Tuesday, 4 February

I write from Paris, where I have returned for a board meeting at Bibliothèques sans Frontières). It was founded by my old friend Patrick Weil in 2007 and its mission is to help development in the Francophone world through books and reading. They work in 20 different countries, distribut about 500,000 books a year, train librarians, offer cultural and educational aid in humanitarian crises…read more about it here: http://www.bibliosansfrontieres.org/

The relief I feel at being Home is palpable. The muscles relax, the senses are no longer on full alert. Being surrounded by one’s things, the things collected over years, is as relaxing as a gentle massage. A familiarity cure.

Our landlord in Berlin is obviously a huge fan of Haruki Murakami; he appears to have all his books (plus all Woody Allen films on DVD, he informed us). On the suggestion of a friend, I plucked Geführliche Geliebte (South of the Border, West of the Sun) off the shelf and began reading with little problem.

So here I am reading a Japanese author in German, in a translation from English, in my Paris apartment. The only other book of his that I have read previously is Norwegian Wood. Both are well-written but the narrators remain frustratingly stuck in adolescence and who wants to hang around forever in that murky territory?

Still, I appreciate a ‘real’ book that I can manage auf Deutsch.