Michèle Roberts

Michèle Roberts is the author of twelve highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House, which won the WHSmith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and, most recently, the highly-acclaimed Ignorance, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2013. Her memoir Paper Houses was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud: Stories of Sex and Love. Half-English and half-French, Michèle Roberts lives in London and in the Mayenne, France. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, and a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres.

‘I have chosen five novels I greatly admire that are all set outside Great Britain. Demonstrating the allure, power and grace of international writing, they draw me into new imaginary worlds.’ Michèle Roberts

Sailing to Byzantium

Maureen Freely  

Part meditation on an unconventional childhood in Turkey, part thriller concerning the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis. Mixing poetry and paranoia, this is a gripping story. Wry, touching and unforgettable.

Swallowing Mercury

Wioletta Greg (translated by Eliza Marciniak)

Wiola is a good Catholic child struggling to make sense of growing up in a Poland where two landscapes overlap: contemporary politics and age-old Catholic rituals. Surreal images of ordinary daily life. Lots of quiet humour.

Swimming Home

Deborah Levy  

Levy takes that staple of contemporary fiction, the family summer holiday in southern Europe, and turns it into a coolly comic melodrama. Under the elegant surface of expat life lie troubles and secrets and dangerous lies.

Black Mamba Boy

Nadifa Mohamed  

This beautifully written debut novel charts a child’s journey across Africa. The drama begins in the Yemeni port city of Aden, where 10- year old Jama loses his mother and then begins his epic quest. Grounded, immensely moving, full of compassion.


Albertine Sarrazin (translated by Patsy Southgate)

A bestseller in the 1960s, now reissued, this fierce, passionate novel tells the story of Anne, a young French woman who escapes from prison and then hooks up with motorcyclist Julien, who is also on the run. A life on the edge. A life that crashes through borders.