Dystopian novel set in Rochdale explores climate change, AI, right-wing populism - and grime

The raw truth of contemporary society is explored in Sibylle Berg's award-winning, 25-week bestselling European book GRIME.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 11 February 2023

Share this story

When you think of a novel that takes place in a not-too-distant dystopian future, where do you imagine it being set? For Swiss-German author Sibylle Berg, it’s Rochdale. The North Manchester town is the backdrop for her bestselling novel, the English version of which has just been released in the UK.

The author and playwright is one of the most celebrated contemporary writers in the German-speaking world. Their critically acclaimed novel, GRIME, which has spent 25 weeks on European bestseller lists, is a dystopian satire that serves as “a ruthless indictment of contemporary society and a manifesto of rebellion”.

Acclaimed author and playwright Sibylle Berg. Image: Ten Letter

Set in Rochdale, GRIME mirrors the reality of many towns across Britain where poverty, violence, and squalor are the consequences of the current political decisions being made. The novel, written four years ago, is a multi-voice story of four teenagers haphazardly brought together by individual tragedy and a shared love of grime music, the genre that replaced punk as the voice of the angry and dispossessed.

Despite the increasing sophistication of an authoritarian surveillance state, the four teens set out to take revenge on those they hold responsible for their misery. However, what starts out as a teen hit squad evolves into a makeshift family as they attempt to create a home on the fringes of society.

An event held for the launch tour of GRIME. Image: Ten Letter

In this stylistically innovative epic, Berg explores the current hot-button issues such as climate change, artificial intelligence, right-wing populism, and the expansion of surveillance and their impact on the world. This dystopian satire is a merciless and surgically precise evisceration of neoliberalism, but beneath its rage and brutality beats a deeply human heart.

The German-language edition of ‘GRIME’ won the Swiss Book Prize. Image: Griffin books

GRIME is a novel that is sure to leave an impact on its readers and the residents of Manchester and Rochdale are in for a treat with the upcoming launch tour.

Get your hands on a copy of GRIME for a thought-provoking exploration of society and the consequences of our actions.