Lèirmheas / Review: An Uinneag don Iar

Lèirmheas / Review: An Uinneag don Iar

An Uinneag don Iar le Mìcheal Klevenhaus
Ri fhaotainn bho / Available from Comhairle nan Leabhraichean
£7.99

Daibhidh Eyre

Lèirmheas le Daibhidh Eyre / Review by David Eyre

A’ chiad obair sgrìobhaidh a leugh mi le Mìcheal Klevenhaus, ‘s e sgeulachd ghoirid a bh’ ann, ‘Saorsa gun chrìch’, a chaidh fhoillseachadh anns a’ chruinneachadh Saorsa. Dhearbh an obair dhomhsa sin gur e sgrìobhadair làn tàlant a th’ ann, agus tha an tàlant sin ri fhaicinn a-rithist anns an nobhail ghoirid seo.
Tha an sgeulachd a’ tòiseachadh ann an Berlin an Ear, agus teaghlach òg a’ feuchainn ri tèiceadh bho smachd nan ùghdarasan Stàlainneach. Ach tha sgàradh ann – le màthair ‘s nighean a’ faighinn dhan Iar, agus athair ‘s balach air am fàgail anns am ‘Poblachd Dheamocratach nan Daoine’.
Bliadhnaichean às dèidh sin, agus tha Caitrìona Dhòmhnallach a’ feuchainn ri taigh a màthar a chur an òrdugh, leis gu bheil i a-nist ann taigh-cùraim ann an Uibhist. ‘S ann às a’ Ghearmailt a bha a màthair Màiri, ged nach bi i a-rìamh a’ bruidhinn mu dhèidhinn na dùthcha neo na làithean nuair a bha i innte. Le sin, tha e na iognadh do Chaitrìona nuair a bhios i a’ faighinn lorg air bogsa làn lìtrichean, uile sgrìobhte ann an Gearmailtis.
The first creative fiction I read by Mìcheal Klevenhaus was a short story, ‘Saorsa gun chrìch’ that was published in the collection Saorsa. To me, that work confirmed that he is a writer with talent, and that talent is seen again in this short novel.
The story begins in East Berlin, and a young family trying to escape the control of the Stalinist authorities. But they are divided – with mother and daughter managing to get to the West, and father and son left in the ‘People’s Democratic Republic’.
Years afterwards, Caitrìona MacDonald is trying to clear her mother’s house, as she is now in a care home in Uist. Her mother Màiri was from Germany, although she never talks about the country or the days when she was there. As a result, Caitrìona is surprised when she finds a box of letters, all written in German.
Bidh na lìtrichean seo a’ fosgladh eachdraidh eile do Chaitrìona – eachdraidh an teaghlaich aice fhèin, eachdraidh a bhios ga toirt air ais dhan Ghearmailt, agus dha na làithean bruideil nuair a bha an dùthaich air a sgàradh.
Tha sgàradh aig cridhe an leabhair seo. An sgàradh anns a’ Ghearmailt, gu dearbh, ach cuideachd sgàraidhean anns a’ chairdeas eadar màthair ‘s nighean, eadar bean agus fear, agus eadar feallsanachdan dhaoine. Sgàraidhean cruaidh nach gabh a leigheis, ach le èiginn ‘s bròn ‘s tuigse.
These letters open a new history before Caitrìona – a history of her own family, a history that takes her back to Germany, and to the brutal days when the country was still divided.
Division is at the heart of this book. The division of Germany of course, but also the divisions between a mother and daughter, between a wife and husband, between people’s philosophies. Hard divisions that can only be healed with difficulty, sadness, and understanding.
Tha e aig àmanan doirbh doimhneachd nan caractaran a thaisbeanadh ann an nobhail ghoirid, ach tha Klevenhaus air a bhith soirbheachail ann a bhith a’ dèanamh sin, agus tha am fuasgladh a tha e a’ toirt dhuinn air na cèistean doirbh aig Caitrìona a’ soilleireachadh pearsantachd a màthar ann an dòigh a chuir iognadh orm agus ris nach robh dùil agam idir.
Chan eil mi dhen bheachd gum biodh e comasach do chuideigin nach eil bhon Ghearmailt – neo aig nach eil co-dhiù ceangalaichean làidir leis an duthaich – an sgeulachd seo a chruthachadh. Tha saoghal na Gàidhlig fòrtanach dha-rìribh gu bheil sgrìobhadair ann mar Klevenhaus aig a bheil an comas sin.
It is sometimes difficult to express depth of character in a short novel, but Klevenhaus has been successful in this work, and the solution he gives us to Caitrìona’s difficult questions reveal her mother’s personality in a way that surprised and which I did not expect at all.
I do not think it would be possible for someone not from Germany – or who at least had strong connections to the country – to create this story. The Gaelic world is fortunate indeed that we have a writer like Klevenhaus who has that ability.

 

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