June 28, 2011

The Ubu Plays (Alfred Jarry)


Twelve Theater Impressions


Spoilers

   1) Ubu (Homo sapiens Jarry) is an amoral organism, "crappy creature", ancestor of Jabba the Hutt, the star of a comedy to be taken seriously. Anti-Quixote, he is not enchanted, but he tilts his own windmill. He is a war strategist (he must have scanned pages of Sun Tzu and Machiavelli) and a war freak. (He thinks) he's in control. He has state-of-the-art weapons in his arsenal. And he knows his arithmetic.

I recommend you to load your rifles with as many bullets as they will hold, since eight bullets can kill eight Russians and that's just so many more I won't have on my back. We shall station the light infantry around the bottom of the hill to take the brunt of the Russian attack and slay a few of them, with the cavalry behind to charge around and add to the confusion, and the artillery set up around this windmill here to fire into the general mêlée. As for ourselves, we shall assume our command position inside the windmill, fire through the window with our phynancial pistol, bar the door with our physic-stick, and if anyone tries to break in he'd better look out for our pschittahook!!!

   2)

PA UBU. Pschitt!
MA UBU. Ooh! what a nasty word. Pa Ubu, you're a dirty old man.

Pschitt! according to translators Cyril Connolly and Simon Watson Taylor. (In the original: Merdre! In other versions: Pshit!, Shitteth!, Shittr!, Shikt!, Shrit!, and Shitsky!) Not since Anonymous's Beowulf has there been a first utterance - Hwæt, rendered as So by Seamus Heaney and elsewhere as Lo, Hark, Attend, Behold, or Listen - that stretched the English language, fashioned Shit into various Shit-permutations, and elevated the Shit-discourse of Shit-derivative.

What makes it a nasty word? Addressing the audience during the debut performance of Ubu Roi (Dec. 10, 1896), Alfred Jarry introduced the play, thus, "And the action, which is about to start, takes place in Poland, that is to say Nowhere."

So, nowhere. That is to say, here, there, and everywhere. Nowhere, as in nothing. Merdre! is nothing but the opening sesame. Just like Nonada in Grande Sertão: Veredas, in which Piers Armstrong had this to say:

We’re talking about the first word, and the difficulty of just the translation of the first word. And we could think of it not only in the degree of difficulty, but in openness, possibility, and the multitude of possible renderings. You could go this way or that way; and it’s like this sentence by sentence by sentence. Even if we restrict ourselves to the “good” translations, there are an infinite number of alternate translations.

So why bother? Shat!


   3) Pa Ubu began as a creation of Ma Ubu, the wretch. She planted the seed of a poisonous tree in him, which grew and later bore fruit - the overthrow of the rightful king. Pa Ubu, now king, became his own master. The unlimited power granted him poisoned his mind. As a soldier, he was already abusive. As ruler, he was worse. In pursuit of cruelty, greed, and more power, Ubu went out of bounds. He perpetrated heinous crimes to satisfy his base appetites. Ma Ubu couldn't control him anymore.


   4) Says Jarry in one of his writings on the theater: You are free to see in Mister Ubu as many allusions as you like, or, if you prefer, just a plain puppet, a schoolboy's caricature of one of his teachers who represented for him everything in the world that is grotesque.

And also: In any written work there is a hidden meaning, anyone who knows how to read sees that aspect of it that makes sense for him.

Ubu is bad, objectively. But "that aspect of it that makes sense" for the reader makes him a champion of subjectivity.


   5)

MA UBU (Running after [Pa Ubu]). Oh! Pa Ubu, Pa Ubu, I'll give you some fine fat sausages. [10]

BOGGERLAS. He's done for. M'Nure has just split him in two like a sausage. [16]

What is it with sausages? Could it be that the pliant, juicy texture, and intestinal softness of the sausage have something to do about the helplessness of the victims?

Says Wiki: Sausage is a logical outcome of efficient butchery. Traditionally, sausage makers put to use tissues and organs which are edible and nutritious, but not particularly appealing - such as scraps, organ meats, blood, and fat - in a form that allows for preservation: typically, salted and stuffed into a tubular casing made from the cleaned intestine of the animal, producing the characteristic cylindrical shape.

So there. Sausage-like butchery.

PA UBU. Oh, tripe! Isn't injustice just as good as justice? Ah! you're taking the piss out of me, Madam, I'm going to chop you into tiny pieces.

Ma UBU flees for her life, pursued by PA UBU. [23]


    6) The three core texts of Ubu form a trilogy of sorts. Ubu Rex is the forerunner of the dictator novel. Ubu Cuckolded - a play that's more a segue than a sequel - is The Empire Strikes Back, with the Ewoks prematurely appearing in it. Ubu Enchained is The Return of the King. The best part of the lot.


    7) Ma Ubu and Gyron's songs (Act Four, Scene One) and the Song of Poland by Pa Ubu and the Chorus (Act Four, Scene 3), both in Ubu Rex, can be performed by a combination of rapping and beatboxing.


    8) Wordplays and puns abound. The challenge to translation is evident when one compares the version of Ubu Rex by Connolly-Taylor (Methuen, 1968) with the version by David Copelin (Pulp Press, 1977).


Connolly-Taylor:
PA UBU (countering). Take that, great clot, pisspot, son of a harlot, nose-snot, bigot, faggot, gut-rot, squawking parrot, Huguenot!
MA UBU (hitting him too). Take that, pork-snout, layabout, whore's tout, pox-riddled spout, idle lout, boy scout, Polish Kraut!

Copelin:
PA UBU: (riposting). There! Polack, drunkard, bastard, buzzard, Tartar, fathead, cockroach, stool-pigeon, greaseball, communist!
MA UBU: (joining in). There! eunuch, pig, felon, ham, rascal, sloven, bedspread!

Whether the original French insults are rhymed or not, then Connolly-Taylor bests Copelin in the "inspired" word choices.

But words are words alone. Copelin also holds his own through "erudite" puns on the countries of Germans and Poles.


Connolly-Taylor:
PA UBU. Wild and inhospitable ocean which laps the shores of the land called Germany, so named because it's exactly half way to Jermyn street as the blow flies.
MA UBU. Now that's what I call erudition. It's a beautiful country I'm told.
PA UBU. Beautiful though it may be, it's not a patch on Poland. Ah gentlemen, there'll always be a Poland. Otherwise there wouldn't be any Poles!

Copelin:
PA UBU: Fierce and inhospitable sea which washes the country called Germany, so named because the inhabitants thereof are always germinating.
MA UBU: That's what I call erudition. They say it's a lovely land.
PA UBU: Gentlemen: it may be beautiful but it can't equal Poland. Without Poland, there would be no spit and Polish!

Ah, France was such a country of residence and French a language of choice for Frenchman Jarry. Without the French he is left with doors, windows, and fries!


    9) In the second play Ubu Cuckolded, the character of Ubu was cuckolded because he was given less screen time in it. The supporting characters have strangely dominated this play. Lots of song numbers here. Again, a beatbox performance may turn out to be robust on stage. And, by my green lantern, the appearance of the stuffed monkey reminded me of the baboon in the novel Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician.


    10) The final play Ubu Enchained was the height of this slapstick-physick. It started as a straightforward case of mistaken identity. Then along the way, it unravelled as a psychotic parable. An allegory of malcontents.

Deep Dada, if there was one.

An Ubu-topian society was born, a place where freedom and slavery coexist like Greek masks placed side by side. Where the master is enslaved by the slave, and where the slave prevailed.

The culmination of the trilogy - the abolition of freedom - was one of the best expressions of the freedom of the theater, the great inversion being proclaimed by Pissweet, in shocking bittersweet exclamation:

We are free to do what we want, even to obey. We are free to go anywhere we choose, even to prison! Slavery is the only true freedom!


    11) At the end of the play, Pa Ubu and Ma Ubu were driven away from prison - "we aren't in Poland any longer". If Poland is Nowhere, and they're out of it, where are they now?

The final scene will not say. I hope it wasn't a prophetic ending, too:

MA UBU. We're getting farther and farther away from France, Pa Ubu.
PA UBU. Ah, my sweet child, don't you worry your pretty head about our destination. It will certainly be a country extraordinary enough to be worthy of our presence, since we are transported there in a trireme equipped with an extra bank of oars - not just three, but four!

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos of the Philippines. Juan and Eva Perón of Argentina. Any country will fit with Pa Ubu and Ma Ubu.


    12) The Ubu plays are some of the books that marked Roberto Bolaño's life. Like Jarry, Bolaño constructs an edifice of references in the texts and worked from there to create his enchained reality. He invented his own tools, built his own concepts, and erected markers to navigate the labyrinth of his poetry. For it is in Bolaño's poetry that the influence of Jarry is readily apparent.

Ubu had his neologisms and set of references (e.g., the pschitt-prefix, his uniquely named weapons, his Palcontents) that he constantly used throughout his fantastical adventures. In the same manner Bolaño's poety is riddled with internal references. His First Infrarealist Manifesto, for one, is full of surrealist touches and invented references ("THE EYE OF TRANSITION", "The Constellation of the Beautiful Bird", "Nightclub of misery", "THOUSAND DRAWN-AND-QUARTERED VANGUARDS OF THE SEVENTIES").

The poetry triptych Tres is likewise full of internal references that call on itself and are also embedded in his works elsewhere. There's the "immeasurable room in Hell", the "Atlantis moment", the "Neochilenos", and the "Unknown University". The latter is a kind of testing-ground for the curious vagabond (which is also to say the minor poet), a higher education institution that persists in the novels, poems, and letters. The poet is also fond of word labels or assignments:

... you arrive at the moment that you name the autumn and discover the stranger.
...
... the word kaleidoscope slips like saliva from her lips and then the scenes become transparent in something you could call the moan of the pale character or geometry around your naked eye.

The effect is rather like weaving a tapestry of reality. It is populating the universe with elements of one's own devising. An exercise in world-making. For Jarry, it's the Nowhere place, the pschittaworld of Ubu; for Bolaño the worlding of real viscerealismo, that is to say the abyss. 



The Anything Ubu Readalong Opportunity is initiated by Nicole (bibliographing) and Amateur Reader (Wuthering Expectations).

June 25, 2011

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Díaz)




Spoilers.

The short happy life of Oscar Wao, as told by Yunior, Junot Díaz's narrator and Oscar's best buddy, began with a disquisition on a curse and ended with an inversion of Kurtz's last words in Heart of Darkness. In-between was an excursion into the territories of the dictator novel, immigrant fiction, postmodernism, and post-LOTR venture. Somehow the book turned out to be a crowd-pleaser, one that pandered to a shallow expectation of what constitutes a "wondrous life".

The novel was angry with the Trujillato - the Trujillo dictatorship regime - in the Dominican Republic.

   ... You might roll your eyes at the comparison, but, friends: it would be hard to exaggerate the power Trujillo exerted over the Dominican people and the shadow of fear he cast throughout the region. Homeboy dominated Santo Domingo like it was his very own private Mordor; not only did he lock the country away from the rest of the world, isolate it behind the Plátano Curtain, he acted like it was his very own plantation, acted like he owned everything and everyone, killed whomever he wanted to kill, sons, brothers, fathers, mothers, took women away from their husbands on their wedding nights and then would brag publicly about "the great honeymoon" he'd had the night before. His Eye was everywhere; he had a Secret Police that out-Stasi'd the Stasi, that kept watch on everyone, even those everyones who lived in the States, a security apparatus so ridiculously mongoose that you could say a bad thing about El Jefe at eight-forty in the morning and before the clock struck ten you'd be in the Cuarenta having your cattleprod shoved up your ass. [224-225]

Yunior's voice was laced with such scathing irony in the proceedings of Trujillo's tortures, abuses, crimes. Terrorist acts were committed and ample examples were given for Yunior to luxuriate in his supreme fury. His offenses were to the point. He never minced words. The dictatorship was presented as an infamy of rapes, sexual assaults, and male domination. He scored a lot of points describing the Sauron-incarnate on Earth. This reader was nodding his head and pumping his fists in the air, shouting "Down with El Jefe! Viva libertad!"

Trujillo isn't getting any reprieve from the devil. The generous servings of swear-words and curses of the narrator were not enough to lock down, reclusion perpetua, the soul of the dictator in hell. The unsubtle deployment of cuss words, the long and winding string of epithets were all sincerely meant to denounce the Ur-regime. Political correctness be damned. When it comes to violation of human rights, Yunior was boiling in his acerbic voice. He was - his greatest virtue as character - a consistent narrator. So consistent in fact that, for me, it became the novel's liability. The narrator - often depicted as a sexist brick - could get so carried away and become too indulgent in his twice-told tale.

No matter what you believe: in February 1946, Abelard was officially convicted of all charges and sentenced to eighteen years. Eighteen years! Gaunt Abelard dragged from the courtroom before he could say a word. Socorro [his wife], immensely pregnant, had to be restrained from attacking the judge. Maybe you'll ask, Why was there was [sic] no outcry in the papers, no actions among the civil rights groups, no opposition parties rallying to the cause? Nigger, please: there were no papers, no civil rights groups, no opposition parties; there was only Trujillo. [247]

Eighteen years! No papers! No rights groups! This passage was at a point in the narrative - about three-fourths into the book - where cruelty and abuses of a repressive regime were already more than apparent. Where the reader already had a more than vague idea that he was not reading about a saint running a government in deep shit.

An antagonistic voice projecting a vile, abhorrent regime (no complaint there). An assault to one's ad hominemic sentimentalidad (none still, Trujillo was baaad you know). A strong current of anger devolved from pure irony to crude complaint (positive). The amoral suasion of the narrator was so excellently laid out and so irreproachable that it kills the joy of the reader. We were so very much prodded on to cheer for Oscar and to double thumbs down Rafael T. We were so conditioned to like the book with an adolescent Facebook thumbs up.

Granted, the novelist was up to some very risky narrative devices. Telling a story whose outcome was already spoiled by the title was no mean feat. (Hemingway at least filled the blank spaces naturally, as if the unfolding of plot did not hamper the act of discovering what happens next.) The crude inelegant style was part of the book's charm, and it's also probably where the problem lies.

A virtue of post-modernist-like stories is how the authors or narrators attempt to insert themselves into the narrative, at the same time also effacing themselves. In this case, the highly conscious narrator shaped the life of one Oscar de Léon according to his street, pop-culture, and nerd-culture vocabulary (photon torpedoes, dwarf-fucking-star, Akira). It was an intelligent voice, very aware of the gradations of offense and offensiveness. The copious lengthy footnotes often revealed his personal commentaries, providing in themselves micro-histories of the Dominican Republic under dictatorship, somehow contributing to a synthesis of that problematic era. A very strong intrusive voice, however, could also kill the narrative.

The danger with an unadulterated voice of hate is that it puts a spin on things that rather trivializes the whole enterprise. I'm not proposing that Yunior tone down his adjectives or that he moderate his verbal assaults. If he did so, then he will not be a consistent character anymore. I'm saying that there is a way of telling - let's say, the Thomas Bernhard mold of creaking complaint - wherein the message (or the form or style or content) can be delivered by a wounding rant that piles abuse upon disabuse. A way of telling that does not lay down history lessons all too obviously, that integrates angry form with angry content without pathetic gesticulations.

The Bernhard rant is subversive and existential and political. Breathless all at the same time. The Junot rant is a trite existential and wholeheartedly political. Yet it lacks the sober hints of subversion.



The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is the June selection of The Wolves.




June 15, 2011

The Old Capital (Kawabata Yasunari)



The grove of cherries inside the main gate to the left of Ninnaji was overflowing with blossoms.

Whenever I see the lovely straight cedars at Kitayama, my spirit feels refreshed.

A small tree stood at the water's edge on the far side; the reflection of its crimson leaves shivered in the flow of the river.


If a novel can be built on haikus, then The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata, translated by J Martin Holman, is one. The sentences have the profound simplicity of the form. The narrative is broken by short paragraphs. The paragraphs usually contain a single sentence or two or three. The descriptions are charged with the beauty of the natural world, its concentrated essence. The sentences unfold in painterly scenes, flowering into the greenery of the forest and red orchard.

The novel's backdrop and setting are delicately described. The viewing of weeping cherry blossoms, the parade of cultural festivals, the weaving of the most exquisite obi - everything is evoked precisely. In sinuous sequence, the details appear with the transcendence of calligraphy.

Chieko, a young woman, was in search of her identity. She was a foundling, left behind by her true parents when still a baby. She grew up comfortably being cared for by a couple who ran a business selling fabric cloths. Her adoptive parents treated her like their own, but her broken connection from her biological parents seemed to weigh on her more and more. It was as if there was something lacking in her, a part of her nature that was also reflected in her seeming disconnect from and yearning for the natural world.

The novelist's theme seems to be the attempt to reconcile human beings to the natural world. There was a broken pathway that the characters are trying to bridge. They were restless, not content with the way things have so far progressed in their lives. If only this hidden something, an ecological connection, is found, then perhaps they will learn their rightful place, their niche, in their surroundings. And this knowledge will free them from their apprehensions.

As substitute for the beauty of the natural world, the fine arts of painting and weaving became significant expressions of it. Here is Chieko's father Takichiro on a painter that he used as inspiration to create a pattern for weaving:

   "He [Paul Klee] is a painter who was in the forefront of the abstract movement. His paintings are gentle, exceptional. You might say they have the quality of the dream, a quality that would speak even to the heart of an old Japanese like me. I studied them over and over until I came up with this pattern. It's unlike any traditional Japanese design. "

Flowers, wood trees, festivals, and fabric were the motifs in the books. They were the sources of inspiration to create works of art. The flowers and the trees were used to come up with the design for weaving an obi. The numerous Japanese festivals described in the book usually involved elements of nature appreciation.

The mountains were neither high nor deep. The trunk of each individual tree was visible even on the tops of the mountains. The cedars were used in the construction of tearooms so the appearance of the groves themselves had the elegant air of the tea ceremony.

The cedar grove evoking the elegance of a tea ceremony was the perfect statement of culture relying on nature. The utility of trees evoking, at the same time, the function of form and the form of function.

The old capital is Kyoto, after the designation of Tokyo as the new. The foundation of its art, crafts, and trades was the natural surroundings. Its old patterns had the vitality found in nature. Nowadays, though, the old men perceived that the increasing materialism and capitalism are affecting the quality of the artworks.

   "My eye just isn't accustomed to them [flowers]. I wouldn't like an obi or kimono cloth in a tulip pattern, but if a great artist were to create such a painting, even tulips could become a work with an eternal life," Takichiro said, looking aside. "Some of the ancient designs were like that. Some of them are older than this capital city itself. No one can create anything like that anymore. They can do no more than copy them.... Aren't there even trees here, still living, that are older than the capital?"

Like Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Kawabata seemed to eulogize the fading past. The ushering in of modernity signaled the encroachment of Western views, the increasing reliance on mechanization and mass production. They seemed not to bode well for the fate of pure art.

The old capital seemed to represent a last stand for the "old", while the new was stealthily modifying the traditions and values built on ancient nature and art. Open lands were converted into industrial zones. Houses were giving in to construction of inns. While in the mountains, in a tree plantation ("surrounded by the straight cedar trunks of uniform size") the place of man in nature was put into question, perhaps the central question raised by the novel.

"These [man-made trees] are about forty years old. They'll be cut and made into columns or the like. Left alone, they would probably grow for a thousand years ... wide and tall. I think about that occasionally. I like virgin forests the best, but in this village it's as though we're growing flowers for cutting."
[...]
"Were there no such thing as man, there would be nothing like Kyoto either. It would all be natural woods and fields of grasses. This land would belong to the deer and wild boar, wouldn't it? Why did man come into this world? It's frightening ... mankind."

What is the place of men and women in that natural canvas? The supremacy of nature is fleeting when it is us who eventually manipulate it at our own bidding. Takichiro turned to Western painters like Klee who were inspired by orientalism in order to come up with a flower pattern for his daughter's obi. He sought harmony and yet Hideo, a young master weaver, saw through the artifice of the design and dismissed it as lacking in "harmony". Hideo recognized that, ultimately, an artistic design for an obi can mimic the color of the flowers, yet it can never capture the true beauty of nature.

One after the other, the Kyoto festivals were described in the novel in detail, a seemingly endless profusion of ceremonies. The Gion festival, the bamboo cutting ceremony at Kurama Temple, the Daimonji fire-lighting festival, the Festival of the Ages. In these moments the novel seemed to transform into a cultural guide to festivals.

By interspersing these cultural events with nature viewings, the novelist seemed to contrast the activities of man in unbuilt nature and in his built environment. Rainer Maria Rilke, in the first of his Duino Elegies, seemed to have voiced the same perpetual listlessness of the novel's characters, as they move in the world interpreted for them:

... Ah, whom can we ever turn to
in our need? Not angels, not humans,
and already the knowing animals are aware
that we are not really at home in
our interpreted world. Perhaps there remains for us
some tree on a hillside, which every day we can take
into our vision; there remains for us yesterday's street
and the loyalty of a habit so much at ease
when it stayed with us that it moved in and never left.

The cedars and willows are always at home in the natural world. In contrast, the fine art of painting, the wearing of colorful obis, and the festivals - all are mere "interpretations" of nature, all subject to human appreciation. They exist as a culmination of inspiration, having been shaped after the likeness of trees and flowers.

Kawabata said in his Nobel Prize speech that his goal is to seek man's harmony in nature. In The Old Capital, the novelist manipulated nature and conducted a "natural experiment" to observe a person discovering her natural (biological) identity. The novelist set up questing identities, selves, and cultures in their natural surroundings and from there sought to define their feelings for it.

Chieko preferred camphor trees over mountain cedar trees presumably because the former are natural forest trees while the latter are man-made plantations. It cannot be denied that the gulf between landscape and man widens whenever land use decisions led to alteration and modification of nature.

To repair a broken connection is a difficult thing. Because the forest trees possess some great power, a "weird power", that holds sway over the characters, they have the capacity to strike them to the core, to restore them to their selves, who were born naked in the face of the elements. From a delicate sequence of sentences and passages as slender as cherry branches, Kawabata produced a beautiful work of ecological realism. One that questioned the rootedness of man in the natural environment and in this, our interpreted world.

June 10, 2011

Addendum to the reading plan (June 2011)


In addition to the books mentioned in the previous post, I'll be flipping through the flip side of modern theater.


6. The Ubu Plays by Alfred Jarry, translated from the French by Cyril Connolly and Simon Watson Taylor

Aba, it's Ubu!

The inimitable bloggers Nicole of bibliographing and Amateur Reader of Wuthering Expectations are hosting the The Anything Ubu Readalong Opportunity.

My edition (thanks to J for picking me up a copy - the very last copy - at Fully Booked Rockwell) contains the three core Ubu texts: Ubu Rex, Ubu Cuckolded, and Ubu Enchained.

I'm already un-bored.



Ubu cross-posted.

June 1, 2011

Reading plan: June 2011

Here's my reading plan this month:


Design by Teammanila
1. El Filibusterismo (Subversion) by José Rizal, translated from the Spanish by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin

The Filipino national hero is celebrating his 150th birth anniversary on June 19. In observance of it, the Malacañang Palace declared June 20 a non-working holiday. What better way to celebrate this than by reading one of his two masterpieces? The other one is Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) to which El Filibusterismo is the sequel.

Originally written in Spanish, the two novels are popularly known as the Noli and Fili. As I've written previously: "The novels of Rizal, the Noli Me Tangere and its sequel El Filibusterismo, are the formative documents in the securing of Philippine independence from the Spanish government before the turn of the twentieth century. The tinder that set on fire the hearts and spirits of Filipino freedom fighters, they inspired the revolutionaries to fight for their own independence."

Incidentally, Penguin is coming up with a new translation by Harold Augenbraum (via The Literary Saloon). But I don't have this copy. The one I have is by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin so that's the one I'm going to read and blog about. It was also her version (a superb version, I think) of the Noli which I read in 2009. I've previously read both books in English translation by Leon Ma. Guerrero. The books were required reading in school. I'm excited about this read because I personally prefer the Fili over the Noli, although both are great really. 


2. Austerlitz by W G Sebald, translated from the German by Anthea Bell

This is for a group read in the Sebald group in Shelfari. Our discussion starts in July. This will be the fourth selection of the group. Austerlitz won for its author and translator the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2002.


3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

This is the June selection by the Wolves. I sort of liked Díaz's short stories in Drown. Oscar Wao should be interesting, footnotes and irreverence and all.


4. The Japanese Literature Challenge 5, hosted by Dolce Bellezza, just took off today and I'm so hyped up I listed down the books I plan to read in the next 8 months. My short list comes to more than a dozen titles. Wishful thinking, I hope not. Last year I was able to finish 15 Japanese books, and this year I count 6 books already. As to which one to read first for this year's challenge, I'm thinking of finally starting something by Yasunari Kawabata or Shusaku Endo.


5. Your Face Tomorrow by Javier Marías, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

The Your Face Tomorrow Group Read is being hosted by Richard at Caravana de recuerdos. The discussion of the first volume, Fever and Spear, will officially start at the end of the month. I will be joining in August for the finale - Poison, Shadow and Farewell. I heard there's a twist at the end of the book. A twist no one could have seen coming.