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Love and poetry, sacrifice and hope.,
This review is from: The Translator (Hardcover)Christa 'Kit' Malone is an aspiring poet in the early '60s. The first half of this novel records the sad losses and mistakes of her teenage years, and her visit decades later to post-communist Russia, where, as a now successful poet, she attends a conference on the deceased Russian emigré poet, Innokenti Falin.
The second half depicts her first turbulent summer at a Mid-West university, where the said Falin, recently exiled, is teaching poetry. An intense relationship develops between them, built around her efforts to translate his poems into English.
So this is a love story, a powerfully felt romance between two outcasts, each with a troubled past. But it is also a fable about communism and its victims; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the fate of the individual under the weight of society; the dangers of poetry to poet, reader and earthly powers; about moving between, and changing, worlds. It is offered of course in Crowley's unfailingly graceful prose, marinaded in subtle emotion, nothing by accident:
She shut her eyes, to feel his hand so strangely light on her. "What do you love," she said. "What are you afraid of, what do you need." She lay still, seeming to have become something other than flesh, electricity maybe or pale silk, and wondered what she would do, what would become of her, if he were to answer.
Enigmatic and hopeful, this is how a John Le Carré Cold-War novel might read, from the perspective of an angel. I'm a sucker for Crowley's rich, elegantly crafted books, but the newcomer might find this untypically 'mainstream' novel a good place to start.