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Showing posts from July, 2014

Ferenc Karinthy - Metropole

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Karinthy's Metropole was given to me in France over Christmas by my brother-in-law; it appears to have been published in French in 1999 by Editions DENOEL and in English in 2008 by Telegram (UK). is a Kafka-like novel. I had never heard of the novel or the author, but now understand that he was from Hungary, and according to the back cover, was a novelist, playwright, journalist and water polo champion. Busy people, these Hungarians!

As others have noted, it is a Kafkaesque tale, built on a simple premise (like The Trial, where Joseph K is under arrest but doesn't know why). In this case, the protagonist Budai is on a trip to Helsinki to attend a linguists' conference but someone ends up on the wrong plane, and subsequently, in an unknown, multicultural city, somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere (he eventually establishes, from the stars) but really - God-knows-where. Budai's incomprehension at his fate bears some similarity to Joseph K; it's a matter of a Europe…

The Dancer Upstairs - Nicholas Shakespeare

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I have read three Nicholas Shakespeare novels in recent years, and have found each one to be intriguing - novels with plots, which I like, novels about troubled men and mysterious women. Call me old fashioned, but I like that combination as well.

I read the novels all out of order in terms of when they were published, not that this probably matters very much. Inheritance (2011) appealed to me with the premise of the failed writer who inherits millions by chance and has all the distrust to deal with that comes with that. There's an Australian mining story behind the money and a search for the truth in events of the past. I really enjoyed Snowleg (2004) and its evocation of East Germany before the wall came down; two cities I know well enough feature in the story - Leipzig in the East, and Hamburg in the West. The protagonist, Peter, falls in love in Leipzig but the authorities get in the way and he leaves with profound regrets, guilt and uncertainty about his actions which plagues …