for another homecoming, Elizabeth looks forward to James’s triumphant return and the work she will undertake reading and editing his voluminous journals. But will the private life she’s been leading in his absence distract her from her role in aid of her husband’s grand ambitions? Can James find the compassion to support her as their family faces unimaginable loss, or must she endure life alone as he sails off toward another adventure?

An intimate and sharply observed novel, The Homecoming is as revelatory as James Cook’s exploration of distant frontiers and as richly rewarding as Elizabeth’s love for her family. With courage and strength, through recollection and imagination, author Anna Enquist brilliantly narrates Elizabeth’s compelling record of her life, painting a psychological portrait of an independent woman ahead of her time.

Review

It’s always fascinating to read about the women behind important historical figures. The people who remain anonymous, invisible and because of that they disappear into the folds of history books and archives. The importance of their roles is underrated and often never told. Putting that into perspective, who doesn’t know about James Cook, and who in turn knows anything about his wife Elizabeth.

We meet Elizabeth as she is preparing for her husband to return to her once again. Not unlike modern military wives, she is the glue that holds the family and home together, awaiting the man who is little more than a distant love. They have spent little time together for the duration of their marriage – his endeavours, tasks and adventures always come first.

She carries the weight of grief alone, the unusual existence of being the wife of an early version of a celebrity. It’s no wonder that the two of them have little common ground when he finally and reluctantly returns home. The feet they itcheth to be waterborne once more.

The subtle combination of historical fact, imagined dialogue, actual excerpts of letters and journals with a smidgen of faction thrown in to compliment the tale. It’s also a lovely homage to the woman behind the man.

I always appreciate a good translation, which when done well leaves no lasting impression of having been translated, and captures the true essence, the nuances and voice of the author. Kudos to Stevens for that, and to Enquist for the fascinating read.

Buy The Homecoming at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher Amazon Crossing, pub date 1st April 2022 | Paperback: £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Karitas Untitled by Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Karitas Untitled by Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir, translated by Philip Roughton. This is the first book in the Translated Fiction BlogTour, the second book The Homecoming by Anna Enquist is on tour in April – both books are published by Amazon Crossing.

About the Author

Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir is one of Iceland’s most acclaimed writers and the internationally bestselling author of numerous noels, including Karitas Untitled, a Nordic Council Literature Prize nominee; Street of the Mothers; Chaos on Canvas; and Seagull’s Laughter, which was adapted for the stage and also into an award-winning film.

She received her degree in 1991 from the University of iceland and has also worked as a techer and a journalist. Among Kristín Marja’s many honours are the Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon for her achievements in writing and her contributions to Icelandic literature, the Jónas Hallgrímsson Prize, and the Fjöruverðlaun Women’s Literature Prize. Kristín Marja lives in Reykjavik. 

About the Translator

Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of many of Iceland’s best-known authors including Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Þórarinn Eldjárn, Bergsveinn Birgisson, and Steinunn Sigurðardóttir.

About the book

Growing up on a farm in early twentieth-century rural Iceland, Karitas Ólafsdóttir, one of six siblings, yearns for a new life. As an artist, Karitas has a powerful calling and is determined to never let go of her true unconventional self. But she is powerless against the fateful turns of real life and all its expectations of women. Pulled back time and again by design and by chance to the Icelandic countryside―as dutiful daughter, loving mother, and fisherman’s wife―she struggles to thrive, to be what she was meant to be.

Spanning decades and set against a breathtaking historical canvas, Karitas Untitled, an award-winning classic of Icelandic literature, is a complex and immersive portrait of an artist’s conflict with love, family, nature, and a country unaccustomed to an untraditional woman―but most of all, with herself and the creative instincts she has no choice but to follow.

Review

It’s interesting how the young Karitas can recognise certain aspects of her older siblings needing to break free from convention and live life on her own terms, but she does so as a child and perhaps doesn’t comprehend when she goes through the same process. In the one it is perceived as flighty, egotistical and perhaps a possible betrayal of the struggling family, in the other as an existential crisis.

Does Karitas ever acknowledge that fact or does her sister remain the one that attempted or perhaps just the sister who was wilful. In her own journey she finds it difficult and even impossible to live up to expectations and adhere to conventions, and yet she does. Simultaneously the soul of the artist pushes to break free of said constraints. The question is whether the two halves of Karitas can coexist or must one half be sacrificed on the altar of emotional bonds or left to shrivel without the necessary air to breathe?

It’s beautifully written, and at this point kudos to the translator who manages to capture the beating heart of this story. The stunning, compelling and often deadly surroundings. The isolation of the area, and the way the souls of its people are forever anchored to the land. The author describes with compelling accuracy the woman torn in many directions, and the earth she belongs to, the people she loves who ask so much of her. What does she gain in return – not enough? Can it ever be enough? A riveting piece of literature.

Buy Karitas Untitled at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Amazon Crossing; pub date 1 Mar. 2022 – Paperback £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.