Assigned the task of looking after new pupil, Ivan, by headteacher Mrs Blaizely, Boris finds himself constantly trying to veil darkly threatening comments and a deliberate flouting of authority when translating his new class-mates comments from Russian into English for the benefit of teachers and pupils alike at the highly convivial St Edmund’s school. Throughout the course of the day, the problem escalates in magnitude, placing Boris into ever more cringe-worthy, difficult circumstances as he tries to meet and match Ivan’s menace with good manners.
Anne Fine’s trademark black humour is laced with a delicious sense of precision and of timing throughout the novel. As concurs with the author’s body of work per-se, however, underpinning this humour are keen observations as to the functionality of communication in modern life, the need for expressing one’s wants and desires across whatever boundaries we encounter in life ‘ whether these be geographical or based around engaging with those from different ages or backgrounds to our own and a tendency for children’s voices to be marginalised alongside the egalitarian intents of those imbued with their education and wellbeing.
Publication of this admirable and compelling short novel is the flagship for Anne Fine’s revised and rejacketed backlist with Egmont books.