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The White City

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  17 reviews
A permanently frozen London is the setting for this harrowing yet lyrical tale of survival in a dystopian near-future. Through endless years of glacial winter, artist Hera has known loss. Her one comfort has been her relationship with Raphael. As the thaw begins, can she track down her elusive lover?
Paperback, 253 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Aardvark Bureau (first published October 10th 2017)
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Average rating 3.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  68 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fable
‘The White City’ is an oddly structured novel and, in my opinion, alternately too literal and too allegorical to be considered truly dystopian. (For some arbitrary reason I require consistency in my dystopias.) It largely consists of two extended flashbacks, telling the stories of Hera and Raphael, a young Londoner and the man she loves. After the events of these flashbacks the narrative jumps forward 27 years, during which a long winter nearly depopulates London. I inferred that Hera’s survival ...more
Georgia (thefictionfolio)
An... intriguing story. It was honestly so bleak at points that it's taken me two weeks to read because I could only take a small bit at a time.
While it is technically dystopian fiction it wasn't about that at all. Truly it is a family drama, but also a small scale political drama? There was so much packed in here about past events, current events, fictional events, and possible future events all set around this allegorical setting of a frozen London.

Sometimes I was a bit unsure about context a
rina dunn
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
In The White City, a dystopian fantasy that also at times comes across as social protest fiction and family tragedy, Roma Tearne imagines a time in the not so distant future when the world has endured a winter that has lasted for 27 years. The novel opens in London as the first thaw in decades has begun. As the longest blizzard in recorded history tapers off and the ice starts to recede, Tearne’s narrator, Hera, a Muslim, is drawn to recollections of her unhappy past. 27 years earlier, when the ...more
Jasmine Pope
I struggled in deciding how to rate this. The prose is beautiful and elegant. The scenes are shown so effortlessly and the whole thing was just really unique in tone and character cast. However.. It was hard to follow in the way that a bunch of dots would be drawn with no lines connecting them. Time after time an interesting concept would be touched in a couple words by a character but then not further addressed so you’re sitting here thinking, “why?”. This made it hard to really feel anything t ...more
3.5 stars

Definitely a book that I wish I had a book group to discuss with!

Hera, the daughter of Muslim immigrants, lives in London. One day her brother is arrested and taken as a suspected terrorist. Her parents and "uncle" spend all of their time (and money) trying to get information on where he is and why they think he has done this.

Meanwhile, a 27 year winter settles over London. Hera, an art student, us regularly painting Raphael, a survivor of Pinochet's Chile. The only survivor of his fami
Jackie McMillan
Dec 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Weirdly structured, bleak, could only stand reading in very small grabs so it took forever. Started to think reading was a torture but suspect it was just this book. Felt like three books mashed into one about three different things - a dystopian eternal winter (what I picked it up for), and two character stories, one about terrorism from the family of a suspect’s perspective, the other about escaping a terrible regime. Can’t recommend.
Review originally published in SFX magazine, issue 293 (December 2017). 2.5 stars.


Sometimes, the pieces just don’t quite fit.

Inside Roma Tearne’s short (and beautifully written) novel, two different books are fighting it out. One’s a hard-hitting tale of the human cost of oppression, whether it’s a near-future London drunk on you’re-with-us-or-against-us ‘war on terror’ logic, or (in flashback) the state-sanctioned murder squads of Pinochet’s Chile. The other’s set during a decades-long winter
my bookworm life
I was very kindly sent a requested copy from the publishers via Instagram, for review.

For me this felt a bit of a let down , but only because i wanted it to be longer! , i didn't feel that i could connect that much to the characters and the story , just because of the length of the book , by the time i was properly into it the book seemed to be near the end. I think with Dystopian books you need that time to get into it, to get stuck into the surroundings , take in the atmosphere that's been bui
Beth Pennington
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
This book was very different to what I have read before, and was a great surprise

1.✔The book is described as a story of human resilience in the face of social and environmental breakdown and that is pretty accurate. When our current world politics are in such disarray and the threat of terrorism globally seems at its most high, I felt this was an important novel to read. The media is very quick to expose a threat but it was good for a novel to explore the cultural impact this can have. Throwing
John Fetzer
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of Roma Tearne. I got hooked on her Sri Lanka themed books, then found her others, that only had a Sri Lankan expat as a character, were just as well written. This book is a step further away, focused on Arab expats in a London slightly in the future. It also is a fantasy distopia, which really is not that far from the societal dysfunction of war torn Sri Lanka or the closet racist UK of disillusioned southAsians.

There are jumps in the narrative from first to third person and from
Linda Hartley
Hard to give this book a review without Spoilers. Hera meets Raphael who's wife is deceased then she starts years of misery loss and sadness mainly caused by the circumstances of her brothers arrest and the families downfall.
Not a particularly cheerful book, and I was astounded when I found out it was set in London, the climate and deaths in the city sounded wrong? Ive enjoyed many of Romas books in the past, especially those based around Sri Lanka. Having read most of her work I found this to
Liz Brown
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant book. It tackles head on an uneasy subject: a not-too-distant London where fear of terrorism and years of freezing temperatures mean life and social norms collapse. The story is bleak, but it is also lyrical and compassionate thanks to the voice of the narrator who never looses her instinct for kindness or her eye for the absurd. The book also explores the importance of memory and place, and the especial significance of stories told and retold for those who like the Muslim narrator m ...more
Paul Taylor
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book if unremittingly gloomy.It addresses relationships, personal and family ties, the alienation of a people by a government's law enforcement and fears in a post apocalyptic, climate changed environment. The clock does not stike thirteen but it tips more than a nod to 1984 not least the fatal flaws in some love affairs. Having visited the museum of Memory in Santiago de Chile I was not at all surpised to read the author's acknowledgements so reminiscent was the story of "The Dis ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A great deal of angst for all concerned here. Hera is obsessed with Raphael, Aslam is arrested and sent off probably because of terrorist activities, Calypso cannot deal with Aslam's arrest (and neither could any other mother under the circumstances), Raphael has his own tragic back story, one man is the true love of Calypso's life and the other was the arranged husband. All of this unfolds in a London covered in ice and snow, a shortage of food and a plague on cows with burning carcasses. Don't ...more
Alex Knight
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love a post-apocalyptic book and this did not disappoint.
Not her best book.
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Roma Tearne is a Sri Lankan born artist living and working in Britain. She arrived, with her parents in this country at the age of ten. She trained as a painter, completing her MA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford. For nearly twenty years her work as a painter, installation artist, and filmmaker has dealt with the traces of history and memory within public and private spaces.


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