Synopses & Reviews
Alex Capus tells the true story of Switzerland's most notorious bank robbers, Kurt Sandweg and Waldemar Velte. As the Great Depression tightens its grip, and Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow gain notoriety in Texas, a series of bank robberies make headlines in Switzerland. The prime suspects are two young men, who steal small sums of money from city banks, and are unafraid to use force when faced with capture.
Meanwhile, a shop assistant in Basel encounters two mysterious yet charismatic men from Wuppertal, with a seemingly insatiable love for jazz; day after day they come to see her, and soon the shop assistant begins to form a romantic attachment to one of the menthough she is not permitted to know her friend's real name.
Capus paints an honest and moving portrait of 1930s Switzerland the bleak rituals of Nazism are taking shape and permeate Swiss as well as German society, and the two unemployed youths' dreams of escape to a new life become increasingly corrupted as the bank raids take a violent turn. Yet the humanity of their relationships is juxtaposed against the cruelty of their crimes, and Capus's subtle prose leaves the reader to distinguish the sacred from the profane.
Alex Capus was born in 1961 and has published numerous works, including novels, collections of short stories, essays, and historical accounts, as well as translations into German of A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and three novels by the John Fante.
Two men flee the Great Depression in Germany to become bank robbers in Switzerland, engrossing story of recklessness and abandon.
With brilliantly vivid irony, a mosaic of voices tells the true story of Switzerland's most notorious bank robbers: Kurt Sandweg and Waldemar Velte. As 1933 draws to a close, the pair arrive in Basel from Wuppertal, Germany. Rebels on the run, they are searching for an escape from the confines of a callously regimented society left impoverished by the Depression and the onset of Nazi power. However, their desperation leads them to a realm outside reality, on a destructive path of vengeance for the world's abhorrent lack of justice. Resolute on their doomed mission, neither expected to fall in love. Seen through the benign eyes of Dorly Schupp, the agonising humanity of their relationships are sharply juxtaposed against the reckless cruelty of their crimes. Yet in a world equally heartless and unremitting, who should shoulder the blame? Capus relates the portrait of these chillingly charismatic figures in a curious blend of documentary and narrative where precision of detail collides with an economy of emotion, and leaves the desolation of their situation stark and blindingly poignant. Suspended between the tragic and comic, Capus's novel mimics the absurd idiosyncrasies of life where often nothing but interpretation is left to determine the sacred from the profane.
About the Author
Alex Capus is a French-Swiss novelist who writes in German. His works of fiction and non-fiction that have been translated into English include Sailing by Starlight (2008), A Matter of Time (2009), Leon and Louise (2012) Almost Like Spring (2013) and Skidoo (2014).