What Darkness Was

Inka Parei

Translated by Katy Derbyshire



5 x 8 inches, 164pp. (HB), 5 x 8 inches, 128 pp. (PB) June 2013 (HB), March 2018(PB)

ISBN : 9780857421036 & 9780857425867

Rs  425.00 (HB)     499.00 (PB)
$21.00 (HB)     19.00 (PB)
£13.50 (HB)     12.99 (PB)

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Close to death, an old man collapses and struggles to his bed. The sounds of the endless night unsettle him, triggering images, questions, and memories. In What Darkness Was, Inka Parei, author of The Shadow-Boxing Woman, allows the reader to inhabit a singular German mind. Precise and observant—but uncomprehending and on the brink of hysteria—the old man wracks his brain as the questions flow like water: why did he inherit the building he now lives in? Why did he leave the city that was his home for so long? Is he even here voluntarily? And who was that suspicious stranger on the stairs? Lying in bed, the old man is aware that these questions may be the last puzzles he ever solves.


Combining tight prose with a compulsive delight in detail, Parei’s second novel in English presents a dynamic portrait of the West German soul from World War II through the German Autumn of 1977.

Inka Parei lives in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, with her son, writing and tutoring emerging literary talents. English translations of her novels The Shadow-Boxing Woman (2010) and What Darkness Was (2013) are also published by Seagull Books. 


Katy Derbyshire co-edits www.no-mans-land.org, an online magazine of contemporary German writing in English, and co-hosts a monthly translation lab in Berlin. She has translated books by Helene Hegemann, Clemens Meyer, Inka Parei (Shadow-Boxing Woman and What Darkness Was for Seagull Books), Simon Urban, Dorothee Elmiger (Invitation to the Bold of Heart for Seagull Books) and Sibylle Lewitscharoff (Apostoloff, forthcoming from Seagull Books).

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