Mariana Leky’s What You Can See From Here, a bestseller in Germany, has only just been translated to English by Tess Lewis, also letting us in on this hidden gem. A novel about superstition, absurdities, loss and love, Leky’s novel is an epic tale that spans the lives of Selma and Luise, and their place within their community.
Mariana Leky was born in Cologne and currently makes her home in Berlin. After training as a bookseller, she studied cultural journalism at the University of Hildesheim. Though she is one of the very few members of her family who are not psychologists, she still writes a monthly column for the magazine Psychologie Heute. Her books have brought acclaim and earned numerous prizes, including the Allegra Prize, the Lower Saxony Literary Advancement Award, and the Advancement Prize for Young Artists from the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
A small village in Western Germany wakes up to an omen: Selma has dreamed of an okapi. This tends to mean that someone is about to die. As you can imagine, the residents of the village are on edge and begin acting strangely (despite protestations that they are not superstitious). Through the eyes and character of Selma’s granddaughter, Luise looks on at how this threat affects the residents and brings secrets to the fore. With the loss of her friend Martin and the relationship she builds with Frederick, we watch from the side-lines as Luise develops into a lovable character, full of warmth and family values.
And when loss becomes even more central to the novel, in a way that was unpredictable, we see a bittersweet portrait of village life and the wider world that beckons beyond. A tale with Luise at the central core, the characters swell with this novel, being a stunning tale of affectionate community. And with a stunning translation of the prose, you will be swept along with the characters, as it’s near impossible not to get embroiled with their dramas and affairs.
What You Can See From Here is out now, published by Bloomsbury