Kevin Powers and Aida Edemariam bring personal perspectives to their new books. Kevin Powers’ novel, A Shout in the Ruins, takes place in his native Virginia before, during and after the American Civil War. It is a return to the battlefields for the former soldier who served with the US army in Iraq and won the Guardian First Book Award for his debut novel, The Yellow Birds. Aida Edemariam’s The Wife’s Tale is a history of her indomitable Ethiopian grandmother, married at ten, who endured civil war and revolution. Both books are about random violence and survival against the backdrop of tumultuous historical events. They discuss the theme of their books – random violence and survival, against the backdrop of tumultuous events – with Catherine Taylor, critic and journalist, former Deputy Director of English PEN.