Today’s Winter/Spring 2024 Fiction Preview features Balsam Karam’s The Singularity, translated by Saskia Vogel!
Lyrical and devastating, The Singularity is a breathtaking study of grief, migration, and motherhood from one of Sweden’s most exciting contemporary novelists.
In an unnamed coastal city filled with refugees, the mother of a displaced family calls out her daughter’s name as she wanders the cliffside road where the child once worked. The mother searches and searches until, spent from grief, she throws herself into the sea, leaving her other children behind. Bearing witness to the suicide is another woman—on a business trip, with a swollen belly that later gives birth to a stillborn baby. In the wake of her pain, the second woman remembers other losses—of a language, a country, an identity—when once, her family fled a distant war.
Balsam Karam weaves between both narratives in this formally ambitious novel and offers a fresh approach to language and aesthetic as she decenters a white European gaze. Her English-language debut, The Singularity is a powerful exploration of loss, history, and memory.
“I don’t know anyone who writes like Balsam Karam. She blows me away. Truly one of the most original and extraordinary voices to come out of Scandinavia in…forever. You’ll realize twenty minutes after you’ve finished this book that you’re still sitting there, holding on to it.” —Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove
We’re thrilled to share an introductory video from Balsam Karam!
In addition, we’ve selected an excerpt from the novel to share with you today. The Singularity will be released on January 24, 2024, and is available for pre-order from our online shop or from your local independent bookstore.
The woman searching for her child approaches the restaurant where the Missing One once worked and sits down on a bench opposite, looks around. A few restaurants away you also happen to be sitting, talking to your co-workers about the architecture and the food in the city.
They haven’t quite got tipsy yet and started girl-watching and you have yet to take your walk, to look for another spot along the corniche.
The woman is no longer wearing a head scarf or slippers and doesn’t have it in her to shout hello or come here when she sees a girl heading to the kitchen across the restaurant floor; she offers no reply when a man addresses her from the road and does not look over at the grill kiosks or the harbour.
Of all my children, she is the one I miss the most the woman says out loud and remembers the girl walking here one night with a sack or bag in her hand—of all the people I talk to in my mind, she is the one I want to hear she says and remembers that it was to or from the market that they were going and that they had just sat down to rest when the girl stood right back up and started walking toward the alley.
BALSAM KARAM is of Kurdish ancestry and has lived in Sweden since she was a young child. She is an author and librarian and made her literary debut in 2018 with the critically acclaimed novel, Event Horizon, which was shortlisted for the Katapult Prize and won the Smaland Literature Festival’s Migrant Prize. Her second novel, The Singularity, originally published in Sweden in 2021, was shortlisted for the European Union Prize for Literature, the August Prize, and Svenska Dagbladet’s Literature Prize.
SASKIA VOGEL is the author of the novel Permission and a translator of more than 20 Swedish-language books. Her writing has been awarded the Berlin Senate Endowment for Non-German Literature. Her translations have won the CLMP Firecracker Award for Fiction (Johannes Anyuru’s They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears), have been shortlisted for the PEN Translation Prize (Jessica Schiefauer’s Girls Lost), and supported by grants from the Swedish Arts Council, the Swedish Authors’ Fund, and English PEN. She was Princeton’s Translator in Residence in fall 2022 and lives in Berlin.