MacLehose Press Publicity: 28-03-11

The Folded Earth was Book of the Week on the For Book’s Sake website:

“In the first few pages of the book, Maya exclaims that her husband’s need to visit the mountains made her see that ‘some people have the mountains in them while some have the sea’. It is this turn of phrase that is so utterly enrapturing and which really allows Roy to create a beautifully plaintive story filled with incredibly touching moments . . . The Folded Earth grapples with grandiose themes almost effortlessly. Roy’s writing remains gently poignant and metaphoric throughout, every vignette and scenario she constructs feels multi-layered and deeply meaningful.” Sara Badawi

And in India, The Folded Earth has also been reviewed in the weekly political magazine, Tehelka: “Its pages are crowded with the small intense pleasures of a long trek, to be recalled years later with unbearable yearning by a veined stone, a fossil, a dry leaf. The pain of that intimacy acknowledges the imponderable: we rush to embrace the wilderness and dread the terror of being embraced by it. The Folded Earth embodies this paradox: it is a joyous novel about grief.

Roy is the rare author who can write descriptive prose that does not read like an inventory. The strength of this novel is its evocative language and use of closely observed descriptions of the external world to cue shifts in emotion. The narrator (with whom one empathises instantly) relates her own story through lines like these: ‘In the hills, the sky is circumscribed. Its fluid blue is cupped in the palm of a hand whose fingers are the mountains around us… Here is where sky begins and ends, and if there are other places, they have skies different from our sky.’

Circumscribed too is life in the small town where Roy’s compassionate understanding makes her characters come alive.” Kalpish Ratna

India Today, one of the two major political weeklies, also reviews The Folded Earth: “Comic and shrewd and nasty in leaps and spirals. The Folded Earth negotiates passion and pain, hate and hauteur with a deftness of narrative skill that is distinctly acrobatic. It is never melodramatic, however. Roy’s aim, clearly, is not for the jugular, even if she is traversing tiger-country and has Corbett as her colonial pin-up man… If you look… for the perfect turn-of-word-and-phrase, for that unexpected adjective that will jerk you up short in your reading trek, and for that splendidly unbelievable image that can wrench your gut when you least expect it, you can savour Roy’s second.” Brinda Bose

Love Virtually has been reviewed in Woman’s Way magazine in Ireland: “It’s An Affair To Remember for the internet age. It’s good stuff. Just go with the virtual-voyeuristic flow and enjoy 21st century, out-there romance.”

And the Irish Examiner has reviewed Treblinka:

“It is a commonplace of distressed people to say that words can’t describe their agony. Well in this account of his survival in World War II of the killing camp that was Treblinka, Chil Rajchman uses words, and not lots and lots of them, just 96 pages, and opens a window into the individual and collective agony of up to 1.3 million people exterminated as if they were locusts.

His phrases don’t involve complicated concepts nor do his words elicit elaborate philosophies. He just described what happened to him and to his neighbours and strangers who often spoke different languages to him, but who were homogenised by a killing machine into one mass of Jewness. This was death on a calamitous scale. Engineered death. Rajchman somehow managed to survive to tell the story.

Rajchman did everything in his power to stay alive. The SS looked for volunteer barbers. He had never cut a hair in his life. He became a barber. He describes beautiful young women whose hair he had to shave off before they were sent to the gas chamber. The SS looked for dentists. He volunteered. They had to extract gold teeth from corpses. They filled buckets with them, often with bits of flesh attached.

In the second part of Treblinka there is a lengthy piece of reportage by Vasily Grossman — The Hell of Treblinka. In it he exhorts humanity to bear witness to these events — still frighteningly close to our own lives. Not distant genocide a la Genghis Khan shrouded in the mists of time: ‘It is the writer’s duty to tell the terrible truth, and it is a reader’s civic duty to learn this truth. To turn away, to close one’s eyes and walk past is to insult the memory of those who have perished. to learn it.’

We have many accounts of concentration camp survival, some from literary giants (Primo Levi’s If This is a Man); Romanian poet Paul Celan distorted his syntax as a metaphor for the inconceivable. The poet Sylvia Plath, regarded even the German language as a ‘barbed-wire language’. Ultimately, language must attempt to describe such events, however horrific. Reading too, must play a part.

A postcard from hell. Treblinka was a harangue of logic. Morality eviscerated.” Dan MacCarthy


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