cover image The Walk Home

The Walk Home

Rachel Seiffert. Pantheon, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-307-90881-0

Seiffert, author of the Booker-shortlisted The Dark Room, turns to her former hometown, Glasgow, for this thought-provoking novel. As in her previous works, Seiffert illuminates historical and political issues through harrowing personal dramas. The story opens “now, or thereabouts,” as construction foreman Jozef dreams of finally earning enough money on his current building project to allow him to return to Gdansk, Poland, where he hopes to convince his estranged wife to make another go of their marriage. The Polish workers don’t understand young Glasgow native Stevie’s presence on their work crew, but neither do they question it, especially after he uses his skills as a burglar to retrieve supplies belonging to the crew that a former employer has locked away. A second narrative strand, beginning in the early 1990s and eventually intersecting with the present-day story, reveals Stevie’s troubled upbringing in Glasgow. His parents, Eric and Brenda, both from Irish Protestant backgrounds, fell out over Eric’s involvement with a hardline anti-Catholic group. Throughout, Seiffert questions whether it’s possible to transcend a legacy of conflict without escaping your background altogether, and considers what life feels like when the concept of “home” is far from safe or simple. Agent: Toby Eady, Toby Eady Associates (U.K.). (July)