Advertisement - Content continues below
Books

Top 5 books about looking the other way

Author Catherine Chidgey’s latest novel, Remote Sympathy, tackles looking the other way. Here are some books about doing just that

Author Catherine Chidgey’s latest novel, Remote Sympathy, shortlisted for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, tackles domestic drama and human connection.

Set in and around a concentration camp in Germany during the second world war and its aftermath, it asks us to question our ability to look the other way.

Here, Chidgey gives us her top five books about doing just that.

Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

Faces in the Water by Janet Frame

Through Frame’s luminous prose, this exposes the nightmarish realities of life in a psychiatric hospital in mid-20th century New Zealand. Given our enduring ability to ignore the distress of our most vulnerable, it remains achingly current.  

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

This wonderful debut is narrated by Jai, a nine-year-old Indian boy who teams up with friends to find a classmate missing from their shanty town neighbourhood. Drawing on real events, the search illuminates the fact that hundreds of children vanish in India every month while authorities and mainstream society stand idly by.

Advertisement - Content continues below
Advertisement - Content continues below

Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention by Donna Freitas

An unflinching account of the writer’s stalking at the hands of her graduate school mentor – a senior professor who was also a priest. Most galling, perhaps, is that when she finally felt courageous enough to speak up about it, her college silenced her.

The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H Winthrop

Using a polyphonic structure that cycles through nine different narrators, Winthrop pulls off a stunning high-wire act. Centred around the looming execution of a young black man in Louisiana in 1943, multiple perspectives throw small-town apathy and wilful blindness into sharp relief.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This devastating novel is one that…well, has never let me go. Both horrifying and tender, its singular dystopian vision of breathtaking indifference to suffering is only gradually revealed to both readers and characters. Unforgettable. 

Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey is out now (Europa Books, £16.99)

Advertisement - Content continues below

Support The Big Issue and our vendors this Christmas

Every time you buy a copy of The Big Issue, subscribe or donate, you are helping our vendors to work their way out of poverty by providing 'a hand up not a hand out.' You’re helping Big Issue vendors achieve their #BigWish

Recommended for you

Read All
Book reviews: The Killing Hills and The Shadows of Men
Book Review

Book reviews: The Killing Hills and The Shadows of Men

Top 5 books about trans lives, chosen by Matt Bates
LGBTQI+

Top 5 books about trans lives, chosen by Matt Bates

My one-man mission to build a school – and keep a promise
Jordan Wylie

My one-man mission to build a school – and keep a promise

Top 5 books for rebel girls, chosen by Vivian French
Top 5 Books

Top 5 books for rebel girls, chosen by Vivian French

Most Popular

Read All
Simon Le Bon: 'I’m very lucky. Solo artists have nobody to tell them they’re being an arsehole'
1.

Simon Le Bon: 'I’m very lucky. Solo artists have nobody to tell them they’re being an arsehole'

The six best things that happened at Stormzy’s Christmas party for the kids of Croydon
2.

The six best things that happened at Stormzy’s Christmas party for the kids of Croydon

The innovative 'nap pads' that could save the lives of homeless people
3.

The innovative 'nap pads' that could save the lives of homeless people

Michael Sheen: 'I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor'
4.

Michael Sheen: 'I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor'

With temperatures dropping and fewer shoppers on the high street, our vendors need you now more than ever. Buy, subscribe or donate.