Book review – The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov

The Dead Lake coverI confess to being a huge fan of Peirene Press, the little publishing house hellbent on introducing English readers to the classics of distant parts of the globe. Hence the fact you’ll see so many reviews of their titles on SkyLightRain.com. By translating works of other countries into English for the first time, they’re opening up a whole world of literary wonder to me, and other voracious readers.

I was excited to see The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov among this year’s offerings. Translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield, this small book contains a grand tale with a tone reminiscent of Anton Chekov or Mikhail Bulgakov, but with a far more modern message. It unfolds over a single train journey, yet encapsulates a life. As with many such works, it takes the form of a story being told by one character to another, drawing us up to the surface occasionally to remind us of the shifting landscape beyond the train windows, and the tale’s teller, a 27-year-old man with an extraordinary musical talent and the uncanny appearance of a ten-year-old boy.
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