Voices from the Bitter Core by Ursula Krechel, trans. Amy Kepple Strawser (Host Publications, 2010).
Ambitious in scope, and stunningly executed. The voices that blur together and pull apart are simultaneously sympathetic and horrific, the collage technique at once jarring and unifying. This is a work of paradoxes, of dissonance and contradiction, an utterly human work. In its examination of the voices of war it implicitly questions the rationale for killing, without falling into propaganda. The work collapses time, moving from the Peloponnesian war to modern ‘conflicts’ and the shifts jar the reader into confronting the essential unchanging nature of violence. She manages to transcend the quotidian critiques of war with the precision of her formal and self-imposed structure, beneath which play strange juxtapositions, faltering and slipping syntax and experimentation with the potential of language. The translation of these elements leaves the system of references intact and open, rather than imposing particular meanings and readings onto them.