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.

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