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To Babel and Back

To Babel and Back

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Winner of the Wales Book of the Year Award 2006

Join Robert Minhinnick on a journey across a radioactive planet. Researching the use of depleted uranium in modern weapons, the writer follows a deadly trail from the uranium mines of the USA into Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Here, he is led into the temples of a deserted Babylon and to what his guides insist is the site of the Tower of Babel.

Interspersed with these 'radioactive writings', which seem part documentary, part dream, are essays on a host of different places. Minhinnick pursues Dante through Florence, and searches for a poem given to him by a murdered schoolgirl in south Wales.

Berlin, Prague, Buenos Aires, New York, Italy, England, Finland, Canada: this globalised world is simultaneously familiar and bizarre, filled with the background noise of contemporary society yet capable of providing places and moments of utter silence. Jetlagged, culture-lagged, Minhinnick returns to his native Wales, its coastline and valleys as extraordinary as anything encountered in a Babel that might be myth or alarmingly real.

"a gallery of snapshots; a series of lightening impressions from all corners of the world... Minhinnick's writing is quirky, sometimes untidy, often lyrical, packed with glancing references to literary figures (Dylan Thomas makes an appearance, reminding us that the author edits Poetry Wales) and contemporary events... Not easy to read, but highly interesting to untangle"
The Times

"On the strength of this book alone, Minhinnick stakes his claim to be regarded as the finest writer working in any genre in Wales today."
The Guardian

"Minhinnick's eye for beauty and his light touch for description in To Babel and Back are a delight"
South Wales Evening Post

"… this uncategorisable book by the outstanding English-language poet of present-day Wales... To Babel and Back is an extraordinary achievement."
New Welsh Review

"Robert Minhinnick is an accomplished poet and his beautiful language shines throughout his work"

"... the result is a white-lightening cocktail that both dizzies and thrills by blending motion and contemplation, beauty and horror, minutes ticking us through our brief lives and eons compressed in Welsh limestone, all topped by the paranoiac unease of a sane man tripping across a suicidal plant... always agile and metaphorically vivid"

Robert Minhinnick is an acclaimed poet and editor of Poetry Wales magazine. He is a freelance writer and also works for the environmental organisation, Sustainable Wales.