Reminiscent of Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn, this is a breakthrough novel from a humane and perceptive writer exploring the traumas that divide families and the love and hope that creates them.

Marina Hirsch is a young professor teaching at Columbia, made famous by a book on the Romani people. In her small academic circle, she is known as ‘the Gypsy scholar’, a chronicler of hermetic communities.

Recently moved into a Harlem brownstone with her psychoanalyst husband, one hot summer day she witnesses a Rwandan refugee woman – Constance – leave her tiny son in the middle of the sidewalk. Scooping the boy up, Marina hurries aer his mother and hands him back. The year is 1997; three years after the Rwandan genocide.

As the summer progresses, the two women form a tentative relationship, but soon Marina’s fierce attachment to the young boy and the dark opacity of Constance’s past threaten to test the boundaries of love, motherhood and power.

Weaving through generations of trauma and displacement with agility and erudition, The Children’s House is a work of extraordinary tenderness told in exquisite prose. At once a novel of ideas and a novel of characters, this majestic tale brings to mind the work of Siri Hustvedt and Colm Toibin, but leaves an indelible mark all its own.

Early Praise

Alice Nelson has written that rare kind of novel that sets off sparks in the mind long after finishing. A book of unwavering intelligence that probes the most haunted parts of the psyche, Nelson circumnavigates trauma without succumbing to the temptation to dispel it. With the ventriloquist flare of Colum McCann and a Jamesian eye for human subterfuge, The Children’s House is an elegant and finely tuned work that hums with condensed life.

Stephanie Bishop, author of The Other Side of the World

Art at its highest. A work of subtle power, it is a brave and original exploration of human complexity and vulnerability; a tale of loss and reparation. Both fierce and tender, it is a story of melancholy beauty.

Leah Kaminsky, author of The Waiting Room