BY Vanessa Peterson in Opinion | 03 FEB 23

Editor’s Picks: The True-Crime Draw of ‘Saint Omer’

Other highlights include a Ghanaian internet radio station rapidly taking over international airwaves and the latest novel from Nell Zink

BY Vanessa Peterson in Opinion | 03 FEB 23

Frieze Editor’s Picks is a fortnightly column in which a frieze editor shares their recommendations for what to watch, read and listen to.

Saint Omer, Alice Diop

I first encountered the filmmaker Alice Diop last year when I saw We (2021), a moving documentary about the people she meets who live along the RER B route, a Parisian commuter train line that traverses the city, connecting low- and high-income suburbs. Similarly, Diop’s first narrative film, Saint Omer (2022), tells a story of France and migration through the lives of its residents.


Based on the 2016 trial of Fabienne Kabou, a Senegalese woman who made headline news after leaving her child to drown on a beach in Northern France, Saint Omer is a damning excavation of the power of language and silence, emotional and geographic dislocation, and colonialism. I was not surprised to discover that the script was co-written by Marie Ndiaye, author of the haunting My Heart Hemmed In (2017), and winner of the Prix Goncourt in 2009, whose charged fiction has an unnerving quality. What appears to be a simple courtroom drama evolves into a tragic exploration of how decisions made in desperate isolation can unfold in unfathomable ways.

Saint Omer, film still
Alice Diop, Saint Omer, 2022, film still. Courtesy: Srab Films - Arte France Cinema

Oroko Radio

Last month, I returned to Accra after three years away and spent most evenings seeking out new music in the city’s bars. Most of what I heard, however, felt familiar and I realized that’s because I spend most weekdays listening to Oroko Radio, a not-for-profit independent internet radio station based in Accra. Founded in 2021 by Naemi Ada, Nico Adomoako, Kikelomo Oludemi and Truseye, Oroko Radio hosts over 100 resident DJs, with hour-long programmes showcasing musical innovation from across the African continent and the diaspora – a model similar to London’s NTS Radio.

Oroko Radio also engages in international collaborations, hosting DJ workshops for women with Resident Advisor and WATWOMXN, and organizing club nights in Accra and Berlin with Boiler Room. They generously archive their radio shows on Mixcloud, so it’s well worth taking the time to explore their back catalogue. (One highlight of mine is Lizz Johnson’s ‘Memories and Rhythm’, a monthly show that explores 1960s and ’70s Ghanaian highlife and palm wine music with special guests from the worlds of art and literature.) Their plans for 2023 include setting up a free academy in Accra for those with an interest in DJing and mixing. A new wave of musical experimentation beckons.

Oroko Radio banner
Oroko Radio logo

Avalon, Nell Zink

One line repeated throughout Nell Zink’s latest novel, Avalon (2022), is a variation of ‘I knew I was being fucked with.’ I laughed every time I read it, perhaps in recognition of a certain kind of person who finds perverse pleasure in their humiliation, especially in matters of the heart. Avalon offers an erudite view of early 2010s west coast America, following its principal character Bran, an orphan who escapes a torrid home life with her adopted family, as she attempts to carve out an identity for herself.

Nell Zink, Avalon
Nell Zink, Avalon, 2022, book cover 

She falls for an east coast college student called Peter, even when all evidence suggests that he is, indeed, toying with her affections. He appears to have no other interests than signposting his intellect. Insufferably shoehorning Theodor W. Adorno, Félix Guattari and Franz Kafka into conversations with no regard for their relevance, he is unable to understand people and their emotions beyond his academic ambitions.

Sure, it’s a familiar tale of doomed love, comparable to the plight of Selin in The Idiot (2017) and its sequel Either/Or (2022), but Zink’s canny observations on academia, the arts and what it means to find purpose in life when the odds are stacked against you might make you laugh too.

Main image: Alice Diop, Saint Omer, 2023, film still. Courtesy: Courtesy: Srab Films - Arte France Cinema

Vanessa Peterson is associate editor of frieze. She lives in London, UK.