"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
click HERE and access his website
Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Paweł Huelle: Mercedes-Benz

Scanning the shelves of bookshops in Paris or Athens or Madrid it is always interesting to see what gets translated, what is considered canonical, from the UK.  And in the same way various random factors conspire to deliver certain foreign titles to us.  Is Orhan Pamuk the most important Turkish writer, for example?  The Nobel committee seems to think so.  I am reading another novel by Paweł Huelle, having enjoyed his Castorp, and this time it is an absorbing tale, Mercedes-Benz, of a man who takes driving lessons in the city of Gdansk (where Huelle comes from) with a crazy instructor, Miss Ciwle, just after the collapse of communism.  It's a lively, witty tale, juxtaposing, through the medium of the motor vehicle, three Polish generations: the pre-war brief period of independence, the communist years, and the new era of post-communist liberation.   The narrator is based on Huelle himself (that's his dad in this picture) and the stories he recounts as he drives around Gdansk with Miss Ciwle are addressed to the Czech master Bohamil Hrabal to whom this book is a kind of hommage. I have no idea how Huelle is seen in Poland but this translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones certainly glides along with the smoothness of a Mercedes and even someone like me who is about as far from being a petrol-head as it is possible to be can enjoy the ride. Recommended.

No comments: