A novel of devastating beauty set in Buchenwald during the Second World War.
“Moving and unusual . . . Catherine Chidgey’s novel is a fine achievement.”—The Sunday Times
“Immersive, profound, and beautifully plotted.”—The Guardian
“One of the most original, brave and profound explorations of the darkest recesses of the human heart I have ever read.”—Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind
Moving away from their lovely apartment in Munich isn’t nearly as wrenching an experience for Frau Greta Hahn as she had feared. Their new home is even lovelier than the one they left behind and life in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic. Lying just beyond the forest that surrounds them is the looming presence of a work camp. Frau Hahn’s husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn, has been assigned as the camp’s administrator.
When Frau Hahn’s poor health leads her into an unlikely and poignant friendship with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, her naïve ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged. A decade earlier, Dr Weber had invented a machine believed that its subtle resonances might cure cancer. But does it really work? One way or another, it might save a life.
A tour de force about the evils of obliviousness, Remote Sympathy compels us to question our continuing and wilful ability to look the other way in a world that is in thrall to the idea that everything–even facts and morals–is relative.
Catherine Chidgey’s novels have been published to international acclaim. Her first, In a Fishbone Church, won Best First Book at the NZ Book Awards and at the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (South East Asia and South Pacific). In the UK it won the Betty Trask Award and was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her second, Golden Deeds, was a Notable Book of the Year in the New York Times and a Best Book in the LA Times. Catherine has won the Prize in Modern Letters, the Katherine Mansfield Award, the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship and the Janet Frame Fiction Prize. She lives in Ngāruawāhia, NZ, and lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Waikato. Her novel Remote Sympathy was shortlisted for the DUBLIN Literary Award and longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her novels The Wish Child and The Axeman’s Carnival both won the Acorn Prize for Fiction, NZ's most prestigious literary award.