These Are the Names
Tommy Wieringa, Sam Garrett
A border town on the steppe. A small group of emaciated and feral refugees appears out of nowhere, spreading fear and panic in the town. When police commissioner Pontus Beg orders their arrest, evidence of a murder is found in their luggage. As he begins to unravel the history of their hellish journey, it becomes increasingly intertwined with the search for his own origins that he has embarked upon. Now he becomes the group’s inquisitor … and, finally, something like their saviour.
Beg’s likeability as a character and his dry-eyed musings considering the nature of religion keep the reader pinned to the page from the start. At the same time, the apocalyptic atmosphere of the group’s exodus across the steppes becomes increasingly vivid and laden with meaning as the novel proceeds, in seeming synchronicity with the development of Beg’s character.
With a rare blend of humour and wisdom, Tommy Wieringa links man’s dark nature with the question of who we are and whether redemption is possible.
'This is an important and profoundly felt book about displacement and migration, but it is also fast-paced, often humorous and full of lyric power. The prose is snappy and contemporary, but Wieringa's themes are timeless ones.' -- Patrick McGuinness 'Structurally sound and highly intelligent. Wieringa will make you think and keep you reading eagerly to the final page.' -- Claire Lowdon Times Literary Supplement 'Tommy Wieringa can do poetry ... but that's not what makes this book such a bewitching delight. What Wieringa does best is people; with a few cherry-picked words he creates a townful of wholly believable, empathetic characters, each subtly leaking their own past, so that within a few pages the reader is surrounded by voices, in turns funny, bitter, hopeful, melancholy, gleefully mercenary and tenderly benign ... I can't recommend this profound, thoughtful, truthful book enough.' -- Jane Graham Big Issue 'Poetic, ambitious ... The pricelessness of our common humanity is one of numerous heavyweight ideas Wieringa balances carefully on his novel's laden back ... Short, freighted words and sentences carry the novel's ambiguous, questing symbolism.' -- Phoebe Taplin Guardian 'Superb ... Within pages it becomes clear that this is a rare novel possessed with a sense of place and a purpose. In ways a parable about displacement, encompassing the emotional, the spiritual and the psychological, it has cohesion and urgency, balancing the ordinary with the extreme horrors of a news bulletin. Sam Garrett's fluid translation not only renders the exchanges into authentic dialogue but also conveys the natural rhythms of Wieringa's descriptive prose, as well as the internal tone shifts ... This is a bravura performance. Far closer to Joseph Conrad than one might expect, it makes a case for the saving power of small continuities.' -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times 'Quietly compelling ... Simply but intriguingly told.' -- Lesley McDowell Sunday Herald 'This is a landmark novel which, alongside intelligence, discipline and originality, also shows Wieringa's lust for perfection.' de Volkskrant 'Wieringa leaves no doubt as to what it is about - what people believe. Everything revolves around the meaning they give to events. An unusually clever novel.' NRC Handelsblad 'These Are the Names unfolds gently ... The characterisation is superb but not at the expense of the plot.' ***** -- Guy Pringle Newbooks 'A haunting page-turner.' The Weekend West 'Astonishing ... Original, dark and quite unlike anything else I have read ... It speaks to the mood of our time ... Fascinating and superbly told.' Jewish Chronicle 'Wieringa is really plumbing the existential depths of such questions as: Where does our sense of justice come from? And how do religions begin? ... its tone is like a combination of the Old Testament and Kafka.' -- Nicholas Reid Sunday Star Times 'Wieringa interweaves the migrants' horror stories with Beg's philosophising, letting readers make their own links. There is humour in Beg's conversations with his Yoda-like Rabbi; there is sadness in the youngest of the group's boyish pining for home; and there is hope in Beg's redemption and that of his new young friend.' -- Kathryn Powley Hobart Mercury 'Wieringa packs a great deal into this strange, sometimes funny, often horrifying fable.' -- Andrew Riemer Sydney Morning Herald 'The drifters are, to the people of Michailopol, ghosts from the past. Starved, emaciated, they are Europe's repressed vision of the Jews who were once in their midst. Through Beg's search for his own possible Judaism, Wieringa makes explicit the parallel between the story of these all too familiar contemporary migrants and that of the Exodus and deliverance of the Jews from Egypt ... Wieringa lays bare the fact that the lives of people are materially transformed by the stories they tell about themselves' -- David Sornig Adelaide Review 'An unsettling book, at once grounded in a fearful reality but at the same time dream-like.' Crime Review
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?