A Meal in Winter

Hubert Mingarelli

Published: 4 September 2014
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 144 pages
ISBN: 9781846275364


One morning, in the dead of winter, three German soldiers head out into the frozen Polish countryside. They have been charged by their commanders to track down and bring back for execution 'one of them' - a Jew. Having flushed out a young man hiding in the woods, they decide to rest in an abandoned house before continuing their journey back to the camp. As they prepare food, they are joined by a passing Pole whose virulent anti-Semitism adds tension to an already charged atmosphere. Before long, the group's sympathies begin to splinter as each man is forced to confront his own conscience as the moral implications of their murderous mission become clear.

About the author

Image of Hubert Mingarelli

HUBERT MINGARELLI is the author of numerous novels, short story collections and fiction for young adults. His book Quatre soldats ([Four Soldiers], Le Seuil, 2003) won the Prix Médicis. He lives in Grenoble. A Meal in Winter was shortlisted for the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. More about the author


‘138 profound pages of horror and humanity’ John Kelly ‘Book of the year’



‘A fascinating, compelling vignette from Nazi-occupied Poland explored by a masterful storyteller’ Paddy Kehoe

‘A gem of a novel, slight but so powerful’

‘A masterpiece’

‘A narrative of bleak genius’ Eileen Battersby

‘A sparse, beautiful and shocking novel that finds a more intimate route into the Holocaust’ Ian McEwan

‘Beautiful and disturbing... complex and surprising’ Mark Smith

‘Chilling... From the first lines one is taken somewhere one would never wish to go, thanks to the clear, direct style, and the brilliant dialogue... impossible to put down’

‘Deliver[s] a powerful punch’ Lucy Popescu, Books of the Year

‘Devastating... Crisply translated by Sam Taylor’ Arifa Akbar

‘I so recommend this brilliant, devastating, compelling WW2 novel’ Simon Sebag Montefiore

‘In its modest duration and economical prose, [this book] communicates more than most novels twice or three times its length... Praise is due to the translator, Sam Taylor, who appears to have weighed every word with supreme care, capturing the rhythm of a measured tread through the icy landscape... Brave and original... a masterpiece’ Alastair Mabbott

‘It's a brave novelist who sets out to tell a Holocaust tale from the point of view of the would-be executioner but this is what Mingarelli does with great skill and admirable subtlety. A breathtaking lesson in brevity’

‘Masterly and necessary... no intervening hand is noticeable in Sam Taylor's rendering of Mingarelli’ Lesley Chamberlain

‘Mingarelli find[s] new ways - oblique, lyrical, humane - to address the Nazi past’ Boyd Tonkin

‘Mingarelli's lapidary tale of awakened conscience unites historical events with the mood of a forest fairy-tale.... Brief, elegant, quietly lyrical yet driven by an inward fire’ Boyd Tonkin

‘Mingarelli's writing possesses a deceptive simplicity, and the novella proceeds so quietly that one is almost unprepared when the spectre of genocide intrudes upon it’

‘One of the most quietly shattering novels I've read’ Cynan Jones, author

‘So memorable, so dark, so humane, it deserves to be read all over Europe. A masterpiece of empathy and horror’ Jane Housham

‘Superb and devastating’ Luke Brown, author

‘Superb... The prose, elegantly translated by Sam Taylor, is full of rich visual descriptions... Enormously powerful and moving’ David Evans

‘The "banality of evil" finds beautiful, spare expression in this remarkable novella’ Ian McEwan

‘The most moving book I have read for a long time... Mingarelli's spare language is well suited to this luminous tale... he accomplishes a great deal’ Peter Carty

‘The prose draws you in... Starkly realistic’ Rachel Dunn

‘The tragedy of the holocaust has rarely been better told than in this short tale, resonant with sadness and poetry’

‘This is Mingarelli at his best. A story delivered with restraint, in hushed, sensitive prose. Perfect’

‘This new novel by Mingarelli doesn't offer any miracles, but his story of wretched humanity revived around a piping hot dish shows once more the greatness of an incredibly unassuming author. Breathtaking’

‘This strong and simple story packs a mighty punch’ Kate Saunders

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