You’ve been working on this book for five years. Presumably, then, you’ve bored several hundred people at holidays and cocktail parties, talking about your novel that’s “almost” done.

Czeslaw Milosz once said that when a writer is born into a family, the family is finished. The same could be said of writers and parties.


Motherland_FINALHannesburg, December 1944


When Liesl heard the noise from the cellar, her hand shook and the coffee spilled. The liquid spread in claws across the counter, its color neither brown nor red nor black, but some combination of all three, earthen and old. A hopeless feeling rose in her chest. She had discovered the grounds deep in the pantry yesterday, tucked behind a post, in a tiny tin next to a tiny pot of jam, both labeled in the first wife’s hand. It was surely the last real coffee in all of Hannesburg, boiled with the last of the morning coal, the sharp selfish heaven of its scent rising toward her face. Then it splashed everywhere.