Top 5 books on the detour

Author Catherine Chidgey’s latest novel, Remote Sympathy, takes a detour. Here are some books on this subject

Author Catherine Chidgey’s latest novel, Remote Sympathy, shortlisted for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, addresses domestic drama and the human connection.

Installed in and around a concentration camp in Germany during World War II and its aftermath, he asks us to question our ability to look away.

Here, Chidgey gives us her five best books on this subject.

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Faces in the water by Janet Frame

Through Frame’s luminous prose, it exposes the nightmarish realities of living in a mental hospital in the mid-20th century in New Zealand. Given our enduring ability to ignore the plight of our most vulnerable, it remains painfully topical.


Djinn Patrol on the purple line by Deepa Anappara

This wonderful start is recounted by Jai, a nine-year-old Indian boy who teams up with friends to find a missing classmate in their slum. Based on real events, the research sheds light on the fact that hundreds of children go missing every month in India as authorities and society in general stand idly by.


Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention by Donna Freitas

A flawless account of the writer’s hunt at the hands of his senior school mentor – a homeroom teacher who was also a priest. Most infuriating, perhaps, is that when she finally felt brave enough to talk about it, her college silenced her.


The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H Winthrop

Using a polyphonic structure that runs through nine different narrators, Winthrop achieves a superb wireframe act. Centered on the impending execution of a young black man in Louisiana in 1943, multiple perspectives highlight the apathy and willful blindness of small towns.


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This devastating novel is one that… well, never let me go. Both terrifying and tender, his singular dystopian vision of breathtaking indifference to suffering is only gradually revealed to readers and characters. Unforgettable.

1459_Books Top5

Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey is out now (Europa Books, £ 16.99)

Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey is out now (Europa Books, £ 16.99)

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