Supposedly Human, the World’s Shame

Between Enemies
Andrea Molesini, trans. Antony Shugaar and Patrick Creagh
Allen & Unwin
November 2015
AU $29.99

between_enemiesAndrea Molesini’s Between Enemies is an eloquent tale of occupation, collaboration and resistance set in WWI.  Based on true events, it follows the aristocratic Spada household as their property is requisitioned by German soldiers, then Austrians.  Their village is occupied.  Eventually the whole household as well as several villagers are drawn to resist the occupiers.

Told from the perspective of 17-year-old Paolo, writing as an adult some ten years later, the story is full of high drama, but also nostalgia and melancholy.  Because the narrator is a teenage boy during the events, the story is also sadly filled with the objectification of Paolo’s crush Giulia.  While this is probably realistic, it’s a little tiresome to read, especially when the novel purports to say something about the natures of men and women and their relationships*.  This is usually by way of commentary delivered by Paolo’s eccentric but wise grandfather, and manages to be the same sort of thing supposedly wise men always say about women in stories of this kind.  If authors** could stop doing that, that would be swell. Continue reading

One Hundred Different Flowers Bloom Inside a Woman

THE STORY OF LIFE ON THE GOLDEN FIELDS, VOL. 1-3
Kim Dong Hwa (trans. Lauren Na, First Second, 2003) ISBN: 978-1-59643-458-5; 978-1-59643-459-2;  The colour of earth978-1-59643-460-8

Kim Dong Hwa’s The Story of Life on the Golden Fields is a series of three gorgeous manhwa (Korean graphic novels and comic books), telling the story of Ehwa and her widowed mother as they wait for love. Based on the life of Kim Dong Hwa’s mother, it is set in a rural Korean village and has a timeless feel to it. Slow-moving and elegant, the books are part coming-of-age and part love story.

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      Olena Bormaschenko’s translation of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Hard to Be a God represents the second translation of the Russian sci-fi classic into English.  As much is discussed in the forward to the book, by Ken MacLeod, who admits to an abortive first attempt to read the novel back in 1977. … Continue reading