“Hardach’s novel sparkles with intelligence as it raises big questions about nationality, borders and identity.”
Metro
“A lucid debut by a talented writer. Her global sensibility and refreshing style give this novel … an original flavour. The story … is handled with real delight and authority.”
Daily Mall
“[A] smart and gripping novel about identity, immigration, love and marriage.”
Daily Mirror

The Registrar's Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages Chapter 1

Selim’s first view of Europe was a vast, thick carpet of shit. Layered on the waves before him, bobbing on the water, there loomed an impenetrable barricade made of tonnes and tonnes of excrement pumped out by the generous stomachs of southern Italy; as if the shores of Europe, fed up with thousands of washed-up refugees, had decided to surround themselves with a man-made security cordon of slime and stench. Better turn around now, said the slime. And please don’t come back, said the stench.

But Selim, his ears full of salt water, limbs struggling to keep his body afloat, sight blurred by a wig of seaweed, did not hear the message. The heat on the creaking boat had not stopped him, the watchful coast guards had not stopped him, his own fear and seasickness had not stopped him. A stinking mass of digested pasta would not stop him now.

And so, holding his head high like a splashing dog, leading a trail of men, women and a toddler strapped to her mother’s back, Selim broke through the barrier before him, parted Europe’s soft defences with his bony chest and hands, and swam right through to the other side… read more

About Sophie

Sophie Hardach wrote The Registrar’s Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages while working as a journalist for Reuters in Paris. Originally inspired by the fragments of stories she was told while out on various reporting assignments, the novel follows the intertwining lives of a Kurdish boy struggling to build a life in Europe and a Registrar working at a Parisian town hall.

As part of her research, Sophie travelled to the Turkish-Syrian-Iraqi border, a mountainous region that is the traditional homeland of the Kurds as well as other ethnic groups. You can read about the trip on her blog, Brides, Sheikhs and Anarchists.

In telling the story of Selim, the Kurdish protagonist, Sophie was able to revisit the European countries where she had lived and worked as a rather more privileged migrant: the UK, Italy, France, as well as Germany, where she grew up. It also made her reflect on her experiences living in places where she stood out as a foreigner, such as Japan, Singapore and Colombia.
Sophie always wanted to be a writer, encouraged by her early commercial success churning out romances for school friends, with their favourite pop stars as the love interest. Moving from racy short stories to literary fiction
was more difficult than she thought, and her very first full-length novel was never published. Since persistence is a core characteristic of migrants as well as writers, her response was to write another novel – The Registrar.

Sophie is currently working on her next novel, which for a change is set in a single country, Britain. Like her other novels, it is written in English, a language that has become her literary home.

News

Can’t wait for the next reading? 4/12/11

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consectetuer adipiscing elit. Morbi commodo, ipsum sed pharetra gravida, orci magna rhoncus neque, id pulvinar odio lorem non turpis. Nullam sit amet enim. Suspendisse id velit vitae ligula volutpat condimentum. Aliquam erat volutpat. Sed quis velit. Nulla facilisi. Nulla libero.consectetuer adipiscing elit. Morbi commodo, ipsum sed pharetra gravida, orci magna rhoncus neque, id pulvinar odio lorem non turpis. Nullam sit amet enim. Suspendisse id velit vitae ligula volutpat condimentum. Aliquam erat volutpat. Sed quis velit. Nulla facilisi. Nulla libero.

consectetuer adipiscing elit. Morbi commodo, ipsum sed pharetra gravida, orci magna rhoncus neque, id pulvinar odio lorem non turpis. Nullam sit amet enim. Suspendisse id velit vitae ligula volutpat condimentum. Aliquam erat volutpat. Sed quis velit. Nulla facilisi. Nulla libero.

And What else?

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Can’t do it on 4/30/11

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Morbi commodo, ipsum sed pharetra gravida, orci magna rhoncus neque, id pulvinar odio lorem non turpis. Nullam sit amet enim. Suspendisse id velit vitae ligula volutpat condimentum. Aliquam erat volutpat. Sed quis velit. Nulla facilisi. Nulla libero.

If you buy my new novel, The Registrar’s Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages using this Amazon link, you’ll help me out with a little extra commission.

-Sophie

Sincerely,

Wooosh...

Your postcard is in the mail to sophie@sophiehardach.com

Built with care
by Jonah Goldstein
Picked by Waterstones as one of the 10 best first novels of 2011