Guillermo Orsi wins the Hammett prize 2010

Holy city  Thanks to Euro Crime and The Game's Afoot, I am delighted to learn that Guillermo Orsi has won the 2010 Hammett prize for his novel Ciudad Santa (Holy City). Not yet published in English, but from the publisher's website (courtesy of the mad Google translate):

"A politician is executed in the light of day in a slum on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. A beauty queen seeks help from a lawyer who has been widowed twice shot. A cruise of tourists stranded in the muddy River Plate: the food is served to a band of kidnappers. Among the tourists, a Colombian drug baron and her lover are the main attraction.
A collector of human heads meantime reveals two policemen locked in a duel that will have little to do with the law and even with their loyalties and deceptions.Buenos Aires, as a canoe full of fugitives from successive disasters, browsing aimlessly through a sea without beaches or horizons.This drift is the raw material with which Guillermo Orsi builds its Holy City, seductive, violent …shocking.

With a cast of characters to remember,Holy City is the absorbing and breathtaking novels of a country that, when everything seems to have been said and even though it pretends obvious silence, speaking through their dead."

Sounds brilliant! (Read a more sanely put account of the book at Reuters website.)  One assumes the translation into English, when it happens, will be a bit more subtle. 
OrsiAlthough Ciudad Santa has not yet been translated, I recently read another book by this author, No-one Loves a Policeman, translated by Nick Caistor (more elegantly than the above, I have to say!), publisher Maclehose Press/Quercus. I very much liked this book, stating in my review: 

"The novel contains a wonderful mix of characters (including the cat) who all have their own ways of dealing with the misery and cruelty all around them. The stories of poverty in the hospitals and the corruption of the government and police are particularly well-integrated in the plot of this exciting, absorbing book. The author is a journalist, and (unsurprisingly) a pretty cynical one, infusing his tales of tragedy with in-depth knowledge of current affairs but also sufficient humour and feeling that one is carried along to the end. The translation of the novel is masterly, in that the ‘running commentary’ that provides the framework for the plot, and that eventually merges into it, almost unconsciously gives the reader a vivid sense of experiencing events alongside the characters."

If Ciudad Santa is as good as No-one Loves a Policeman, it will be very good indeed. I hope that those of us who have to rely on translations for non-English-language books won't have too long to wait.

Weekly Geeks: Shiny book syndrome

Having spent what seems like years (but it can't be) reading "Weekly Geeks" posts on various blogs I subscribe to, I thought I would give it a go, and so subscribed to the Weekly Geeks blog. Even so, I seem to have missed this (last) week's assignment, which is about "shiny book syndrome". [No 24, 2010.]

SBS, writes Tara SG, is "when a person only wants to read their newest book and leave piles of poor unread books on their shelves to collect dust.What can you do to alleviate the symptoms?" Her solution is a mixture of spreadsheet and undertaking specific reading challenges.

Mine? Well, I have to confess I don't suffer from the syndrome exactly. Although I do have several hundred 
Hyland ukbooks on my shelves to read (literally), I'm just as happy to read a blank-covered proof copy, a second-hand mass-market paperback, or (shuddering slightly) one with a glossy bloody hand on the cover. To me, I read the book independently of looking at it, and relatively independently of when I obtained it – though the books I acquire as a result of reading blog reviews do tend to have shorter lead-in times. 

I have a school exercise book in which I write down each book as I've read it, with a code M, F, D, T, which stands for male, female, debut, translated. I like to even up these categories over a year or so, so each quarter I add up the numbers (writing a blog post about it) and if there are too many in one of the four categories I will prioritise some from the other categories to read next. (I have plenty of options in all four!)

Sometimes I am given books, either by Karen of Euro Crime to review for her website, or by publishers. I try to prioritise those according to their publication dates (if I have actually asked for the book from the publisher, if I haven't it is in the same queue as the others).

Recently, I have read Gunshot Road by Adrian Hyland, a proof with a blank, monotone cover. I loved it, and even though I would love to have read the actual UK edition with the beautiful blue cover, I would not (could not) have enjoyed the contents any more than I did. When I read The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri, I was a bit disappointed to be reading the US edition instead of the UK edition as I love the Picador covers of this series. But again, it made no difference to my enjoyment of the book itself. And 
Sphinxby one of those strange coincidences, I passed on the US edition after I had read it, and a week or two later the publisher kindly sent me the UK edition directly! I'm very lucky.

So, in conclusion, I am conscious of the cover of a book and I do very much like to read a book that has a cover I like, even if the appearance has no effect on when I choose to read the title, or how much I enjoy what lies between the covers.

(This is a "weekly and a half geek" post, I reckon.)