Inspired by Petra Kelly, the original Green Party leader and political activist who fought for the planet in 1980s Germany, Shaena Lambert brings us a captivating new novel about a woman who changed history and transformed environmental politics--and who, like many history-changing women, has been largely erased. Award-winning novelist Madeleine Thien calls Petra "a masterpiece--a fierce, humane and powerful novel for our times."
January, 1980. At the height of the Cold War, Petra Kelly inspires hundreds of thousands to take to the streets to protest the placement of nuclear missiles on West German soil--including a NATO general named Emil Gerhardt, who shocks the establishment by converting to the cause. Petra and her general not only vault to fame as the stars of the Green Party, but they also fall in love. Then Manfred Schwartz, an ex-lover, urges Petra to draw back the curtain on Emil's war record, and they enter a world both complicated and threatening.
Told by Manfred Schwartz, from his place in a present world even more beset by existential threats, Petra is an exploration of love, jealousy, and the power of social change. A woman capable of founding a new and world-changing politics and taking on two superpowers, Petra still must grapple with her own complex nature and a singular and fatal love.
SHAENA LAMBERT is the author of the novel Radiance and two books of stories, Oh, My Darling and The FallingWoman--all of which were Globe and Mail best books of the year. Her fiction has been published to critical acclaim in Canada, the UK and Germany and has been nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the Evergreen Award, the Danuta Gleed Award and the Frank O'Connor Award for the Short Story. Her stories have been chosen four times for Best Canadian Stories, and have appeared in many publications, including The Walrus, Zoetrope: All Story, Ploughshares and Toronto Life. She lives in Vancouver.
One of CBC's "Best Canadian Fiction of 2020"
"The characters are absolutely alive, the politics complex and subtle, yet so heartfelt and vital, and, because of that, current. It was one of those books that kept me up in the night, and made me eager to return to it—not a lot of fiction does that for me these days.” —Bill Gaston, author of A Mariner’s Guide to Self Sabotage and Just Let Me Look at You
"Award-winning Vancouver author Shaena Lambert’s most recent offering distinguishes her as one of Canada’s most thoughtful current writers." —Winnipeg Free Press
“Combining the planetary sweep of Kelly’s political vision with an intimate lens into her ill-fated personal life, Lambert forges a captivating fictional account of an eco-revolutionary’s rise and eventual fall. . . . While these are weighty themes, what distinguishes Lambert’s writing is her compassion for her characters. At its core, Petra is a very human story about love and betrayal.” —Broadview Magazine
“This is a moving psychological portrait . . . a murder mystery and a keenly persuasive psychological portrayal of the often-acrimonious inner workings of protest and electoral politics. Lambert’s handling of these disparate elements is unified by her lapidary prose and her wise, compassionate portrayal of her characters’ human fallibility and complexity. It will appeal both to the general reader and to anyone who has ever been involved in movements for peace, justice and environmental sanity. Highly recommended.” —The Vancouver Sun
“Petra is a masterpiece—a fierce, humane and powerful novel for our times. Shaena Lambert brings to life the nearly forgotten revolutionary, Petra Kelly, and the circle of activists who transformed environmental and global politics. Petra, the story of generations reckoning with history, sex, the land, guilt, and our troubled future, is at every moment personal and political. What does it mean to remake not only the world but one another, what if our inner morality is riddled with falsehoods, why do we harm in the name of love? Spellbinding and shattering, Petra is a tour de force—a haunting and a courageous awakening.” —Madeleine Thien, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing
“Petra by Shaena Lambert is a miracle of a novel, fully imagined and exquisitely written. Petra Kelly herself is incandescent on its pages, as she was in the world. I read her story with deep appreciation for the light it casts on the global fix we’re in.” —Joan Thomas, Governor General’s Literary Award-winning author of Five Wives
“Petra is a brilliantly realized and compelling novel. Shaena Lambert raises historical questions that haunt us all: What is our obligation to the past? And can we build a brighter future by cutting ourselves off from its dark shadow?” —Wayne Grady, author of Up From Freedom