cover image Grime


Sibylle Berg, trans. from the German by Tim Mohr. Griffin, $19.99 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-1-250-79651-6

Swiss German author Berg makes an impressive English language debut with this harrowing dystopian tale, set in a near-future England shortly after the unnamed, newly crowned king resigns the throne, ending the British monarchy. The residents of Rochdale, a “shithole near Manchester,” lead despairing lives rife with financial insecurity and substance abuse. Four local teens—Don, Peter, Karen, and Hannah, all fans of the new music genre Grime—end up as friends despite their disparate backgrounds. The most interesting plot elements concern this budding friend group’s efforts to deal with increasing governmental oppression: the country’s new leaders implement a universal basic income, but that policy begins to erode as how much money one receives from the government becomes tied to how many “social points” citizens accrue. The more social capital one has, the more money one makes, and certain political agitators call for restricting the benefits to the poor or those deemed degenerates. The chaotic and protean nature of Berg’s grim future is conveyed effectively in her clever prose, most notable for the fact that the final sentences of each chapter only end in the beginnings of the following ones. Fans of Orwellian fiction will find this suitably depressing. Agent: Iris Brandt, Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch. (Dec.)