Little Squirrel by Andrei Geraschenko – a translation of a prescient anti-war story from Belarus

In February I translated a short story set at the end of the Second World War – Belchonok (Little Squirrel) by the Belarusian author Andrei Geraschenko. The story was written and published in Russian in 1992. Told through the death of a small Belarusian boy, killed during a Nazi raid on his village, it is an affecting and thoughtful piece of writing about one of the tragedies of war: that the soldiers who kill children are often fathers themselves. … More Little Squirrel by Andrei Geraschenko – a translation of a prescient anti-war story from Belarus

Ukrainian translation: Russia’s destruction of the Slovo writers’ house in Kharkiv – Chytomo

My first published translation from Ukrainian is for Chytomo, a literature and culture website run by a team of creatives in Kyiv. It is an article by Ukrainian literary critic Vira Aheeva, about Russia’s bombing of the ‘Slovo’ writers’ house in Kharkiv, and how it echoes the damage done to the building by Stalin’s NKVD in the 1930s. The article begins:
“During the mass bombing of Kharkiv, a city of over a million people close to the border with Russia, the ‘Slovo’ writers’ house was badly damaged. The house is a significant building in Kharkiv, associated with the renaissance of the Ukrainian arts scene in the 1920s.” … More Ukrainian translation: Russia’s destruction of the Slovo writers’ house in Kharkiv – Chytomo

Cricket in Tajikistan: Some writing in the 2022 Wisden Almanack

The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2022 includes a piece that I wrote for its Cricket Round The World section. It is about the history of cricket in the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan – from the shepherds in the 1960s who played the game on their jailoos (summer pastures), to the Tajik throwing-and-hitting game chilikdangal, played with sticks in the mountainous Wakhan Corridor, to a new six-team T20 tournament in the capital Dushanbe. Tajikistan became the 106th member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2021, and has some ambitious plans for the future, in partnership with its cricketing neighbours in Afghanistan. … More Cricket in Tajikistan: Some writing in the 2022 Wisden Almanack

Letter from Ulan-Ude (Buryatia, Siberia)

“The Rinpoche Bagsha temple crackled with the deep murmur of Buddhist prayer. Under the warm gaze of a golden cross-legged Buddha, eight monks in crimson robes sat at a low table in the centre of the room, ethereal chants bursting from their throats. A bell tinkled. During the final prayer the congregation, squeezed together on benches close to the monks, picked up parcels of food and waved them in front of themselves in clockwise circles. The bell tinkled one last time”. … More Letter from Ulan-Ude (Buryatia, Siberia)

Lower-league football in Bulgaria: Tundzha Yambol vs. Chernomorets Burgas

On a hot October Saturday, as a scrum of players lunged for the ball bouncing head-high in the midfield, a match in Bulgaria’s Third League – a 71-team competition divided into four regional groups – played out in the universal rhythm of amateur football: frenetic and slow at the same time.

On some rusty blue benches between the changing rooms and the stadium’s running track, 40 spectators chatted and nibbled pumpkin seeds, half-watching their friends and relatives exhausting themselves on the pitch.

In an early-evening, early-autumn kick-off at Nikolai Laskov Stadium in the town of Yambol, the game between Tundzha Yambol and Chernomorets Burgas – mid-table rivals in the south-east group of the Treta Liga – ended in a 3-0 win for Chernomorets. The visitors were by far the better team, and scored through an own goal before half-time, then impressive goals by Martin Dimitrov and Milen Tanev in the second half. … More Lower-league football in Bulgaria: Tundzha Yambol vs. Chernomorets Burgas

Yambol, Bulgaria in photographs – part three: Colours of Thrace

There can’t be many places in Europe more colourful than Bulgaria’s Thracian Valley – the basin of the Black Sea in the country’s south-east, just above the borders with Turkey and Greece. 

Yambol – one of the region’s main towns, with about 70,000 people – is full of colour, from its 19th century houses painted in bold reds and apricot orange, to its yellow Orthodox church, to the park in the centre of town covered by a canopy of dark green leaves. Colours mix on shop signs and graffiti, and in the brickwork of the 14th century Eski mosque – the second biggest in Bulgaria.  … More Yambol, Bulgaria in photographs – part three: Colours of Thrace