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Walesland/Gwaliadir

I bought this because of the translator. Caryl Lewis’s writing is tense and spare and true. I loved Y Gemydd which I read as The Jeweller in Gwen Davies’s translation, and Drift, her first novel in English. Then I found

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Posted in books, history, poetry, translation

The train that didn’t go to Katyń

In April 1940, over twenty thousand Polish officers were killed by the Soviets in the forest of Katyń. A bare few hundred of those soldiers survived. The way I remember my grandfather telling the story of his capture on Poland’s

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Posted in books, history, translation

Tasting Sunlight

Autumn fruit. Pears, apples, grapes… the orchards and vineyards are bursting with golden light. Yet the light is fading. The first frost bites. That’s the English title for you, Tasting Sunlight. But in German, Ewald Arenz called it Alte Sorten,

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Posted in books, translation

Marzahn, Mon Amour

A podiatrist’s story. She stopped writing to start looking after other people’s feet. She needed to make a living. Her fellow authors were not impressed. But from that experience, she crafted some impressive portraits of people and place. When many

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Posted in Uncategorized

Russia: knife, fork, and ladle

The Romanovs, Lenin, Gagarin – they all had their cooks. Holodomor, Leningrad, Chernobyl, Afghanistan – sometimes there is nothing (safe) to cook at all. For some people, like the Tatars, cooking is all you have left of home. Others, like

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Posted in books, translation

Foucault in Warsaw

In Warsaw in 1958, Foucault was writing his History of Madness. Then, it was his PhD, and he was the first director of the university’s French Cultural Centre. Within a year, he’d left Poland. Was Jurek, his mystery lover, to

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Posted in books, translation

The German House

Surely, in the sixties, all Germans knew what had happened? Any German you meet in an international context will still, often enough, soon enough, apologise for their existence. Living in Germany in the 2000s, the flags were out for the

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Posted in books

Childhood, Youth, Dependency

Tiny books with pastel covers that pack a punch. I wish I had found these sooner, and that the author could still write more. I discovered the Danish Tove – Ditlevsen – through a rave review of Katriina Huttunen’s new

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Waiting for translation: Wolf River

It is two years and more since this pandemic began. In March 2020, it hadn’t knocked Europe out yet, but it was going to very soon. The signs were there. In March 2020, this book began. It hadn’t knocked me

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Posted in books, translation

Passio(n)

A tree of life gleams gold, rubies ready to be plucked from its branches. Around the trunk swirls a snake, ready to strike. Not life, then, but knowledge of good and evil. Plucking the rubies out, stripping the branches, is

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Posted in books, translation
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