In The Shadow-Boxing Woman, a novel from German writer Inka Parei, a decaying apartment building in post-Wall Berlin is home to Hell, a young woman with a passion for martial arts. When Hell’s neighbour disappears she sets out across the city in search of her. In the course of her quest, she falls in love with a bank robber, confronts her own dark memories, and ends up saving more than just her missing neighbour. What is on the surface a crime novel is actually a haunting dual portrait of a city and a woman caught up in times of change and transition. This debut novel combines Parei’s tight prose with a compulsive delight in detail that dynamically evokes many lost and overlooked corners of Berlin.
Inka Parei was born in Frankfurt and moved to Berlin in 1987, where she studied German literature and Chinese studies. She now lives in Prenzlauer Berg with her son, writing and tutoring emerging literary talents. She is also the author of Was Dunkelheit war (What was Dark, 2005).
Katy Derbyshire is a Berlin-based translator from London.