Sunday, August 13, 2006

Review: My Fellow Skin

Erwin Mortier. My Fellow Skin
Translated by Ina Rilke
Published by Harvill
Reviewed by Leon Fleming

What a treasure. This is a real gem. Split into three parts spanning one life, and although it only chronicles several growing-pain events between the years shortly after birth up to early adulthood, this account is able to make us believe that we have witnessed every second of the protagonist's warmly amusing life: and I enjoyed every second of it.

The beautifully picturesque use of language is complemented by Mortier's flair for rhythm and flow; allowing us the pleasure of feeling the warmth of every sunrise, the freshness of each new morning.

Ina Rilke’s translation from the Dutch has clearly been carried out with a subtlety, poetic sensitivity and love of language that caresses every line and poignant moment in the novel.

This is a well-observed and touchingly woven account of young life, that in many ways is everybody’s. If My Fellow Skin were a painting, it would be a Vermeer or a Rembrandt.

Leon Fleming's play Monkeys in Toy Town premieres this month.


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