Malcolm Forbes

Lives of Others

Back to Back

By

Harvill Secker 328pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Julia Franck’s early short story ‘Family Friend’ describes a woman who drugs her children so that she can successfully flee with them from East to West Berlin. The devastating prologue to The Blind Side of the Heart, Franck’s superlative novel from 2007 and the first to be translated into English, tracks a desperate, war-ravaged woman’s last movements before she abandons her seven-year-old son on a railway station platform. Now, in Back to Back, Franck’s second novel to be expertly translated by Anthea Bell, we are still in Franck’s native Germany but with characters that are trapped, unable to escape history and homeland, elude their family or shake off their individual demons.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,