In brief: The Fire; Taking Flight; All the Lovers in the Night – review

Two novels in translation: a powerful portrayal of a failing marriage and a sensitive study of loneliness – plus a fact-packed natural history of flight

The Fire

Daniela Krien (translated by Jamie Bulloch)
MacLehose Press, £16.99, pp192

Krien’s latest novel is a quietly devastating portrayal of a marriage in decline. When their original holiday plans fall through, psychotherapist Rahel and husband Peter head to an isolated farm where Rahel spent childhood holidays. She is mourning the loss of intimacy with Peter while dealing with an entitled adult daughter and suspicions about her own past. Krien beautifully conveys Rahel’s sense of impotent frustration, familial tensions and the thwarted desires of middle age.

Taking Flight: The Evolutionary Story of Life on the Wing

Lev Parikian
Elliott & Thompson, £16.99, pp256

The fossil record, Parikian informs us in the opening chapter of his latest work, is like watching a film in which only a quarter of a second of action can be seen every eight minutes. He brings a sense of infectious enthusiasm to his account of the evolution of flight in the natural world, from mayflies and bees to bats and hummingbirds by way of pterosaurs and archaeopteryx, combining a wealth of information with a sense of wonder.

All the Lovers in the Night

Mieko Kawakami (translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd)
Picador, £9.99, pp224 (paperback)

Thirty-four-year-old Fuyuko Irie is a lonely freelance proofreader. In an attempt to combat her solitary lifestyle, she attends a local cultural centre where she meets an older man, Mitsutsuka, with whom she bonds over discussions about theoretical physics. Through this relationship, and those with an eclectic array of women, Fuyoka gradually finds contentment. Kawakami’s novel is a sensitive analysis of loneliness and self-discovery.

• To order The Fire, Taking Flight or All the Lovers in the Night go to Delivery charges may apply


Hannah Beckerman

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