Stoyo Petkanov, the central character of Julian Barnes’s new novella, is a satirical creation of genius. Three parts Todor Zhivkov, the ghastly former ruler of Bulgaria, to one part Alf Garnett, he is the deposed communist boss of a (nameless) Soviet satellite state. Imprisoned by his reform-minded successors, he is about to be put on trial. The proceedings are to be televised. For the chief prosecutor, Peter Solinsky, it is an opportunity for advancement under the new regime. For the watching millions, it is a chance to purge themselves of the past. For Petkanov, however, it is a stage from which he can appeal to History: ‘He wasn’t going to play the part allotted him. He had a different script in mind.’ The Porcupine tells what happens.
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For #InternationalTranslationDay, a poem from @Lit_Review earlier in the year.
This 'jaunty narrative raises fundamental questions about the role of popular history. Should this just be a matter of telling tales, as the general public often seems to think?'
@DrLRoach weighs up Charles Spencer's account of the White Ship Disaster.
'Amis clearly belongs to the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do school of pedagogy. More or less everything he says is demonstrably contradicted by elements of his own work, be they here or elsewhere.'