Swallow Summer

Translated by Lyn Marven


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.


'Just as her stories seem made up of random incidents yoked casually together by place or time, so, too, does their very telling appear contingent, uncertain. It’s as though she has created her own literature of non sequiturs, stops and starts - yet each detail... is rivetingly real and mysterious, mimesis and metaphor both... These quiet, idiosyncratic stories are highly articulate even in their silences.' - Kirsty Gunn, Dundee University Review of the Arts

‘The carefully marshalled gaps in Boehning’s rhythmical prose leave you hungry for more…’ – Dieter Stolz

'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

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Book Details

18 Aug 2016

About the Author

Larissa Boehning

Larissa Boehning was born in Berlin in 1971, lives in Berlin and works as a graphic designer, lecturer and freelance writer.&nbs…
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