To the Back of Beyond

“To the Back of Beyond” by Peter Stamm (Switzerland)


Happily married with two children and a comfortable home in a Swiss town, Thomas and Astrid enjoy a glass of wine in their garden on a night like any other. Called back to the house by their son’s cries, Astrid goes inside, expecting her husband to join her in a bit. But Thomas gets up and, after a brief moment of hesitation, opens the gate and walks out… Read more


The four shortlisted books for this year’s Summer Reading Group varied greatly in style of writing and author’s experience, from the seasoned writer to the relative newcomer. When it came time for voting for Best Summer Read 2018, two books tied for first place: “The Travelling Cat Chronicles” and “Warlight”. One reader commented on this result saying how she couldn’t quite come to terms with the tie between the brilliant “Warlight” and the mediocre “Travelling Cat Chronicles,” adding that she guessed that’s the joy of the book club to which we wholeheartedly agreed!

“To the Back of Beyond” by Peter Stamm (Switzerland) is set in a small Alpine village at the end of the summer holidays, when husband and father-of-two walks away from his family life leaving his wife to question what went wrong. Narrated alternately by husband and wife, most readers found this psychological drama disturbing and confusing. They didn’t warm to either character and most got bored with the descriptions in the first half. They kept hoping for some explanations and were left perplexed. However, some readers felt that the story became highly addictive and compelling towards the end.

Nicola’s Summer Reading list 2018

“The Travelling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa (Japan) *
“To the Back of Beyond” by Peter Stamm (Switzerland)
“Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje (Canada) *
“Welcome to Lagos” by Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria) 

* Best Summer Reads
In italics, SRG’s Coup de Cœur

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