Swallowing Mercury | Granta

  • Published: 02/11/2017
  • ISBN: 9781846276095
  • 129x20mm
  • 160 pages

Swallowing Mercury

Wioletta Greg

Translated by Eliza Marciniak

Wiola lives in a close-knit agricultural community. Wiola has a black cat called Blackie. Wiola’s father was a deserter but now he is a taxidermist. Wiola’s mother tells her that killing spiders brings on storms. Wiola must never enter the seamstress’s ‘secret’ room. Wiola collects matchbox labels. Wiola is a good Catholic girl brought up with fables and nurtured on superstition. Wiola lives in a Poland that is both very recent and lost in time.

Swallowing Mercury is about the ordinary passing of years filled with extraordinary days. In vivid prose filled with texture, colour and sound, it describes the adult world encroaching on the child’s. From childhood to adolescence, Wiola dances to the strange music of her own imagination.

Entrancing... Greg achieves a form of literary alchemy that mesmerizes for its ability to situate us inside a personal landscape where both the eternal past and unfolding present feel as if they can exist simultaneously

Inara Verzemnieks, New York Times

Greg writes with a precise, strange charm, and the poet's acute sensitivity to detail. Little by little, I felt the presence of young Wiola appear beside me - vital, quick-witted and curious, picking her way through the dark woods of faith, family, sex and politics as if in some melancholy fairytale. I experienced the book like a series of cool, clear drinks, each more intoxicating than the last: I love and admire it in equal measure

Sarah Perry, author, The Essex Serpent

I really loved this strange book, which is sometimes sinister and sometimes lovely, and many other things besides

Evie Wyld, author, All the Birds, Singing

The Author

WIOLETTA GREG is the author of six volumes of poetry and a novella, Swallowing Mercury, translated here into English for the first time. Her poetry collection, Finite Formulae & Theories of Chance, was shortlisted for the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize. She lives in Essex.

More about the author →

Wioletta Greg on Granta.com

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

Spiders from Jerusalem

Wioletta Greg

‘When the Holy Family was fleeing from Jerusalem, spiders wove such a thick web around the road that the swords of Herod’s soldiers couldn’t pierce it.’