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While the Gods Were Sleeping

by Erwin Mortier

The war takes back stage as Helena recalls her youth from old age, making what sense she can of her life experiences. The deep poetry of her soul produces an intensely personal vision. The horror of war, observed wryly from the depth of falling in love, needs the discipline of writing to purge its terrors. All credit to the translator for such beautiful, meditative English.

Extract

And even now when I see those solid heads of families again who, holding their children by the hand, stroll between the broom and the briars as if they were at the zoo, I find it harder to get worked up than before. I know by now what weird forms desperation can take in a human being, how the pleasure of bewilderment carefully shields us from a fear or despair that might totally destroy us- what a strange emotion fear remains. The most alchemical of emotions, now turning to lead, now to gold. Isn't each pleasure a hasty prayer, Rachida my girl, an invocation?

Parallels

The Girl You left Behind by Jojo Moyes
 

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