cover image Cold Sea Stories

Cold Sea Stories

Pawel Huelle, trans. from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd Jones. Comma (IPG, dist.) $12.99 (218p) ISBN 9781905583393

This latest volume of stories by Polish author Huelle has a circular structure: the opening and closing stories illuminate the lesser-known historical curiosity of the remote villages populated by Mennonite immigrants from the Netherlands. Huelle's remaining stories are carried by historical events that defined Poland in the 20th century. "Franz Carl Weber" explores the effects of World War II and concentration camps. Likewise, "the Bicycle Express" grapples with communism and the Solidarity Movement. Many of the characters are quiet and contemplative and often experiencing displacement or isolation. The husband in "Doctor Cheng" mourns his dead wife by searching for her mystical Chinese book. Protagonist Joachim in "Ukiel" dwells in deeply felt childhood memories%E2%80%94haunted by the questions that have gone unasked and unanswered. In each story, characters carry the heavy burden of the past toward a seemingly bleak future. Yet the book is not full of sorrows or regrets, it is largely distinguished by a quiet acceptance that loss is a part of life. (June)