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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Women In Translation

With the buzz for Women In Translation Month gaining momentum, you may be wondering, "Where do I begin? I don't know of any female translated authors". Chances are you actually do, though you may not immediately think of them as WITs. In no particular order, here are some that you're likely to find easily (and one of their well-known titles/series)

1. Muriel Barbery ~ The Elegance of the Hedgehog
2. Fred Vargas ~ Commissaire Adamsberg series
3. Isabel Allende ~ Portrait in Sepia
4. Tatiana De Rosnay ~ Sarah’s Key
5. Banana Yoshimoto ~ Kitchen
6. Yoko Ogawa ~ The Housekeeper and the Professor
7. Delphine de Vigan ~ Nothing Holds Back the Night
8. Tove Jansson ~ The Summer Book
9. Karin Fossum ~ Inspector Sejer series
10. Kjersti Skomsvold ~ The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am

Keep an eye on Biblibio for a more comprehensive list and for more information on #WITMonth.

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Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Summer Book(s)

Our next four Raven Bookclub reads by the numbers:
1 collection of short stories
2 in translation
3 by women, 1 by a man
Authors originated from Finland, Canada, Columbia, England
Authors were born in 1914, 1922, 1927, 1956
Published by Salt, Penguin, NYRB, Sort of Books

The death of Gabriel García Márquez brought an urge to re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude, my first foray into Magic Realism. I remember like snap-shots the images evoked by the novel and I'm looking forward to linking them together again in a full narrative. (May 22nd)

Little Egypt: I was introduced to the writing of Lesley Glaister by a customer and wonder why it is that her novels aren't better known. Beautifully crafted stories often centring on marginalised characters with secrets they'll hardly breathe even to themselves. (June 19th)

We herald July with The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, best know for her Moomin stories written for children (and beloved by adults). I felt the chill of icicles reading The Winter Book, let's hope this tale brings the warmth of abundant sunshine. (July 17th)


Paris Stories: I confess to being a late-comer to Mavis Gallant, discovering her only a week or two before she died. Jhumpa Lahiri's remembrance of her piqued my interest to explore her writing further. (August 28th)

A reminder that places are open but limited and it is essential that you let us know in advance if you would like to join in the discussion (7:30pm start time). Email us at hello@ravenbooks .ie

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Friday, 13 December 2013

Spring Ravens

As we near the Winter Solstice, it's time to start preparing for the shift towards Spring - snowdrops, baby lambs, and a whole host of new titles to tickle our literary fancy. The first choice for the Raven Readers is however an older title, one to tide us over from the depths of darkness into the slow emergence of "a stretch in the evenings". I first read William Maxwell over the summer and was deeply impressed; I hope The Chateau will live up to my high expectations. There is an interview with him here which is well worth perusing. (January 30th)

Just so you know, Willy Vlautin has a reputation for breaking hearts. I don't doubt that reading his shopping list would leave me with a tear in my eye. The Free is his fourth novel and opens with Leroy, a young, wounded, Iraq veteran, waking to a rare moment of clarity, his senses flooded with the beauty of remembering who he is but the pain of realising it won't last. (February 27th)

March is a very special read as Liz is a dear customer of ours. Unravelling Oliver is, in the words of her publisher Penguin Ireland, "a complex and elegant study of the making of a sociopath". It might also be described as "a very dark tale about neglect, abandonment, grief and lost children" (March 27th)

Finally in our Spring cycle is Elizabeth Strout's The Burgess Boys. Her previous novel Olive Kitteridge deservedly won the Pulitzer Prize and this offering promises to be no less impressive. (April 24th)

A reminder that places are limited and it is essential that you let us know (i)if you would like to join in the discussion (7:30pm start time) (ii)if you would like us to supply you with a copy of the book. Email us at hello@ravenbooks .ie

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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Gaisce and School Libraries

For the second year running, we will later this week be welcoming students from Loreto Beaufort who are participating in the Gaisce President’s Award. They are each given a budget to pick out books that will be entered into the school’s library system and tracked for the academic year. There are many lessons to be learned in this excellent exercise and we will gladly welcome other schools/libraries who may wish to try out the scheme.

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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Raven Readers

One of the sadnesses of my job is listening to customers bemoaning the fact that they are expected to read a book that they have absolutely no interest in for their book club. Based on this experience, I intend on being entirely dictatorial in choosing the titles for the Raven Readers book club - folks can choose in advance which titles might pique their interest and avoid those that don't grab them.

Our inaugural read will be Penelope Fitzgerald's novel The Bookshop (September 26th); the October discussion will be on Jhumpa Lahiri's much anticipated The Lowland (October 24th); our final autumnal read as the days darken will be Paul Harding's Enon (November 28th - this gives you loads of time if you wish to read Tinkers first).

Places are limited and it is essential that you let us know (i)if you would like to join in the discussion (7:30pm start time) (ii)if you would like us to supply you with a copy of the book. We have been graciously welcomed to meet in the Blackrock wine bar, Le Grape Escape, who also serve craft beer and cider, and might even provide a pot of tea if requested.

Does this sound like something you'd like to get involved with? Email me now to reserve a place: louisa @ravenbooks.ie

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Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Novella

This morning on Newstalk in a discussion on abandoned books, the thesis was voiced that these days it is only because of electronic publishing that a 70 page novella could be presented to the reading public. As it was off-topic, I didn't raise the recent novellas which have successfully traversed the traditional publishing route but as I am a fan of the short form I thought I would share three of them here.

The first, Claire Keegan's Foster, began life as a short story in The New Yorker in February 2010 and later that year was published by Faber & Faber in slightly longer form. A best seller on release, the novella is now studied by Leaving Cert students across the country.

Anita Desai has spoken eloquently on her growing preference for the novella form and her most recent publication, The Artist of Disappearance, contains three stories in a gorgeous little hardback of only 176 pages.

My final choice is disputable as Part II of Jhumpa Lahiri's stellar collection Unaccustomed Earth is technically three linked short stories, however I read them as the beginning, middle and end of a novella (they had me up way past my bedtime unable to stop turning pages until I had reached the conclusion).

For more on novellas, I suggest listening to BBC Radio 4's Open Book from August 2011 which includes an interview with Anita Desai and a history of the form by literary critic Peter Kemp: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013rj91. For more of our short favourites: http://www.ravenbooks.ie/shortstories.html ~Louisa

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Friday, 24 May 2013

Kudos to Courageous School Librarians

Graphic novels are all too often frowned upon by school librarians and it is highly commendable that Joan and Alison of Loreto High School supported and encouraged one of their students in her reading passion. Blanaid wrote and presented a fantastic piece on the drawn word which you can read here: Graphic Storytelling from Around the World by Blanaid NiBhraonain

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