Where to Find Me
By Alba Arikha
Hannah Karalis, a teenager living with her family in 1980s Notting Hill, becomes fascinated by her neighbour, Flora Dobbs, an enigmatic elderly woman who has clearly had an interesting past – but the improbable friendship that the two strike up is abruptly cut short by Flora’s sudden departure from the neighbourhood. Nineteen years later, Hannah is astonished to receive a bequest from Flora, a black notebook, which sets her on a search for the truth, leading her to confront the ghosts of an unresolved past.
Transporting the reader from occupied Paris and British Mandate Palestine to contemporary London, Where to Find Me is a gripping and poignant tale of chance encounters, tangled lies and painful discoveries, as well as an inspiring account of how to face and overcome the effects of loss and tragedy in our daily lives.
Evelyn Waugh admiringly observed that Christopher Isherwood never struggled to avoid a cliché because a cliché would never occur to him in the first place, a compliment that can be applied to Arikha’s precise, economical prose… this is an ambitious and satisfying novel.
Alba Arikha’s Where to Find Me is a short novel that feels longer in the best kind of way. Its rich and knotty plot goes from Nazi-occupied Paris, to post-war Palestine, and contemporary London, and picks apart the legacy of war, persecution, and revenge. Arikha is shaping up to be a major writer, if she isn’t one already.
Richly drawn characters, gorgeous language
Alba Arikha is a haunting and lyrical writer, whose acclaimed memoirs have recently inspired an opera. Her latest novel explores the relationship between a teenager, Hannah Karalis, and her elderly neighbour, Flora Dobbs, and the journey into a mysterious past inspired by that bond. Highly recommended.
Elegant in style, complex and circular in construction, the story of a Jewish survivor in occupied France and her unlikely friendship with a London teenager. Two worlds, two eras: an evocative and subtle novel.
Aching and luminous
One hopes, one hunts, for a book that resembles nothing one has read before. Alba Arikha’s Soon is not only a true original, it’s beautiful, moving, and, yes, profound. Which makes it a rare creature indeed.
A beautiful, haunting novel that goes to the heart of questions of identity and belonging.
It’s a powerful and highly emotional story that features more twists and turns than readers might initially expect.
Alba Arikha is the author of four books: Muse and Walking on Ice, published by Macmillan in 1998 and 2000. Her memoir, Major/Minor, about her adolescence in Paris, was published by Quartet Books, shortlisted for the Spear’s Award and selected among the best books of 2012 by The New Yorker . Her last book, a narrative poem, Soon, was set to music and performed as an opera at the Riverside Studios, London. In addition to her books, Alba is also a singer-songwriter, has performed in London and Paris and recorded two CDs.