From the blurb
…explores the echoes of human conflict in a series of powerful stories inspired by life with the author’s own father, who fought and was decorated in WWII, but suffered the after-effects for the rest of his life.
Conflict is often explored from the child’s perspective and ranges from conventional warfare to historical religious persecution. War veterans are haunted by events that echo louder and louder, and eventually break them. A prisoner sees the violent execution of a friend and mentor, a boy hides from a necklacing, a young student escapes the fighting in Iraq in the hope of continuing his education in the West and a woman tells what she knows of her parents’ torture.
The people in these stories are not those who go down in history, but ordinary troops, the powerless, caught up involuntarily. All are tested, sometimes to breaking point, in this extraordinary collection as Gebbie explores the surreality of conflict and the after-effects of atrocity.
Under the Midnight Sun
“There are many stories that stayed with me. Since I have been through war, I can relate and quite appreciate the way Gebbie treats war. I have particular love for sappers (ever since I read The English Patient), and like Gebbie’s treatment of that bizarre profession (I think her father was a sapper).
There is one story that stands out for me, “Letters from Kilburn”, which has an epistolary form, and consists of the letters exchanged between an Iraqi boy Karim Hussein and Her Majesty’s Deputy Secretary. Karim writes to the Queen to ask for help and after a few standard answers, suddenly we discover a human being, a person behind the “function.” I will not reveal much more, but want to stress that for someone who has written fiction myself, this story is a masterclass in this kind of voice. Stories that use this form to make a certain point are most often than not preachy, un-engaging, stiff, formulaic, you get the point. “Letters from Kilburn” gets under my skin.
I cannot recommend Gebbie enough.” Adnan Mahmutovic
Essential Writers’ Review
“The tales bear an uncommon poignancy, subtly altering your perceptions of the world around you. It’s an uncanny power, but a welcome one.”
“With this volume, small but perfectly-formed, both Gebbie and Salt Publishing cement their reputations for producing quality short fiction that demands to be read.”
“Powerful…technically adept…hard-hitting…authoritative…rich and deeply moving.”
Moving and original
“21 stories of power and great psychological insight. They range widely in terms of location, historical period, conflicts global and national, and domestic tragedy – but all focus movingly on those living the effects of past trauma. An event or moment that defines the very different and damaged person they’ve become. The writing is deceptively simple and concise, not a word wasted, and packed with telling imagery and analogies.” Brenda R
an evocative and beautiful study of war
“These stories are beautifully written in a sometimes sparse, but always poetic prose. To use the stock phrase ‘no word is wasted’. The stories are concerned with the impact of war and conflict and address this from a myriad viewpoints and the author shows a deep empathy and understanding of the psychology of her characters. There are no easy answers, there is no black and white, many of the characters here exist in the grey. A word of warning though: not to be consumed whole! I found the evocative and sometimes disturbing images to be suited to a slower approach, reading one or two, mulling over and then returning again later.” miss mason