Black Swan Green
by David Mitchell

What a beautiful, beautiful novel… It’s one of the best (if not the best) coming-of-age story I’ve read.

Story follows one year in life of Jason Taylor, 13 year old boy from Black Swan Green in Worcestershire, England. Truth, Jason who is also the narrator is hardly common 13 year old boy in the way he expresses himself; his thoughts are so beautifully composed, so full of that sophisticated humour, often with few drops of irony (which is not typical in his age) but in the same time he is sometime so naïve and experience-less; in his explanation and in the way he perceive things we can se one beautiful spotless mind. There are many sad moments which are becoming even sadder when you realize the way he seeing them in his pureness but also there are numerous hilarious moments which are even more hilarious when you look at them through his eyes (for example scene with one nice lady whom he saw accidentally (after their conversation) standing with her skirt up in a front of pissoir (I think) and her legs were hairier than his dad’s or seeing his dad naked …etc).

By his appearance Jason is a common boy who wouldn’t raise your attention, except if he try to talk and then get stuck with his stammering on some evil N or S (depends of the day). Luckily his inner talk is so poetic and fluent even in the way he’s describing all that Hangman’s torture with Ns and Ss.
Reading about his suffer I could feel the pain of boyhood again … identifying with Jason is so easy … it seems that problems of teenage boys are universal. (No I didn’t have problems with stammering)

Also characters who are surrounding Jason and the way he sees them is breathtaking. Oh you’ll love his friends and truly hate his enemies; and you’ll love his sister (one brilliant mind) even though sometimes he wouldn’t agree with you. There are so many beautiful portraits that is really hard to pick one.
However I have personal reason to pick one of those; one “crazy” old lady, one of mine favourite episodes. I’ll post part of their conversation here:

– […]”I mean, who are your masters? Chekhov?”
– “Er … no.”
– “But you’ve read Madame Bovary?”
– (I’d never heard of her books) “No”
Each name climbed up the octave. “Herman Hesse?”
– “No” Unwisely, I tried to dampen Madame Crommelnyk’s disgust. “We don’t really do Europeans at school”
– “ ‘Europeans’? England is now drifted to the Caribbean? Are you African? Antarctican? You are European, you illiterate monkey of puberty! Thomas Mann, Rilke, Gogl! Proust, Bulgakov, Victor Hugo! This is your culture, your inheritance , your skeleton! You are ignorant even of Kafka?”
I flinched. “I’ve heard of him.”
[…]
– Translations are incourteous between Europeans! […]Ackkk, for your schoolmasters, for your minister of education, execution is too good! Is not even arrogance! […] You English, you deserve that the government of Monster Thatcher! I curse you with twenty years of Thatchers! Maybe then you comprehend, speaking one language only is prison![…]

*******

When I’ve read that I raised my head from the book feeling so poor. Feeling was really kind of shitty and THEN, suddenly I realized that the book I’m reading is not written in my mother tongue. This probably sounds silly I know; I didn’t learn English (then I remembered Spanish too) yesterday but in that very moment I felt such an enormous joy and happiness cause I’m able, ACTUALLY ABLE to read in foreign language. All my grammar mistakes and limited vocabulary were irrelevant; I felt so … liberated!!!

9/10