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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Archive for the 'Bigelow' Category

An instant classic

A novel in verse for the ages

January 1st, 2016

BY BRAD BIGELOW

Human Landscapes from My Country
by Nâzim Hikmet
translated by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk
Persea Books, 2009

One of the drawbacks to running my website is that I rarely read books that are still in print. Browsing in new bookstores is always frustrating. I find things I’d love to read but then struggle to justify the time away from reading books I should cover on the site.

hikmetLast week, however, I couldn’t resist buying a new book. We were at the Istanbul airport waiting for our flight back to Brussels, and my wife and I were killing time browsing in the D&R store in the international terminal. There was a small section of English translations of Turkish literature, and in it, a copy of Nâzim Hikmet’s Human Landscapes from My Country, published by Persea Books in 2009. I thumbed through it and saw that it was a long poem (Hikmet’s subtitle is “An Epic Novel in Verse”), which would usually constitute strike two for me. I have to confess that I do not read as much poetry as I should.

But I soon found myself five pages into the book, almost inhaling the text like air. Although written (mostly) in blank verse, Hikmet’s style is transparent and effortless to read. Unlike the only other verse novel I’ve read (Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate, which I did enjoy and do admire greatly), Human Landscapes from My Country could be published as prose with little effect on the meaning — though certainly not the form — of the text. I decided to buy it, and I read over 150 pages in the course of our flight back. I went on to devour its more than 450 pages in the course of a few days.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: 13th Anniversary Issue, Bigelow, Book Reviews, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

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