Category Archives: Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2020

Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich

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Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich

Summary:

Zorka. She had eyebrows like her name.

1980s Prague. For Jana, childhood means ration queues and the smell of boiled potatoes on the grey winter air. But just before Jana’s seventh birthday, a new family moves in to their building: a bird-eyed mamka in a fox-fur coat, a stubble-faced papka – and a raven-haired girl named Zorka.

As the first cracks begin to appear in the communist regime, Zorka teaches Jana to look beyond their building, beyond Prague, beyond Czechoslovakia … and then, Zorka just disappears. Jana, now an interpreter in Paris for a Czech medical supply company, hasn’t seen her in a decade.

As Jana and Zorka’s stories slowly circle across the surreal fluctuations of the past and present, the streets of 1980s Prague, the suburbs of 1990s Wisconsin and the lesbian bars of present-day Paris, they lead inexorably to a mysterious door on the Rue de Prague …

Written with the dramatic tension of Euripidean tragedy and the dreamlike quality of a David Lynch film, Virtuoso is an audacious, mesmerising novel of love in the post-communist diaspora.

 My Review:

Delighted to share my review of Virtuoso (Serpents Tail) by Yelena Moskovich as part of the Swansea International Dylan Thomas Prize Blog Tour.

This is the second novel by Yelena Moskovich and Virtuoso is a dark yet also a brave account of life in 1980’s Prague. Jana begins a friendship with the mysterious Zorka. Life within the Communist state can be as dull as a Czechoslovakian winter. But Zorka’s family have moved in next door and it is Zorka who wants to show Jana that there is a life beyond the Communist state.

Yelena_Moskovich

In reality what we have here is a novel about female friendships and what is spoken through Moskovich’s novel is one of a complex relationship between Jana and Zorka. It is then that Zorka disappears without warning.

We fast forward and Jana is now living and working as an interpreter in Paris. Time really has moved on for Jana and then we meet Aimee who is happily married to Dominique. It is the story of these women’s lives in what is a rather strange and sexually explicit novel.

It is a novel that explores the relationships of these women and Moskovich’s unique style of writing makes this a novel sometimes takes patience and yet never really leaves you alone after you have finished reading. One that you will love or one that will frustrate you. It challenged me and I loved it.

 Shortlist Announcement is made on 7th April 2020

Winner Announced on 14th May 2020

SUDTP-

Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler

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Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler

Summary:

When your mother considers another country home, it’s hard to know where you belong. When the people you live among can’t pronounce your name, it’s hard to know exactly who you are. And when your body no longer feels like your own, it’s hard to understand your place in the world.

This is a novel of growing up between cultures, of finding your space within them and of learning to live in a traumatized body. Our stubborn archivist tells her story through history, through family conversations, through the eyes of her mother, her grandmother and her aunt and slowly she begins to emerge into the world, defining her own sense of identity.

Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award

Longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize

My Review:

First off a big apology from me. This review should have been out as part of the Blog Tour for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize last week.

I was so intrigued when the debut novel Stubborn Archivist (Fleet) by Yara Rodrigues Fowler was longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize as The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award that I jumped at the chance to review when offered and I am so pleased I did.

Yara-Rodrigues-Fowler

What a wondrous story that Yara Rodrigues Fowler has created. The narrator remains anonymous throughout the storyline. It bursts into life from the first page. The narrator is born in South London and has a mother who is Brazilian and a father who is English.

The one aspect that I felt when I started to read was that this was like finding someone’s secret diary and reading about them and their thoughts on their own family. The mix of languages and translations that at times are very poetic.

Through the pages we get to know about the narrator and the women that make up her life. The mix of languages and also cultures makes this such a fabulous read as well as unearthing an exciting new writing voice.

It is at times complex but also she shares her emotions through the pages and even the blank pages are powerful in themselves. The three women that appear are key in the life of the narrator, her mother, and aunt and also her grandmother each have powerful narrative. Throughout I had the sense of the narrator asking about what is home and where is home. Our protagonist is talking to us the reader about the many facets of her life even the moments that bring a laugh or two.

As I have found in my own life stubbornness equates to pure determination and the will to never stop or to never give up. Stubborn Archivist is a pure joy to read.

SUDTP-

Shortlist Announcement is made on 7th April 2020

Winner Announced on 14th May 2020

Screenshot-2020-01-24-at-09.08.38 

368 Pages.

Thank you to Martina Ticic (Midas PR) for the review copy of Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler.

Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler was published by Fleet and was published on 6th February 2020 (Paperback) and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary:

When your mother considers another country home, it’s hard to know where you belong. When the people you live among can’t pronounce your name, it’s hard to know exactly who you are. And when your body no longer feels like your own, it’s hard to understand your place in the world.

This is a novel of growing up between cultures, of finding your space within them and of learning to live in a traumatized body. Our stubborn archivist tells her story through history, through family conversations, through the eyes of her mother, her grandmother and her aunt and slowly she begins to emerge into the world, defining her own sense of identity.

Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award

Longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize

My Review:

 

Yara-Rodrigues-Fowler

 

 

 

Screenshot-2020-01-24-at-09.08.38

Shortlist Announcement is made on 7th April 2020

Winner Announced on 14th May 2020

SUDTP-

368 Pages.

Thank you to Martina Ticic (Midas PR) for the review copy of Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler.

Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler was published by Fleet and was published on 6th February 2020 (Paperback) and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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