Natalka Babina unveils modern-day Belarus in her frank and striking novel Down Among the Fishes

Until now poorly represented in the Western part of the world, Belarusian literary voice gets a chance to open up about the real state of things in this corner of Eastern Europe
By: Glagoslav Publications
 
LONDON - Dec. 2, 2013 - PRLog -- Today mostly associated with the personality of President Lukashenka, Belarus remains a terra incognita for the rest of the world. Babina’s surprisingly fresh portrait of today’s Belarus celebrates the country’s diverse demographics be it business, education, culture or just the way people go about their daily errands.

Natalka Babina created a novel to celebrate the unseen in the country where people had to learn to exist ‘backstage’. In the novel, the author writes about her homeland where, contrary to commonly spread stereotypes, people do enjoy a fulfilled life: they love, work, seek and find happiness, fight against injustice, laugh and cry. With access to Internet in huts under thatched roofs in rural areas and large businesses turning about huge capitals in major cities, controversial and dynamic Belarus is a melting pot of languages, cultures and religions; a country where people’s regional identity is deeply rooted in history that goes back to the Great Duchy of Lithuania.

Down Among the Fishes revolves around the story of a woman named Alka, native of a small Belarusian village near the Polish border. Alka’s unfulfilled desire to have a child turns her into an alcoholic and a drug addict. Then, a family tragedy turns her world upside down, forcing her out of the self-destructive cycle. Together with her twin sister, she sets out to examine the chain of events that led to her grandmother’s unexpected death. Their inquiry quickly changes into a murder investigation. As the twins uncover new facts of the crime, more questions need to be answered. But will they? A rural intrigue continues to hold the villagers firm in its grasp until the very resolution.

Critics praised the novel’s unusual form that successfully integrates features of several genres – drama, romance, adventure, fantasy and suspense – and a variety of authentic portraits of today’s Belarusians.

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Yana Kovalskaya
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