Review | Wilder Winds, Bel Olid | Fum d’Estampa Press

The daughter of immigrants, Bel Olid is a prizewinning writer, translator and teacher of literature and creative writing. The President of the European Council of Associations of Literary Translators, and President of the Association of Writers in Catalan, she is well known and well respected in Europe for her activism in defense of women and children.

Those fleeing war are always better received than those trying to escape poverty, especially if the poverty is in a black skin, as if poverty isn’t a bomb that will end up killing you.” (page 14) 

The succinct and finely written stories in Olid’s latest collection, Wilder Winds, are fiercely humanitarian. They illuminate the impact of wealth, abusive power and institutionalized violence on those living on the edge of society – of life – and show the subtleties of how modern economic growth and urbanization have contributed to the avoidance of inequalities.

While she ate dinner with her parents and Jude, with every spoonful shed was thinking: I am here and they are there. In bed, between clean sheets. In the shower. While she watched TV, while she read. I am here and they are there.” (page 18)

A niece accompanies her aunt to help distribute boxes of toys and clothes in an internment centre and befriends a girl a little younger than she is.

Two little girls play together: the house is modern and luxurious; the mother smells of fruit and has skin like silk.

A daughter follows her mother home from the tobacconist’s with head bowed, eyes scanning the ground for a stray shiny coin, but instead she finds a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank open on the ground.

Life had taught her that stability wasn’t to be found outside on the streets.(page 27)

An old woman visits her neighbour in her apartment block. The neighbour’s granddaughter shows her the bruises and welts on her back from a police beating, offset by images on the TV screen of the protests in Independence Square.

An artist visits her grandmother’s old stone house and she goes wild water swimming in the river.

A young woman kills two men and injures three more, enraged by their lewd sexism.   

The sixteen short stories deftly translated by Laura McGloughlin that comprise Wilder Winds – some just a page long – are incisively written and show a keen intellect. All hope is not lost: even the smallest gestures of solidarity are a contribution towards planting the seeds of change. They add up to being a constructive collective effort towards making things fairer and more humane in an increasingly dysfunctional world.

I took the words of the poet and gave them wings. I didn’t know, that morning, that the people would come and I would give wind to those wings, that his words would become ours and would clothe us in what would be called the Singing Revolution.” (page 75)

Wilder Winds Bel Olid (trs. Laura McGloughlin) | PB £9.99 published January 2022 | 80 pages Fum d’Estampa Press ISBN 978 1913744038

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georgia DC

Bilingual editor, rewriter, French-to-English translator. Has written for 3am magazine, words without borders, The Independent, The Lady, Banipal, Prospect Magazine, Times Literary Supplement. Currently writes for The BookBlast Diary. Founder (1997) of London-based writing agency BookBlast.

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