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Swallowing Mercury Hardcover – 5 Jan 2017

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd; First UK Edition edition (5 Jan. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846276071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846276071
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 351,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


'Greg writes with a precise, strange charm, and the poet's acute sensitivity to detail. Little by little, I felt the presence of young Wiola appear beside me - vital, quick-witted and curious, picking her way through the dark woods of faith, family, sex and politics as if in some melancholy fairytale. I experienced the book like a series of cool, clear drinks, each more intoxicating that the last: I love and admire it in equal measure' -- Sarah Perry, Essex Serpent

'This enchantingly elliptical fiction debut sparkles with a gem-like quality. Thanks to Eliza Marciniak's crisp translation, it brings freshness even to the crowded genre of the novella-sized bildungsroman, and can be devoured alongside the best coming-of-age translations of recent years... Swallowing Mercury is a richly textured portrait of a culture now lost: rural life under one of the milder communist regimes... It is refreshing to find a fiction writer so free of stylistic pomp, so finely attuned to the truth of her material, a novel so sensually saturated. The full cumulative power of Greg's prose is felt towards the end, as it accelerates alongside Wiola's adolescence - until we are swept into the unknown' -- Guardian

'A highly evocative debut novella, which hovers beguilingly somewhere between straight coming-of-age memoir and slightly surreal folk tale... Greg's great achievement is to conjure up [the] period so vividly that you can smell it, taste and feel it' -- Scotland on Sunday

'Wioletta Greg's first novella shines with a surreal and unsettling vigour. As an award-winning poet, Greg writes with a lyricism that brings alive the charms and dangers of Wiola's life, while an afterword by translator Eliza Marciniak offers valuable historical context' --Financial Times

'Beautifully crafted... From the frightening to the farcical, Wioletta Greg describes growing up in the final decade of the Polish People's Republic with a humour and matter-of-factness that belie a harsh reality' -- New Internationalist

'Full of mysterious elements of folk and superstition, making it immediately engaging [...] and employing a mesmeric vocabulary' -- AnOther Magazine

'Greg paints an evocative, yet dream-like picture of a Poland that is at once familiar, but distant... Swallowing Mercury is both magical and sinister, and, like Wiola, completely captivating' -- Irish News

'This disorientating novel is bursting with sensual images... I can't think of a novel like it' --Daily Mail

'What emerges from this funny but also profound autobiographical piece is a picture of a layered society, riven with internal contradictions where much lurks beneath the surface' -- Town and Country House Magazine

'I really loved this strange book, which is sometimes sinister and sometimes lovely, and many other things besides' -- Evie Wyld

'I have been utterly 'swallowed' by this odd yet oddly familiar folk novella - somewhere between memoir and fairytale - which has magic and menace in perfect measure' -- Sara Baume

'This book comes the way memory does, in fragments, like something overheard or glimpsed through a gap in the door. It might feel as if you shouldn't be listening, should turn away, but it is impossible to do so' -- Daisy Johnson

'A sparkling little gem of a book - there is a freshness and truthfulness in Wioletta Greg's writing that reminded me of Elena Ferrant and Tove Jansson' --Carys Davies

About the Author

WIOLETTA GREG is the author of six volumes of poetry and a novella, Swallowing Mercury, translated here into English for the first time. Her poetry collection, Finite Formulae & Theories of Chance, was shortlisted for the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize. She lives in Essex. ELIZA MARCINIAK is an editor and translator. She lives in London.

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on 11 February 2017
Format: Hardcover
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Most helpful customer reviews on 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
4.0 out of 5 starsOK, but not a novel
on 28 October 2017 - Published on
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5.0 out of 5 starsNice presentation by Transit Books
on 8 October 2017 - Published on
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4.0 out of 5 starsDelightful collection of short, autobiographical stories of growing up in rural Poland during the 1970s and 1980s
on 12 November 2017 - Published on

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