Out on the thin ice of conjecture: Sebald’s perilous example hangs over a debut that mixes history and memoirWhen the unnamed narrator of Hunters in the Snow introduces us to her grandparents’ farm, it is by way of the front porch, which doubled as her historian grandfather’s study. It had a “slate roof on which a ceramic cat stalked a ceramic single-winged bird … I do not know how the bird lost its wing.” The primary themes of Daisy Hildyard’s ambitious debut novel are contained in that whimsical ornament: stalking the truth about the past involves admitting that the past is incomplete, will never fly, and is indeed a made-up thing. And that not knowing is part and parcel of being a historian, hunting out on the thin ice of conjecture.After the death of the narrator’s eccentric grandfather – he believed moving latrines inside was “a backward step for western civilisation” – his granddaughter, deep in her own doctorate, sorts through his papers before the farm is sold: “The whole world, to Jimmy, was a history textbook, and when I was not at home … I was with him, in History, going as far back as I can remember.” The …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books