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Place is at the centre of Cynthia Morrison Phoel's debut collection of linked stories. Quirky, remote, and agonisingly intimate, the ragged village of Old Mountain is home to a cast of Bulgarian townsfolk who do daily battle with the heat or the bitter cold, with soul-crushing poverty, with petty disagreements among themselves--all the while attempting to adapt to changing times and keep up with their neighbours. Money is tight in this valley of run-down Communist blocks and crumbling plaster houses, but community is tighter. When a largely unemployed father in "A Good Boy" trades his much-needed summer earnings for a hulking satellite dish, everyone knows about it. The same way everyone knows about the shop lady who rests her finger on the scale to drive up the price of cheese in "Galia." In "Satisfactory Proof," a budding mathematician completes a prestigious master's degree in number theory but fails to recognise the patterns of care and compassion everywhere around him. And in the concluding novella, "Cold Snap," as the town endures freezing temperatures and waits for the central heat to be turned on, the characters we have already met make a satisfying encore appearance--as the brittle cold pushes them to the edge of reason. "Phoel transports us to a country where jobs are scarce and men are more in love with their satellite dishes than their wives. Old Mountain is not an easy place to live, but these stories, with their surprising leaps of empathy, make it a pleasure to visit."--Margot Livesey, author of 'The House on Fortune Street' "I admire Cynthia Phoel's use of original material, and the skill with which she makes an unfamiliar world real."--Alison Lurie, author of 'Truth and Consequences'
Southern Methodist University Press,U.S.
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