A Novel

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Pub Date 27 Dec 2022 | Archive Date 10 Jan 2023
St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Griffin

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The first English translation of celebrated Swiss-German novelist Sibylle Berg, Grime is a manifesto for fury, escape, and individual revolt…

Rochdale is a town in the deindustrialized northwest of near-future England; a town devoid of hope, where poverty and abuse are part of daily life, and kids are forced to grow up too quickly. Four local teenagers—the angry, martial-arts-obsessed Don(atella); Peter, the traumatized Polish boy; Karen, the technocratic girl with albinism; and Hannah, the orphan from Liverpool—don’t have much to bind them together. But they share a hatred for their lived reality, a love of grime—the subset of hip hop that has replaced punk as the music of the angry and dispossessed—and a determination to seek revenge on those they hold responsible for their misery. They create a hit list, and travel to London to make their own justice in an unjust world.

Sibylle Berg’s Grime is set in an age of massive disruption. The people of Britain are celebrating the introduction of a universal basic income, too dulled or distracted to realize that it is disguising the demolition of the welfare state and the death throes of liberal society. An avatar is elected prime minister, then an actor. Most citizens agree to be implanted with a chip that enrolls them in a “karma point system” that punishes anyone who deviates from the norm.

In London, the teenagers will encounter degenerate conservatives, conspiracy theorists, programmers vacillating between megalomania and impotence, cynical secret agents, Chinese power brokers, algorithms that have developed a life of their own, and multitudes of losers who spend their days reliving their own pathetic pasts by means of virtual reality. But what started out as a hit squad becomes a makeshift family as they attempt, with limited success, to create a home for themselves in an abandoned factory on the city’s outskirts. Will they see their plans through to the bloody end, or will they find something better to live for in the rubble?

The first English translation of celebrated Swiss-German novelist Sibylle Berg, Grime is a manifesto for fury, escape, and individual revolt…

Rochdale is a town in the deindustrialized northwest of...

Advance Praise

“Sibylle Berg shows us the perversions, injustices, and crimes of contemporary Europe. And she tells us about these things in an apparently detached, distilled, never moralizing manner, with her supremely confident rhythmic language, but which, despite this, is never without sympathy…[Grime], free of any sense of mawkishness, doesn't describe the spiral of a world becoming more and more horrific, it describes getting used to the things that used to make you angry not long ago. The anger that dissipates or becomes commercialized – or both.”

—Julia Encke, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

“Watch out, this book bites…mercilessly, ruthlessly, and for long stretches magnificently, over 640 pages of rage and icepick-sharp social commentary… [Grime] functions as an apocalyptic ride through the contemporary world into the future. Berg, a seasoned columnist, presents a series of horror scenes that grasp the new developments and abominations emerging from the media, in fashion, and the sciences.”

—Christine Richard, Tagesanzeiger

“Sibylle Berg shows us the perversions, injustices, and crimes of contemporary Europe. And she tells us about these things in an apparently detached, distilled, never moralizing manner, with her...

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ISBN 9781250796516
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Average rating from 13 members

Featured Reviews

Beyond amazing! This book was an incredible read and I can't recommend it enough. This is a book you'll want on your shelf and to give as a gift. Everyone needs to read it.

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A very unusual gritty book!
Grime is based in a future England in a dying industrial part of the north. 4 kids, Donatella, Peter, Karen and Hannah hate their hometown of Rochdale but find common ground in their love of Grime - a type of music that is close to punk in that it represents the alienated,angry and fringes of society. When Britain adopts a new economic system that further expands the gulf between the haves and have not and an avatar is elected PM, the four teens pledge to journey to London to find justice. As they build a new life together they have to decide how far they want to take their pledge.

Sibylle Berg has created an ironic, chaotic and scary look at the near future in Grime. It's a testament to society at large and a warning for us all. If you like grunge and gritty, dystopian fiction or just want to read a new perspective on society, Grime is the book for you! #STMartingsPress

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Thanks to the publisher for an early copy. This was gritty and dystopian and incredibly satisfying. A pleasure to read!

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This isn’t what I was expecting but I’m glad I read it. This is a real down and dirty, yet futuristic read and I would recommend.

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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this science fiction novel that is almost too accurate about the future we find ourselves racing into.

The future was once so bright that we were going to have to wear shades. Now the future is so dim because the government doesn't want to pay for street lights, public transportation, libraries, health care or really anything that doesn't have police, military or corporate welfare in the spending bill. The flying cars we were promised are still going to be fossil fuel burners, clogging the skies with pollution, no elevators to the moon, unless you are a Prime member, masks needed 24/7 because people don't want to protect their lungs from diseases. The only thing humans will have in common is rage. Rage to keep what they have, rage to keep others down, rage at what humans allowed, and the rage of children seeing how badly adults messed everything up. Grime by Sibylle Berg, translated by Tim Mohr, is a view of the future that is not twenty minutes away, but happening as most of us watch TikTok videos or care about the rantings of disgraced elected officials, and supposed millionaires who are even more supposed geniuses.

Four children, with not much in common except for being born in Rochdale, near Manchester England and all under the subjugation of an austerity government, a growing up with no hopes and no dreams. The only thing that binds them, and makes them even slightly happy is th music of Grime, a subset of hip hop that speaks to the them, gives them ideas, and makes them want to live. Talking a chance the four go to London, hoping for better but finding much worse. The wall between the haves and haves not, the famous and the gutter dwellers are too strong to get through. So they form a plan, a list of people and things that need to be rid of to make things better. As they plan, something stirs in them, a sense of belonging, and maybe a better way to come together and be something. However the siren song of vengeance is hard to ignore. And the Grime beats on.

A book that is far to topical to be considered science fiction, and far too depressing and real to be even considered fiction. The characters might seem stereotypical, but they are not. Each one has tics, and foibles and seem more alive in many ways than influencers on social media. The idea of Grime music is interesting, and I saw glancing through reviews the author is touring with a Grime artist, so that is really cool. The world Berg creates is way to real, way to strong, and way to sad, because it seems so true. The slogans, the austerity, the lack of services, the hype of working hard to get something, everything rings so true, like campaign slogans from tired political parties who gave up a long time ago. The book is translated, but the translation is so smooth that one would never know, which goes to show that the whole world is getting tired of the stupid that seems so prevalent.

This could be the next book that people form strong opinions on, both good and bad. Not a cult novel, that would limit the audience right there. A book that has a lot to say, and an incredible way of saying it. A book that will stay with readers well after the final sentences, and hopefully motivate people for the bright future we were promised, not the polluted naked and afraid future we seem to be headed for.

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First, let me say that while there was not an actual content warning in the advanced copy I read, there is a lot of stuff that probably requires one. This is a dark book, and includes plenty of abuse and violence, including some pretty awful stuff that happens to children.

What I Loved:

►The characters having to deal with the changing world around them felt really realistic. We first encounter our friend group as children, when the world is starting to fracture (in, scarily enough, very similar ways to the fractures in our current landscape). As they grow, they not only have to deal with the usual difficulties of growing up, they have to do so very alone, and in a world that presents new challenges every day.

►The world is super dark, and it makes sense how it gets that way. And it really just gets worse as time goes on, which is to be expected. For the most part, I enjoy a dark world, especially one that is realistic and well developed, which this one is. I had a qualm with it, which I address below, but for the most part, it works.

►The story weaves all the characters and the world together in interconnecting ways. This, I certainly appreciated. We have a lot of different characters introduced, and at times it could be a bit overwhelming. That said, none of them were really throwaways, they all connected to the lives of one of the more main characters in some (usually fairly significant) way.

►Bits of humor infused are necessary. Honestly, without some humor, it would have been flat out too dark and depressing, so it was nice to see bits of light- though be aware, they are not many. Enough to make it consumable, thankfully.

What I Struggled With:

►There were times it was draggy. And maybe a little convoluted. This is really my biggest issue with the book, and I suppose my only issue, at the end of the day. It just felt like a lot. And maybe it all wasn't totally necessary? Especially in the middle of the book, I felt like perhaps some of the details could have been pared down a bit to make things move a bit faster.

►In the same vein, maybe also more brutal than necessary? Look, I love a dark book. I have no actual problems with darker fare, so I have no issues with that. But there are some scenes, especially involving children, where I think that the message could have been delivered without such graphic brutality.

Bottom Line: Very dark, but also very relevant and timely, be aware of the content before you dive into this one!

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Wow! What a book! If you are looking for a gritty dystopian read, this is the one for you! I really did enjoy reading this book.

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