It’s not Avi’s fault, it’s those sourish, mind-bending little berries that are to blame, those tiny wee spheres. Bilberries, bletherberries that befuddle the mind, babbleberries that give you a kick. The beautiful green forest scales, the timber songs, play out like a kaleidoscope before his eyes. It’s hard tae breathe, yer haunds skedaddle awa…
In a camp at the edge of a forest children are trained to forget their language through drugs, therapy, and coercion. Alicia and her brother Avi are rescued by their father, but they give him the slip and set out on their own. In the forest they encounter a cast of villains: the hovel-dwelling Granmaw, the language-traitor McFinnie, the border guard and murderer Bannock the Bogill, and a wolf.
A manifesto for the survival of the Belarusian language and soul, Alindarka’s Children is also a feat of translation. Winner of the English Pen Award, the novel has been brilliantly rendered into English (from the Russian) and Scots (from the Belarusian): both Belarusian and Scots are on the UNESCO Atlas of Endangered Languages.
Bacharevic’s rich, provocative novel offers a kaleidoscopic picture of language as fairy-tale forest, as Gulag, as monument, as tomb, as everlasting life."
— The New York Times
The novel is both brutally realistic and fantastically dire—Ágota Kristóf meets the Brothers Grimm…Jim Dingley and Petra Reid made an innovative decision: They translated the Russian sections of the novel into English, and the Belarusian sections into Scots…The result is an amphibian text where the two languages, as they mingle in the characters’ minds, whirl in the readers’—an effect close to a fever dream of the best kind.”
— Yiyun Li, Jewish Currents
Largely a meditation on what makes a language worth holding onto… Alindarka’s Children shifts lyrically between two languages, Belarusian and Russian, translated respectively and brilliantly into Scots and English. Readers will be stirred by Bacharevič’s ardent, earnest devotion.
— Publishers Weekly
Bacharevič’s novel blends the magic and darkness of a fairy tale with what is implicitly a manifesto on language and national identity.
— Kirkus Reviews
You can take this book on many levels, from the philosophical and psychological analysis of what it does to a nation and a people to remove, control and suppress its mother tongue, to an exciting tale of two runaway children.
— The Scotsman
Kafkaesque and with elements of cyberpunk. Alhierd Bacharevič is the foremost figure of today’s Belarusian literature.
— New Eastern Europe
A dark fantasy by one of Belarus’s most original contemporary writers. It captures the depths of frustration, grief, and resolve building up for decades under the deceptively placid surface of Belarusian life. Both a translation and a collage—an independent, multilingual literary work.