Ismael and His Sisters
Louise Stern, Granta 2015

Siblings Ismael, Rosie and Cristina are deaf, as are many in their Maya village. The deaf and hearing alike communicate in sign language, forming a tightly knit community with a simple lifestyle. But when Ismael gets into a fight at the local fiesta and flees the village, leaving Rosie and Cristina to fend for themselves, the daily rhythms of village life are disrupted, and all that they trust in comes under threat.

Ismael and His Sisters is a remarkable debut novel from the acclaimed author of the short story collection Chattering. It conjures up a visceral world set apart, where the sign language used by its main characters bridges exterior and interior worlds and gives a physical shape to the way we experience the world. It explores the interplay between the elemental forces within us and those beyond our control, exposing the ‘bottomless, hostile ocean’ in which we all flounder.