In the Eye of the Wild by Nastassja Martin review – life after being ‘kissed’ by a bear

A close escape from the jaws of a bear leads to an exploration of trauma and survival in the French anthropologist’s funny and horrifying memoir

With her second book, French anthropologist Nastassja Martin seeks to tell us what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. In August 2015, when living among the Even people of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, she – the immovable object: a headstrong, combative woman – met the unstoppable force of a large brown bear.

Her story to begin with is simple, and beautifully gruesome. She writes of “the bear’s kiss on my face, his teeth closing over me, my jaw cracking, my skull cracking” – but, impaled by a well-placed ice axe, he changes his mind, departs, and leaves her with “features subsumed beneath the open gulfs in my face, slicked over with internal tissue”. And so this short but chewy book thickens up into a stew of memoir, drama, anthropology and metaphysics – or how the immovable object moved, and changed.

Continue reading...


‘It’s the best way to live!’: International Booker winners Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell

The Indian novelist and her translator scooped the £50,000 prize with Tomb of Sand, a novel about de...

Read More >

Translating Myself and Others by Jhumpa Lahiri review – the sanctuary of language

The novelist’s collection of essays on translation only hint at what led her to take refuge in Ital...

Read More >

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg review – rock bottom in a ‘rest home’

First published in 1964, this striking account of Greenberg’s years in a psychiatric hospital revea...

Read More >

The Opposite of a Person by Lieke Marsman review – climate and Copernicus meet in the Italian Alps

The impact of blowing up a hydroelectric dam, the limits of identity politics and the Renaissance po...

Read More >

The best recent translated fiction – review roundup

Portrait of an Unknown Lady by María Gainza; The Trouble With Happiness by Tove Ditlevsen; The Land ...

Read More >

We Move by Gurnaik Johal review – a colourful tapestry of multicultural lives

Johal weaves stories of Southall citizens with economy and skill in this compelling debut collection...

Read More >