Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 25, 2013

A Happy Humbook Christmas to Stu from Winston’s Dad

Oh dear, the best-laid plans of mice and men go astray at the most awkward times!

Inspired by Emma from Book Around the Corner and Guy from A Swiftly Tilting Planet  whose idea it was to start this virtual book-giving in 2013,  this year Stu from Winston’s Dad and I agreed to  match up together as ‘copinautes‘ and choose two books for each other as virtual Christmas gifts.  Because I read Stu’s blog all the time, I have a pretty good idea of his taste, but I still had to skulk around his blog to find a country from which he hadn’t read a book.   If you’re a regular reader of Stu’s blog, then you will know that he is king of translated fiction on the web, and he has read books from all corners of the globe.  But I was determined to find him something exotic anyway!

Of course there are a few obscure places with obscure languages that aren’t listed on his blog, but when I scoured the internet to find something that I thought he would like and that was available in English translation and available in a bookshop somewhere, it became a major undertaking.  You can imagine how delighted I was when I found exactly the right book and I duly made a note of it.  I was all set, all I had to do was write the blog post to wish him a merry Christmas.

And then my father went down with pneumonia and I had to abandon Christmas preparations at home in Melbourne and fly up to Queensland at short notice to take care of things here instead.  And oh woe! the name of Stu’s book, so carefully chosen, is at home on my desktop in Melbourne!

On top of that, internet access here is really difficult.  My parents don’t have the internet so I have a dongle instead, and even though I have the latest (most expensive) version there are still times when there is no reception at all.  (Yes, I know it’s the 21st century and we are supposed to be a developed country, but Australians in their wisdom have just kicked out the government that was building the National Broadband Network and so we are doomed to substandard connectivity outside capital cities for years and years to come. C’est la vie, at least it’s not as bad as parts of France and even Paris was bad in some hotels!)

Anyway, notwithstanding all these problems, I have still managed to find – at the last minute – another book that I think Stu will love.  It’s called An African in Greenland and this is the blurb (courtesy of GoodReads):

Tété-Michel Kpomassie was a teenager in Togo when he discovered a book about Greenland—and knew that he must go there. Working his way north over nearly a decade, Kpomassie finally arrived in the country of his dreams. This brilliantly observed and superbly entertaining record of his adventures among the Inuit is a testament both to the wonderful strangeness of the human species and to the surprising sympathies that bind us all.

Togo is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, where its capital Lomé is located.  I’m not sure what language the book was translated from but the translator is James Kirkup. It was published in 2001 by NYRB Classics, (ISBN 978-0940322882) and Stu will be able to get a copy from That Big American Book Online Company.

I’d like to thank Emma and Guy for organising Humbooks again this year, and I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas with family and friends.

PS I’ll be back home late at night on December 25th so I’ll be celebrating my Christmas on Boxing Day.

PPS I’ve scheduled this post for December 25th at 00.01 Australian time (LOL if I haven’t mucked up the scheduling).


  1. Many thanks Lisa a great choice as I have a copy and haven’t got to it so have rooted it out and will be reading it next hope your father feels better soon merry Christmas to you and yours Lisa


    • You’ve actually already got it! Wow, that is as Emma says below, incredible!
      Have a lovely, lovely Christmas, I hope Winston gets a special treat for being a gorgeous dog, and that you and Amanda have a happy day together with your family.


  2. I can’t believe you chose THAT book, which seems rather obscure and he already has it. Stu, you’re incredible.
    Thanks for participating again this year. Due to time difference, you’ll have to wait for a few hours to know which Humbook we picked for you. :-)


    • It sounds like such a fascinating book, doesn’t it? I know it would be good manners to wait till Stu writes his review before I get it, I have definite plans to get hold of a copy myself.
      Thank you, Emma and Guy, for setting this up again: I feel like a kid at Christmas, waiting to see what my present is going to be. Have a lovely day, I’m sure you will with your daughter because Christmas with kids, is always extra special.


  3. Thanks heaps for a year full of blogging pleasure, Lisa: your insights, criticisms, praise as well as your breadth of knowlege, are brilliant…..Enjoy your time when you can return from daughterly duties.


  4. I hope you are also able to tell us about the other book that you picked for Stu, Lisa :) This one sounds like a very rare book and it is amazing that Stu already has it. He truly is the ‘King of translated fiction’ as you have rightly said :) Merry Christmas to you and your family! Hope your dad is feeling better. Hope you enjoy reading these beautiful books with your fellow copinautes. Will look forward to hearing all of your thoughts on it. Happy reading!


  5. I echo Vishy and hope you will tell us the title of the other book at some point after all that sleuthing. Sorry to hear about all your troubles. It’s weird, I know a couple of people with pneumonia at the moment. Anyway, happy Xmas!


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