The White Islands

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This is a book for anyone whose parents or grandparents came from somewhere else, especially if they did not move by choice. White Islands/Las Islas Blancas is a beautiful bilingual edition of Agosín’s poetry and Nanfito’s translations, brimming with memories handed down from in and around the Mediterranean and the Aegean. The stories are not this generation’s, but a much earlier one – the Sephardic Jews who left Rhodes, Istanbul, or Sarajevo fleeing the Shoah.

The memories are sensual –  a riot of colour, touch, taste, smell. The past seems like a forgotten dream, shaped above all by the sea.

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The women who hold the memories also need remembering, as well as their stories and language.

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Agosín perfectly captures experience of how the next generation grows up, at home where their mothers are not.

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It would be easy to get stuck in a romanticised version of the past or wallow in sorrow. But Agosín does not do that, and no more do her heroines.

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With these strong women behind you, may you travel lightly through the turn of this year, and into the next.

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Posted in books, poetry, translation

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