Vasil Bykaŭ: Альпийская баллада (Alpine Ballad)

The latest addition to my website is Vasil Bykaŭ‘s Альпийская баллада (Alpine Ballad). This is a new translation, from the original Belarusian, a distinct improvement on the previous translation from the (censored) Russian. It tells the story of two people – the Belarusian Ivan and the Italian communist, Giulia – who escape from a prisoner-of-war camp in Austria, when Soviet prisoners detonate an unexploded bomb dropped by the US Air Force. The couple, who meet while escaping, manage to flee their initial pursuers and head into the Alps. Inevitably, the two become closer as they deal with the problems of their pursuers (inducing Alsatian dogs), the bad weather they first encounter, a mad German fellow escapee and, of course, the issue of food and where they are going. Bykaŭ tells an excellent story, with some criticism of the Soviet system (to Giulia’s horror), some lyrical description of the Alpine landscape and the burgeoning relationship of the two escaped prisoners.

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