Arrested Song by Irena Karafilly
When the Occupation ends, the Civil War begins. Calliope is shocked to find her compatriots can be as vicious as the Nazis. But she finds a way of using her teaching skills to spread a little light in dark times, becoming an advocate for battered women, until the military dictatorship threatens her very existence.
Is this a character-based novel or a fictionalisation of Greek history? For many readers – as I assume was the author’s intention – it’s both, but I didn’t feel as close to the main character or learn as much as I’d have liked. Nevertheless, an interesting novel about the struggle for personal and political autonomy. Thanks to publishers Legend Press for my advanced proof copy.
Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling
Rose has been a sex worker in the luxurious Floating City off the coast of Boston but now she’s on a clandestine mission to find out what’s going on in the derelict oil town in northern Canada where the air is fresh and cool. Grant, a recent graduate of an elite university, has also been drawn to Camp Zero, but he’s soon to discover he hasn’t been recruited for his teaching skills. Two days to the north by snowmobile, a group of women carrying out climate surveillance in an isolated Cold War-era research station begin to question the terms of their employment.
The author cleverly weaves these disparate threads together to create a credible dystopia for our times, encompassing the climate crisis, inequalities, idealism and betrayal. Thanks to publishers John Murray for my proof copy.
It’s interesting how minds work, isn’t it? This week, writers when writers were asked to compose a 99-word story about golden onions, my thoughts leapfrogged from these novels of occupation to the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and from there to the fairy-tale architecture of eastern orthodox churches. Here is my feeble attempt to corral those thoughts into a story.
His name was one of the most common in the Russian language, yet it stoked fear in Tatars and Cossacks alike. Did Ivan want to go down in history as Terrible or as the czar who commissioned a beautiful church? True, the domes of St Basil’s commemorate a bloody battle and he had the architect blinded on completion so he’d never create again. But God would have looked down on his cathedral and seen the shape of a star. The domes on the red-brick towers shone like candles, like golden onions. Onions – so versatile, so welcome in frozen lands.