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THE FIRE by Daniela Krien
Translated by Jamie Bulloch
Few writers have written well on major historical events from within the maelstrom. Don DeLillo made a dog’s breakfast of September 11 in his woeful Falling Man while we all cringed through the otherwise brilliant Elizabeth Strout’s recent take on the pandemic, Lucy By The Sea. The Fire also takes place in the shadow of Covid but, thankfully, Daniela Krien opts for a more subtle approach and, in so doing, crafts an exquisite portrait of our shared experience that greatly transcends its historical context.
Having settled into the monotony of marriage in later middle age, empty nesters Rahel and Peter plan a trip to the country. Their original rental burns down and they are forced into a last minute alternative, a farm Rahel frequented in her youth. Stuck with one another they must make sense of their past, face some harsh truths and work out if their marriage is worth saving. But for a few big moments, it’s all very quiet and contemplative with Krien, once again, proving to be a sublime crafter of simple, gorgeous sentences (kudos to Jamie Bulloch’s translation, here). A deeply moving, genuinely profound book with much more to say than what lies on the page.
The Fire by Daniela Krien (Tr. Jamie Bulloch)