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The Singularity is a true original. A story of migration, loss, and belonging, Balsam Karam uses stylish language to explore past and present, and how grief connects us. Saskia Vogel’s translation is masterful as always.
A sense of longing lies at the heart of this book. We see a mother searching for her lost daughter in an unfamiliar coastal town. She lives with her family, displaced on the fringes of an inhospitable society, surviving one day at a time in their new environment.
Meanwhile, a pregnant woman on a business trip bares witness to the crescendo of the mother’s pain, which brings about her own irreconcilable loss.
Why we love it
Reading The Singularity makes it impossible not to empathise with the migrant experience. At a time when information overload makes it difficult to capture any nuance at all, and people’s lives are reduced to statistics, this book feels important as it does timely.
In an unnamed coastal city home to many refugees, a mother of a displaced family searches for her child, calling her name as she wanders along the cliffside road where her daughter used to work. She searches and searches until, devoid of hope and...
In an unnamed coastal city home to many refugees, a mother of a displaced family searches for her child, calling her name as she wanders along the cliffside road where her daughter used to work. She searches and searches until, devoid of hope and frantic with grief, she throws herself into the sea, leaving her other children behind. Bearing witness to this suicide is another woman – on a business trip from a distant country, with a swollen belly that later gives birth to a stillborn baby. In the wake of her pain, the second woman remembers her own litany of losses – of a language, a country, an identity – when once her family fled a distant war. Weaving between both narratives and written in looping prose rich with meaning, The Singularity is an astounding study of grief, migration and motherhood from one of Sweden’s most exciting new writers.
Balsam Karam (b. 1983) is of Kurdish ancestry and has lived in Sweden since she was a young child. She is an author, librarian and university lecturer, and made her literary debut in 2018 with the critically acclaimed Event Horizon, which was shortlisted for the Katapult Prize. The Singularity was shortlisted for the August Prize and is her first English-language publication.
Fitzcarraldo Editions is an independent publisher specialising in contemporary fiction and long-form essays. Founded in 2014, it focuses on ambitious, imaginative and innovative writing, both in translation and in the English language.