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Peirene Press

Peirene Press
Peirene Press is an award-winning boutique publishing house, specialising in contemporary European novellas and short novels in English translation.
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Press6 months ago
    War takes no prisoners. It involves everyone — even children.
    Twin brothers, Ahmed and Aziz, live in the peaceful shade of their family's orange grove. But when a bomb kills the boys' grandparents, they become pawns in their country's civil war. Blood demands more blood and, at the command of a local militant group, either Ahmed or Aziz must strap on a belt of explosives and make the ultimate sacrifice. Will the surviving twin ever manage to release himself from the past?

    Why Peirene chose to publish this book:
    'This story made me cry. Since the dawn of civilisation we have justified war by claiming that we are creating a better future for our children. And yet don't we run the risk of laying a curse on future generations? This story reminds us of our obligation to forgive — ourselves as well as others.'
    Meike Ziervogel, publisher at Peirene Press
    'Nuanced but contrasting. Rough but also sensual. Shot through with poweful dialogue but never rambling. This kind of writing takes guts.'
    Le Devoir
    'A little jewel, finely chiseled.'
    'Larry Tremblay's ability [is] not so much to weave a storyline as to unravel it with finesse and beauty.'
    Toronto Sun
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    In these six short stories, Andrea Lundgren explores a liminal space where the town meets the wilderness and human consciousness meets something more animalistic.A train stops on the track in the middle of the night and a lone woman steps out of the open doors, following a call from deep in the forest. A father is haunted by the nocturnal visits of an elusive bird, and a young girl finds escape through the occult.From foxes to whales to angels, the creatures that roam through this collection spark a desire for something more in their human counterparts: a longing for transformation.
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    Lela knows two things: her history teacher must die and she must start a new life beyond the pear field. On the outskirts of Tbilisi, in a newly independent Georgia, is the Residential School for Intellectually Disabled Children — or, as the locals call it, the School for Idiots. Abandoned by their parents, the pupils here receive lessons in violence and neglect. At eighteen, Lela is old enough to leave, but with nowhere to go she stays and plans, both for her own escape and for the future she hopes to give Irakli, a young boy at the school. When a couple from the USA decide they want to adopt a child, Lela is determined to do everything she can to help Irakli make the most of this chance.
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    An environmental scientist has chosen to spend the winter on a remote peninsula in the far north of Norway in order to collect data on the activities of the seabird population. She is determined to prove a link between climate change and the decline in numbers of various species. She is also waiting for her lover to arrive. But cut off from human contact, tested by the primal forces of nature, she finds herself drawn into a dark and uncomfortable place that defies scientific logic. As she delves into the past, she has to face up to her earlier decisions. What are her true motives for coming here? Why has she left her young daughter and ex-husband behind? And will her lover ever join her?
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    Meetings, partings, loves and losses in rural France are dissected with compassion.The late wedding guest isn’t your cousin but a drunken chancer. The driver who gives you a lift isn’t going anywhere but off the road. Snow settles on your car in summer and the sequins found between the pages of a borrowed novel will make your fortune. Pagano’s stories weave together the mad, the mysterious and the dispossessed of a rural French community with honesty and humour. A superb, cumulative collection from a unique French voice.Why Peirene chose to publish this book:This is a spellbinding web of stories about people on the periphery. Pagano makes rural France her subject matter. She invokes the closeness of a local community and the links between the inhabitants’ lives. But then she reminds us how little we know of each other.‘Devastatingly beautiful.’ Le Soir, Belgium‘A treasure hunt that you can follow from title to title…fine-tipped drawings of little bits of the world that attach themselves to each other imperceptibly.’ Xavier Houssin, Le Monde‘Pagano succeeds because of the range of her insight and the skill with which she shifts register: from wistfulness to blunt force, or from fantasy to naturalism.’ Chris Power, The Guardian‘Endlessly beautiful and poignant.’ Le Monde books of the year 2012‘With animal writing, Emmanuelle Pagano invites herself to the side of rebels and solitaries.’ Marine Landrot, Télérama
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    ‘I can’t remember what it was like being born, but from what they used to tell me it seemed almost as if everything had been fine up to that point.’Standing in her family’s two-bedroom flat in the Promised Land, a little girl realizes that once again she won’t be getting a cat for her birthday. She’s been wanting one ever since she was five — all the way back to when they were living in the refugee camp. In the East, her Grandma made cakes and kept rabbits; now there is no baking, no pets and certainly no Grandma. West Germany in the early 1960s is a difficult place for a seven-year-old East German refugee, particularly when no one will listen to you.Why Peirene chose to publish this book:Today, as in the past, people flee from one country to another in the hope of finding a better future. But how do children experience such displacement? How do they cope with traumas of a refugee camp? In this novel Birgit Vanderbeke goes back to her own childhood in the divided Germany of the 1960s. She shows how the little girl she once was saved herself by imagining countries on the far side of the world. A masterpiece of memory turned into fiction.‘A hauntingly brilliant evocation of childhood.’Jackie Law, Never Imitate‘A graceful, feather-light novel whose true weight is revealed only gradually.’MDK Kultur
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    1819. Iax Agolasky, a young assistant to a notable French explorer, sets off on a journey to the Russian wilderness.They soon discover a group of creatures living in a cave: children with animal traits. But are they animals, or are they human? Faced with questions of faith, science and the fundamentals of truth, tensions rise in the camp. Soon the children’s safety becomes threatened and Agolasky needs to act.The novel is based on the photo series and synopsis by Pekka Nikrus.Why Peirene chose to publish this book:Greek legends, fables and fairy tales all share an interest in mythical beings. In this book Sammalkorpi imagines what would happen if these creatures really existed. How would we respond? The answer to this question matters hugely. It determines what it means to be human.‘A truly enjoyable read with its beautiful and precise language.’ Savonia prize jury'One of the most ambitious works of this year. A novel that deals with what it means to be human and the associated ethical and moral questions.’Kuvastaja prize jury
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    Relaxing Nordic hygge in a novel; the entire story takes place in two minutes.In this story we hear the voices of an Icelandic fishing village. On a summer’s day a young woman in a polka-dot dress cycles down the main street. Her name is Kata and she is the village choir conductor. As she passes, we glimpse the members of the village: a priest with a gambling habit, an old brother and sister who have not talked for years, and a sea captain who has lost his son. But perhaps the most interesting story of all belongs to the young woman on the bicycle. Why is she reticent to talk about her past?Why Peirene chose to publish this book:Reading this book was like embarking on a gentle journey — with music in my ears and wind in my hair. Yes, there is some darkness in the tales, and not every character is happy. But the story is told with such empathy that I couldn’t help but smile and forgive the flaws that make us human.'A heart-warming gem of a novel' David Mills, The Sunday Times'An exceptional novel, full of music, sun and longing’Fréttablaðið
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    An extraordinary piece of international survival literature, joining the likes of Primo Levi and Anne Frank. In 1941, 14-year-old Dalia and her family are deported from their native Lithuania to a labour camp in Siberia. As the strongest member of her family she submits to twelve hours a day of manual labour. At the age of 21, she escapes the gulag and returns to Lithuania. She writes her memories on scraps of paper and buries them in the garden, fearing they might be discovered by the KGB. They are not found until 1991, four years after her death. This is the story Dalia buried. The immediacy of her writing bears witness not only to the suffering she endured but also the hope that sustained her. It is a Lithuanian tale that, like its author, beats the odds to survive.Why Peirene chose to publish this book:There is only one word to describe this book, extraordinary. It blew me away when I first read it in German translation. Dalia’s account goes far beyond a memoir. This is an outstanding piece of literature which should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the Soviet repression.'A distressing historic document and a literary work of great significance.' Neue Zürcher Zeitung'An incredible force of language … the story of constant indignation.’JFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    Most novels are written by professional writers using second hand material. Not this one. Peirene commissioned nine refugees to tell their ‘Shatila Stories’. The result is a piece of collaborative fiction unlike any other. If you want to understand the chaos of the Middle East — or you just want to follow the course of a beautiful love story — start here.Adam and his family flee Syria and arrive at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. Conditions in this overcrowded Palestinian camp are tough, and violence defines many of the relationships: a father fights to save his daughter, a gang leader plots to expand his influence, and drugs break up a family. Adam struggles to make sense of his refugee experience, but then he meets Shatha and starts to view the camp through her eyes.Why Peirene chose to publish this book:I want to hear their stories and see if their imaginations can open up a new path of understanding between us. Collaborative works of literature can achieve what no other literature can do. By pooling our imaginations we are able to access something totally different and new that goes beyond boundaries — that of the individual, of nations, of cultures. It connects us to our common human essence: our creativity. Let’s make stories, not more war.'This remarkable novel isn’t about the refugee voice; it is born from it and told through it. On every page, the glint of hope for dignity and a better life is heartbreakingly alive.' Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner'Both from a humanitarian standpoint and an artistic perspective, Peirene are doing invaluable work in finding new voices who open our eyes, ears and hearts to worldly reality in all its profound suffering, joy, community, isolation and complexity.’Bidisha, Writer and Broadcaster.
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    The Cut is a Brexit novel. The story offers a fictional response to a complex issue. It is also a plot-driven page-turner by one of the most exciting novelists in the country.
    Cairo Jukes, a boxer from Dudley, supports himself on zero-hour contracts. He has grown up among the canals — or the cuts — that web the Black Country like the open veins of an old industrial order. Then he meets Grace, a successful documentary film maker from London.

    The Cut will not put you at ease. It describes a relationship built on misunderstandings, intolerance and guilt — one where each side desires something that the other cannot give.

    'Writing The Cut made me understand that we live in a country where we see prejudice in others but not in ourselves. This is a lesson that I, and my two characters Cairo and Grace, have tried to learn, with varying levels of success. It is a hard lesson for us all.' Anthony Cartwright:
    Why Peirene chose to commission this book:
    'The result of the EU referendum shocked me. I realized that I had been living in one part of a divided country. What fears — and what hopes — drove my fellow citizens to vote for Brexit? I commissioned Anthony Cartwright to build a fictional bridge between the Britains that opposed each other on referendum day.'
    Meike Ziervogel, publisher at Peirene Press
    Praise for Anthony Cartwright:

    'A writer with a wonderful ear … and an unblinking sense of Britain as it is today. Anthony Cartwright's patient, attentive storytelling shines a glowing light on areas of our common experience that the English novel usually consigns to darkness.'Jonathan Coe 'A compelling protest against simple answers that lingers in the mind long after the final page.'Wyl Menmuir
    'A bittersweet elegy to Britain's battered working classes.'Metro
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    The literary bestseller that took the Baltics by storm now published for the first time in English.
    This novel considers the effects of Soviet rule on a single individual. The central character in the story tries to follow her calling as a doctor. But then the state steps in. She is deprived first of her professional future, then of her identity and finally of her relationship with her daughter. Banished to a village in the Latvian countryside, her sense of isolation increases. Will she and her daughter be able to return to Riga when political change begins to stir?
    Why Peirene chose to publish this book:
    At first glance this novel depicts a troubled mother-daughter relationship set in the the Soviet-ruled Baltics between 1969 and 1989. Yet just beneath the surface lies something far more positive: the story of three generations of women, and the importance of a grandmother giving her granddaughter what her daughter is unable to provide — love, and the desire for life.
    'Nora Ikstena is proving that Latvia is speaking in a bold and original voice.' Rosie Goldsmith, broadcaster and reviewer
    'Nora Ikstena's fiction opens up new paths not only for Latvian literature in English translation but for English literature itself.' Jeremy Davis, Dalkey Archive Press
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    A taut and subtle family drama from France.

    A little girl lives happily with her mother in war-torn Paris. She has never met her father, a prisoner of war in Germany. But then he returns and her mother switches her devotion to her husband. The girl realizes that she must win over her father to recover her position in the family. She confides a secret that will change their lives.

    Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'This is a poetic story about a girl's love for her father. Told from the girl's perspective, but with the clarity of an adult's mind, we experience her desire to be noticed by the first man in her life. A rare examination of the bonds and boundaries between father and daughter.'
    Meike Ziervogel
    'A delicate, discreet novel. Like its little heroine. Impressive.'
    Sud Ouest Dimanche
    'Sizun's beautifully controlled and simple story captures the surprisingly clear gaze of a little girl who discovers how adults excel in the art of concealment.'
    Le Nouvel Observateur
    'This story brings to mind, like a slap in the face, our forgotten childhood memories. We remember the way adults fail to hear the tiny cries of the heart.'
    Marie Claire
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    A psychological thriller by the pioneering German writer Ricarda Huch. A novel of letters from the last century — but one with an astonishingly modern feel. Now for the first time in English..
    Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. To counter student unrest, the governor of St Petersburg closes the state university. Soon afterwards he arrives at his summer residence with his family and receives a death threat. His worried wife employs a young bodyguard, Lju, to protect her husband. Little does she know that Lju sides with the students — and the students are plotting an assassination.

    Why Peirene chose to publish this book:
    'I came upon this novel in the original German a year ago. And I loved it. It's a proper epistolary novel. Even though written more than 100 years ago, it feels as relevant now as then. The Last Summer asks how people can be trapped by an ideology? A topical story. An enjoyable read. A gem.'
    Meike Ziervogel, publisher
    'I was gripped by this remarkable short novel, a cavalcade of individual voices emerge with great freshness from the shadow of revolution. It is both a work of its time, and a timeless work.'
    Imogen Robertson
    'She is the First Lady of Germany. No, she is probably the First Lady of Europe.'
    Thomas Mann
    'The very model of the stylish female troublemaker… a social revolutionary in the deepest sense.'
    Clive James
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    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<.

    A heart-warming novella in bleak times. Humo
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    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 â€" 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.’
    ‘Raw and dark and wonderfully different from anything else.’
    Dag og Tid
    ‘Innovative and sensuous.’
    Bergens Tidende
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    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

    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    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
    Peirene Pressadded a book to the bookshelfPeirene Presslast year
    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

    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

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