« | Home | »

The Other Ange Mlinko

Tags: | | |

There’s a TV reality show in the US (Same Name) about people with the same name swapping lives. I feel confident that the producers won’t be calling on me. But a few weeks ago, Google alerted me to the improbable existence of another Ange Mlinko.

She is divorced, childless, a bit misanthropic, and pilots a spaceship between Earth and Mars. It’s not that glamorous – she’s just a working stiff contracted by corporations to haul this and that; barnacles, for instance, to populate Mars’s lakes. But she’s good enough at her job to be considered for the crew of the Leibniz, a spaceship headed for the Oort Cloud to meet a delegation of aliens known as Cygnics. The job falls through, but the aliens find Mlinko anyway.

Anticopernicus is an e-novella by Adam Roberts, who has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award three times and teaches at Royal Holloway. I emailed him to ask where he’d got his heroine’s name from. As it turned out, he had read an article of mine in Poetry magazine and used my name as a placeholder before deciding to keep it. I’m in exalted company: there’s also a character called Tsvetaeva.

Mlinko means ‘windmills’ or ‘little mills’, or so a Slovenian doctor once told me, which makes me think of Don Quixote. The name usually creates nothing but headaches for me. Apart from having to spell it out at every turn (slowly, repeatedly), I learned at an early age that Americans glean a lot of useful social information from whether you are a McDonald or a Pellegrino or a Cave or a Hartz or a Goldstein. A Hungarian name throws them off, especially (this was 1980) if it rhymes with ‘Pinko’. And then my Belorussian mother wouldn’t speak to me for weeks after I said I wouldn’t be changing my name to my husband’s. She hated my father’s family that much.

Comments on “The Other Ange Mlinko”

  1. Phil Edwards says:

    That’s a Ukrainian name, surely? My wife has a name with a similar ending and similar problems getting it across. I remember there were slightly mixed reactions when we introduced ourselves to our Polish neighbours – nice to meet somebody with connections at least near to the old country, but shame it couldn’t have been an -owicz instead of an -nko.

  2. Ange says:

    Well, no, my father’s family is definitely Hungarian. But the Eastern European tribalism, as you describe it, is spot on!

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • andymartinink on Reacher v. Parker: Slayground definitely next on my agenda. But to be fair to Lee Child, as per the Forbes analysis, there is clearly a massive collective reader-writer ...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: Parker may not have the integrity and honesty of Marlowe, but I'd argue that Richard Stark writes with far more of both than Raymond Chandler does: Ch...
    • Christopher Tayler on Reacher v. Parker: Good to see someone holding up standards. The explanation is that I had thoughts - or words - left over from writing about Lee Child. (For Chandler se...
    • Geoff Roberts on Reacher v. Parker: ..."praised in the London Review of Books" Just read the article on Lee Child in a certain literary review and was surprised to find this rave notice...
    • pgillott on Wishful Thinking about Climate Change: Phrases like “monumental triumph” and (particularly) “renaissance for humankind” are overdoing it, but to suggest that there is no chance of ...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Chris Lehmann: The Candidates
    18 June 2015

    ‘Every one of the Republican candidates can be described as a full-blown adult failure. These are people who, in most cases, have been granted virtually every imaginable advantage on the road to success, and managed nevertheless to foul things up along the way.’

    Hugh Pennington:
    The Problem with Biodiversity
    10 May 2007

    ‘As a medical microbiologist, for example, I have spent my career fighting biodiversity: my ultimate aim has been to cause the extinction of harmful microbes, an objective shared by veterinary and plant pathologists. But despite more than a hundred years of concentrated effort, supported by solid science, smallpox has been the only success.’

    Jeremy Harding: At the Mexican Border
    20 October 2011

    ‘The battle against illegal migration is a domestic version of America’s interventions overseas, with many of the same trappings: big manpower commitments, militarisation, pursuit, detection, rendition, loss of life. The Mexican border was already the focus of attention before 9/11; it is now a fixation that shows no signs of abating.’

    James Meek: When the Floods Came
    31 July 2008

    ‘Last July, a few days after the floods arrived, with 350,000 people still cut off from the first necessity of life, Severn Trent held its annual general meeting. It announced profits of £325 million, and confirmed a dividend for shareholders of £143 million. Not long afterwards the company, with the consent of the water regulator Ofwat, announced that it wouldn’t be compensating customers: all would be charged as if they had had running water, even when they hadn’t.’

Advertisement Advertisement