Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew

This heartbreaking Russia-set tale deals with the aftermath of a terrorist attack in which the 18-year-old narrator, Darya, loses her young sister Nika. After the tragedy, the family ruptures: her father retreats into himself, while younger brothers Igor and Boris become obsessed with violence, revenge and surveillance. Only Anna, Darya’s vague, sickly, housebound mother seems barely changed.

Darya escapes to Moscow, where she soon encounters some sinister types, and eventually realises that running away is no cure for grief. Filled with references to Russian literature, culture and folklore, Mother’s Tongue is an evocative and troubling read, with a thought-provoking afterword about Mayhew’s scruples in tackling a subject as tragic as Beslan in fiction.

Mother Tongue, by Julie Mayhew, Hot Key, RRP£7.99, 304 pages

Get alerts on Life & Arts when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article