The Year Of The Drought by Roland Buti (Old Street, £10.99)

Sunday Herald Life - - BOOKS REVIEWS -

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.

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