Midsummer Night in the Workhouse, by Diana Athill, and The Things We Fear Most, by Gloria Vanderbilt
It is surprising that there are not more well known editors-turned-writers. Toni Morrison is the great one; Diana Athill is another shining example, best known for her lively memoirs, especially Stet: An Editor’s Life. With the exception of a 1967 novella, she appears to have published no fiction except Midsummer Night in the Workhouse, her collection of short stories, written in 1958 and just reissued as a very attractive paperback. Her mastery of the language makes it a very smooth read, but it is far from inspired.
The Emperor of Lies, by Steve Sem-Sandberg, House of Anansi Press
The really terrifying thing, which makes up the woof and warp of this story, is the way that Rumkowski’s abuse of power only differed on the level of scale from the abuses that the residents of the ghetto heaped on each other, prompted by greed, selfishness, hunger, fear, and foolishness. Adults wait around to steal sacks of coal splinters that malnourished children struggle to dig from packed earth in the freezing Polish winter; people turn their neighbours in to the police because it makes them feel important; a man sells his sister into sexual slavery to stave off his own deportation.