A Meal in Winter

A Novel of World War II

Shortlisted for the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and called a “best winter read” by The Independent, a haunting, suspenseful, and “impossible to put down” (Libération) novel about three German soldiers in World War II

“[A] luminous tale. . . . The most moving book I have read for a long time.” —The Independent on Sunday

One morning in the dead of winter, during the darkest years of World War II, three German soldiers head out into the frozen Polish countryside. They have been charged by their commanders with tracking down and bringing 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 when each man is forced to confront his own conscience as the moral implications of their murderous mission become clear.

Called “masterly and necessary” by the Times Literary Supplement, A Meal in Winter recalls the claustrophobia of Roman Polanski’s The Pianist and Louis Begley’s Wartime Lies. A sleeper hit in the UK, this is the first novel by the award-winning French novelist Hubert Mingarelli to be translated into English.


“A luminous tale. . . . The most moving book I have read for a long time.”
The Independent on Sunday
“The command of tone and voice sustains tension until the very last page of a novel that will long resonate in the reader’s conscience.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“It is 138 profound pages of horror and humanity.”
—Book of the Year, The Irish Times
“A masterpiece.”
The Independent
“Beautiful and disturbing, complex and surprising. . . . This is not easy for the reader to handle, but Mingarelli knows what he is doing.”
The Herald (Glasgow)
“Haunting. . . . With devastating concision, Mingarelli and his translator, Sam Taylor, carry the moral dilemma to an understated yet stunning conclusion.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Short, powerful, vivid, and utterly compelling.”
The Jewish Chronicle
“Brilliant, devastating, [and] compelling.”
—Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs
“The book’s deceptive directness and simplicity, and its muted undercurrents of horror, will make many think of the stories of Ernest Hemingway. This is painful, unconsoling reading, but also a reminder of the power a short, perfect work of fiction can wield.”
The Wall Street Journal
“This strong and simple story packs a mighty punch.”
The Times (London)
“The ‘banality of evil’ finds beautiful, spare expression in this remarkable novella.”
—Ian McEwan
“Masterful. . . . Mingarelli offers a new twist on the Holocaust novel. His spare prose, crisply translated by Sam Taylor, adds to the narrative’s intensity and keeps you turning the pages until its poignant conclusion.”
The Huffington Post

News and Reviews

The New York Times

"[S]tark and profound... Mr. Mingarelli allows us to see kernels of genuine sympathy in his soldiers without ever denying the fear and malice they must indulge to do their jobs," says John Williams of A Meal in Winter in The New York Times

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly praises A Meal in Winter as a "brief, haunting novel" that comes to "an understated yet stunning conclusion" in their STARRED review

Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus calls A Meal in Winter "a novel that will long resonate in the reader's conscience" in their STARRED review