1. Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey
Moving away from their lovely apartment in Munich isn’t nearly as wrenching an experience for Frau Greta Hahn as she had feared. Their new home is even lovelier than the one they left behind, and best of all—right on their doorstep—are some of the finest craftsmen from all over Europe. Frau Hahn and the other officers’ wives living in this small community can order anything they desire, whether new curtains made from the finest French fabrics, or furniture designed to the most exacting specifications.
Lying just beyond the forest that surrounds them—so close and yet so remote—is the looming presence of a work camp. Frau Hahn’s husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn, is to take up a powerful new position as the camp’s administrator. As the prison population begins to rise, the job becomes ever more consuming. Corruption is rife at every level, the supplies are inadequate, and the sewerage system is under increasing strain…
When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely and poignant alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr. Lenard Weber, her naïve ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged. A decade earlier, Dr. Weber had invented a machine: the Sympathetic Vitaliser. At the time he believed that its subtle resonances might cure cancer. But does it really work? One way or another, it might yet save a life.
Catherine Chidgey is an award-winning novelist and short-story writer. Her first novel, In a Fishbone Church, won the Betty Trask Award. Golden Deed was Time Out’s book of the year, a Best Book in the LA Times Book Review and a Notable Book in the New York Times Book Review. The Wish Child won the 2017 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize.
Published by Europa Editions (europaeditions.com)
2. At Night all Blood is Black by David Diop, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis
Alfa and Mademba are two of the many Senegalese soldiers fighting in the Great War. Together they climb dutifully out of their trenches to attack France’s German enemies whenever the whistle blows, until Mademba is wounded, and dies in a shell hole with his belly torn open.
Without his more-than-brother, Alfa is alone and lost amidst the savagery of the conflict. He devotes himself to the war, to violence and death, but soon begins to frighten even his own comrades in arms. How far will Alfa go to make amends to his dead friend?
At Night All Blood is Black is a hypnotic, heartbreaking rendering of a mind hurtling towards madness.
David Diop is a professor of eighteenth century literature at the University of Pau. France. At Night All Blood is Black is David’s second novel. It was shortlisted for ten major prizes in France and won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens. It has been translated into 13 languages, winning the LA Times Book Prize for fiction, the Italian Premio Strega Europeo, and the International Booker Prize 2021 among others. David Diop was born in Paris and grew up in Senegal.
Anna Moschovakis is a poet, author and translator, whose works include the James Laughlin Award-winning poetry collection You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake and a novel, Eleanor, or The Rejection of the Progress of Love. Her translations from the French include Albert Cossery’s The Jokers, Annie Ernaux’s The Possession, and Bresson on Bresson.
Published by Pushkin Press ( pushkinpress.com )
3. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
One afternoon, a mother opens her front door to find the length of her son’s body stretched out on the veranda, swaddled in akwete material, his head on her welcome mat. The Death of Vivek Oji transports us to the day of Vivek’s birth, the day his grandmother Ahunna died. It is the story of an over protective mother and a distant father, and the heart-wrenching tale of one family’s struggle to understand their child, just as Vivek learns to recognize himself.
Teeming with unforgettable characters whose lives have been shaped by Vivek’s gentle and enigmatic spirit, it shares with us a Nigerian childhood that challenges expectations. This novel, and its celebration of the innocence and optimism of youth, will touch all those who embrace it.
Akwaeke Emezi is a writer and video artist based in liminal spaces. Their debut novel Freshwater was longlisted both for the DUBLIN Literary Award 2020, Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 and for the Wellcome Book Prize among others. Emezi’s writing has appeared in T: The New York Times Style Magazine and many more publications. A National Book Foundation ‘5 Under 35’ honoree, Emezi was born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria.
Published by Faber & Faber (faber.co.uk)
4. The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin
Nessa McCormack’s marriage is coming back together again after her husband’s affair. She is excited to be in charge of a retrospective art exhibit for one of Ireland’s most beloved and enigmatic artists, the late sculptor Robert Locke. But the arrival of two outsiders imperils both her personal and professional worlds: a chance encounter with an old friend threatens to expose a betrayal Nessa thought she had long put behind her, and at work, an odd woman comes forward claiming to be the true creator of Robert Locke’s most famous work, The Chalk Sculpture.
As Nessa finds the past intruding on the present, she must decide whether she can continue to live a lie – or whether she’s ready to face the consequences once everything is out in the open.
Danielle McLaughlin is the author of the short story collection Dinosaurs on Other Planets. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Irish Times, the Stinging Fly, and various anthologies. She has won many awards including the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award, and the Merriman Short Story Competition in memory of Maeve Binchy, among others. The Art of Falling is her first novel.
Published by John Murray (johnmurraypress.co.uk)
5. Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Mashkawaji (they/them) lies frozen in the ice, remembering a long-ago time of hopeless connection and now finding freedom and solace in isolated suspension. They introduce us to the seven main characters: Akiwenzii, the old man who represents the narrator’s will; Ninaatig, the maple tree who represents their lungs; Mindimooyenh, the old woman who represents their conscience; Sabe, the giant who represents their marrow; Adik, the caribou who represents their nervous system; Asin, the human who represents their eyes and ears; and Lucy, the human who represents their brain. Each attempts to commune with the unnatural urban-settler world, a world of SpongeBob Band-Aids, Ziploc baggies, Fjällräven Kånken backpacks, and coffee mugs emblazoned with institutional logos. And each searches out the natural world, only to discover those pockets that still exist are owned, contained, counted, and consumed. Cut off from nature, the characters are cut off from their natural selves.
Noopiming is Anishinaabemowin for-in the bush and the title is a response to English Canadian settler and author Susanna Moodie’s 1852 memoir Roughing It in the Bush. To read Simpson’s work is an act of decolonization, degentrification, and willful resistance to the perpetuation and dissemination of centuries-old colonial myth-making.
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg writer, scholar, and musician, and a member of the Alderville First Nation. Her previous books include This Accident of Being Lost, which won the MacEwan University Book of the Year and was named a best book of the year by the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and Quill & Quire.
Published by House of Anansi (houseofanansi.com)
6. The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter, translated from the French by Frank Wynne
Naïma has always known that her family came from Algeria – but up until now, that meant very little to her. Born and raised in France, her knowledge of that foreign country is limited to what she’s learned from her grandparents’ tiny flat in a crumbling French sink estate: the food cooked for her, the few precious things they brought with them when they fled.
On the past, her family is silent. Why was her grandfather Ali forced to leave? Was he a harki – an Algerian who worked for and supported the French during the Algerian War of Independence? Once a wealthy landowner, how did he become an immigrant scratching a living in France?
Naïma’s father, Hamid, says he remembers nothing. A child when the family left, in France he re-made himself: education was his ticket out of the family home, the key to acceptance into French society.
But now, for the first time since they left, one of Ali’s family is going back. Naïma will see Algeria for herself, will ask the questions about her family’s history that, till now, have had no answers.
Alice Zeniter was born in 1986. She is the author of four novels; Sombre dimanche (Albin Michel, 2013) won the Prix du Livre Inter, the Prix des lecteurs de l’Express and the Prix de la Closerie des Lilas; Juste avant l’oubli (Flammarion, 2015) won the Prix Renaudot des lycéens. She is a playwright and theatre director.
Frank Wynne is an Irish translator who has translated and published comics and graphic novels and began translating literature in the late 1990s. He has translated works by, among others, Michel Houellebecq, Frédéric Beigbeder and Ahmadou Kourouma , and has won a number of awards, including the DUBLIN Literary Award 2002, Scott Moncrieff Prize and the Premio Valle Inclán.
Published by Picador Pan Macmillan (panmacmillan.com)