Sword is a political thriller from Romania, one of a number of translated titles from new indie publisher Corylus Books.
A killer is on the loose, striking down victims with a sword. The things that unite the victims are that they are from the Roma community, and have criminal records. As the death toll mounts, so does the pressure on those tasked with solving the crime.
From the start, rather than pursue the real killer, groups and individuals across Romanian society exploit the crisis for their own ends – from the police, to politicians and the media, to NGOs who ostensibly exist to support the interests of the Roma community.
When we read translated fiction it’s an opportunity to learn more about a country and its culture. Here, while there are unique resonances, it’s also interesting to see what’s universal. Some of the scenes featuring politicians and the media could have come out of The Thick of It or House of Cards.
With its pared-down prose and huge cast of (overwhelmingly male) characters, the narration is ironic and detached. (There is a cast list at the end of the book, to help you keep track.) Rather than a close sense of involvement, what you get is a sense of the events rippling out and encompassing all levels of society.
Sword offers an interesting insight into the challenges of democratic politics, the way truth is manipulated to tell a more convenient story – in Romania and everywhere.
I received a copy of Sword from the publisher.
View Sword on Goodreads
Enjoyed this? Take a look at more of my reviews of translated fiction.
I’m not sure this is a match for my reading taste (I like to have a few female characters on the scene, even if they’re not always central players) but I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this and I can see where it would be interesting to compare the political machinations on a landscape with which one is less familiar.
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