Soviet Dynamite

Patty Osborne

In the tiny community of Bishop’s Beach in Luanda, Angola, Soviet soldiers are building a mausoleum in honour of the late Comrade President when a gaggle of kids get wind of plans to “dexplode” their neighbourhood in order to enlarge the construction site. Without any help from the significant adults around them (an amorous Soviet soldier, Comrade Cuban doctor, Comrade Gas Jockey, a crazy hippie named Sea Foam and an array of Angolan grandmothers), the kids hatch a plan to use the Soviet’s dynamite for their own ends. It’s a simple plot that gets both complicated and hilarious when it is mixed in with the conglomeration of languages and cultures in Bishop’s Beach. Granma Nineteen and the Soviet’s Secret by Ondjaki (Biblioasis) is a major feat of translation by Stephen Henighan, who has managed to translate the text from Portuguese to English, sprinkle it with Russian, Spanish and Angolan phrases, preserve the many language-based jokes (and keep them funny), and maintain the momentum of this terrific story.

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