Swallowing Mercury is an unsettling, sublime coming-of-age novel. It will transport you into its world; while I was reading it, I could almost feel the smoke and mist in the air and see the beauty and squalor of 1970s communist Poland. This is one of the loveliest books I've ever read. Recommended By Bitty E., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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In this celebrated debut from prize-winning poet Wioletta Greg, Wiola looks back on her youth in a close-knit, agricultural community in 1980s Poland. Her memories are precise, intense, distinctive, sensual: a playfulness and whimsy rise up in the gossip of the village women, rumored visits from the Pope, and the locked room in the dressmaker's house, while political unrest and predatory men cast shadows across this bright portrait. In prose that sparkles with a poet’s touch, Wioletta Greg's debut animates the strange wonders of growing up.
“Greg writes with a precise, strange charm, and the poet’s acute sensitivity to detail. Little by little, I felt the presence of young Wiola appear beside me — vital, quick-witted, and curious, picking her way through the dark woods of faith, family, sex, and politics as if in some melancholy fairy tale. I experienced the book like a series of cool, clear drinks, each more intoxicating than the last.” Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
“Wioletta Greg’s first novel shines with a surreal and unsettling vigor. As an award-winning poet, Greg writes with a lyricism that brings alive the charms and dangers of Wiola’s life.” The Financial Times
“This enchantingly elliptical fiction debut by British-domiciled Polish poet Wioletta Greg sparkles with a gem-like quality. Thanks to Eliza Marciniak’s crisp translation, it brings freshness even to the crowded genre of the novella-sized bildungsroman, and can be devoured alongside the best coming-of-age translations of recent years, such as Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos, Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera and The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov.” The Guardian
About the Author
Wioletta Greg is a Polish writer; she was born in a small village in 1974 in the Jurassic Highland of Poland. In 2006, she left Poland and moved to the UK. Between 1998–2012 she published six poetry volumes, as well as a novel, Swallowing Mercury, which spans her childhood and her experience of growing up in Communist Poland. Her short stories and poems have been published in Asymptote, the Guardian, Litro Magazine, Poetry Wales, Wasafiri and The White Review. Her works have been translated into English, Catalan, French, Spanish, and Welsh.
Wioletta Greg on PowellsBooks.Blog
transports the reader to 1980s provincial Poland, to a small village in the Polish Jurassic Highland, where Catholic rites blend with pagan rituals and realism merges with magic. The villagers believe in the power of herbs, objects, and Catholic saints, such as St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost items. The color red protects you from spells...