Tag: Javier Cercas

The Impostor by Javier Cercas

Posted July 10, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 4 Comments

The Impostor by Javier CercasTitle: The Impostor (Goodreads)
Author: Javier Cercas
Translator: Frank Wynne
Published: MacLehose Press, 2014
Pages: 430
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: eBook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindleWordery (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2018

One of the problems I faced with reading the entire Man Booker International longlist is that the judges tended to pick similar types of books. This year there was a real focus on novels that blurred the line between fiction and memoir. This means that some of the picks felt too similar. Take for example, The Imposter by Javier Cercas (translated by Frank Wynne), which I read right after reading Like a Fading Shadow by Antonio Muñoz Molina which was translated by Camilo A. Ramirez. Both books seem to be a hybrid that deal with real historical events as well as the author’s life.

The Imposter is centred on Enric Marco, a man who claimed he was a prisoner in Nazi German concentration camps Mauthausen and Flossenbürg during World War II. He was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi (one of the highest civil distinction awards) by the Catalan government, as well as writing a book about his experience. He even became the president of Spain’s leading Holocaust survivor movement. However, it was a lie, in which he responded by saying “I am an impostor, but not a fraud”. A decade later Javier Cercas is investigating Spanish history and then looks into the impact Enric Marco had on the world.

This is a look into human nature and self-deception, while a fascinating concept, this just fell flat for me. This was one of the books I was looking forward to reading on the longlist. The idea of digging yourself into such a lie fascinated me. I truly think I picked this one at the wrong time. It became a struggle to read and I am unable to tell if it was the book itself or the timing. Both The Imposter and Like a Fading Shadow just blended together completely.

I am really unsure if I will re-read this book at a future date, but it has made me rethink reading the Man Booker International longlist in the future. Ideally, I would have read a few of the books on the long list before it is announced. I am getting more and more into books in translations and I hope in 2019 when the longlist is announced I will already have some of the books crossed off. Have you had this experience before? For those who have read this one, is it just a case of bad timing? I am curious to know from others.


Distracted by Other Books

Posted June 5, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 6 Comments

My Thoughts and Reading in May 2018

When I first came to reading I was not sure what I liked and I turned to the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list to help me. I saw myself as a literary explorer (hence my previous blog name) and I was willing to try anything and everything. With this in mind I joined a real life book club as a way to explore and practice talking about literature. Fast forward to now, and I have found my niche and I know what I like, so now sometimes book club feels like a chore more than a joy. Having to read The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland for May and The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman for June have been challenging. It feels like they are picking pretty covers but the content has not been that desirable, for me anyway. I want more from my literature than what is provided in these novels. I feel like The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart was too similar to so many other stories, like The Choke, Nest and Deep Water; all three were novels read because of the book club. I do love being the one that dislikes the books but at what point does it stop being worth attending? I do not plan to quit, but I have been thinking about this since I have not enjoyed a pick in a very long time.

Besides my contemplations on book clubs, I have been thinking about the Man Booker International prize as well. I am very pleased to see Flights win; I thought it was an amazing book. I was able to complete the entire longlist except two books which I might read later but I feel a little burnt out by the experience. While I loved being part of a community reading these books and it really sparked my passion for blogging again I felt very restricted by the task. I am very much a mood reader and to have assigned books can put me in a reading slump. This is not to say I would not attempt to read the longlist again in the future. I just hope to have read some of the books on the list next time. Out of all the books on the list Die, My Love was the one I still think about but I also loved The 7th Function of Language and Frankenstein in Baghdad.

Mexican literature seems to be the flavour of the month having read both Like Water for Chocolate and Faces in the Crowd. There is something about Latin American magical realism that seems to work for me, something that I have not found in other forms of magical realism. I have not been able to put my finger on why I enjoy it more but I will keep exploring. I absolutely adored Faces in the Crowd, which is a book you might hear me talk about in the near future. I think Valeria Luiselli might be one of those authors I will be watching closely in the future. I did read The Story of My Teeth but it was not until I read Faces in the Crowd that I realised just how brilliant she is.

Also this month I read Cop Hater, an old school police procedural and Lullaby, a novel that felt like the author was letting her own fears play out on the page. The final book I want to talk about is Packing My Library. I loved The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel and I expected that Packing My Library would bring me the same amount of joy. Though one book was able to blend his personal narrative eloquently with the history of the library, the other just felt more like digressions from his topic. To be fair the subtitle to Packing My Library is An Elegy and Ten Digressions, so maybe I should have expected this. I love reading books about books but I tend to enjoy the ones that are able to blend the personal with something more which is normal literary criticism.

I went a little overboard with my book buying this month and I told myself it was mainly for my podcast. I do not know how this works but I will defend myself by saying that yes, some are for my podcast and most of them have been read now as well. I do not think I was distracted by other books this month. This might be because I am currently housesitting and only have a handful of books to choose from. I thought it was a rather slow reading month for me as well, but this turned out to be untrue. I was sure I spent too much time watching Netflix instead of reading but the statistics prove otherwise.

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