Review – Kalpa Imperial

Posted May 20, 2016 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Kalpa Imperial by Angélica GorodischerKalpa Imperial, Angélica Gorodischer, trans. Ursula Le Guin

Originally reviewed September 30th, 2012

If you like Ursula Le Guin’s work, it’s worth trying Kalpa Imperial, even though Le Guin isn’t the author, only the translator. She was obviously the ideal choice of translator for Gorodischer’s style; there’s no sense of distance from the story, or rather stories, that you often get with translations.

It’s a bit of a strange book, a collection of connected stories that don’t follow on from each other — often the only link is in the common setting of the Empire That Never Was. Consequently, there is little character development (though the narrative voices are to some extent characters in themselves), and each story is just a window on a world that doesn’t exist, with very little context and very little pausing to explain. If you want to know everything about everything, this will prove more frustrating than anything, I think.

But I think it was well done, anyway, with the mythic tone and the air of half-remembered history. Some of the stories are more fascinating than others, but I enjoyed all of them.

Rating: 4/5

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2 responses to “Review – Kalpa Imperial

  1. Le Guin did something similar with her Orsinian Tales, a short story collection all set in the fictional country of Orsinia (somewhat like Czechoslovakia and all points east). Spread over several centuries it paints a bleak and poignant portrait of ordinary people trying as best they can to cope with what life and history and climate throws at them. Not to everybody’s taste, but I admire it — must review it sometime.
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    • I think I’ve read Orsinian Tales — isn’t her novel Malefrena in the same world? One or the other, I still need to read…

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