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I was born in Barcelona and have lived in the UK for many years now. I'm a writer, translator (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and I'm a medical doctor and worked in Forensic Psychiatry many years. I also have a BA and a PhD in American Literature and Film, and a Masters in Criminology. I've always loved books and apart from writing them I review them often. I write a bit of everything, check my books for more information and my about page for links. My blog is bilingual, English and Spanish.

Comments (18)

  1. Olga, this is a great review. You always tell me the kinds of things I want to know before committing my time to reading a book. I agree about untagged dialogue. I get terribly lost. I’ve only read a couple of writers who I think can do that well. And this book seems particularly complicated. I’m sure it’s quite interesting and well done though. Happy almost the weekend! Hugs.

    1. Thanks, Teagan. Yes, it feels like a particularly long week and I have an online meeting this evening, but I hope it doesn’t drag on and it brings interesting news. With regards to the book, it seems to raise strong emotions, and I’ve been given good recommendations I hope I’ll have time to follow. I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a ‘pedestrian’ writer, but he definitely is not. Have a fabulous weekend and I hope NaNoWriMo is going well. 😉

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I hope your appointment went well.

  2. After reading your comprehensive review, I was reminded of an saying. “Never allow clever writing to get in the way of a good story.” (No idea who said that, but it is obviously a paraphrase of the Mark Twain quote.) From what you say, it does sound as if better access for the reader could have made this book much more entertaining to read. I cannot honestly say that it appeals to me, but thanks for the excellent appraisal.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Thanks, Pete. I suspect it’s not the best book to be introduced to this writer, although I must admit I won’t forget it in a hurry and he writes beautifully.

    2. As an additional comment, I watched the author being interviewed about this book on the BBC News Channel yesterday. Listening to his thought process, I formed a different opinion, and felt the book might be more interesting than I had first assumed.

      1. I’m pleased, Pete. He’s definitely an author to watch for and it’s not a book by numbers (if you know what I mean), although people are pretty divided about it, including a critic from the Los Angeles Times giving it a terrible review.

  3. Would you say that that this is a writer’s book? I mean, would a writer appreciate this book more than the average reader? I find that books that win literary awards (versus best selling awards) tend to be more like the kind you described here.

    1. Thanks, Lorna. Yes, it’s definitely not a book for readers who enjoy books for the plot or genre books, and it is memorable, and beautiful too, but I wasn’t sure for me it hung together, although I don’t think that was the intention either.

  4. This is a great example of your in-depth reviewing that gives a potential reader a good idea of what they get with the book – I really appreciate that!

    1. Thanks, Noelle. I’m not sure if it happens to you too (I love your reviews also) but sometimes the reviews are a good way for me to take stock of a book, especially those that are more complicated and “especial”.

  5. Wendy Janes says:

    Great review, Olga. This definitely sounds like my kind of book – introspective…explorations of identity…relationships… I also love books with Yiddish phrases – they remind me of my grandparents. 🙂

    1. It is a very special book, Wendy. I think you’ll like it. (I love the explanation of where the title comes from. It resonated with me). Have a great week!

  6. Hi Olga, great review. I like JSF’s writing style. It’s bombastic and quirky.

    1. Thanks, Cindy. I hadn’t read any of his books before but I got many other recommendations and I’ll give them a try for sure. 🙂

  7. I wanted to read your review as I have been deeply impressed by the two books that I have read by J Safran Foer – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (brilliant!) and Eating Animals (non-fiction look at what happens to the animals we eat, very good, alarming, yet remarkably even-handed). As you might expect from your reading of Here I Am (which I shall read, thanks to your review), he is a writer who gives his work everything he has in terms of honesty, language, research, experimentation and emotion.

    1. Thanks, Hilary. Yes, several people have recommended both of those books to me. You must be brave to write about such matters, although I can’t help but wonder what will happen to writers who don’t go down the commercial route in the future, as big publishing companies seem less and less risk averse and self-publishing is very geared towards genre writing (marketing is extremely hard, but marketing a book that doesn’t fit in any standard categories is… near impossible). Let’s hope beautiful writing never goes out of fashion.

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