ceausescu presidential sceptre (2)

‘The White King’: György Dragomán’s novel reviewed by Ian Mole

The eighteen stories of this 2007 book by György Dragomán, a Transylvanian Hungarian, can be enjoyed separately but also form a loose narrative set in the 1980s world of an unnamed country – undoubtedly Ceausescu’s Romania. Stretching over a period of about two years in the life of their narrator, 11-year-old Djata, the tales revolve…

Ian Mole | 09/10/2014
stalin falsified

Rethinking Stalin: Dr.Polly Jones at Pushkin House, by Valeriya Stepanuyk

The subject of the Stalinist past was a controversial topic even within the Soviet Union and now is perhaps even more so in Former Soviet States. Given this, it’s not surprising there were mixed feelings in anticipation of Rethinking the Stalinist Past in Soviet Union (1953-70) an event chaired on September 23rd at Pushkin House…

Valeriya Stepanuyk | 09/10/2014
Image by Antony Stanley

‘Not So Lucky’ – a short story from Romania, by Mike Ormsby

I remember this place, always will. I should have kept my mouth shut. Play with fire, right? But that was years ago. I can walk through Bucharest’s Gara de Nord feeling older and wiser, now. The big railway station looks so different today – modern, revamped. Shiny kiosks bulge with glossy magazines, rows of chocolate,…

Mike Ormsby | 08/10/2014
Kostadin Bonev

Kostadin Bonev’s ‘Five Stories about a Shooting’ reviewed by Jonathan Karstadt


On 23rd July 1943 Nikola Vaptsarov, a 32-year-old former naval machinist and communist collaborator, was found guilty of his part in a plot to supply arms to Bulgarian antifascist military groups and shot dead by firing squad. At the time of his death, he had published a single volume of poetry, its print limited to…

Jonathan Karstadt | 29/09/2014
The Vit Kristan Trio at the Spice of Life.

Vit Kristan Trio at Spice of Life: review by Jesse Kirkwood

Last Thursday marked Vit Kristan’s second appearance at Soho’s Spice of Life music bar, and the first since the release of his debut album earlier this year. The exciting young Czech pianist, accompanied by veteran double-bassist Jaromir Honzak and Roman Vicha on drums, plays a bewildering range of genres, veering from post-bop and straight-ahead to…

Jesse Kirkwood | 25/09/2014
night will fall cameraman

Frontline Screening: ‘Night Will Fall’ reviewed by Nick Barlay.

A British soldier, standing in Bergen Belsen concentration camp shortly after its liberation on 15 April 1945, speaks directly to the camera: ‘Now I know what I’m fighting for.’ His words echoed General Eisenhower’s statement after visiting Ohrdruf concentration camp only three days earlier: ‘We are told that the American soldier does not know what…

Nick Barlay | 21/09/2014

A Man for East and West: Anthony of Sourozh, by Eugenia Ellanskaya

Last week Pushkin House hosted an interesting event touching upon the Russian world in England – often so unfamiliar and mysterious to outsiders. With the rise of Russia-West hostilities over the past year the hearts of many long for stability and more warmth within Anglo-Russian affairs. But how to avoid polarised and aggravated opinions? How not…

Eugenia Ellanskaya | 20/09/2014
The Maids of Wilko

Wajda’s ‘The Maids of Wilko’ reviewed by Jesse Kirkwood


Andrzej Wajda is perhaps best known as a director of epic films explicitly tackling national issues. His ‘war trilogy’ (1954-58) is celebrated as a nuanced depiction of the Nazi occupation of Poland and the aftermath of the Second World War, while his more recent works include uncontroversial versions of canonical Polish texts, such as Pan Tadeusz…

Jesse Kirkwood | 18/09/2014