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In Times of Fading Light (Lannan Translation Selection)by Eugen Ruge
Synopses & Reviews
An enthrallingly expansive family saga set against the backdrop of the collapse of East German communism, from a major new international voice
* Over 450,000 copies sold in Germany alone * Rights sold in 20 countries * Winner of the German Book Prize * A PW "First Fiction" pick *
In Times of Fading Light begins in September 2001 as Alexander Umnitzer, who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, leaves behind his ailing father to fly to Mexico, where his grandparents lived as exiles in the 1940s.
The novel then takes us both forward and back in time, creating a panoramic view of the familys history: from Alexanders grandparents return to the GDR to build the socialist state, to his fathers decade spent in a gulag for criticizing the Soviet regime, to his sons desire to leave the political struggles of the twentieth century in the past.
With wisdom, humor, and great empathy, Eugen Ruge draws on his own family history as he masterfully brings to life the tragic intertwining of politics, love, and family under the East German regime.
"Ruge's evocative family chronicle spans nearly 60 years, moving fluidly from 2001 to 1952, with several stops in between. In the small German town of Neuendorf in 2001, elderly Kurt Umnitzer is paid one last visit, before senility completely overtakes him, by his son Alexander, who himself has recently been diagnosed with cancer. As Alexander sorts through Kurt's belongings and photographs, he delves into the family's history. Alexander goes to Mexico to learn more about his father, while the story travels back to the 1950s, which find Alexander's grandmother Charlotte and her husband, Wilhelm, living as loyal communists in East Berlin, along with Kurt and his wife, Irina. Cuba in the 1960s, Russia in the 1970s, and the fall of the Berlin Wall provide further backdrops and catalysts for the Umnitzer family's troubled journey through the 20th century. Ruge tends to focus on his scenes, which are heavy on both seemingly insignificant detail (the opening sentence puts Alexander on 'a buffalo leather sofa') and plot, combining dense, full-bodied storytelling with an enlightening sense of modern history. Agent: Carolin Mungard, Rowohlt Verlag." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Eugen Ruge won the 2011 German Book Prize for In Times of Fading Light, his debut novel, which became a bestseller in Germany and has been translated into twenty languages. Anthea Bell is a prizewinning translator.
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