Swallow Summer

Format: Paperback
Book type: Short Story Collection
ISBN-13: 9781905583447
Published: 18 Aug 2016


RRP: £9.99

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Two music producers pack up their studio – along with their dreams of ever making it in the industry – after too many bands fail to pay their bills…

A woman takes up an invitation to visit an ex-lover in Arizona, only to find his apartment is no bigger than a motel room…

A former drama student runs into an old classmate from ten years before, hardly recognising the timid creature he’s become…

Each character in Larissa Boehning’s debut collection experiences a moment where they’re forced to confront how differently things turned out, how quickly ambitions were shelved, or how easily people change. Former colleagues meet up to reminisce about the failed agency they used to work for; brothers-in-law find themselves co-habiting long after the one person they had in common passed away; fellow performers watch as their careers slowly drift in opposite directions. Boehning’s stories offer a rich store of metaphors for this abandonment: the downed tools of a deserted East German factory, lying exactly where they were dropped the day Communism fell; the old, collected cameras of a late father that seem to stare, wide-eyed, at the world he left behind. And yet, underpinning this abandonment, there is also great resilience. Like the cat spotted by a demolition worker in the penultimate story that sits, unflinching, as its home is bulldozed around it, certain spirits abide.


'As a debut collection, Swallow Summer is impressive.' - European Lit Network

'Larissa Boehning’s debut collection Schwalbensommer is as short as it is rich in life experience... Marven strikes a fine balance between keeping the “Germanness” of Swallow Summer and teasing out the universal appeal of the stories... ' - Glasgow Review Of Books

'The narrative tension does not happen in the surface, from the events related in the main plot, but lies just behind those events, in the cold undercurrent.' - The Blank Garden

'A vindication, if ever one were needed, of the short story form. Beautifully crafted and presented, utterly strange and utterly believable, Boehning’s tales (in Lyn Marven’s English rendition) are notes for our time written as from a rich variety of different hands. Poignant, perfectly-pitched stories of life on the ragged fringes of today’s Germany, their elegiac wistfulness well caught in the graceful and tender translation. The opening paragraph of ‘Something for Nothing’ is about migrating swallows, and serves to illustrate Boehning’s technique that is both detailed description and metaphorical: "You could follow the swallows’ path along the dyke when they went south. They always flew over the land, never over the sea. When they went, you knew that autumn was coming. They take the light with them, someone once said. When they are gone, it gets dark."' - Judges' statement from the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation