Yearly Archives: 2020

And we came outside and saw the stars again

Reading about a pandemic while living through it is not everyone’s idea of staying safe and well (as we’ve wished for each other so often this year). There was a patch in the summer, however, where things were looking up

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Posted in books

Fifty islands I have not visited and never will

This is the subtitle to Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands. I discovered it eleven years late, because this year Marko Niemi translated it into Finnish. I ordered the German original straight away and despite the pandemic it arrived promptly

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Posted in books, history, Illustration, translation


For Black History Month, here’s a story from a time and place that’s often been forgotten. Malambo is set in sixteenth-century Peru among artists, friars, healers, swindlers, silversmiths, traders and fisherfolk who just happen to be Black – alongside indigenous

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Posted in Uncategorized

When death takes something from you give it back

I read When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back on the train to the city where Naja Marie Aidt was raised, Copenhagen. She wrote it a long journey away from there, back in Brooklyn, where she now lives.

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Posted in books, translation

The memory police

They took the roses apart themselves, ripping them from their stems and casting the petals on the waters. Silently, purposefully. It was tragic, gardens shaped by decades of love and care destroyed in a moment, yet the people showed little

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Posted in books, Man Booker 2013, translation, Women in Translation Month

Poems from the edge of extinction

The last line of the refrain in the Welsh national anthem is O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau (“O may the old language endure” in W.S. Gwynn Williams’ translation). I remember learning it when I was about seven or eight;

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Posted in Uncategorized

Little eyes

I have post-its over the camera on my laptop and my tablet – but not on my phone. Which seems silly as that’s the one that goes everywhere. Now I’m in more and more video meetings, the post-its fall off

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Posted in books, translation

Lockdown literature: Doctor Zhivago

We have all the time in the world. Time to tackle the classics. I haven’t read a fat Russian novel like this since I was a teenager – I remember devouring Anna Karenina when I was just about to be

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Posted in Nobel Prize in Literature, translation


When you lose someone, you try to hold onto them. You might wear their old clothes (and they might be rather too big). You might read things they’ve written (even if it’s just underlining or marginal notes in books they’ve

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Posted in books, translation

Empty Hearts

The year is not that far into the future, near enough that it could almost be now, but far away enough that it really couldn’t, at least one hopes not. A bit like Black Mirror, perhaps. But the location of

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Posted in books, translation
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