Jeziorna, Galicia

There’s a village I look at occasionally on Google Maps. I’ve even had a ‘walk’ up and down its main street, where there’s hardly anyone around and the sun is always out. A few places to eat and drink, a handful of shops. Lots of space. Lots of greenery. And because the land is flat and most the houses are single story, lots of sky.

It’s just 30 mins drive from Ternopil on the road to Lviv. Not the most direct route from Kyiv to the Polish border, but not too far out the way either. Ternopil has been in the news a little; people have fled to it, through it and from it. A great many people must have passed through this little village too, on their way westwards.

It’s the village my great grandfather came from, before he and his parents also headed west. For quite a while they lived here in Bethnal Green, which means I now live within a kind of invisible map of where that side of my family lived, worked, went to school…

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Some of my 2021 reading highlights

Here’s a partial selection of books I particularly loved or that made a deep impression on me in 2021. I’m not a fan of lists/favourites*… but I am a fan of sharing recommendations, so here we are.

The Quest for New England trilogy by Dark Age Voices would also be on this list, for teaching me about a whole part of history I knew almost nothing about, but eBooks don’t really go with the photo aesthetic. So here’s a link instead. I also read all but the last few pages of Som Paris’s book in 2020, so that might be cheating, but it’s great, so I don’t care. Raven Nothing is on one level a fantasy novel with a trans main character, but in fact explores ideas of transness in a much more interesting and complex way then that description suggests.

As for the other books, I’m not going to say a lot. Kintu is just a great story, brilliantly told. Doughnut Economics introduces a simple but brilliant idea that helps us look at economics through the lens of social and environmental justice, and also provides a really great potted history of economics. Whitechapel Noise is a bit more specialist but if you’re interested in what Yiddish songs tell us about life in Whitechapel in the late 19th and early 20th century – which I definitely am – this is the book. I don’t know what to say about The Song of Achilles. It spoke to me so deeply that I either say nothing or give it a blog post of its own.

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