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Regina Ezera: Šūpoles (The Swing)

The Swing is the first and title story of a collection of stories by Ezera. It should not be here as it is not even vaguely a novel but, as there are so few Latvian novels available in English, here it is. The narrator is offered a lift by Vidvuds Meijers. He tells her that, seventeen years ago, he had been to Silversmiths, a farmstead nearby but had not been back, till that day, when he had gone there after his car broke down. He proceeds to tell her the story of why he went there seventeen years ago and why he was concerned at going back. At that time – in 1955 – he was a third year student at the university and married to Līna Krūze. Because they are both studying, they cannot afford their own flat and are living with Līna’s mother. There is only one room and a kitchen. The young couple have the main room and the mother moves to the kitchen to sleep. However, when she gets ill, the couple have to move to the kitchen so that the mother can have the main room. The mother had worked but now she is at home all day and has visitors, which makes it difficult for Vidvuds to study. When he hears his mother-in-law criticising him to one of her friends, he decides to temporarily leave and gets a job as a forester. It is while working as a forester that he goes to Silversmiths and meets Dālija, the daughter of a lumberjack. When they meet later, it is clear that she is interested in a romantic relationship but he still loves his wife and nothing happens but he does feel guilty about it. When he broke down, he realised that he was near Silversmiths and went there. However, it was now deserted. He hears a noise and looks in the back and sees a child’s swing swinging in the wind. However, he imagines that an invisible person – perhaps Dālija – is on the swing. The narrator later walks to Silversmiths but does not have the same experience. The story is simple but highly evocative and it is regretful that that this book is almost impossible to obtain now and that none of her novels has been translated into English.

Publishing history

First published by Liesma in 1975
Translated into English in 1984 by Raduga