‘Place’ by Andrzej Stasiuk, translated by Margarita Nafpaktitis

The post-Communist Galicia where Stasiuk’s sequence of braided stories unfolds is another liminal location. Here, boundaries fray, matter dissolves and epochs shift. A new age of “market forces” runs messily into the mud of tradition, habit and sheer weirdness in this liquid backwater. Amid this existential fog, the ideological fantasies of today – like those of yesterday – will soon rust and crumble. In ‘Place’, the attempt to transplant a church from its original site to a museum prompts the understanding that “a place cannot be carried off”. Not surprisingly, it’s a stubbornly rooted ghost (of a wife-murderer) who anchors these hauntingly stick-in-the-mud tales.

First published 1995; collected in Tales of Galicia, Twisted Spoon Press, Prague, 2003