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July’s Stories and Poems

Written by Rachael Norris, 6th July 2022

July’s Stories and Poems have been chosen on the theme of War and Conflict. At a time when many of us will be feeling a range of emotions, many of them difficult, about current world events, Shared Reading can provide a way of navigating such feelings. While most people are fortunate enough not to have experienced war firsthand, these stories, extracts and poems can bring us closer to the experiences of those who have, giving us the opportunity to think from new perspectives and open up conversations about what it might be like to live in the midst of conflict.

Several of this month’s selections come from Ukrainian writers, exploring the impact of conflict upon the people who live through it. In extreme circumstances, life changes quickly, testing the limits of human survival. But life also goes on, with its mundanity and everyday concerns remaining, even in the face of such adversity. New relationships are formed and old connections take on different forms. The after-effects of war can echo throughout years and generations, lasting for lifetimes.

July’s stories and extracts are:

‘The uninvited guest’ (from Grey Bees) by Andrey Kurkov

‘The Ultimate Safari’ by Nadine Gordimer

‘Savchuk’ by Volodymyr Dibrova (translated by Lidia and Volodymyr Dibrova)

‘No one knows tomorrow’ (from Half of a Yellow Sun) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

‘Doors’ (from The House with the Stained-Glass Window) by Żanna Słoniowska (translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)

The effects of long-lasting conflict are explored through this month’s poetry choices, as the memories of how things were before meet with the present. We are invited to inhabit the lives of several different people, including children crossing borders, soldiers fighting to be heard and the loved ones of those same soldiers. Life may feel like it is lived on the ‘margins’ during times of war, yet it does not stop – the words of those experiencing it tell us that much.

‘A bridge used to be there, someone recalled’ by Serhiy Zhadan (translated by John Hennessy & Ostap Kin)

‘At the Border’ by Choman Hardi

‘Untitled’ by Marjana Savka (translated by Amelia Glaser and Yuliya Ilchuk)

‘Peace XVIII’ by Khalil Gibran

‘He Writes’ by Kateryna Kalytko (translated by Olena Jennings and Oksana Lutsyshyna)


If you're a Reader Leader, head to the Online Community Hub to download this month's selection.

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