Friday, July 22, 2005

Had a bit of a book buying splurge the other day. Went out to pick up a copy of the new Banana Yoshimoto book. Actually let's stop there for a moment, the problem is that word "new". Looking inside the front cover I noticed the original publication date in Japan was 1999.

Now this confused me somewhat, although she is not a household name in this country or America, I'm sure that she has a reasonable fan base on both sides of the Atlantic. Enough anyway to justify a rather quicker translation than we have seen here. It does raise the question of how many more untranslated works are lurking in Japan by the likes of Yoshimoto, Haruki Murakami and Ryu Murakami.  Occasional sniffing on the web has unearthed a few short stories from these authors from various magazines and it's great to be able to print them off and read them, but I'd hate to think of novels which are lost to us.

The other books were Small Island by Andrea Levy and A History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Small Island is a book I've almost bought on several occasions, the praise directed at the book has been unanimous, and a line from the back of the book has caught my imagination. The line question talks about the disapproving looks and comments caused by the addition of a black lodger into a white household in post 2nd world war England.

Back in the late 1950's, my mum and dad were trying to produce a sibling for my older sister to play with but nothing much was happening. Eventually mum decided to using her training to do some nanny work in the hope that in some subliminal way her reproductive organs would relax. She looked after a young Nigerian boy called Michael, the sight of my very white mother pushing around a pram with a very black baby apparently caused a deal of consternation in Bristol.

Soon enough Michael and his family were on their way back to Nigeria and seeds of my birth were sown. I often wonder about Michael, it strange but maybe I owe my life to him.


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