Slavonic Dances is a sequence of three linked novellas which explore the comic and tragic implications of encounters by Scottish characters with eastern and east-central Europe. ‘Mrs Makarowski’, the fi rat story, tells of a good-natured working-class Fife woman who marries a Polish soldier stationed in her area during the war, and her bemusement – amounting at times to anxiety – as she learns of the dark realities of his background. ‘The Kilt’ takes its cue from the discovery of two strange photographs; the central character is Angus Cooper, a young Scot of the late 1960s, who arrives in Czechoslovakia as a visiting student shortly before the onset of the Prague Spring, and who has an a air with a Czech contemporary at the Charles University; their relationship is disrupted by the invasion of August 1968. ‘The Carrying Stream’ centres on a Scottish poet, Martin Meikle, a Glaswegian of working-class Irish Catholic stock, who recalls in his seventies his youth in St Andrews, his love of singing and of the music of Mussorgsky in particular. He refl acts on the deep roots of poetry and music in folk tradition, and the story ends with him gazing through the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral, symbol of Scotland’s tragic past, in an easterly direction.
As so o en in Tom Hubbard’s work, much goes on below the surface narrative.
"When you read this lovely, many-voiced book, travelling with it across borders and back through generations, you will fi nd that you enter into a very various company" … DAVID BETTERING