Niall Griffiths, in the latest issue of Planet, out this month, has reviewed three Parthian novels in translation: Hana by Alena Mornštajnová (translated from Czech by Julia and Peter Sherwood), Insomnia by Alberts Bels (translated from Latvian by Jayde Will) and Exiles by Dónall Mac Amhlaigh (translated from Irish by Mícheál Ó hAodha).
Describing Hana as "a shattering book", he goes on: "Mornštajnová knows how
to highlight the specific details in which the Devil lurks: the pride in the neatness with which yellow stars are stitched to lapels is truly heartbreaking..."
Turning to Insomnia, Griffiths dissects the power of the imagination and fantasy to counteract the realities of living a subjugated life: "The psychopomp of the fertile imagination will not defeat persecution or exploitation or usufruct ... but it can offer respite and a vault for a piece of the ineradicable self." He concludes: "And now you can hold the physical artefact of this fine novel in your hands. Which is some kind of triumph."
The visceral, physical imagery in Exiles is brought out neatly: "Both London and Ireland, in this book, reek and reel and stink and stew; the writing works on the skin."
In conclusion, Griffiths writes: "The appearance of these three fascinating and marginalised books could not be more timely or necessary."
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