Winner of the New Zealand Book Awards Fiction prize
Germany, 1939. Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power. Siggi lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who excises prohibited words (`promise', `love', `mercy'). Erich is an only child living a lush rural life, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions.
Drawn together as Germany's hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theatre amidst the rubble of Berlin. Outside, white bedsheets hang from windows; all over the city people are talking of surrender. The days Siggi and Erich spend together will shape the rest of their lives.
Watching over Siggi and Erich is the wish child, the mysterious narrator of their story. He sees what they see, he feels what they feel, yet his is a voice that comes from deep inside the wreckage of a nation's dream.
Catherine Chidgey was born in 1970. She has degrees in creative writing, psychology and German literature and lived in Berlin for three years. Her debut novel, In a Fishbone Church (`Warm, subtle and evocative' Louis de Bernieres), won the South East Asia and Pacific Region Prize in the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel, a Betty Trask Prize and was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her second novel, Golden Deeds, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, followed by The Transformation (`As beautiful as it is terrifying' Sunday Express) in 2006. Chidgey lives in Ngaruawahia, New Zealand. `Intelligent, lyrical, disciplined and observant, she is the real deal, the star of her generation.' New Zealand Listener `Chidgey is a gifted writer, and her confident, commanding prose and vivid atmospherics hold the attention.' Guardian