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The Dead Lake

by Hamid Ismailov

A really curious mixture of the magic and mischief of Russian fairytale with the stark every day reality of a family living and working in a tiny, isolated community, chosen as the location for nuclear testing. Yerzhan's story - his musical gift, his love for his beautiful cousin and the irreversible act of bravado which delivers dark and twisted consequences - will haunt you long after you finish this short but perfectly executed tale.

Extract

'This is where we found you ...' the old man said.
And beyond the gully with the noisy spring river at its bottom, on the far side of the wooden suspension bridge, barbed wire extended right across the steppe. Grandad reined in his exhausted steed and waved towards the fence with his whip. 'The Zone!' he exclaimed. And at that moment a fly started buzzing in the boy's ear, a gadfly, the kind that circled above the their cows on lazy days - a dafly that became the droning word: Zone ...
And the word began buzzing around the child's imagination.
Translated by Andrew Bromfield

Parallels

The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
  • The Singing Ringing Tree - 1970's TV series
  • Anything by by Nikolai Gogol
     

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