Book review – The Secret Box

Book – The Secret Box: Stories by Daina Tabūna. First published by Mansards in Riga, Latvia, 2014. The Emma Press, Birmingham, UK: 2017

This review was first posted on the Mslexia Max Forum https://mslexia.co.uk/

Author Daina Tabūna (born in Riga, Latvia in 1985) has an innate skill in communicating voice to the reader. All three stories in The Secret Box seem to spring from some truth or experience in the author’s life, from which she spins out a narrative with a viewpoint that is seamlessly consistent and vibrantly alive.

The first story, Deals with God, is from the perspective of a young girl on the cusp of her teens who gradually becomes besotted with the idea of Jesus. However, she is confounded when, travelling on the tram back from school, she comes across a man with one arm. He turns the air blue with his profanities, and all her altruistic plans to convert those around her come to nothing as she hurries to alight at the next stop. Then, the girl spots a Coca-Cola advert which exhorts ‘Enjoy’, and decides to take up this advice in place of her late Baba’s instruction that inspired her original religious zeal.

In the second story, The Secret Box, a game of cut-out and colour paper dolls, with tabs to permit changes of outfit and accessory, generates a secret, hidden bond between a brother and sister. Again the point of view is personal, tight, close, as we follow the siblings to the brink of adulthood, through experiences of intense emotion, humiliation, and realisation.

Finally, in The Spleen, My Favourite Organ, a disorientated, strung-out young woman meets a taciturn young office worker. They begin a doomed relationship of sorts, but, like her, he is ‘trapped in some sort of room of his past, from which he couldn’t break out’.

First published in Latvia as part of the prize-winning Pirmā reize (Mansards, 2014), this collection is translated by Jayde Will, illustrated with striking woodblock prints by Mark Andrew Webber, and edited by Emma Wright, who founded the Emma Press in 2012. The Emma Press is ‘dedicated to producing beautiful, thought-provoking books’. This collection certainly fulfils that brief, and the Emma Press is well worth checking out. https://theemmapress.com/about/submissions/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Damyanti Biswas

For lovers of reading, writing, travel, humanity

Human Pages

The Best of History, Literature, Art & Religion

Natalie Breuer

Natalie. Writer. Photographer. Etc.

Pictures for Schools

Documenting the research project 'Pictures for Schools: Art, Education and Reconstruction in Post-war Britain'

Lolljee

Welcome...

Treasure Hunt

National Trust Collections

The Bibliofile

Book Reviews, Books, Bestsellers, Literary Fiction

PAPER magazine

An insight into the artists and artworks exhibited at PAPER, Manchester

Shreya Vikram

Blurring the lines between poetry and prose

Something More

my extensive reading

Documentary Short Film Festival

Submit your short DOC and get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Film Festival

Repeating Islands

News and commentary on Caribbean culture, literature, and the arts

Special Collections

Supporting teaching, learning and research at Manchester Metropolitan University and beyond.

Quyen Today

Thoughts that lead to Writing

Manchester's Radical History

Exploring Greater Manchester's Grassroots History

theracetoread

Children's Literature and Issues of Race

Coming in from the Cold

Increasing diversity in archives

jenacidebybibliophile

Book Reviewer and Blogger

Reading Race, Collecting Cultures

Collections at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre

%d bloggers like this: