Deaf Republic

Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky’s astonishing parable in poems asks us, What is silence?

Date Published
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Deaf Republic opens in an occupied country in a time of political unrest. When soldiers breaking up a protest kill a deaf boy, Petya, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear – all have gone deaf, and their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language. The story follows the private lives of townspeople encircled by public violence: a newly married couple, Alfonso and Sonya, expecting a child; the brash Momma Galya, instigating the insurgency from her puppet theatre; and Galya’s girls, heroically teaching signs by day and by night luring soldiers one by one to their deaths behind the curtain. At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea – Ilya Kaminsky’s long-awaited Deaf Republic confronts our time’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.

Critic Reviews

‘Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic is one of the finest poetry collections in a year of great poetry collections. It is framed as a drama: one in which the inhabitants of an occupied town grow deaf to horror. Its power has an eerie familiarity – alas.’

Erica Wagner, New Statesman Books of the Year
Critic Reviews

‘Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic gave me unexpected narrative heartbreak, a completely new yet somehow familiar imaginative world, and a string of unforgettable images. It also made me want to fight harder.’

John McGregor, New Statesman Books of the Year
Critic Reviews

‘Ilya Kaminsky’s long-awaited second collection is exemplary in a particularly dazzling year for poetry. The book narrates an imaginary town’s collective political resistance against authoritarianism while focusing in on the private lives of a few of its inhabitants. The town could easily be Kaminsky’s native Odessa or one in Trump’s US, where the poet lives. On an otherwise unremarkable day a boy is shot dead; the townspeople choose to go deaf. And what unfolds is a devastating story that comes so close to our global turmoil it singes the reader’s eyelashes.’

Sandeep Parmar, New Statesman Books of the Year
Critic Reviews

‘Poetry, in general, is overlooked. Ilya Ka- minsky’s Deaf Republic is a work of genius and a true work of art.’

Tayari Jones, The Times
Critic Reviews

‘Odessa-born, US-based Kaminsky imagines a world, the Deaf Republic, where deafness is a collective form of resistance against a military regime. Characters use sign language that bypasses their oppressors and whose physicality adds rhythm to the poetry. It’s an astounding work.’

Financial Times, Best Books of the Year (Poetry)

Ilya Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union and is now an American citizen. He is the author of a previous poetry collection, Dancing in Odessa, and coeditor of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry. He has received a Whiting Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was named a finalist for the Neustadt International Prize…

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