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The Return

by Andrey Platonov

Ten stories of people on the move, fleeing from cruelty and poverty, yearning for death or a better life. Gruesome descriptions of want and pain make this a harrowing read. But the folktale style gives life to inanimate objects and transforms your experience of this bleak world.

Extract

But the timid, infrequent splashing of the water against the empty shore of Lake Onega brought calm to the soul of the lodger: if you cannot live like a human being, if you must always live in fear, then why try to be a human being? Better to become water, earth or wind. His wife and child had also stopped being people, but they existed somewhere - even if only as wind, water and earth - and they were near by; he could feel them together with him, in the same world as him, in his one heart.
Translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler and Angela Livingstone

Parallels

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
 

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