Paperback

Published: Lightning Books (January 2021)

ISBN: 9781785632174

All the Beautiful Liars

Sylvia Petter

£8.99

SHORTLISTED: Yeovil Prize

‘A stylistically daring, hurricane-paced and genuinely impressive feat of the imagination’ – Billy O’Callaghan

As a child in Australia in the Fifties, Katrina Klain is taunted in the playground as a Nazi, long before she knows what the word means. Her German mother and her Austrian father seem to be ordinary people who simply ended up on the wrong side of history, but Katrina yearns to know more about her origins.

Leaving the New World behind as soon as she can, she heads to Vienna, where she imagines her Germanic name will no longer be a burden, armed with what turns out to be an inexhaustible list of questions. Is the sleazy uncle exiled to Spain a crook or a hero of the anti-Nazi resistance? Why does her father insist his brother is dead? And is her cousin in East Germany really a Stasi agent?

Decades later, during a long flight back to Australia, Katrina attempts to reassemble the pieces of the puzzle she has spent so long researching. In her dream-like version of an in-flight movie, a mysterious other-worldly guide seems to know – and have control over – her own future.

Told in a thrillingly inventive narrative style, Sylvia Petter’s debut novel is a powerful, pacy tale about making peace with the past, which also paints a richly evocative picture of Central Europe in the early decades after the war.


OUT JANUARY 2021. AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW

Extracts

A 20-hour voyage to the other side of the world to bury the last remaining member of your family can play havoc with the mind. Sleep dreams are shaken by film snips and time-travelling memory blasts of sometimes wishful thinking... and you might even find yourself becoming a ‘person of interest’ in the Panopticon of a lonesome tabloid hack.

The journey is long and so, in your mind, you write, write, write; you must complete and deliver your story if it is to be read, and if you are to escape from that Panopticon to pursue your quest on landing. For how do you know where you're going if you don't know where you're coming from?

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Extracts

Dear Editor, and, I hope, dear Reader,

A 20-hour voyage to the other side of the world to bury the last remaining member of your family can play havoc with the mind. Sleep dreams are shaken by film snips and time-travelling memory blasts of sometimes wishful thinking... and you might even find yourself becoming a ‘person of interest’ in the Panopticon of a lonesome tabloid hack.

The journey is long and so, in your mind, you write, write, write; you must complete and deliver your story if it is to be read, and if you are to escape from that Panopticon to pursue your quest on landing. For how do you know where you're going if you don't know where you're coming from?


You may also find that the telephone that rings three times has changed from a tolling bell into a new chance, and that your inflight experience has prepared you for facing the reality that will confront you on arrival.

Forgive me if I include you in my adventure; it is, after all, a fictional memoir, where silence recounts ‘true’ stories as fictions, and truths can finally be told.

So if your interest is piqued, do take my hand and enter with me the Panopticon of All the Beautiful Liars, where we shall transform the last chance into a new reality.

Sincerely,
Katrina Klain

quotes

‘Straddling the line between memoir and fiction, All The Beautiful Liars is a stylistically daring, hurricane-paced and genuinely impressive feat of the imagination. Sylvia Petter not only displays a rare mastery of characterisation but tells a gripping story. On a sentence level alone, this book is a joy, but what elevates it to rarefied levels is the magnitude of its courage. The result is a novel full of heart that should earn its author a wide and enthusiastic readership’

Billy O’Callaghan

‘A mosaic primarily made of a family memoir, with its mesh of relationships, past and present, the unravelling of decades-old secrets from a Europe that includes Nazi Germany, paced like a thriller, and an engaging evocation of the nuances of reaching adulthood. The melding of these diverse elements ensures a compelling read’

Meg Stewart

‘Explores truth and memory with a compelling subtlety’

Jason Goodwin

‘Sylvia Petter’s language is the star. The prose is stunning, rhythmic and visceral’

Ivy Ngeow

‘A fascinating read that combines a personal search for identity against historical events. Captures the feeling of Australia, Austria and Switzerland throughout the second half of the 20th century’

D-L Nelson

reviews

‘A stunningly unusual novel, and the opening left me wondering, captivated, and desperate for more. A novel to check out’

Radzy Reviews

‘A well written, intriguing story that reads like an actual memoir which I thought very clever. I didn’t want to put it down’

Over the Rainbow

‘I absolutely loved this book. It reaches into the past in an indelible way, blending facts and fiction so skilfully that the reader becomes engrossed’

Lock and Load Brides of Christ

‘Fabulous – a book I highly recommend’

Nurse Bookie

‘A rollercoaster... so many twists and turns. I recommend it to everyone’

Jess Bookish Life

‘An absorbing, addictive ancestry... As each player in the life drama tells their side of the story, the atmosphere, characters and events of the time come to life’

Jane Hunt

'I flew through the pages. I started and finished the book in an afternoon’

Donna’s Book Blog

‘An introspective read about family, secrets and how sometimes digging up the past brings uncomfortable truths with it’

Cheryl M-M’s Book Blog

‘The mystery starts to unravel past the halfway mark, and since that point I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. I am so glad I got to read this book’

Satabdi

‘This book was intense, emotional, and definitely had me along for the ride’

Sometimes Leelynn Reads

extras

Read a Q&A with Sylvia Petter about the relationship between fact and fiction in All the Beautiful Liars.

Sylvia discusses the joys of publishing a debut novel at the age of 70.

ABOUT

Sylvia Petter

Sylvia Petter was born in Vienna but grew up in Australia, which makes her Austr(al)ian.

She started writing fiction in 1993 and has published three story collections, The Past Present, Back Burning and Mercury Blobs. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of New South Wales.

After living for 25 years in the Geneva area, where she was a founding member of the Geneva Writers’ Group, she now lives in Vienna once more.

Read more at sylviapetter.com.

selected works

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