A bestseller and booksellers favourite in Germany, Daughters is the story of women in the middle of their lives, of farewells no one can escape and of fathers who vanish too soon
This Autumn sees the launch of V&Q Books, the English language imprint of German publisher Voland & Quist Verlag. The aim of this new imprint is to celebrate translated German works introducing them to the UK and Irish market.
“I am thrilled to be heading up this exciting new imprint, which I hope will help bridge the gap between Europe and the UK. Our books tell stories of complex identities and family relationships, migration, and the impact of world history on individual lives. They are beautifully written, translated and presented, and have a strong sense of place. We plan to bust plenty of myths, including the one about the Germans having no sense of humour.”
– Publisher, Kate Derbyshire
I am delighted to be celebrating this fantastic and exciting launch by being part of the inaugural blog tour by V & Q Books as three new titles are released. These titles include PAULA by Sandra Hoffmann (tr. Katy Derbyshire), JOURNEY THROUGH A TRAGICOMIC CENTURY by Francis Nenik (tr. Katy Derbyshire) and DAUGHTERS by Lucy Fricke (tr. Sinéad Crowe).
I am sharing my thoughts today on the highly entertaining Daughters by Lucy Fricke so I hope you enjoy.
[ About the Book ]
An acclaimed road novel about two women either side of forty, each with difficult dads. When one father asks to be driven to a Swiss euthanasia clinic, it sets off a Europe-wide quest for the other. Running out of antidepressants, clean underwear and patience, the narrator ends up on a Greek island with a new view of her own past.
The book’s exploration of feminism, family, ageing and loss reveals a blackly humorous side rarely associated with German literature.
A book for anyone who’s ever had a father.
[ My Review ]
Daughters by Lucy Fricke was published with V&Q Books August 17th and is seamlessly translated by Sinéad Crowe. It is described as ‘a wildly funny novel…..women-on-the-edge-of-a-nervous breakdown Betty and Martha take us on a madcap journey through Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Greece, as they try to resolve their relationships with their all-too frail and human fathers’ Awarded the Bavarian Book Prize in 2018, Daughters (Töchter) is Lucy Fricke’s fourth novel.
Daughters is the story of two best friends, Betty and Martha as they embark on a road-trip across Europe with a difference. Betty is in Rome when she receives a call from Martha. Martha needs her by her side fast. Martha’s father, Kurt, is terminally ill and as Betty, on her return discovers, he has a plan. Having booked himself into a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland the following week, he asks Martha to drive him there. But Martha is incapable of driving following a car accident that had a traumatic effect on her nerves. She has a big ask for Betty. She wants Betty to be their driver.
‘”A 1996 Volkswagon Golf. Twenty years accident-free”
I turned the key and heard a low croak. We reanimated a corpse, wound down the window and pulled away’
And so begins a journey across Europe, one littered with virtual road-blocks and obstacles. We look closely at the lives of Martha and Betty as they explore and examine their relationships with their fathers and with themselves. With very scintillating conversations and some wonderful dialogue, Lucy Fricke delves deep into the lives of Betty and Martha. Both have father issues and this has had a huge impact on the direction of their lives. Martha and Betty are searching for the respect and love of their fathers. It’s like the final piece of the puzzle that will unlock this constant feeling of being a disappointment.
When translator Sinéad Crowe originally heard Lucy Fricke read from Daughters for the first time she was completely taken aback by the reception that it got. This was German literature that was very funny indeed. She decided to look for a publisher who would consider a translated version and was thrilled when V & Q secured the rights and asked her ‘to do the honours.’ But Sinéad Crowe feared that, in translation, the humour would be lost.
“Humour is widely considered one of the most difficult things to translate. I pictured my translation as a bad stand-up comedian delivering dud one-liners to a heckling audience. Every time I came across another instance of Lucy’s linguistic inventiveness, I gulped.”
The translation is superb. I laughed. I cried. I was completely caught up in the story of Martha and Betty. I am a woman of a certain age so their humour appealed to me completely. These are two women whose lives are falling apart at the seams but the one staple holding them together is their friendship and their unrelenting support for each other. They never make it to the clinic in Switzerland but, instead, they take the reader with them from Switzerland through Italy and into Greece, where the adventures continue.
“We drank like we hadn’t done in years, until we forgot, until we believed we finally understood ourselves again. In Genoa, the fountains glimmered, the streets emptied, and though we couldn’t see the port, we could smell it. We smelled the sea, a mixture of sewage and freedom”
Daughters is a wonderful piece of fiction. it is a very captivating and emotive read about relationships, in particular that special bond of female friendship. Life and death are explored very sensitively with plenty of humour injected throughout offering many laugh-out-loud moments in every chapter. Sinéad Crowley has done an exceptional job in translation, capturing the wit and the sense of longing with ease. Lucy Fricke’s writing is very expressive with Daughters littered with some wonderful dialogue and descriptions throughout. Daughters was a pure joy to read and it was an absolute honour to be invited to be part of this new adventure with V&Q Books.
Now before I sign off I must mention the cover. The design is so very distinctive and extremely striking, with a similar style across all three new releases. I know judging a book by it’s cover is not necessarily the recommended advice but these are most definitely worthy of all the praise! Huge credit to V&Q Books and to the design team at Pingundpong.
[ Bio ]
Lucy Fricke was born in Hamburg in 1974. After working in the film industry for several years, she studied creative writing at the prestigious Leipzig Literary Institute. She has published four novels in the past twelve years, winning her a number of awards including the 2018 Bavarian Book Prize for Daughters. A member of German PEN and a founding member of the Kook artists’ and writers’ network, she has judged both the Friedrich Luft Prize for theatre productions and the Karl Heinz Zillmer Prize for publishers.
She lives in Berlin.
Sinéad Crowe comes from Dublin. After completing a PhD in German theatre at Trinity College Dublin and working for several years as a lecturer in German Studies, she moved to Hamburg, where she began her career as a translator.
She also teaches at the University of Hamburg’s Institute of English and American Studies.