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Gargling with Tar

by Jachym Topol

Who is Ilya? Miserable orphan or a boy with a real past? Saboteur and turncoat or Son of the Regiment? Ilya takes his chances wherever he can, as he drifts from some kind of order at the Home from Home orphanage into the chaos of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. His ever more absurd and surreal journey makes for a compelling story

Extract

Unfortunately what I saw was the ghastliest thing I've ever seen in my life : two men were carving up a third, who lay on the ground.
These guys had sticks, on the ends of which were chunks of meat freshly cut from the carcass. I could only see the outline in the grass, dancing in the glimmer of the fire. They didn't speak Russian or Czech, but something similar. I could understand them. It was how Mikusinec or someone used to witter in the night.
They were just saying that a bottle of something with a bit of a kick to it would slip down nicely with Teddy.
Then one of them took a pinch of ash from the fire and scattered it over the bedarkened grass and said `We thank thee Uncle Ted!'
Translated by David Short

Parallels

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
The Good Soldier Svejk and his Fortunes in the World War by Jaroslav Hasek
 

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