"I didn't want people to read in the same way they might eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, but because I wanted them to know the mind-expanding privilege of walking a mile in someone else's shoes." Cathy Rentzenbrink
Posts tagged "war"
Plagued

Plagued

Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars tells the story of overworked nurse Julia Power, her eager young helper Bridie Sweeney, and the real-life figure of Kathleen Lynn, a Sinn Féin politician, activist and medical doctor, as they battle the Great Flu of 1918 in the emergency maternity ward of a Dublin hospital. The intense...
A visit to the trenches

A visit to the trenches

One day I heard that some of the British drivers were going to visit the trenches in the University City, and I implored them to let me go with them. My good friend Jack agreed, provided I could get my pass fixed up. For this I needed a recommendation from somebody in a position of...
History from the wings

History from the wings

In times of crisis, sociohistorical impasses, and what the French scholar John Cruickshank has termed, on a different occasion, the despair in the face of “man’s metaphysical dereliction in the world”, the individual and collective instinct is to turn to parallels, contrasts, and to recent or very distant memory. To familiar or unfamiliar territory. We...
A paean to the death of Central Europe

A paean to the death of Central Europe

Józef Wittlin, like Homer’s Odysseus whom he so much admired, was a man of many minds, human experiences, geographical and national homes. Born in Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he would come to be hailed as one of the most important voices of a new-born independent Poland. A Jew by birth, a Christian...
You didn't understand...

You didn’t understand…

In May 2016, Gresham College in London hosted a symposium on the subject of ‘Cultural Heritage and War’. Chaired by Professor Tim Connell, it featured Sir Derek Plumbly, speaking on British and American policy and the temporal lapses between historical awareness and political action, Dr Elisabeth Kendall, discussing ‘poetry as war’, ‘poems as swords’, and...
William Ryan: Seeking answers to the darkness

William Ryan: Seeking answers to the darkness

William Ryan’s historical thriller A House of Ghosts has been receiving high praise in the press and from readers. I’m willing to bet the stunning cover design, featuring an embossed gold-leaf image of Blackwater Abbey, has played a part in the novel’s success. Stars flicker in the night sky and stylised rays of light fan...
What's in a picture

What’s in a picture

I don’t remember where I first saw the photograph, but I do remember what I saw: A man standing on a box wearing nothing but a blanket. A bag over his head. Arms stretched out from his sides. Wires attached to his body. … To look at a photograph of someone after that person has...
The first bride

The first bride

They went crazy for weddings after the war. All weekend long, the shooting of impotent bullets into the air, the aggravating honking of horns and the incessant drone of the traditional Albanian music. As if they were so glad to be alive that they wanted everyone from Podujevo to Pristina to Tirana to know about...
The Leica way

The Leica way

In his previous book, Norwegian Wood (MacLehose Press, 2015), Lars Mytting composed an elegy to trees – not only as an elemental form of life, as symbols, and as the other, vital half of the animate cosmos, but also in their immutable relation to man. Norwegian Wood is about the transcendental materiality of timber, logs,...
Laura McVeigh: Journeys of the mind

Laura McVeigh: Journeys of the mind

Laura McVeigh’s debut novel Under the Almond Tree is a vibrant and tender modern fable of a young life blighted by war. Fifteen–year-old Samar is displaced from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and narrates her story from aboard the Trans-Siberian Express as it trundles east and west between Moscow and Vladivostok. With family and memories in tow, as...