Ilya Kaminsky’s astonishing parable in poems asks us, What is silence?
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The long-awaited new collection from Ilya Kaminsky: a remarkable parable in poems which asks us, what is silence?
Deaf Republic opens in a time of political unrest in an occupied territory. It is uncertain where we are or when, in what country or during what conflict, but we come to recognise that these events are also happening here, right now. This astonishing parable in poems unfolds episodically like a play, its powerful narrative provoked by a tragic opening scene: when soldiers breaking up a protest kill a deaf boy, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear – in that moment, all have gone deaf. Inside this silence, their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language. The story then follows the private lives of townspeople encircled by public violence: a newly married couple, Alfonso and Sonya, expecting their child; the daring Momma Galya, instigating the insurgency from her puppet theatre; and Galya’s puppeteers, covertly teaching signs by day and by night heroically luring soldiers one by one to their deaths behind the curtain. At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea, Deaf Republic confronts our time’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.
‘Deaf Republic is conscience, terror, silence, rage, made to coexist moments of tenderness, piercing beauty, empathic lyricism.’
‘Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic is evidence of a profound imagination, a capacious critical intellect, and a brilliant heart-on-fire … A dream book for any and every citizen.’
‘A perfectly extraordinary book. It is so romantic, and so painful, with such a stunning lightness of touch but such devastating weight.’
‘With their intensely humane music, Ilya Kaminsky’s poems sing with a real commitment to love, art and memory … He is easily one of the best poets of my generation.’
‘A fable of love and war set in an imaginary town called Vasenka … Vasenka has an old-world feel yet - like all great poetry - speaks urgently to the present.’
‘An astounding, urgent and fresh creation.'
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