by BARBARA HAMILTON-SMITH Plucked in a Far-off Land by Taner Baybars (Gollancz 42s.) IMPRESSIONS and chron-1ides of childhood on the island of Cyprus. The author with a poet's eye and almost total recall of his earliest days, has produced an intriguing and ingenuous story of his life against the background of wartime Cyprus. His parents were Turkish — his father a liberal schoolmaster whose promotion from a mountain village to Nicosia, lends variety to the life of young Taner; his mother, gentle and devout, mixing her Moslem faith with soothsaying and Arabian nights. fantasies.
The war provides a background only half-realised by the young child, but the real strength of the book is in the atmosphere of family squabbles and reconciliations, of cruelty and tears, and of plenty—one can smell the onions and olives, melons and lemons, peppers and aubergines, garlick and brandy!
The style is vivid and broken —the short sentences emphasising the primitive feelings; the unlikely similes—"timid as a carnation" — preserving the ffiusion of childhood memories. Altogether a sensitive and unusual biography.