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What is Philip Bialyk Reading?

What is Philip Bialyk Reading?

In the latest of our series What Are You Reading?, we are delighted to welcome Councillor Philip Bialyk, Leader of Exeter City Council, to tell us about some of his favourite reading material.

What are you reading at the moment? Why would our readers enjoy reading it?

At the moment, with everything going on, I am spending most of my time reading Council committee papers. Would your readers enjoy them? I hope so. They are published on our website, and even if ‘enjoy’ may be putting it a bit too strongly, it is important for the democratic process that people should follow what’s happening in their city. It’s more important than ever right now.

Aside from that, I’ve just moved house and I am in desperate need of a good gardening book at the moment.

A book you return to and reread; and why?

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier is a Second World War story which I read when I was young and it has always stayed with me. It’s not so much about returning to it, it’s more that it has never left me. It’s based on true accounts, and is a moving story of life during and after the war, following the lives of children having to fend for themselves during the Nazi occupation of Poland. After the war they travel to Switzerland, where they hoped to find their parents.

My father was a Polish immigrant to the UK, and this book has always stuck with me. I haven’t re-read it recently but I would like to – the themes are as relevant today as they were when it was written.

Your favourite book of all time; and why?

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka. It’s not really about tractors, but is one of the funniest and books I have ever read, and probably the one I enjoyed the most. The novel is about two daughters who are upset that their elderly father marries a young Ukrainian immigrant called Valentina. One of the characters emigrates to Britain after the Second World War, and is writing a history of tractors in Ukrainian, before uncovering secrets from her family’s history.

There’s a lot of history in there and it deals with a lot of issues around nationality and family relationships, among other things. But above all else it is the comedy in the writing which makes it such a special book, and I can thoroughly recommend it.


Councillor Philip Bialyk

Cllr Phil Bialyk is the Labour Leader of Exeter City Council. First elected to the Council in 2011, he serves as a ward councillor for Exwick. Before being elected leader in May 2019, Cllr Bialyk was Lead Councillor for Health and Wellbeing, Communities & Sport, with responsibility for delivering the UK’s first Passivhaus leisure centre in the city centre, and a new Exeter Bus Station. Born and raised in Exeter, Cllr Bialyk is a former bus conductor and bus driver. Recently retired, he was for many years a Regional Organiser for the RMT union. Cllr Bialyk is a registered football referee with the Devon FA.