The Little Red Chairs
Allen & Unwin
Faber & Faber
The much-anticipated new novel from the literary world’s master of storytelling, Edna O’Brien.
A woman discovers that the foreigner she thinks will redeem her life is a notorious war criminal.
Vlad, a stranger from Eastern Europe masquerading as a healer, settles in a small Irish village where the locals fall under his spell. One woman, Fidelma McBride, becomes so enamored that she begs him for a child. All that world is shattered when Vlad is arrested, and his identity as a war criminal is revealed.
Fidelma, disgraced, flees to England and seeks work among the other migrants displaced by wars and persecution. But it is not until she confronts him-her nemesis-at the tribunal in The Hague, that her physical and emotional journey reaches its breathtaking climax.
THE LITTLE RED CHAIRS is a book about love, and the endless search for it. It is also a book about mankind’s fascination with evil, and how long, how crooked, is the road towards Home
On the menu tonight; contemporary fiction deconstructed! What an interesting way to present a story! There are multiple points of views – the roll call includes the voices of individual characters and of the disenfranchised, the victims and survivors of many acts of atrocities in many regions and finally we hear the true voice of the perpetrator when being held to account for his actions.
The pace is erratic – unsettling but eventually compelling. Violence, love and compassion share the pages. This is not an easy read, this is a necessary read.
This is a very powerful and moving story of manipulation – it is human nature to expect the best of someone and to trust – Dr Vlad is artful in his ability to say what “you want to hear” and is thus easily accepted into his new community, his true nature bubbles under the surface of his deceit.
Edna O’Brien portrays Fidelma’s desire for a child and lover is heartbreaking and so sad. Her downfall is diabolical and so horrendous, her recovery, slow and painful.
This narrative pricks at our conscience and in particular serves to remind us of the notorious siege of Sarajevo where 11,541 innocent were slaughtered in the name of war and ethnic cleansing. This is but one atrocity, a recount of one incident, confined to one time and place but serves to remind us of the global evil that thrives in our world today. Our conscience needs pricking, our compassion needs this reminder, thank you Edna O’Brien.
Foreword: “On the 6th of April 2012, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the start of the siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces, 11,541 red chairs were laid out in rows along the eight hundred metres of the Sarajevo high street. One empty chair for every Sarajaven killed during the 1,425 days of siege. Six hundred and forty-three small chairs represented the children killed by snipers and heavy artillery fired from the surrounding mountains.