Steve Sem-Sandberg’s novel (translated by Anna Paterson), as the title of it sounds, is heavily indebted to Shakespeare’s famous island play. Reading this novel though, it cast a light onto Shakespeare’s play that is not always accounted for and the issue of this human, but sometimes, dangerous desire to change and transform people was explored.
‘The Tempest however, in the face of its multifarious interpretations, is a play about the act of interpretation and ultimately a tale about whose story has the power to preside over everybody else’s.’
Rod Mengham’s multimodal work of essays, poetry and criticism was reviewed on Bookmunch. I was enamoured with this book that mediated on place and language and when I discussed his poem that is based on the fictional, but plausible, Nostratic dictionary devised by Palaeolinguist, Aharon Dolgopolsky, I wrote: What Mengham does here is conjure a voice that is rooted, not in history, but speculation. We read as a family, or clan, ‘cook with stones’ whilst the father hunts for food creating a narrative for the kind of family we expect to have lived on Grimspound whilst toying with this expectation. We are dislocated from the actual historical moment and a lack of syntax accentuates, what feels like, an ethereal voice, yet there’s a continual irony impacted by its sense of being conjured and based on a fiction.
‘… the way Owen situates his poetry at the intersection of religion and philosophy, as though purposefully antiquarian, suggests that if we’ve been asking these questions for nearly four hundred years, why haven’t they been answered?‘
I wrote about Andrew Wynn Owen’s astute debut collection of poetry at Review 31
I wrote a short piece about why Caterina Pascual Söderbaum’s The Oblique Place (trans. Frank Perry: MacLehose Press) was my book of the year, in 2018. Read what I wrote about it, and some selections by other reviewers, here.