A story about anger, aggression and the desire for intimacy by a rising star of modern Dutch literature.
A professional boxer and a family man meet by chance on a journey to the Pamplona Bull Run. The boxer is fleeing an unhappy love. The father hopes to escape his dull routine. Both know that, eventually, they will have to return to the place each calls 'home'.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'I adore the deceptive simplicity of this story. On the surface, the fast moving plot, the short sentences, the ordinary words make the text as straightforward as punches in a boxing match. But just as physical conflict stirs deep emotions, so too does this book as it focuses on a single question: how do you choose between flight and fight?' Meike Ziervogel
'An impressive work.' Harry Ritchie, Daily Mail
'As he tracks back and forth between the dual narratives, moving inexorably to the double climax, Van Mersbergen skilfully builds emotional intensity until the point when the boxer and bulls' fury are finally unleashed.' Lucy Popescu, Independent on Sunday
'An intriguing and intricate gem of a novel . . . Van Mersbergen's tightly controlled prose skilfully conveys the overriding sense of repressed emotion and sheer physicality that drive a compelling and complex story.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
'Flawlessly translated.' Adrian Turpin, Financial Times
'A refreshing change from the byzantine complexities of all too many contemporary novels.' John Oakley, New Books Magazine
'An intense reading experience . . . Van Mersbergen tells what needs to be told and not a word more.' De Morgen
A Shakespearean drama from icy Finland.
Finland, 1809. Henrik and Erik are brothers who fought on opposite sides in the war between Sweden and Russia. With peace declared, they both return to their snowed-in farm. But who is the master? Sexual tensions, old grudges, family secrets: all come to a head in this dark and gripping saga.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'This is a historical novel in miniature form. It deals in dark passions and delivers as many twists as a 500-page epic. And if that were not enough, each character speaks in a distinct voice and expresses a unique take on reality. I'm thrilled to be publishing a book that is as Finnish as a forest in winter - but that resembles a work from the American South: William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.' Meike Ziervogel
'A brooding family drama that has something of the timeless quality of good soap opera.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
'Intensely visual . . . A brooding, atmospheric, Scandinavian late night movie.' Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday
'A heart-stoppingly intense historical novel of grand scope.' White Review
'This short, intense novel examines concepts of home, inheritance and the connection between personal and international conflict.' Max Liu, Times Literary Supplement
LONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL IMPAC DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD 2014
A spellbinding short story collection by one of Austria's most critically acclaimed authors.
A man becomes obsessed with observing his neighbours. A large family gathers for Christmas only to wait for the one member who never turns up. An old woman lures a man into her house where he finds dolls resembling himself as a boy. Mesmerizing and haunting stories about loss of identity in the modern world.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'I love Kafka and here we have a Kafkaesque sense of alienation - not to mention narrative experiments galore! Outwardly normal events slip into drama before they tip into horror. These oblique tales exert a fascinating hold over the reader.' Meike Ziervogel
'Clever and enticing.' Alexander Starritt, Times Literary Supplement
'Not since Julio Cortàzar's game of Hopscotch . . . has an author so daringly undertaken to challenge the reader.' Amanda Hopkinson, Independent
'It is . . . very refreshing to be confronted by stories which so firmly refuse to yield to conventional interpretation.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
'This award-winning collection by the Austrian writer Alois Hotschnig drew comparisons with Kafka. But Hotschnig's quietly terrifying voice is all his own.' Jane Shilling, Daily Mail
'Intriguing and powerful.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
GUARDIAN PAPERBACKS OF THE YEAR 2011
Denmark's foremost literary author turns crime fiction on its head.
Bess and Halland live in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else. When Halland is found murdered in the main square the police encounter only riddles. For Bess bereavement marks the start of a journey that leads her to a reassessment of first friends, then family.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'If you like crime you won't be disappointed. The book has all the right ingredients. A murder, a gun, an inspector, suspense. But the story strays far beyond the whodunit norm. In beautifully stark language Pia Juul manages to chart the phases of bereavement. PS Don't skip the quotes.' Meike Ziervogel
'Bess sticks in the mind as a brilliantly drawn character.' Christina Petrie, Times Literary Supplement
'Anything but a standard crime novel. The mystery at its heart is the mystery we are to each other; it is written in succinct, sometimes surreal prose.' Economist
'A disturbing and painful account of a woman whose world has been knocked off its axis.' Laura Wilson, Guardian
'A masterclass in literary sleight of hand.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
'Just as Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose made crime fiction appear intellectual, so Pia Juul's The Murder of Halland dismantles the rules of an entire genre.' Dagens Nyheter
'Pia Juul is a dazzling writer with natural, biting dialogue. And the descriptions of the sun's play on the fiord are so beautiful that they could have been lifted from Albert Camus' The Stranger.' Extra Bladet
LONGLISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2013LONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL IMPAC DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD 2014
A beautiful novella in 50 short chapters and 10 pictures about the life of Bada Shanren, the most influential Chinese painter of all times.
In 1626, Bada Shanren is born into the Chinese royal family. When the old Ming Dynasty crumbles, he becomes an artist, committed to capturing the essence of nature with a single brushstroke. Then the rulers of the new Qing Dynasty discover his identity and Bada must feign madness to escape.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'Fact and fiction arrive at a perfect union in this exquisite novella. A beautiful story about the quiet determined pursuit of inspiration, this is a charming and uplifting book. After reading it, I looked at the world a little differently.' Meike Ziervogel
'The book is 110 pages (and 11 of those are pictures), but - much like one of Shanren's paintings - contains far more than its small compass might suggest.' Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday
'Delicate and moving.' Boyd Tonkin, Independent
'Intriguing, elegant, awesome in its precision and uplifting in its sheer beauty, this is a book to read, enjoy... and then read again.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
'The author's cool, succinct prose and use of short chapters enhance the meditative nature of this beguiling story, which interweaves art theory, history, metaphysics and narrative.' Shelf Unbound
'A powerful, poetic book. A two-hour enchantment.' Kulturspiegel
The Catalan modern classic, first published in 1985, now in its 50th edition, for the first time in English.
The beginning of the 20th century: 13-year-old Conxa leaves her home village in the Pyrenees to work for her childless aunt. After years of hardship she finds love with Jaume - a love that will be thwarted by the Spanish Civil War. Approaching her own death, Conxa looks back on a life in which she has lost everything except her own indomitable spirit.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'I fell in love with Conxa's narrative voice, its stoic calmness and the complete lack of anger and bitterness. It's a timeless voice, down to earth and full of human contradictory nuances. It's the expression of someone who searches for understanding in a changing world but senses that ultimately there may be no such thing.' Meike Ziervogel
'Sparse and haunting.' Katy Guest, Independent
'The compression is so deft, the young narrator's voice so strong, so particular, her straightforward evocation of the hard labour and rare pleasures of mountain life . . . so vibrant, that it makes me want to take scissors to everything else I read.' Richard Lea, Guardian
'A Pyrenean life told in a quietly effective voice.' Daniel Hahn, Independent
'There is an understated power in Barbal's depiction of how the forces of history can shape the life of the powerless.' Adrian Turpin, Financial Times
'A masterpiece of world literature and a shining example of the virtuosity of elegant and concise prose.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post'Air-tight believability.' Matthew Tree, Times Literary Supplement
INDEPENDENT BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2010FOYLES BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2010
Rome one January afternoon in 1943. A young German woman is on her way to listen to a Bach concert at the Lutheran church. Innocent and naïve, the war is for her little more than a day-dream, until she realizes that her husband might never return. This is a mesmerizing psychological portrait of the human need to safeguard innocence and integrity at any cost - even at the risk of excluding reality. A literary masterpiece by one of Germany's most renowned contemporary writers. THE GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2010 "The book's last paragraph, overtly expressing nothing more than the young woman's intention to write a letter, is one of the most moving conclusions I've ever read." Nick Lezard, The Guardian "What a superb translation. This extraordinary and eloquent novella, a true tour de force, has made me long to find more of Delius's work straightway." Miranda Seymour, author
Germany's master of wit and irony now for the first time in English.
Hinrich takes his existence at face value. His wife, on the other hand, has always been more interested in the after-life. Or so it seemed. When she dies of a stroke, Hinrich goes through her papers, only to discover a totally different perspective on their marriage. Thus commences a dazzling intellectual game of shifting realities.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'This novella deals with the weighty subjects of marriage and death in an impressively light manner. Shifting realities evolve with a beautiful sense of irony and wit. It is a tone that allows us to reflect - without judgment - on misunderstandings, contradictory perceptions and the transience of life.' Meike Ziervogel
'Inventive and deeply affecting, this remarkable fiction lingers in the mind long after the last page has been turned.' CJ Schuler, Independent
'A heartbreaking tale of loss.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
'This is a tale of a marriage gone awry and the potential loneliness of cohabitation ... but Matthias Politycki leavens his grim tale with playful teasing of his reader's expectations.' Rebecca K. Morrison, Times Literary Supplement
'A teasing, testing story that makes you want to revisit and seek out those fascinating fragments you might just have missed.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
'Elegantly realised.' Lucy Popescu, Independent on Sunday
'A page-turning pleasure . . . this novella has a supreme lightness of touch . . It never feels weighed down by its own significance.' Rosie Goldsmith, BBC
LONGLISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2012INDEPENDENT BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2011GUARDIAN PAPERBACKS OF THE YEAR 2011
The French controversial bestseller for the first time available in English.
A single mother takes her two young sons on a trip to the seaside. They stay in a hotel, drink hot chocolate and go to the funfair. She wants to protect them from an uncomprehending and cold world. She knows that it will be the last trip for her boys.
A haunting and thought-provoking story about how a mother's love for her children can be more dangerous than the dark world she is seeking to keep at bay.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'This is the most impressive novel about the mother and child relationship I have read. Véronique Olmi handles an aspect of motherhood we all too often deny. She depicts a woman's fear of releasing her children into the world. The simple first person narrative achieves an extraordinary level of poetry and inner truth.' Meike Ziervogel
'A mesmerising portrait . . . It should be read.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
'The closing pages are heart-stopping and heartbreaking, yet one finishes this sad tale not depressed but uplifted by its ability to enlarge the reader's sympathies.' CJ Schuler, Independent
'Prose . . . filled with sad poetic sense and blunt, bleak realities, compellingly conveyed in Hunter's colloquial English.' Madeline Clements, Times Literary Supplement
'Tragic. Moving. Essential reading.' Rosie Goldsmith, BBC
'The triumph of Olmi's book is that it doesn't analyse . . . And that is very uncomfortable.' Dan Holloway, Pank
LONGLISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2011WINNER OF THE SCOTT MONCRIEFF PRIZE FOR FRENCH TRANSLATION 2011
The modern German classic that has shaped an entire generation.
A mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table. In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels. Why has the father not returned home? As the evening wears on, we glimpse the issues that are tearing this family apart.
'I wrote this book in August 1989, just before the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I wanted to understand how revolutions start. It seemed logical to use the figure of a tyrannical father and turn the story into a German family saga.' Birgit Vanderbeke
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'I love this monologue. It's the first Peirene book which made me laugh out loud with tears in my eyes. The author lays bare the contradictory logic of an inflexible mind. This is a poignant yet hilarious narrative with a brilliant ending.' Meike Ziervogel
'We are playing catch-up here with something of a contemporary European classic.' David Mills, Sunday Times
'The novella brilliantly renders both the power of the revolutionary moment and the uncertainty of the future it unleashes.' Jane Yager, Times Literary Supplement
'This is one of those books that doesn't tell us what to think, but sets us off thinking . . . Who writes this kind of nuanced work in Britain?' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
'Sinister, funny and heartening, this taut novella reflects, within the microcosm of the family, the dissolution of the East German state, with an insight, economy and controlled fury that have made it a modern German classic.' Chris Schuler, Independent
'There is a political edge to Vanderbeke's provocative examination of patriarchal violence, and part of the power of this darkly comic tale is how well it succeeds as an allegory for political tyranny.' Lucy Popescu, Independent on Sunday
'Astute, darkly funny, provocative, often uncomfortable in its devastating depiction of patriarchal oppression but ultimately uplifting.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
'An extraordinary book, the story unspooled with masterful restraint, and written with simplicity and precision.' Francesca Segal, Standpoint
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2014WINNER OF THE SCHLEGEL-TIECK PRIZE FOR GERMAN TRANSLATION 2014FOYLES BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2013
A postmodern Victorian novel about faith, knowledge and our inner needs.
The late 1870s, the Kentish village of Downe. The villagers gather in church one rainy Sunday. Only Thomas Davies stays away. The eccentric loner, father of two and a grief-stricken widower, works as a gardener for the notorious naturalist, Charles Darwin. He shuns religion. But now Thomas needs answers. What should he believe in? And why should he continue to live?
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'This is Peirene's most poetic book yet. A tale of God, grief and talking chickens. Like Dylan Thomas in Under Milk Wood, Carlson evokes the voices of an entire village, and, through them, the spirit of the age. This is no page-turner, but a story to be inhabited, to be savoured slowly.' Meike Ziervogel
'The translation is terrific and the author's grasp of England circa 1880 is utterly convincing.' Sally Vickers, Observer
'It's hard to believe this novel originated in another country. But it did, and the way Carlson shows us to ourselves should make us wonder.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
'Allow layers of meaning to emerge after you finish reading, and you may be rewarded.' Harriet Paterson, Tablet
'The collective consciousness in this novel is an amazing choir: Carlson makes the souls of Downe Parish sing.' Helsingin Sanomat
'Carlson writes beautifully, wisely and with effortless humour.' Suomen KuvalehtiLONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL IMPAC DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD 2015OBSERVER BEST HOLIDAY READS 2013
A haunting Russian tale about the environmental legacy of the Cold War.
Yerzhan grows up in a remote part of Soviet Kazakhstan where atomic weapons are tested. As a young boy he falls in love with the neighbour's daughter and one evening, to impress her, he dives into a forbidden lake. The radioactive water changes Yerzhan. He will never grow into a man. While the girl he loves becomes a beautiful woman.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'Like a Grimm's fairy tale, this story transforms an innermost fear into an outward reality. We witness a prepubescent boy's secret terror of not growing up into a man. We also wander in a beautiful, fierce landscape unlike any other we find in Western literature. And by the end of Yerzhan's tale we are awe-struck by our human resilience in the face of catastrophic, man-made, follies.' Meike Ziervogel
'A haunting and resonant fable.' Boyd Tonkin, Independent
'A tantalising mixture of magical and grim realism . . . a powerful study of alienation and environmental catastrophe.' David Mills, Sunday Times
'A poetic masterpiece, a novella of shocking legacies, alien beauty and blistering emotional intensity.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
'A writer of immense poetic power.' Kapka Kassabova, Guardian
'A novella which draws on myth, fairy tale, poetry and traditional story-telling, it stirs them together to create an unusual parable of a modern arms race cruelly impacting on a traditional way of life.' Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail
'This superb novella . . . reads like a modern fairy-tale, full of a surreal yet mundane horror.' Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday
'Central Asian storytelling at its best.' Marion James, Today's Zaman
LONGLISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2015INDEPENDENT BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2014GUARDIAN READERS' BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2014
The internationally acclaimed Polish bestseller about the Holocaust. A remarkable true story of love and survival. Now for the first time in English.
The Warsaw Ghetto 1942: When Izolda's husband, Shayek, is imprisoned, she sets out to release him. She changes her name, her hair, her religion. Eventually she is captured and deported to Auschwitz. But even there, she trusts that her love will save them both.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'This is a beautiful love story but also an incredible account of one woman's quest to be heard. Told with astounding simplicity, the book recreates the Holocaust not as an historical event but as a terrifying, shared, experience. I am amazed - and honoured - that it was left to Peirene to publish this book for the first time in English.' Meike Ziervogel
'A spare, startling tale of love and survival.' Justine Jordan, Guardian
'A remarkable find.' David Mills, Sunday Times
'Krall has created an elegant, nuanced book about choice, consequences, identity and guilt.' Roger Boyes, The Times
'An arresting style that rises in remarkable fashion to the challenge such a history poses to any narrator, combining steely lyricism with a thriller's tension.' Marek Kohn, Independent
'A masterpiece.' Kapka Kassabova, Guardian
'Powerful in its raw simplicity and deeply affecting in its emotional stoicism . . . An unforgettable and unparalleled addition to the classy stable of Peirene Press books.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
SHORTLISTED FOR THE JEWISH QUARTERLY-WINGATE PRIZE 2015WINNER OF THE FOUND IN TRANSLATION AWARD FOR POLISH TRANSLATION 2014GUARDIAN'S BEST FICTION 2013GUARDIAN READERS' BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2013ENGLISH PEN BEST YULE READS 2013
A novel about a mother-daughter relationship that will send a chill down your spine.
Johanne is a young woman in her twenties who lives with her mother. When she falls in love with Ivar, she finally feels ready to leave home. The couple plan a trip to America. But the morning of her departure, Johanne wakes up to find the door locked. Can she overcome her fears? Will she shout for help? Will she climb out of her fourth floor window?
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'Everyone who has read Fifty Shades of Grey should read this book. Why? The Blue Room holds up a mirror to a part of the female psyche that yearns for submission. The story shows how erotic fantasies are formed by the relationship with our parents. It then delves further to analyse the struggle of women to separate from their mothers - a struggle that is rarely addressed in either literature or society.' Meike Ziervogel
'A masterpiece of unreliable narration.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
'A highly unusual, coolly daring psychological thriller that explores emotional pain and indifference with an unsettling detachment.' Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
'A work of chilling, masterly control.' Laura Profumo, Times Literary Supplement
'Nothing is certain, no motive is clear and no person is above suspicion in Ørstavik's perfectly pitched, tightly stitched and captivating brain-teaser.' Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
'Ørstavik treats the everyday and existential with intensity.' Max Liu, Independent
'Psychologically astute and deftly translated . . . A brilliant examination of a woman struggling to own her sexuality, to break free from the guilt and forge her own identity.' Lucy Popescu, Tablet
GUARDIAN PAPERBACKS OF THE YEAR 2014
A fascinating portrait of a pre-Gaddafi society on the verge of change.
Tripoli in the 1960s. A sweltering, segregated society. Hadachinou is a lonely boy. His mother shares secrets with her best friend Jamila while his father prays at the mosque. Sneaking through the sun-drenched streets of Tripoli, he listens to the whispered stories of the women. He turns into an invisible witness to their repressed desires while becoming aware of his own.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'This is a fascinating portrait of a closed society. On the surface this quiet vignette of a story could be read as gently nostalgic, but underneath the author reveals the seething tensions of a traditional city coming to terms with our modern world. The book gives us privileged access to a place where men and women live apart and have never learned to respect each other.'Meike Ziervogel
'The reader feels he is peeking through a half-drawn curtain on a secret feminine world in a patriarchal society . . . Excellent.'David Mills,Sunday Times
'Beautifully simple and restrained prose.'Lucy Popescu,Huffington Post
'It ought to be commended for its lack of sentimentality about this much-mythologized chapter of modern Libya.'Hasham Matar,Times Literary Supplement
'A short but shimmering read.'Malcolm Forbes,National
A beautiful homage to the art of reading - light and funny. A celebration of the union of sensuality and language.
Marie-Constance loves reading and possesses an attractive voice. So, one day she decides to put an ad in the local paper offering her services as a paid reader. Her first client, a paralysed teenager, is transformed by her reading of a Maupassant short story. Marie-Constance's fame spreads and soon the rich, the creative and the famous clamour for her services.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'The premise of the story is brilliant: a woman who loves reading aloud acquires - without realizing - power over others. What's true for her clients becomes real for you, the reader of this book. As you turn the pages, think of Marie-Constance as the personification of 'reading' itself. And I promise you an experience you will never forget.'Meike Ziervogel
'A clever, funny, and humane work that champions the power of literature.'David Mills,Sunday Times
'An entertaining, sensuous and, above all, fun outing into the converging worlds of reading, language and sexuality.'Pam Norfolk,Lancashire Evening Post
'Reader for Hiremight be the perfect book - written with an elegance whose validity it also questions.'Joanna Walsh,The National
'An excellent new translation of a novel . . . written with a lightness of touch.'Harry Ritchie,Daily Mail
'A beautiful love declaration to the art of reading. A book that will make you want to read more books.'Cosmopolitan
A tragic love story about two sisters who cannot live with or without each other.
Far out on the plains of northern Norway stands a house. It belongs to two middle-aged sisters. They seldom venture out and nobody visits. The older needs nursing and the younger keeps house. Then, one day, a man arrives...
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'This is a tragedy about a woman who yearns for love but ends up in a painfully destructive conflict with her sister. It is also a story about loneliness - both geographical and psychological. Facing the prospect of a life without love, we fall back into isolating delusions at exactly the moment when we need to connect.'Meike Ziervogel
'It's a liberating feeling when you get a completely original story in your hands.'Dagbladet
'Raw and dark and wonderfully different from anything else.'Dag og Tid
'Innovative and sensuous.'Bergens Tidende
An impressively entertaining tale about the frailty of human civilisation by the leading Flemish writer Peter Verhelst, now for the first time in English.
Warning: This story is narrated by a gorilla. He is plucked from the jungle. He learns to chat and passes the ultimate test: a cocktail party. Eventually he is moved to an amusement park, where he acts in a play about the history of civilisation. But as the gorilla becomes increasingly aware of human frailties, he must choose between his instincts and his training, between principles and self-preservation.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'This is Peirene's first book narrated by an ape. Animal fables are usually not my thing. It needed Belgian deadpan humour to convince me otherwise. Mixing Huxley's Brave New Worldwith Orwell's Animal Farm, the fast-paced plot leaves behind images that play in your mind long after you have closed the book.'Meike Ziervogel
'Simple, but wonderful and impassioned.' De Standaard