The Year Of The Drought by Roland Buti (Old Street, £10.99)
The summer of 1976 is well remembered here as a scorcher, but for Swiss farming family the Sutters it’s ruinous. Their crops are failing in the parched soil, the chickens on which they depend are dying in their hundreds, despite their expensive air-conditioned barn, and their old horse seems to have decided it just wants to find a nice tree to die beside. When Mrs Sutter invites her friend, the glamorous, hippyish Cécile, to come and stay with them, 13-year-old Auguste feels a twinge of longing, but his realisation of the true nature of his mother’s relationship with Cécile stirs up a much more complex mixture of emotions. On some level, the whole family, even the animals, can sense that this meteorological catastrophe heralds the end of their way of life. Having won multiple awards in Switzerland, this powerful coming-of-age novel about a boy watching his family implode now appears in an eloquent and poetic English translation.