Publishers Weekly: "Hacker's prose, aided by Atkins's pristine translation, soars, particularly in her treatment of city and bourgeois life...she admirably explores modern urban life from the unsettled haves to the desperate have-nots."
Date: Dec 8 2007
Hacker (Morpheus; The Lifeguard) entwines the lives of three unusual households in post-9/11 suburban London. Isabelle and Jakob are 30-something German newlyweds who move to Britain after Jakob takes the job of a colleague killed on 9/11. Jakob is an attorney and Isabelle is an artist and wanderer, and their relationship, built hastily in the aftermath of 9/11 (Jakob was at the Trade Center on September 10 for business, and he met Isabelle the next day back in Germany; his colleague stayed behind in New York), has trouble reaching equilibrium. Next door lives Sara, a young girl with developmental problems who is abused by her parents and finds comfort in her cat, Polly. Meanwhile, Jim, a gruff drug dealer squatting in a house down the block, has taken a fancy to Isabelle, who reminds him of his missing girlfriend. Hacker plumbs the dark psyches of her characters—their capacities for violence, their desires and uncertainties and their guilt and shame—as Sara's home life worsens, eventually involving the neighbors. Hacker's prose, aided by Atkins's pristine translation, soars, particularly in her treatment of city and bourgeois life, and though her characters sometimes act inexplicably, she admirably explores modern urban life from the unsettled haves to the desperate have-nots. (Feb.)