River. By Esther Kinsky. Translated by Iain Galbraith. Fitzcarraldo; 368 pages; £12.99. To be published in America this autumn by Transit Books.
IN HER post-war childhood beside the Rhine, the narrator of Esther Kinsky’s third novel learns that “every river is a border.” Flowing water both divides and connects city and country, past and present. The “liminal habitat” that runs through “River” is the Lea: a tributary of the Thames that snakes its marshy, scruffy way through to north-east London. Tramping these post-industrial zones of makeshift enterprise, neglect and dilapidation, “bashed and bedraggled by the times”, the solitary heroine summons other rivers from her atlas of memory. She revisits waterways not only in Germany but Canada, Croatia, Hungary, India and Israel.
Although rooted in the author’s own long residence in London, “River” is a novel, not a…Continue reading
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