cover image Berlin


Bea Setton. Penguin, $17 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-14-313762-7

Setton debuts with a moving and rollicking tale of self-delusion. Daphne Ferber, 26, a London-raised Oxford graduate from a wealthy French family, settles into a new life as an expat in Berlin. With no need to work, Daphne structures her life around German classes, endless runs through city parks, and late-night eating binges. While her motives for moving to Berlin are initially unclear, her charming narration gradually becomes more obviously unreliable. Daphne, however, only begins to grasp the big picture when a stone is thrown through the window of her sublet, setting off a chain of increasingly wild and threatening events. In addition to crafting a convincing story of a singular young woman, Setton proves herself a masterful and hilarious chronicler of contemporary life. For example, when Daphne begins internet dating, she categorizes the men she meets into seven groups, including “Readers of The Little Prince,” “Conspiracy Theorists,” and “Men with Sisters.” Well-plotted while still capturing the meandering feeling of Daphne’s unbound life, and with deliciously handled foreshadowing, Setton’s sharp novel of stunted plans is compulsively readable and ultimately devastating. This isn’t one to miss. (May)