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Heaven

Manuel Vilas

Translated by James Womack

Cover of Heaven by Manuel Vilas
RRP: GBP 10.39
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ISBN: 978 1 784108 89 2
Categories: 21st Century, Humour, Spanish and Catalan, Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: January 2020
112 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (EPUB), eBook (PDF), eBook (PDF), eBook (Kindle)
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • A collection of dark, funny Iberian poems about drinking, sex and death.

    Manuel Vilas speaks in the voice of bitter experience, experience which seems intent on sending him up. He is a novelist as well as a poet, and his poems tell stories as the speaker moves quixotically across the map and between romances. His instinct for rhythm gives the reader a firm sense of place and tone. Universal in their concerns, taking in love and the end of love, life and the end of life, the poems are also resolutely Spanish in how they speak - bluntly, humorously - always alert for the fantastic.

    This is the first translation of Vilas's two major collections Heaven (El cielo, 2000) and Heat (Calor, 2008) into English. Thematically fuelled with alcohol, death and sex, they go off into free-wheeling megalomaniacal flights of fantasy. The translator, James Womack, has won prizes for his versions of Vilas and of the Russian poet Mayakovsky.
    Manuel Vilas
    Manuel Vilas is a Spanish writer, the author of several books, including fourteen collections of poetry, seven books of essays, and seven novels. His most recent novel, Alegría, was the 2019 Premio Planeta Finalista, and its predecessor, Ordesa, was a bestseller in Spain, won the French Prix Femina Étranger ... read more
    James Womack
    James Womack was born in Cambridge in 1979. He studied Russian, English and translation at university, and received his doctorate, on W.H. Auden's translations, in 2006. After ten years in Madrid, he has recently returned to the UK, where he teaches Spanish and translation at Cambridge University. He is a freelance ... read more
    Awards won by James Womack Short-listed, 2019 The Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize for Second Collections
    (On Trust )
    Long-listed, 2018 The International Dylan Thomas Prize (On Trust ) Long-listed, 2018 Read Russia Prize (Vladimir Mayakovsky)
    'wild, exuberant lines that strain against convention'
    David Starkey, Santa Barbara Independent
    'Vilas is an accomplished, freewheeling storyteller, forever leading his readers into unexpected byways...James Womack's translations of these beguiling narrative poems, selected from two of Vilas' collections published in 2000 and 2008, are so vivid, natural-seeming and alert to every nuance and shade of feeling that they scarcely register as translations at all.'
    Paul Bailey, Literary Review
    'James Womack's translations are immaculate distillations of Vilas... Vilas' poems are long and decadent affairs, euphoric tales of drunken debauchery told through a first person narrative.'
    Charlie Baylis, Stride Magazine
    'Vilas is an accomplished, freewheeling storyteller, forever leading his readers into unexpected byways...James Womack's translations of these beguiling narrative poems, selected from two of Vilas' collections published in 2000 and 2008, are so vivid, natural-seeming and alert to every nuance and shade of feeling that they scarcely register as translations at all.'
    Paul Bailey, Literary Review
    'witty, nuanced, urbane'

    Clark Allison, Stride Magazine

    Praise for James Womack 'True to its title, On Trust: A Book of Lies explores the metamorphic landscapes of shifting allegiance and unstable epistemologies. Writing a cunning jazz line in one poem and a supple passage of lyric prose in the next, Womack matches limberness of method to his ambitious subject: the shifting instabilities of character, circumstance, and faith.'

    Judges, Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize for Second Collections 

    'This is a gorgeous book. The reader will find it either a seductive introduction or a thrilling reunion. James Womack's translations are bristling with appropriate vigour.'
    The Spokesman


      In James Womack's 'book of lies', in the court of love and the erotic, where honesty may be a necessary contrivance, the speaker is both accuser and accused. The poems display a wry, mordant romanticism which manages to be at war with itself while keeping a keen eye on the imaginative opportunities. On Trust is a witty, eloquent, troubling collection.'
    Sean O'Brien
     'The first half of On Trust is about a love affair, which is true to all the stumbles of falling in love. An actual affair? Or a vivid thought-experiment? It is both and neither. It is Schrödinger's pussy. It is and it isn't. 'In your park, the wind pushes at an empty swing.' Inventive, clever, funny, rueful, ironic, hypnotised by the erotic.'
    Craig Raine
     'Technically adept, self-consciously ironic, and provocative about the nature of art and the role of the artist... Often I felt as if I was being taken aside and told a joke that's ridiculously funny at the same time as being deadly serious. '
    Heidi Williamson, Eyewear
    'James Womack is another bright young poet... he is capable of lugubrious comic inventions such as 'From the Literary Encyclopaedia', which charts an experimental novelist's doomed career, alongside 'Tourism', a clipped and chilly poem about the export of jihadis to the Middle East... on the evidence of Misprint Womack has scope, curiosity and a refreshing sense of not having foresuffered everything he encounters.'
    Sean O'Brien, The Sunday Times
      'In 'Vladimir Mayakovsky' and Other Poems the poet James Womack has put together the comprehensive selection of Mayakovsky's poems I have long been waiting for. His fresh translation allows English readers to appreciate the non-aligned and passionate personality of the Russian poet. I recommend a few lines twice a day to protect against dry academic writing.'
    The Times Higher Education Best Books of 2016
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