The Small Book (New Generation pbk, 2010)The Sandbeetle (Hodder and Stoughton, hdbk 1993, Flamingo pbk 1994)
The Book of Wishes and Complaints (Hutchinson, hdbk 1991, Flamingo pbk 1992)
I am working on a new novel - The Annexe
July 1915, the Somme. Private Ken Hoskins has been detailed to a firing squad to execute a deserter from his own company. This experience so appalls him that when he returns to his native Lancashire he joins the nascent Communist Party and on his marriage determines to bring up his children 'in the faith'. His daughter, Pam, later moves to London to become secretary to Harry Pollitt, the Party leader.
Summer 1998, London. Ken Hoskins's grandchildren, Margaret and Roy, look alike but could not be more dissimilar. She is a defence analyst; he is a celebrated photographer. She still lives in the King's Cross council flat where they grew up; he occupies a Holland Park mansion. Yet they are unusually close, kept so by dramatic changes in their lives and the subsequent oddities in their upbringing.
But things do not develop as Ken Hoskins had hoped, and for Roy and Margaret the past they thought was their inheritance turns out to be something quite different.
This book can now also be purchased from the Amazon Kindle Store.
To see Zina Rohan talk about The Small Book click here
From Reviews of The Small Book
'This is a powerful novel about the effects of both concealing and of revealing the truth. Told in first person accounts from the key protagonists, Rohan expertly alternates the voices and weaves the separate narratives into a seamless whole. The narrative is balanced by the characters' thoughts about society and politics, with an intriguing glimpse into the world of the nascent Communist Party of Great Britain. It is thought-provoking, especially about the executions of deserters in WWI; it is an engrossing historical novel as well as a family saga; and it is extremely moving. The style is lucid and well-paced, and I recommend it with some passion!’ Newbooks Magazine September 2010
'What makes this novel such a pleasure is that Rohan has fully matured adult voices looking back to an event and then, within a few pages, we hear the voice of the same character as a youngster. As the story leaps from wartime to the 1990s and then back to the forties, incidents are described by different family members in their London or Lancashire voices...Rohan knows exactly what she is doing and has such lightness of touch that you come out after only 240 pages with a great desire to start again, and, as with a crime novel, to discover where she has laid her clues.' BOOKDEALER, No. 1822, November 2010
'Rohan puts a human face on the injustice and insanity of war through the execution of Private Miller. This well-written novel is worth reading for its thoughtful treatment of a controversial subject.' Historical Novels Review Online, November 2010
Sixteen-year-old Marta has always longed to follow her father and lead armies into battle. Instead she finds herself leading her fellow girl-guides on a camping trip on the border between Poland and German on the very day in September 1939 that the Nazis invade. Immediately the girls are spirited across their Polish motherland to take refuge in a remote convent. But Marta's safety is soon under threat...So begins a perilous adventure across thousands of miles - from the logging camps of Siberian Kazakhstan to the Red Cross field hospitals of Persia - during which Marta is forced to draw on reserves of courage she didn't think she had and make choices she never imagined she'd face.
From reviews of The Officer's Daughter
'What a story, and what a heroine! Passion and pride, bravery and foolishness - it's all here.' Isabel Allende
'This is a huge book in every sense of the word: it is a tour de force, a wonderful novel which will stay with you for years. Very highly recommended.' Historical Novels Review
'The Officer's Daughter is a gem...a haunting quality saturates the story, a rawness reminiscent of A Thousand Splendid Suns, and like Khaled Hosseini's novel, it leaves you with a deeply felt sense of the powerlessness and arbitrarirness of life adrift on the detritus of war. Part of this is due no doubt to the fact that at its core is a story wrapped around real people, which lends it a rare power and authenticity that lingers after the last page.' Bookseller
'This good, old-fashioned tale cries out for a screen adaptation.' The Tablet
'Rohan's work is quite simply fascinating, wholly gripping and a delight to read...We award Zina ten Bookmunch points.' Bookmunch
(Anybody interested to watch me talking about this book can watch the video interview that I had thought was going to be only audio, and was duly alarmed by reality.)
Contact my agent, Isobel Dixon, of Blake Friedmann
Leo Beck is a Jewish child refugee. Sent away from Berlin in the Thirties to escape the horrors that are to come, Leo is fostered with an eccentric couple in London. He works hard to fit into his new surroundings, and wins a place at Oxford where he falls in love with the self-confident, very English Eleanor. Then the war comes, and with it a wave of xenophobic feeling. To his shock and horror, Leo finds himself classed as an enemy alien and flung onto a ship destined for the other side of the world...
The Sandbeetle is at once a richly detailed, gripping portrait of one man's struggle for identity, and a powerful exploration of the nature of belonging: to a country, a family, a race, a religious tradition - to humanity.
'With her debut, The Book of wishes and Complaints, Zina Rohan climbed so high that it seemed the only place for her writing to go was down. It is a tribute to her talents and nerve that her second novel, The Sandbeetle, floats even higher. Rohan is a teller of tales able to span years with one sharply etched scene, to hold a reader to events even while she is lifting them across the arc of a fable.' Independent on Sunday
'There is humour as well as pathos in Leo's sharply observant account. Rohan deploys powerful metaphors of assimilation: the chameleon merging instinctively with its background; the sandbeetle making its home in the most inhospitable of habitats.' Times Literary Supplement
'There is a quiet, trenchant elegance to Zina Rohan's prose which, together with a lurking sense of irony, strikes a rich, dynamic balance between coolness and warmth, darkness and light, comedy and outrage. The Sandbeetle is an engrossing, densely-textured narrative fabric, crafted from robust, affectionately acerbic characterisation, sharp-eyed attention to fine human detail - comic or poignant or both - and Rohan's understated but sure formal control over her lively, argumentative cast. Her astute compassion, her refusal either to judge or offer pat solutions, combine with this consummate story-telling skill to produce a novel which rewards you more the further you read.' Scotsman
Under the Communists, all Czech shops must keep a Book of Wishes and Complaints in which customers are invited to register their wishes (which will be ignored) and their complaints (which will be ignored). Such absurdity provides the central metaphor for this wonderful first novel of a young girl, Hana, struggling to make sense of a contradictory world.
When her father is arrested, Hana is taken in by the local physician, loyal party member Dr Cerny, at the behest of his wife, the formidable Nora, recently arrived from England. Growing up in a household of Earl Grey tea and Liquorice Allsorts, Marxist tracts and party politics, Hana eventually flees to England where her hopes and dreams of life in the West are finally put to the test.
'The Book of Wishes and Complaints is such an accomplished novel it disdains the description of debut. In it Zina Rohan unwraps the pain of Czechoslovakia with delicate fingers of irony.' Sunday Times
'Zina Rohan shuns the grand gestures of much writing about Stalin's Europe to concentrate on regular low-level doses of irony, insight and charm. That may sound like faint praise, but many novels with twice the pretensions of this one will fail to deliver half as much.' Observer
'Rohan shares Kundera's piercing sense of irony but adds her own brand of warmth and humanity. From start to finish The Book of Wishes and Complaints is a novel of admirable wit and clarity.' Times Literary Supplement
'A sympathetic and unusually matrue first novel which owes its life and realism to its author's ability to be both astute observer and compassionate insider, availing of some of the best elements of two literary traditions.' Irish Times
'Emotions are described with unnerving clarity and you become totally involved with Hana's dilemmas. Cleverly, Rohan denies us the Hollywood happy ending, offering us a question mark instead. A compelling first novel.' Time Out