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In June there’s Lala by Jacek Dehnel, an exquisitely written novel, closely based on reality, about the colourful life and adventures of the author’s grandmother.And finally in September, there’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, an eco-crime novel by Olga Tokarczuk, in which the female narrator lives deep in the Polish countryside, where she insists that avenging animals are responsible for a series of strange deaths of local male bigwigs who hunt. You have led workshops for Translation Nation project in UK primary schools working with children aged 10-11 to produce translations of stories from their own native cultures.Next month there’s Dancing Bears, reportage by Witold Szabłowski, who uses the fate of performing bears rescued from Bulgarian Gypsies and rehomed in a special shelter as an allegory for people in countries that have emerged from totalitarianism, but who don’t understand freedom.In May there’s Priceless, a high-energy thriller by Zygmunt Miłoszewski, about a team of Poles commissioned on behalf of the nation to steal a Renaissance painting that was looted during the war, but when they try, they realize someone’s trying to kill them.
At the second school, an Egyptian boy who had only been living in Britain for a few months made up his own wonderful story, about a man living in Cairo with a giant pet tortoise that destroyed the neighbour’s garden but made up for it by giving him a daily ride to work on its back.
It was the only moment in three whole days when they sat riveted, in silence.
Afterwards the headmaster thanked me for bringing so much out of this shy boy, and had a local paper report on it.
Even with my lack of ability to organize boisterous 10-year-olds, I found it tremendously rewarding.
The project involved encouraging children from various cultures to bring stories from home, for their classmates to translate and then read to each other in performance.