I have heard so much about this book ever since I started blogging and was eager to get my hands on it as it had my favourite combination of fiction with science, in this case mathematics. But as usual, I’m always about a year behind everyone else but someone has to keep the fire burning, right? I haven’t read anything else by Yoko Ogawa and wanted to start with this title because the subject matter seemed a little less extreme.

The Housekeeper and The Professor is a tale of two strangers who form a tenuous bond of friendship and love in what can only be described as difficult circumstances. The Professor who had trained at Cambridge and was once the shining beacon of the mathematical world now lives in a memory loop that lasts only 80 minutes after a devastating car crash. His glittering career in ruin, he is looked after by his sister-in-law who hires a housekeeper for his daily needs. And so the Housekeeper arrives. But something changes when the Professor meets her son, whom he names Root, and soon a bond forms between the three of them cemented by their love of baseball and numbers.

I know there’s a film adaptation in Japanese which I haven’t seen yet, but the book was just how I imagined it to be. Soft, gentle and poignant. It is reminiscent of a slower era, the frantic pace of life slowed right down so that you can focus on the minutiae of daily life. And these particular details themselves are like little droplets of life condensed. The food we eat, the daily rituals, the small celebrations. When it comes down to it, it is these things and the people we do them with that are important.

Although I was looking forward to the scientific bits in the novel, I surprisingly found it to be a little superfluous. I guess for a novel to work, the story needs to move forward without it being too bogged down by theory. Somehow I found myself skipping the mathematical bits to continue with the story. Ogawa is good at showing the importance of mathematics to the Professor who lives solely in his head until he meets the Housekeeper and her son, but the beauty of mathematics somehow surpassed me.

The Housekeeper and The Professor is a short, sweet snapshot of friendship and family that can be found in unexpected places and I enjoyed reading this tale.

I read this as part of the Japanese Literature Challenge 5.

So I really enjoyed reading Hear the Wind Sing, Haruki Murakami’s debut novel, and went on to read its sequel, Pinball, 1973 straight away. It’s set three years on from the events in the first book and our narrator, still nameless, has set up a successful translation business with a friend, translating everything from manuals to adverts. The work isn’t too hard and there’s plenty of time to chill after he’s done his day’s worth. Still in his twenties, he hasn’t quite found his niche in life. One day he wakes up in bed with two girls, twins, and so starts their strange life together. And out of the blue comes a chance to reconnect with his favourite pinball machine, a legendary make that seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth. Back in his home town, his friend Rat is still going to J’s Bar and is still unhappy with his life, dropping out of university and several relationships until he too must make a decision about the direction of his life.

I have to confess I didn’t enjoy Pinball, 1973 as much as Hear the Wind Sing even though it has more of a cult following (probably because it’s much harder to get hold of outside Japan) mainly because the minutiae regarding the workings and the narrator’s obession with pinball machines somehow went straight over my head. Never played pinball and am not going to start now. And I wasn’t too tickled by the notion of the narrator, again nameless here, having a threesome with twins. There’s nothing really salacious in Murakami’s novel. It’s just….what is it with men and twins? I mean, would twin girls really want to share a boyfriend? Wouldn’t they want one just for themself? It’s just a bit icky. I’m not a twin so I can’t really understand how true fictional portrayals are although I suspect they tend to be rather extreme and fantastical.

Saying that, I did enjoy reading Pinball, 1973 just because of Murakami’s laconic style which always reminds me of a late summer’s afternoon, full of promise and languour. In some way’s, it’s a very geeky book and I suspect Murakami is a geek. The detail he goes into about translation work and pinball machines, the names of English songs and books. I read somewhere that Japanese critics have accused his novels of smelling like butter, meaning they’re too Westernised, but what’s wrong with writing about what you are into? And you can tell Murakami is totally in love with American culture because it shows in his writing. And I say, bully for him. I see echoes of the American style and vision that was prevalent in Japan when I was growing up there just as it is in his books. Japanese people may be falling out of love with America and its culture, but in the 70s and 80s, it was all the rage.

Murakami captures life in your twenties perfectly. It’s nostalgic and slightly romantic, something I yearned for in my twenties when I was busy studying and getting way too drunk. But looking back, it was a magical time.

Like with Hear the Wind Sing, I had no issues with Alfred Birnbaum’s translation of Pinball, 1973 and found it very easy to immerse myself into the book, although I know there have been many criticisms.

And do check out Stu and Tony’s posts on Pinball, 1973 too.

I read this as part of the Japanese Literature Challenge 5 and the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2011.

So, the mega best-selling 1Q84 is being published as I write this and what better way to celebrate all things Murakami than by going back to read his first novel. More a novella at only 128 pages in the small Japanese paperback published by Kodansha International, Hear the Wind Sing is an easy reading book and holds many of the themes which Murakami returns time and again in his more famous novels, in particular Norwegian Wood.

The un-named narrator is on a Summer break from university and has returned to his home town from Tokyo where he hangs out in J’s Bar and befriends another student called Rat. The novel is essentially a slow summer’s tale, something which reminded me of my own summer holidays as a student where time slows down and it’s hot and lazy and Murakami captures this period that is lost once you become a working adult. We find out about what the narrator likes to read, how he is coming to grips with the world he lives in, his past three loves whose memories are slowing evaporating and his friendships with Rat, who is at a cross-roads in his life and waxes lyrical while drinking at J’s Bar, and a four-fingered girl who works at a record shop and who is recovering from some kind of trauma.

Many have said this isn’t Murakami’s best (it is his debut, after all) and that Murakami is reluctant to have it published outside Japan (the Kodansha International edition is primarily for Japanese students learning English), yet I liked this book. There is something about an author’s hype where you feel that you ought to like their writing even though you don’t. I get a fleeting sense of trepidation every time I start a book by Murakami, but I am always overwhelmed by a feeling of familiarity and how much I am enjoying the experience of reading the book as I turn the pages.

It’s a skeletal version of the themes important to Murakami, as though he is putting out feelers, not yet ready to fully discuss what it is to be alive and to belong. The themes of alienation, dissociation, making your own way into the world and leaving your home behind are all there. But it’s not as harsh and stark as in his later books. There aren’t any fantastical elements here, but I’m a fan of his more realistic novels and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Pinball 1973.

Alfred Birnbaum’s translation was easy to read and pretty good and there was nothing that particularly jarred.

I read this as part of the Japanese Literature Challenge 5 and the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2011.

German Literature Month

4 November, 2011

It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? I was all set to tuck into some German literature for Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy of Lizzy’s Literary Life‘s German Literature Month a few months ago when I first came upon some of their posts and then November happened and I got manflu, which I can’t seem to shake, and I’ve also been busy trying to build up my word count for Nanowrimo. It all seems to happen at the same time.

So it’s a good thing that Caroline reminded me that my review of Dark Matter by Juli Zeh was a good starting point for my month of some German fayre and I realised that I also had one more German title I’d just finished which I’ll be posting about soon. So do have a gander at their blogs to see what’s what, participate in one of the readalongs, join some giveaways and, more importantly, check out what everyone else is reading. I particularly enjoyed Caroline’s post on 14 German Women Writers You Shouldn’t Miss and may choose to read a book from that list.

My knowledge of German literature is skeletal as I’ve only read a couple of authors such as Herman Hesse, Thomas Mann and I think I tried some Faust at college. But I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of Mitteleuropa, the fairy tales of the Grimm brothers and the legends and myths drawn upon by Wagner’s Ring cycle. The only thing that probably stopped me from actually diving into all this rich literature was my lack of linguistic skills. As two of my closest friends are now living in Germany and my ears are becoming attuned to German words, I’m actually rather curious about the German language which sounded so rough at the beginning but has slowly transformed into something musical, and I envy those who will be reading in the original rather than in translation. I hear the syntax is similar to Japanese, but hey, what do I know?

So, who’s in?

Peirene Press burst onto the literary scene last year with the publication of Veronique Olmi’s Beside the Sea followed by Stone in a Landslide by Maria Barbal and Portrait of a Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius. Billed as modern European literature which you can read in a two hour sitting, these books pack a punch more powerful than their slight appearance may give. The first three books made up their year of the woman. 2011 is their year of the man. I still have their 4th and 5th publications, Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki and Tomorrow Pamplona by Jan van Mersbergen, to read but I’m looking foward to them knowing that there will be an ambitious treat in store. But what I became really excited about was their 6th title, Maybe This Time by Alois Hotschnig, only because it is a book of SHORT STORIES. As some of you may know, I ADORE short stories. There’s something about their discreteness and brevity that adds an extra oomph to the reading experience. You can’t quite settle into the story comfortably because it could end at any time. I like that unsettling feeling which leaves me all jumpy and gives me palpitations.

Of the nine stories, the one that had the most impact was the first one which sets the tone for the rest of the collection. In The Same Silence, The Same Noise, the narrator (somehow I think of of him as a man) watches his neighbours, a couple who spend their days sunbathing on their deck, and becomes progressively more paranoid as his obsession intensifies while they coolly ignore him. It’s a masterful piece about a mundane pastime that shows how easily one can get sucked into something vicarious even if nothing is actually happening. There is something lush and vibrant about Hotschnig’s descriptions and I could almost feel the lazy sunshine caressing the skin and the dripping water as the narrator jumps into the lake. The slow build up of paranoia and tension is superb.

The second tale, Two Ways of Leaving, is completely different and left me quite confused and puzzled in a pleasant way. I think it’s about a stalker but I’m not sure. Maybe it’s about closure. You’ll have to read it yourself and make up your own mind.

Then A Door Opens and Swings Shut is probably the creepiest of the stories and is reminscent of Roald Dahl’s more macabre tales. There are dolls and a strange old woman and the licking of faces. Creepy, right?

Maybe This Time, Maybe Now is bathed in pathos, the contrast between the noisy family gatherings and the perpetual longing and waiting for a guest who never appears providing a stark reminder of possible loss and denial. In some ways this story seemed the most quotidien, and maybe because of this, is a bit of a slow-burner and remained with me the longest.

And the final story, You Don’t Know Them, They’re Strangers, reminded me of the film Dark City where every night the people in charge came to re-arrange the sleeping citizen’s lives, but not quite.

There’s something starkly beautiful about Hotschnig’s tales and Tess Lewis’ translation is seamless. There is a clean and clear sense of alienation which imbues the lives of the characters who find themselves in slightly opaque situations. Meike Ziervogel of Peirene Press describes these stories as oblique and Kafkaesque and I completely agree with her. It’s lovely and ever so slightly creepy. As with all short story collections, there will be a couple of stories that may not make the favourite mark, but Maybe This Time is a pretty strong collection.

Thank you to Peirene Press for kindly sending me a copy of Maybe This Time to review. And I hope there will be more short story collections in future!

What a wonderfully whimsical memoir filled with sketches of Cocteau’s friends! I bought Paris Album 1900-1914 (also published under the title My Contemporaries) as a very green undergraduate when I was going through a phase of reading French literature while studying astrophysics (I am my father’s daughter, after all. I can’t escape the spell of Camus’ L’Étranger). I read Beauvoir, Sartre, Camus, Gide, Genet, Flaubert, Zola, Dumas and Hugo so you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this little gem in a book market near my college (yes, I was rather pretentious). See, even writing this, I am imbued with Cocteau’s decadent style which is glorious and transports you back to fin de siècle Paris and the early 20th century when Cocteau was blossoming with his decadent friends reminiscent of the bright young things in the roaring twenties of London and New York.

I have to admit I have a weakness for Jean Cocteau. So talented and so exuberant. I even went to hunt down his mural in Notre Dame de France, a little Catholic Church next to Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Place, off Leicester Square because of a whiff of Da Vinci Code-style mystery. It’s beautiful and simple and if you are ever in London, do visit.

Paris Album reminds me a lot of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast but with French luminaries, many of whom are unfamiliar. Cocteau talks of Isadora Duncan, Gide, Sarah Bernhardt, Colette. That’s the extent of my knowledge. Catulle Mendès, who’s he? Mistinguett, qui? Hédiard, quoi? But it doesn’t matter because Cocteau’s portraits are vivid and vital and luscious. I wanted to be in Paris to meet these larger than life personalities who would probably drive me crazy with their eccentricities.

Ah, how easily we can imagine your homes, Louisa Casati, you who found no car high enough for your hairstyles; Georgette Leblanc, you who cycled behind Maeterlinck with your Louis XV heels; Jane Catulle-Mendès, you who did your morning shopping in a dress with a train – I love you, I respect women like you, exaggerated, marvelous women, delightful whirlwinds, precursors of the stars!

And he describes his friend, Edouard de Max, who had an imitation Pompeii bathroom and who dipped his pen in the mouth of a pottery toad. He wrote in violet ink in tall pointed handwriting, which he dried with gold dust. He kept his money in a cup and distributed it to anyone who was poorer than he was.

Who doesn’t?

Written as columns for Le Figaro much later in his life, Cocteau’s recollections are probably as rose-tinted as Hemingway’s (life’s never that beautiful, and nor are people) but it does produce in one a desperate need to visit Paris.

One of the lovely things he discusses is the seed for his novel Les Enfants Terribles, a real-life Dargelos he met as a schoolboy and how this one pertinent incident did really occur.

And of himself, Cocteau writes,

Maurice and I were the young men of the moment. The era of young men, which was inaugurated by Raymond Radiguet, did not yet exist. We believed we were Byron and Shelley and that it was enough to talk about Oxford and go down the Champs-Elysées in an open carriage in the April sunshine.

I re-read this book for Paris in July hosted by BookBath and Thyme for Tea.

I was really excited to learn there was going to be a new English translation of a Banana Yoshimoto novel and doubly so when I received a copy to review. Kitchen and Goodbye, Tsugumi are two of the first novels I read in Japanese as a teen. I like Yoshimoto’s simple and sparse style. It isn’t over-complicated even though the themes she addressed were.

The Lake once again covers familiar grounds. It’s more about the inner life of people rather than the external, although in this novel, it has a huge bearing on the characters. Chihiro is a young artist who has lost her mother, who owned a bar, and is estranged from her father, a respected small town businessman. She has managed to escape from her town to study art and live in Tokyo. She soon begins to notice a tall, thin boy who lives in a flat across from hers. As their friendship blossoms into love, Chihiro realises that Nobu hides a childhood trauma that may break their fragile relationship.

It’s interesting how Yoshimoto always seems to focus on the shattered pieces of the past. Her characters are flawed and hurting but ultimately help each other. There is no perfect adult who hasn’t seen their share of pain. In this novel, Chihiro is not only running away from small town social conventions, but also the stigma of illegitimacy, even though her parents had a warm and loving relationship. Nobu, on the other hand, has experienced severe childhood trauma, and with echoes of the notorious Aum Shinrikyo cult, he is not only looking for someone to help him, but to also give him the confidence that he can function as a normal human being.

One of the things I always find interesting when reading Japanese novels is how the notion of freedom from social conventions for women always results in them being a ‘mama-san’ who owns a bar. In turn giving them financial freedom, it also stigmatises them as they work entertaining clients outside of normal working hours. In some ways I can see how this is exciting material for novelists as the notion of freedom starts to become a lot more complex. It also brings in the class division between the working class and the elite which is still prevalent in Japan today. Just a thought.

Ultimately, I felt this novel only skimmed the surface of what is a disturbing yet fascinating look into how people cope with complex issues. I really like Yoshimoto’s style which is clean and sparse and gently takes you along the journey, yet I also felt at the same time that it was too simple and lacked a certain beauty. I couldn’t really sympathise or understand Chihiro’s thoughts and the story seemed to ramble a little. In some ways, The Lake may have benefited with more editing, although I also wanted Yoshimoto to explore Chihiro and Nobu’s relationship more fully.

However, Yoshimoto does touch on some interesting points and The Lake also reminded me a little of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, although the latter felt more complete and discussed the themes more fully.

All in all, I found The Lake to be an easy read, and you do want to find out exactly what Nobu had gone through. But it did fall a little short of my expectations, which were extremely high. However, don’t let this put you off reading The Lake. There’s still something about the atmosphere Yoshimoto creates which will linger on long after you finish the last page and makes you want to explore more of her writing.

I read this as part of Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge 5. Do also check out what Eva, lisa, Gavin and For Books’ Sake thought.

So, Melville House Publishing has kindly sent me a spare copy of The Lake to give away. If you would like a chance to win, please leave a comment and tell me which book divided your opinion but still would recommend to others and I will pick a winner (in some random manner) in a week’s time. Open worldwide.

July is the month in which we get to indulge in everything Francophone because it’s Paris in July hosted by BookBath and Thyme for Tea. I had a lovely selection of books I was hoarding from which I decided to kickstart the challenge with Jean Teulé’s The Suicide Shop. This was a book I had my eye on for a while because of the intriguing title. I didn’t know anything about it but just wanted to read it. Yeah, I’ve always had morbid tastes. When I received the book I was a little apprehensive to find out it’s set in the future when Earth has undergone some sort of ecological and economical catastrophe. But Teulé’s novel isn’t like other dystopian novels. In fact, it doesn’t seem dystopian at all.

For generations, Mishima Tuvache’s family has owned and runs The Suicide Shop which has everything you need for a successful suicide. From ropes, to poisons to seppuku swords, Mishima only sells quality products and gives careful advice to the unsure. With his wife Lucrèce and their three children, Vincent, Marilyn and Alan, all named after successful suicides (van Gogh, Monroe and Turing), the Tuvaches own a successful business. That is, until they realise that their youngest, 11 year old Alan, is not really into the morbid worldview they all share. His sunny disposition and secret sabotaging of the family business slowly change the family dynamic and the business and the Tuvaches slowly find their world changing.

This was an utterly charming book. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Teulé’s anecdotes and little nuggets of information from famous suicides to the history of seppuku to the naming of his characters are pure genius. As soon as I saw the name Mishima Tuvache, I was hooked for Mishima is, of course, named after Japan’s most famous modern ritual suicide, the novelist Yukio Mishima. For a book about different ways of killing yourself, there is a light-hearted touch that lifts this book from a dark and depressing read to one of whimsy. Naturally the notion of death will underline a book such as this, yet it is more about happiness and hope than despair. It’s not all happy, but it will certainly make you laugh. As a fan of The Addams Family, The Suicide Shop charmed the socks off me.

Sometimes, I impress myself by the choice of books I make. I’m pretty good at picking the good ones, eh?

Thank you very much to the lovely Gallic Books who kindly sent me this book to review. I’m looking forward to reading Teulé’s next book, Monsieur de Montespan, about the famous cuckold. He certainly knows how to pick his subjects.

Published by Pushkin Press, Antal Szerb’s literary masterpiece Journey by Moonlight is indeed a masterpiece. I had never heard of the title or author until it was chosen by Polly for book group and I have to admit I inwardly groaned to hear it was an East European title and I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for something dark and heavy. I know, I’m such an ignorant uncultured. But this, Journey by Moonlight, was truly sublime. At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I thought it was a confused mixture that reminded me simultaneously of Sandor Marai’s Embers which left me lukewarm and my favourite novel of all time, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. Yet this feeling lasted only for a chapter or so and it quickly began to morph into something else.

Mihály is on his honeymoon to Venice with his new wife Erzsi whom he has seduced and stolen away from her first husband Zoltán Pataki. It is his first time in Italy, a country he has often dreamt of as an adolescent with his friends, Támás and Éva, and later their schoolmates János and Ervin. Now 36, Mihály suddenly finds himself in a bout of intense nostalgia and longing for the friends he has lost and, leaving his wife on a train back to Rome, escapes from his world that has lost all meaning. In doing so, he sets about a train of events that will lead him to ponder his life, re-encounter his friends who have all struck out on their individual paths and shake the ghost of Támás once and for all.

This is quite a difficult novel to describe. In some sense it is a bildungsroman but of a 36 year old man who has never really grown up. Mihály, who has always been different, has spent his whole life conforming and has finally reached breaking point upon completing what he has set out to do by making a respectable marriage approved by all. It’s like a version of what happens next to the Generation X of the interwar years. There is a heavy air of melancholia particular to Mittel-European literature that pervades this novel, but Szerb’s skill as a writer keeps a light touch throughout. There are episodes that made me laugh at the absurdity of people, especially those to do with Zoltán, a businessman playboy who has lost the only thing he has ever loved and would do anything to get his beloved wife back, and Mihály’s university friend Rudi Waldheim, a pompous academic who forever lives as though he was still a student even though he is saddled with a wife and child who abhor him for his common ancestry.

In some ways Journey by Moonlight is a love letter to pre-WWII Italy. Yet for a novel written in the 1930s, it felt incredibly modern. There is a lot of history, culture and philosophy, profound thoughts that Mihály has on his journey, but Szerb is a wonderful writer, and his translator Len Rix does him justice, making this a smooth and interesting reading experience. He describes the small, petty cowardices in man, things which we have all experienced and hence recognise in Mihály. It could be middle-age crisis, but it feels like something he has been dragging throughout his life. What I really liked about the novel was the vitality of the characters. They had an intimacy that drew you in, an empathy which kept you hoping that things will work out.

I didn’t know how the ending would have worked out, but after I read the last page, I felt that this novel was complete. In the afterword, Len Rix says that Journey by Moonlight is a novel that every Hungarian school kid is made to read. I can understand why because it is a beautiful and brilliant book. But I’m not sure whether I would have understood it as teenager myself.

However, I will leave you with my favourite quote from the book which left me smiling:

‘In London November isn’t a month,’ he said, ‘it’s a state of mind.’

SO true.

Kim and Polly have also written about the book so do check them out.

Subtitled Evil Haunts the Streets of London: The very first Singleton and Trelawney mystery. Now, I am a sucker for mysteries, especially those featuring detective pairings and I can trace this all the way to Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Hastings. Even before Holmes and Watson. However, I am an avid fan of Sherlock Holmes and read most of his mysteries and watched most of the TV series featuring Jeremy Brett, all aquiline nose and red-rimmed eyes. So I was intrigued by Fabrice Bourland’s The Baker Street Phantom. The cover suggested a parody, however it’s an old-fashioned whodunnit but with a very surprising twist.

1932, London. Andrew Singleton and James Trelawney are two young Canadians who have recently set up as private detectives in Bloomsbury. Singleton, the cerebral and bookish one of the duo, comes from a prominent family, motherless and with a father who has become increasingly reliant on spiritualists after his wife’s sad demise. Trelawney, on the other hand, is in ruddy health and is always playing sports and can be relied upon to be the muscle. Three months after they set up shop in London, and bored out of their brains, they receive a mysterious visitor who turns out to be the widow of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. She reports that there has been mysterious goings-on including poltergeist activity in the newly allocated 221 Baker Street and she fears that it may have connections with her deceased husband and may even have something to do with the increased spate of vicious murders in the capital. Soon Singleton and Trelawney are knee deep in with the spiritualists, attending séances and on the trail of what looks like several copycat murders. And in their midst materialises the great detective himself.

Slightly reminiscent of Sarah Waters’ Affinity, what Bourland does brilliantly here is tie in the spiritual aspect (ectoplasm and all), an important part of Doyle’s life, together with his creation and then churn in a little more phantasmagoria to make a tale that is a mixture of all things Victorian and gothic. You have a bit of everything: Jack the Ripper, Jekyll and Hyde and even Dracula. I think you definitely have to suspend belief, but if you can do that, then it’s a highly entertaining read.

The translation by Morag Young was fine although there were certain bits that stuck out, such as the word ‘orangeade’ which I’m not sure is because Bourland is writing about a Canadian protagonist but it felt out of place in a tale set in 1930s Britain (although I think it was available in the States at the time and so makes sense for a Canadian to use the word. Besides, hey, what do I know?)

My main gripe would be that Bourland places too heavy an emphasis on the spiritual aspect of Arthur Conan Doyle’s life and sometimes I forgot I was reading a novel as it felt a little too much like a lecture or a thesis. I’m sure when you do a lot of historical research you want to put as much info as possible into the text, but sometimes, less is more. I think it was David Mitchell who said that you only use about 10% of your historical research material and it’s probably advice that should be heeded. There was just too much detail that could have been edited out to make for a smoother reading experience. Instead, I’d have liked more on Singleton and Trelawney.

Nevertheless The Baker Street Phantom is an interesting and highly original tale and I hear that a sequel, The Dream Killer of Paris, will be out next month and I’d like to see what Singelton and Trelawney get up to next. You can read an interview with Fabrice Bourland here.

I won this book in a twitter competition courtesy of Gallic Books during the world cup football last summer.