Synopses & Reviews
From the author of 33 Moments of Happiness ("Ingo Schulze is our new epic storyteller" --Günter Grass), a heartbreaking and funny first novel about the people in a deadbeat little town in East Germany that makes us understand, as nothing else, what life has been like since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Altenburg in Thuringia, a provincial flyspeck on the map of the new Germany, is Schulze's Winesburg, Ohio. With laconic wit and a tenderness immune to sentimentality, he starts to tell us "simple stories" (much of the book is carried in pitch-perfect dialogue) about seemingly unconnected people. At first, there appears to be nothing so unusual about what happens to Renate and Martin, Barbara and Frank, Raffael and Jenny, as they look for love, for jobs, for some means, honest or devious, of understanding or forgetting the past. And yet, what is gradually revealed in the minutiae of their everyday experiences is the
collapse of an entire world and the dramatic fault line that has run through so many East German lives since 1990.
As each episode in this remarkable tapestry sparks with connections to stories we've already heard, we begin to realize that these people are inexorably intermeshed and that Schulze is moving back and forth through the town, crosscutting events and lives cinematically and allowing their elements to reassemble.
By the time the last story ends, we know we have been listening to a novel in glittering fragments spun by a master -- a complete tragicomedy of ordinary people in Nowheresville caught up in the last great historical cataclysm of our century.
About the Author
Ingo Schulze, born in Dresden in 1962, studied classical philology at the University of Jena. His first book, 33 Moments of Happiness, won both Germany's prestigious Alfred Döblin Prize and the Ernst Willner Prize for Literature. He lives in Berlin.