Dover Multicultural Festival: a celebration of international authors (in just 10 books)

Dover Multicultural Festival takes is on 29 June 2024: a celebration in 10 international book excerpts.

Dover Multicultural Festival is on Saturday 29 June this year. Based also in the Kent coastal town, we’re proud to take part with an #oldfindsnewstories pop-up emporium of preloved items.

Books among them? Always. Ahead of the community get-together this weekend, we dip into ten international titles. It’s a random selection amid the countless thousands of options. Some might even be on our stall on Saturday.

Ammaniti, Niccolò (I’m Not Scared)

“Togo emerged from the shed. He whined and yawned simultaneously. He stretched, lengthening his body and dragging his back legs, and came towards me wagging his tail.

I kneeled down. ‘Togo, how are you?’ (…)

‘Do you want to show me your house?’

Togo lay down on it and opened out like a devilled chicken.

I knew what he wanted. I scratched his stomach and he froze, in bliss. Only his tail moved right and left.”

(p166, 2004 edition, Canongate, translated from the Italian by Jonathan Hunt)

Recently we sourced an extra copy of this. Assuming we can locate the find, it will be there on our stall on Saturday…

That reminds me: <Do you have Crime and Punishment?> somebody asked at another local event the other day.

We did not, but a pleasant chat followed about reading, keeping up momentum with a book, and how somehow a great book can still be the wrong choice of reading for us… at that time, at least.

A (pre-Seamus) blog: Be more Scout: five suggestions about work (& life) from doggo of my heart

Atwood, Margaret (Bluebeard’s Egg)

“Joel wipes his mouth, pushes the plate away. He’s stuffed down everything: Weiner* schnitzel, home fries, the lot. Now he’s full and lazy. The back room of the Blue Danube used to be one of his favourite places to eat, before he moved in with Becka, or rather, she moved in with him. It’s inexpensive and you get a lot for your money, good quality too.”

(p93, 1996 edition, Vintage Books)

Home fries? That’s a new one on me. Here’s a New York Times recipe: Home Fries Recipe (nytimes.com)

*Nobody likes a smart a…lec, it’s true. But of course it’s Wiener, not Weiner – mistakes happen, proof reader or not. An Austrian recipe for you: Recipe for Wiener Schnitzel ➢ How to make it (austria.info)

Food, farming, frugal living: my focus for 2024. Here’s a flavour

Bryson, Bill (dossed down in Dover)

“I lay for a long time listening to the sea washing over the shingle below, and eventually dropped off to a long, cold night of mumbled dreams in which I found myself being pursued over Arctic ice floes by a beady-eyed Frenchman with a catapult, a bag of bolts, and an uncanny aim, who thwacked me repeatedly in the buttocks and legs for stealing a linen napkin full of seepy food and leaving it at the back of a dresser drawer of my hotel room. I awoke with a gasp about three, stiff all over and quivering from cold.”

Notes From a Small Island, cited in a blog by The Bookseller.

We sold a couple of Bill Bryson books “Down Under” among them, at Crabble Corn Mill last weekend, as part of River Garage Safari. <An easy, relaxing read> was how the lovely buyer described them.

Earlier this year: Books that stay with us: a year of reading in 12 brief examples

A falcon's beak and eye in a blog ahead of Dover Multicultural Festival

Czapnik, Dana (The Falconer)

“I like hearing Alexis speak Spanish. It reveals a part of her I can’t know. Because language is like that, a hiding spot for your secret self. Plus she talks so fast, especially when she does impressions of her mother yelling at her for wearing jeans she thinks are too baggy for a girl. I’m envious of anyone who speaks another language. Especially those who grew up with that language in the home, because there’s an understanding for it, a texture, an identity that those of us who learn it in later life can never have. It will always be a second skin.”

(p59, 2019 edition, Faber & Faber)

2018? Time flies! Adventures in language: around the world in eight… expressions

Ferrante, Elena (My Brilliant Friend)

“She scrutinized me with increased interest. She said that I wrote very well, she recommended some reading, she offered to lend me books. Finally, she asked me what my father did, I answered, “He’s a porter at the city hall.” She went off with her head down.”

(p188, 2015 edition, Europa editions, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein)

That extract reminds me of the movie House of Gucci. Have you seen it? I had no clue, until seeing the cast list on IMDb, that Lady Gaga played one of the lead parts.

Every day is a giorno di scuola.

Also, I don’t know about you but I really enjoy hearing about other books mentioned in… books. As the island of our reading grows, so does the shore of the books we might never have time to read.

And all that jazz. (A friend of mine from Bloomberg days lives in Rome now. He’s a big fan of jazz, I am less so… One of these days, over coffee on a terrace, it’ll be fun hearing and seeing him talk Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.)

Seeing those names now, and enjoying the jazz they play in Café Mélange in Dover, come to think of it, I’m probably already more of a fan than I realise…

Kundera, Milan (Dover steamboats?)

“I knew that if I joined the game Marketa had thrown herself into, and which she appeared to be living wholeheartedly on the emotional side, I would gain everything I had sought in vain for months: powered by a salvationist passion as a steamboat is powered by steam…”

(p45, 1992 edition, faber and faber*)

*Who knows when their punctuation and use of the ampersand changed – at some point after 1992, presumably.

Incidentally, it’s only fair to give you a Dover clue: en route to Bill’s chilly dreams. Oh, and not so far from Pencester Gardens, venue for this year’s Dover Multicultural Festival.

Kurkov, Andrey (Death and the Penguin)

“It had seemed then that he and the Chief were parting for ever. And Viktor had naturally thought that his work was now at an end although the mystery unearthed in the Chief’s safe continued to disquiet him. But the next day it was as if time had relegated that to the distant past.”

(p151, 2003 edition, Vintage Books; translated from the Russian by George Bird)

Also on our bookshelves, and there it will stay – not everything is destined for our pop-up emporium of delights – is a Taschen book by Frans Lanting, called… Penguin. That might just be our next read after finishing The Portable Door by Tom Holt, an unknown writer until recently.

The large birds dressed in fluffy brown coats they named woolly penguins. Certainly, they thought, these birds could not be related to the slender black-and-white penguins marked with vivid orange, standing guard over near-naked newborn young.

p68, 2003 edition, Taschen

Lessing, Doris (The Habit of Loving)

“They were walking beside the river, by the open-air market, when she stopped before a stall selling earthenware.

‘That big bowl,’ she exclaimed, her voice newly alive, ‘that big red one, there– it would be just right for the Christmas tree.’

‘So it would, go ahead and buy it, old girl,’ he agreed at once, with infinite relief.” (p91, 1983 edition, Granada Publishing)

That page was opened at random, believe this blog or believe it not: a regular feature on our stalls are terracotta pots, both mass-produced and hand-thrown.

A regular visitor to The Market Dover – it was our third stall in a row there last weekend – chose two lovely hand-thrown versions last time. You know who you are: we hope they’re settling in nicely, along with that small brass tankard you picked out from our home decor.

(We enjoyed hearing about your teal-coloured classic Mini Cooper, prompted by an old classic car magazine we had in stock.)

#oldfindsnewstories: books, plants, terracotta pots, artwork – curated

Murakami, Haruki (A Wild Sheep Chase)

“The man opened the door to the office without a sound, and he closed it without a sound. Not that he made any conscious effort to move quietly. It was second nature to him. So much so the secretary had no awareness whatsoever of him. The man was all the way to her desk and peering down at her before she noticed him.”

(p51, 2003 edition, Vintage, translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum)

Némirovsky, Irène (Fire in the Blood)

“On threshing day every household takes pride in offering their workers and neighbours the best wine, the thickest cream in the region. To go with them: pies crammed full of cherries and smothered in butter; those small, dry goat cheeses our farmers love so much; bowls of lentils and potatoes; and finally coffee and brandy.” (p77, 2008 edition, Vintage Books)

Mon Dieu, that does sound like quite the feast. If you like that extract, you might also enjoy The Lost Orchard by Raymond Blanc.

Rural Oxfordshire is the setting for the book but, inevitably, France, its culture and food get plenty of attention too.

**

Ten books from the thousands, hundreds of thousands and beyond.

We never what might sell from our pop-up emporium of delights, and ahead of Dover Multicultural Festival, that’s no exception. That, as you can imagine, is part of the fun and the challenge.

Among the browsers, buyers and stoppers-by on Saturday, some of the conversation may be about books, or the weather, or the price of cherries at the market.

We look forward to seeing you. Perhaps you know just where those steamboats are, too.

Image credits: TheDigitalArtist; HoBoTrails12AM; yousafbhutta; Kincse_j, Hans_Huijskes; Magdalenalena; Pexels, all on Pixabay

*A friend of yours wonders what books, two or three say, to take
away on holiday this summer. What would you recommend?
Maybe it’s a recent read, or a book you go back to, over and again.
Please add a comment below (each one gets a reply). Many thanks.*

A woman reads a book in a park, in a blog ahead of Dover Multicultural Festival

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