Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky is set in a time of political unrest in an occupied country. Sequenced as multiple short poems, the story is told from the perspective of three characters: Alfonso Barabinski, his wife Sonya, and later Momma Galya Armolinskaya.
I really, really enjoyed this book. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot (I was quite surprised it even had one in the first place, considering it’s a book of poems). I really enjoyed Kaminsky’s use of the townspeople’s deafness as a metaphor. However, what I most enjoyed about this book was its relevance to modern times. Kaminsky himself grew up in post-Soviet Ukraine, and while reading the book (even though it was released many years before today’s events in Ukraine), I saw chilling parallels to not only the current wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, but also to the attitudes of many in the United States.
This book is definitely not for the weak of heart; the content is extraordinarily emotional. However, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new perspective regarding current and past world events. It’s quite a short read with easily digestible language. There was one particular line that will stick with me forever:
“At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this? / And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?”
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.