Extract from Andrej Nikolaidis’s ‘Till Kingdom Come’ (Istros Books, 2015)

I don’t believe those stories about pristine beginnings. True, time spoils everything. And yes, everything gets worse over time. But what is prone to spoil is not necessarily good in the beginning. Everything is bad, even at its inception. Nor do I believe the stories about the wisdom pronounced by children in their alleged innocence. I’m sure there are…

Robin Ashenden | September 28, 2015
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László Krasznahorkai in English – George Szirtes in conversation with Rosie Goldsmith, reviewed by Nick Barlay

It’s difficult to pin down why the novels of László Krasznahorkai have become so particularly successful in recent years, with the author winning the Man Booker International Prize in 2015 for ‘his achievement in fiction on the world stage’. One simple reason is that translation has made his work available to English-speaking readers both here…

Nick Barlay | September 27, 2015
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Monica Porter: The agony and anticipation of waiting for a dream to come true

How long does it take for a dream to die? Five years? Ten? Fifteen? Well, I have had a certain dream for 25 years now, and you know what? After a long quarter-century of disappointments, I think I might have to let it go. Which is a real shame, because it’s a wonderful dream. My…

Monica Porter | September 23, 2015

Roots Underground: Roger Scruton – ‘The Genesis of a Novel’

Young Europeans today have grown up in a world on which the shadow of communism no longer falls. It is often hard to explain to them what it was like to visit Soviet-controlled Europe, as I first did, in the late seventies. At that time the bids for freedom – East Germany 1953, Hungary 1956,…

Roger Scruton | July 10, 2015
Image by Viktor Kolář

1980s Prague: ‘Notes from Underground’ by Roger Scruton, reviewed by Robin Ashenden


In an essay last year on atheism, Roger Scruton, the conservative writer, historian and philosopher, recalled the darkest aspects of late-period communism. ‘Its aim,’ he wrote, ‘ was to replace social life with a cold calculation for survival, so that people would live as competing atoms, in…. absolute enmity and distrust…. where every secret that…

Robin Ashenden | July 10, 2015

Remembering Srebrenica: David Rohde’s ‘Endgame’ reviewed by Nick Barlay

Twenty years ago, American journalist David Rohde came across a decomposed human leg. It was sticking out of the ground in a village in eastern Bosnia. The leg was one of the first indications to the outside world that rumours of a massacre were true. It was mid-1995 and the location of the leg, as…

Nick Barlay | July 9, 2015
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Screening: ‘Gottland’ at the Frontline Club reviewed by Julia Secklehner


‘Gottland is about interesting people,’ Mariusz Szczygiel said at the opening discussion of Frontline cinema’s screening of the film modelled on his stories. Joined by Bloomberg News writer Doug Lytle and translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Szczygiel told us there are only two kinds of people in this world: those that are quiet and calm, and those that…

Julia Secklehner | July 4, 2015
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‘Innocence’ by Heda Margolius Kovály, reviewed by Robin Ashenden


Innocence, the posthumously published crime novel by Heda Margolius Kovály, comes heavy with expectation. It has been described the novelist John Banville as ‘a luminous testament from a dark time’ and a ‘must read’ by Cara Black. Then there’s the writer herself, author of Under a Cruel Star, one of the best – if not…

Robin Ashenden | June 28, 2015
Avin Shah reading Krasnowolski's Kindoki f_African Electronic tr by Antonia Lloyd-Jones PCI (2)

European Literature Night: ‘Liars’ League’, reviewed by Julia Secklehner

‘Writers write. Actors read. Audience listens. Everybody wins.’ This is what Liars’ League promises, and what it delivered at its European Literature Night event on June 9th. The authors introduced were largely from post-communist countries, including Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and East Germany. It was refreshing to see, however, that this wasn’t necessarily why…

Julia Secklehner | June 17, 2015