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 best of all – right on their doorstep – are some of the finest craftsmen from all over Europe. Frau Hahn and the other officers’ wives living in this small community can order anything they desire, whether new curtains made from the finest French silks, or furniture designed to the most exacting specifications. Life here in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic.
Lying just beyond the forest that surrounds them – so close and yet so remote – is the looming presence of a work camp. Frau Hahn’s husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn, is to take up a powerful new position as the camp’s administrator.
As the prison population begins to rise, the job becomes ever more consuming. Corruption is rife at every level, the supplies are inadequate, and the sewerage system is under increasing strain.
When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely and poignant alliance 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: the Sympathetic Vitaliser. At the time he believed that its subtle resonances might cure cancer. But does it really work? One way or another, it might yet save a life.
A tour de force about the evils of obliviousness, Remote Sympathy compels us to question our continuing and willful ability to look the other way in a world that is once more in thrall to the idea that everything – even facts, truth and morals – is relative.
“Chidgey is a gifted writer, and in this, her confident, commanding prose and vivid atmospherics hold the attention.”—The Guardian (on The Transformation)
“A story out of Edgar Allan Poe, with the requisite revelations about human nature, obsession, and sexuality.”—Miami Herald (on The Transformation)
“Chidgey experiments with and opens up new structural territory for what contemporary fiction might be. Readers should be prepared to be challenged; equally, they should be prepared to be thrilled.”—New Zealand Herald (on The Beat of the Pendulum)
“A remarkable book with a stunningly original twist.”—The Times (on The Wish Child)
Catherine Chidgey’s novels have been published to international acclaim. Her first, In a Fishbone Church, 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 Book Review and a Best Book in the LA Times Book Review. She has a degree in German literature and lived in Berlin during the 1990s. She now lives in Ngâruawâhia, New Zealand, and lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Waikato.