Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review of the Day: The Wall in My Head

The Wall in My Head: Words and Images from the Fall of the Iron Curtain, published by Words Without Borders Anthologies, is a powerful collection of fiction, essays, poetry, and historic documents about life behind the Iron Curtain after there was no more Iron Curtain. Most of the pieces are short stories, some by world-famous authors like Milan Kundera, some by authors known only in Eastern Europe.

This is a dense book and, because the pieces are written by behind-the-Iron-Curtain authors, there are insider references and imagery that take a while to figure out. But the overall picture built up through little details and different perspectives is fascinating. For example, this snippet from
"The Road to Bornholm" by Durs Grunbein really beings home what it must have been like to live through suh historic events as the fall of the Berlin Wall:
"He was surprised to read 'Bornholmer Strasse' on a sign on the Western side.  He had never considered that, on a city map, the connecting routes might continue uninterrupted, that the names might simply go on as before the Wall was built."
 This is a book that will stick with the reader long after the final page.


  1. This sounds an incredibly interesting anthology. I have just received a copy of Kim Philby's autobiography which I am looking forward to hugely, although I think that most of it is set on the western side of the curtain - but I will post on it eventually!

    Great post - real inspiration

    Thanks for sharing


  2. Hannah -- Thanks for the comment. I bet Philby's autobiography will be fascinating, but I wonder if it will be totally self-serving. Or a Soviet apologia. I'm very interested in reading your review!

  3. Fascinating. And the snippet is intriguing. Though I was only quite young, I can remember the Berlin wall coming down really vividly - watching it on the news, that is. It was so momentous. Hard to imagine what it must have been like to live in a divided city like that. (And I grew up in Northern Ireland...)

    This sounds like a collection that would be well worth reading. Thanks for the review!

  4. Sounds really interesting. Thanks for the heads up.


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