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Hunger by Elise Blackwell


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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Only 144 pages but they are devastating. I cannot praise this stark, powerful, stunning debut tale enough. It is set in Leningrad in 1941 when the Germans surrounded the city cutting off all supplies. The siege lasted three years killing hundreds of thousands of people. We follow a group of scientists at the Institute of Plant Industry who have pledged to protect their collection of rare seeds and Iâll tell you no more than that. You have to read this.

If you like Elise Blackwell you might also like to read books by Philippe Claudel and Tahar Ben Jelloun.

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Hunger by Elise Blackwell

When German troops surround Leningrad and cut off food supplies in the autumn of 1941, no one imagines that the siege will last almost three years and take hundreds of thousands of lives. As the first 'hungry winter' sets in, the city's residents strip the bark off trees, boil and eat moss-covered stones, and trade priceless antiques for half a loaf of bread - and sex for a chunk of sugar. But the scientists at the Institute of Plant Industry pledge to protect their collection of rare seeds, painstakingly gathered from all over the world, no matter what the human cost. But as the siege continues, the group divides into those who would preserve their principles at the price of starvation, and others who turn to deception - and more sinister measures - to survive.

A powerful, stunningly precise and beautifully written novel about human nature under life's harshest pressures. Reminiscent of Rachel Seiffert's The Dark Room and Bernhard Schlink's The Reader in its brevity, spareness and power, it is a quite remarkable debut.

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About the Author

Elise Blackwell
Elise Blackwell lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and four-year-old daughter Esme.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd June 2004


Elise Blackwell

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