Colin BarrettWild Houses
Jonathan Cape Jan. 202416.99 £ 272 S.
Niente di veroVeronica Raimo
Einaudi Feb. 202218 € 176 S.
Allegro PastellLeif Randt
Kiepenheuer & Witsch März 202022 € 288 S.

Who owns English? Its post-World War II rise as a lingua franca has made the question ever more fraught. Three recent European novels — Wild Houses by Colin Barrett, Niente di vero by Veronica Raimo and Allegro Pastell by Leif Randt — offer different ways to wield English outside the Anglo-American sphere. Barrett’s prose typifies how Irish writers dominate anglophone literature — or «punch above their weight», as British papers like to generously concede. For Raimo and Randt’s internationally-minded young Italians and Germans, English serves a fluid range of purposes, from facilitating travel to modulating tone through semi-ironic loan phrases.

These novels also take their individual approaches to generational dynamics. While the authors are similar in age — Barrett was born in 1982, Raimo in 1978 and Randt in 1983 — none of the novels deploys the Gen X or Millennial labels that Anglo-Americans seem to feel naked without. Rather what emerges is three specific portrayals of a given community at a particular time, engaged with the broader world but never claiming to represent a transnational globalised experience.

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