Rachel Seiffert is an award-winning British novelist and short story writer.
Publications and Awards
Seiffert has published three works of fiction to date:
Field Study (2004) a collection of short stories, one of which received an award from International PEN.
Afterwards (2007) a novel, long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction the same year.
In 2011, she received the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The citation read: Rachel Seiffert's voice is a quiet, subdued and thoughtful one. It provides a deceptively calm cover for the subject of her books, which is often the cruelty of colonial power and of war and their bitter aftermath. In balancing the two, Seiffert displays an admirable control of her craft.
Her books have been translated into ten languages.
Seiffert's subject is the individual in history: how political and economic upheavals impact on ordinary lives. Her characters have included the 12 year old daughter of an SS officer in 1945, a Polish seasonal worker on a German asparagus farm after the fall of the wall, and a London painter and decorator who killed a civilian as a 19-year old squaddie with the British Army in Northern Ireland.
While the situations her characters experience are often harsh, a common thread in Seiffert's stories is the push and pull of family, the persistence of love, and the poetry of everyday life.
The Dark Room
Ambitious and powerful...Seiffert writes lean, clean prose. Deftly, she hands large ideas on the vivid private experiences of her characters...Poignant - and ultimately optimistic...Engrossing.' New York Times
Exceptionally well controlled, imaginative and compassionate, The Dark Room retells well-known events from a strikingly different point of view. Extraordinary. Sunday Times
Explores the experience of "ordinary" Germans - the descendants of Nazis and Nazi sympathisers - and poses questions about the country's psychological and political inheritance with rare insight and humanity. New Yorker
A bold book, and a remarkable one... The novel gathers momentum like a thriller... Touchingly heartfelt. Sunday Telegraph
A subtle and impressive collection. This book is so good that even a positive review seems inadequate; the fairest thing to say would be "read it". Seiffert is careful, deliberate, impressively honest. Irish Times
Seiffert is a writer of great delicacy and toughness...good story begetting good story after good story. The Guardian
A magnificent collection: striking, moving and deeply thought-provoking. Financial Times
...about invisible borders, the hard-held Irish border, the border between lovers, between generations, between past and present. It is a fine and profound work. Irish Times
A remarkable feat...precise and searing...one of the most intelligent and ethical writers of her generation. Literary Review
Masterful, delightfully controlled prose... This highly engaging novel continues to reveal itself long after it is read. Sunday Telegraph
Elegant...authentic..One of the significant accomplishments of Afterwards is a coiling suspense driven more by psychology than circumstance. New York TImes
- "Seiffert: Important debut". BBC. 19 September 2001. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
- British Council of Contemporary writers Rachel Seiffert
- "Bainbridge fails to make Booker shortlist". London: Daily Telegraph. 18 September 2001. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
- "Society of Authors — Prizes, Grants and Awards". Society of Authors. Retrieved 2009-01-18.[dead link]
- Lorna Bradbury (28 January 2007). "Sympathy for the squaddie". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 31 January 2010.
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