Revolution Baby by Joanna Gruda (TRs by Alison Anderson)
Europa Editions £9.99
At the centre of Joanna Gruda’s novel is Julek, a young Polish boy who grows up in a family of left-wing activists in 1930s Europe. His very existence, he explains, came down to a collective decision – on discovering that his mother was pregnant, her comrades narrowly voted that she needn’t have an abortion, despite the interference with her political duties. “So that is how my life began, with a vote by the Polish Communist Party,” says Julek. “Fetuses of the world, unite!”
And that’s typical of the slightly dark humour that propels Julek’s narration, as he tells the story of his journey from Poland to Paris. The narrative, based on the true story of Gruda’s father, meanders a bit, but it is by turns funny and moving.