A Novel About Esperanto

A while ago I was reading about the Ido-schism when I noticed several Wikipedia pages referenced a book named A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell, in which the schism was portrayed. As it’s rare to see reference to Esperanto in English, let alone a book about it, I bought the book straight away. It’s not the only English language novel that has Esperanto in it, for example in the Yiddish Policeman’s Union, the main character lives in Hotel Zamenhof which includes a few Esperanto signs like lifto (lift) and one character exclaims “What’s Esperanto for a pile of shit?” (I would suggest fekaĵaro). However, unlike others in books, Esperanto isn’t just mentioned in a throwaway line, it forms a core part of the story.

The book is essentially about three Jewish men and three cities at the turn of the century. Sigmund Freud, L.L. Zamenhof and Kalonymos Kalmish Szapira, in Vienna, Paris and London from 1894-1940. Following this structure the book is divided into three parts, with the middle one heavily focusing on Esperanto. The main character becomes a passionate Esperantist and there are many conversations in and about Esperanto. So is the book any good? Continue reading “A Novel About Esperanto”

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What Went Wrong With The Gentlemen Bastard Series?

When The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch was released in 2006 it was a massive hit. Not only did it become a bestseller, but it is also considered something of a modern classic. It won high praise and Lynch was counted among the most promising writers in the fantasy field, standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss and Joe Abercrombie. This was an amazing achievement for a first novel, so expectations were high for the rest of the series. Did we have a new classic before us?

Yet, the follow-up books were something of a disappointment. Instead of soaring high, the rest of the series went downhill. Complaints began to pile up about the flaws in the newer books and even fans admitted some problems. Something was missing, some of the brilliance had been lost. Of course, all opinion is subjective and there are probably those who really liked the follow-ups. Yet no one would claim that they are as good as the first one.

Myself, I absolutely loved Lies and consider it one of my favourite novels, yet I was underwhelmed by Red Seas Under Red Skies and Republic of Thieves (although the names are fantastic). The original magic was gone and the plot seemed to wander directionless. A fourth book will soon appear and to be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll bother to buy it.

So, what happened? Where did it go wrong? Continue reading “What Went Wrong With The Gentlemen Bastard Series?”

An Esperantist Reviews “Bridge of Words”

Esperanto isn’t a common discussion topic, certainly not in the English speaking world. There’s rarely articles and hardly any books about it, so naturally I was excited about the new history of the language, “Bridge of Words” by Esther Schor, which is billed as the first book about the whole history of Esperanto. The book narrates the history of the language, the ideas behind as well as the personal experience of the author who spent years in the Esperanto community.

Hopefully this will generate interest in the language and provide a valuable resource to people who want to learn more about the language. So far, there have been some reviews in leading journals which will introduce the language to many people for the first time. However, these reviews are written by outsiders who know little about Esperanto (so there is a lot of the inevitable ‘Esperanto failed’ nonsense) and in fact the author herself was an outsider before she wrote this book. So I decided to write a review from an insider’s perspective, from the view of a committed Esperantist. Continue reading “An Esperantist Reviews “Bridge of Words””