Strange Occurrence in the Region of the Heart

Strange_OccurrenceWow, we’re already into April and this is the first announcement I have found time to make since last year. Turns out they’re like buses, but more of that anon. Today I’d like to draw your attention to an intriguing collection of short stories by the gloriously named Roman Rudin: Strange Occurrence in the Region of the Heart. These are well-crafted stories with satisfying denouements, and I am delighted to have had the chance, along with Caroline Walton and Anthony Bastow, to have worked on them. The story I translated is “The Wind in Rome” – the link will take you to an extract. The entire collection is well worth your time, and the Kindle edition is a snip at just over three pounds. Do leave your thoughts in a comment if you’ve read the collection, I’d love to hear what you thought.

And the winners are…

Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to enter my competition to win a copy of “To See the Moon So Clearly“. I think it is great writing (and hopefully the translation conveys this), and I am so pleased to have made it available to Anglophone readers.

The competition is over, and you can see the names of the lucky winners in the widget below (if you’re on that list, you should have already received an email from me – let me know if that hasn’t reached you). If you weren’t lucky enough to win a copy, the book is available from many outlets. You can get 30% off the price of a print copy from Lulu until November 24: use code FLASH30.

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Last Day of Giveaway today!

Today is your last chance to enter the giveaway to win a copy of “To See the Moon So Clearly” by Gai Sever. If you have been meaning to get around to entering – and it is so simple to do – now is your chance, but don’t delay: entries close at midnight UK time tonight. The more you do, the better your chances of winning, but you have to do it today.

The prize copies have arrived

Gai Sever's To See the Moon So ClearlyThe prizes are here! They really are handsome little volumes that would grace any bookshelf. More importantly, so would the content. All you have to do to be in with a chance is to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

Relaunch and giveaway!

So here we are in the new place, and not a moment too soon, really. I suppose, in the lingo, that means Ian Appleby 2.0, but I’m not feeling sufficiently cybernetic to fully embrace that notion; nonetheless, this is the official site relaunch. There’s no doubt about it, the old place was looking a bit tired and, as one friend commented, the colour scheme made me look more like a healthcare provider than a translator. Hopefully, the new layout seems brighter and easier-to-read, and at last I have a logo that better conveys what it is that I do (thanks to Sam Ross for the illustration, and apologies to John Tenniel for the same…)To See the Moon So Clearly front cover

To celebrate the fresh new look, I’m delighted to offer a fresh new book: I am giving away five copies of “To See the Moon So Clearly” up for grabs. It’s a handsome little volume of three short stories by Gai Sever – why not whet your appetite? To enter, simply complete one or more of the tasks in the box below that correspond to the social media you enjoy using (I’m really not expecting anyone to do everything on the list). Some tasks ask you to add information as evidence you have completed it, so please remember to do that, otherwise your entry may be invalidated. The giveaway ends on the dot of midnight on November 21, and I will contact the winners shortly after.

Facebook rules forbid me from offering points in return for sharing this on your timeline, but if you should see fit to do so anyway, I would be jolly grateful. As for Twitter, what the box doesn’t say is that you can tweet once per day for extra points each time: I leave it to your discretion as to how much tolerance your followers may have… Good luck!

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Angela Carter and St Petersburg

I’m finally catching up with the work of Angela Carter, a writer who’s been on my to-read list for years, now. I’ve begun with “Nights at the Circus”, which I’m enjoying very much, if enjoy is the right word given the miserable lives of many of the protagonists: of a traumatised abuse victim repressing her memories and having no thought of the future, she writes, beautifully and heart-breakingly, “she was the broken blossom of the present tense”.

Still, this is not an in-depth review, more of a “coo, look at this”. The action has shifted to fin de siecle St Petersburg, and I can’t help thinking that Carter must have both visited Leningrad (the book was first published in 1984) and not enjoyed it: “a city stuck with lice and pearls”, and, later, “All was elegant, even sumptuous, finished with a heavy, rather queasy luxury that always seemed to have grime under its fingernails.” That last is a description that rings true to me all these years on, perhaps even more so in the post-Soviet era.

But I want to leave you with this image, seen by a dazed American journalist who is posing as a clown in order to be close to the main female character, the mysterious winged aerialiste Fevvers:

… now peering at the great horseman on his plinth with a vague terror, as though the horseman were not the effigy of the city’s founder but the herald of four yet more mythic horsemen who are, indeed, on their way to confound Petersburg forever, though they won’t arrive yet, not quite yet.

Are cities like ships?

At least, in English, are they referred to as ‘she’? I have used feminine pronouns for Rome in a story I’m working on, whereas in Russian – which language does, of course, have grammatical genders – Rome (Рим) is, grammatically speaking, masculine. The author is awe-struck at the alchemical transformation thus wrought upon his story, in which the city is no longer identified closely with the male protagonist but, rather, with the female antagonist, and I, in turn, without wanting to go all Sapir-Whorf on you, am struck by how much grammatical genders spill over into other channels of understanding.

To return to my original question, then, I cannot identify precisely why Rome should in my mind be ‘she’ and not ‘he’. I never had the Latin for the judgin’, but Roma is feminine – is it a hangover from classical times? However, in that case, York and London should be masculine, and I remain to be convinced that either city is – indeed, I adduce evidence to the contrary for at least one of them. Any thoughts?

“Hello World!” or “The anticipation mounts”

Well this is just a quick note to ensure that the “news” category is working, and to say a quick hello to those lucky few of you who have a sneak preview of the new-look site – do feel free to leave a quick comment with any feedback you may have.

Future posts may be more insightful. Then again…