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Zoli

by Colum McCann

I was not keen on the idea of this novel based loosely on the true story of a gypsy poet, from her youth in the 1930s to the late 20th Century. However, I found it strangely fascinating. It jumps about through different time periods and is told through different voices. In the end, it had me really gripped and I loved the language. Sometimes it even feels like poetry.

Extract

The days pass in a furious blank. The sky is wintry and fast. Soft flurries of snow break and melt across her face. She descends a steep bank towards a stream, the sun glancing off the thin ice. Whole patterns of crystals encase the rivergrass. She approaches the water, sleeves her hand in her boot, and cracks the surface. She pokes around with a stick to clear the shards, touches the freezing water with her fingers.
With a deep breath she plunges her face into the water, so cold it stuns the bones in her cheeks.
Gingerly, she takes off her socks. The blisters have hardened and none of the cuts have gone septic, but the makeshift bandages have become part of her skin. Zoli inches her feet into the burning cold of the water and tries to peel away the last of the bandages. Skin comes with them. Later, over a small fire, she warms her toes, pushes the flaps of torn skin against the raw flesh, attends to her wounds.

Parallels

Gypsy Folktales by Diane Tong
The Raggedy Rawney - the film
 

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