Synopses & Reviews
In this wonderfully humorous and deceptively simple love story, Ingo Schulze upends our expectations from the get-go.
It is 1989 in East Germany. Adam is a tailor and dressmaker living in his own Garden of Eden in East Germany, where he leads a life of dressing—and undressing—his appreciative clientele. Evelyn is a restless young waitress who, having just unexpectedly quit her job, returns home to find Adam with one of his customers.
The snake having reared its ugly head, Evelyn packs her belongings and runs off to Hungary with friends. When Adam banishes himself from the safe confines of his home, his garden, and his livelihood in pursuit of Evelyn, this Fall of Man coincides with the beginnings of a much more contemporary Fall—a wobbling Hungary opening its borders to Austria, the wall in Berlin beginning to crack, and Adam and Evelyn swept out into the Western world on a human tide of eager refugees desperate to find new freedoms. Paradise Regained? Perhaps not . . .
"There's no doubt that Schulze (One More Story: Thirteen Stories in the Time-Honored Mode) wants to evoke Adam and Eve cast out of paradise with his latest novel. But what is paradise here? East Germany, where Adam, a tailor, sleeps with his clients despite live-in girlfriend Evelyn? If so, paradise is lost when Evelyn discovers Adam's infidelities and takes off to Hungary with a man from the West. Home-loving Adam packs their pet tortoise into his beloved Wartburg 311 to pursue her and the political overtakes the personal: it's 1989. The book, ably translated by Woods, is full of homely details of life behind the wall, in Hungary, and in the West, and of people accommodating to what happens when those details change. Accidental Ã©migrÃ© Adam is diagnosed with 'emigration syndrome' and 'adaptation problems,' which his namesake must surely have had as well. Schulze's Evelyn has a different problem: she's underwritten and it's not entirely clear why Adam's so smitten. (The same can be said, arguably, of her biblical counterpart.) But this is a minor problem in an otherwise likable book that reveals how world-changing events play out at the domestic level and offers a thoughtful meditation on temptation, expulsion, and what constitutes home." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Ingo Schulze was born in Dresden in 1962 and studied classical philology at the University of Jena. His first book, 33 Moments of Happiness, won two prestigious German literary awards, the Alfred Döblin Prize and the Ernst Willner Prize for Literature. In 2007 he was awarded both the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and the Thuringia Literature Prize. He is a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature and lives in Berlin.