Stories from Small Town Europe
Book type: Anthology
Published: 23 Oct 2007
FEATURING NOBEL PRIZE WINNER OLGA TOKARCZUK'S FIRST WORK IN ENGLISH
What do we mean by small town?
How has this innocuous term – one up from ‘village’, a couple down from ‘city’ – come to function as a pejorative?
Pressed to describe what the phrase ‘small town’ conjures up, we’d be hard pushed to say anything positive: closed-minded; petty; provincial; parochial. On a broad European canvas, however, the rich traditions of short story writing challenge these preconceptions.
The stories collected here are neither narrow-minded nor petty, nor do the minds of their protagonists contract to fit their environment. In Germany, a house-husband is slowly sent over the edge by his over-achieving neighbours. In the town of Odda in Norway, a middle-aged Morrissey fan has a matter of hours to find a girlfriend so his ailing mother can die in peace. It’s the small gestures – a white lie, the turning of a blind eye, a small kindness or a secret kept – that allow the characters of these communities to survive, to breathe easily within the seemingly tight strictures life there can impose. It’s how we do things round here...