Synopses & Reviews
Somewhere in Germany
is the sequel to the acclaimed Nowhere in Africa
, which was turned into the Oscar-winning film of the same name. This novel traces the return of the Redlich family to Germany after their nine-year exile in Kenya during World War II. In Africa, Walter had longed for his homeland and dreamed of rebuilding his life as a lawyer, yet ultimately he and his family—wife Jettel, daughter Regina, and baby Max—realize that Germany seems as exotic and unwelcoming to them in 1947 as Kenya had seemed in 1938. Hunger and desperation are omnipresent in bombed-out Frankfurt, and this Jewish family—especially Regina, who misses Africa the most—has a hard time adjusting to their new circumstances. Yet slowly the family adapts to their new home amidst the ruins.
In Frankfurt, Regina matures into a woman and, though her parents want her to marry an upstanding Jewish man, her love life progresses in its own idiosyncratic fashion. She develops a passion for art and journalism and begins her professional career at a Frankfurt newspaper. Walter at last finds professional success as a lawyer, but never quite adjusts to life in Frankfurt, recalling with nostalgia his childhood in Upper Silesia and his years in Africa. Only his son Max truly finds what Walter had hoped for: a new homeland in Germany.
Although the Redlichs receive kindness from strangers, they also learn anti-Semitism still prevails in post-Nazi Germany. They partake in the West German “economic miracle” with their own home, a second-hand car, and the discovery of television, but young Maxs discovery of the Holocaust revives long-buried memories. Rich in memorable moments and characters, this novel portrays the reality of postwar German society in vivid and candid detail.
"Published in Germany in 1996, this autobiographical sequel to Zweig's noteworthy Nowhere in Africa follows the Redlichs as they return to Germany in 1947 after 10 years in exile from National Socialism on a Kenyan farm. Walter is so desperate to practice law again that he uproots his complaining wife, Jettel, his clever, nurturing daughter, Regina, and baby Max to Frankfurt, where gentiles either make snide anti-Semitic comments or claim that they saved Jews and used to have many Jewish friends. Zweig has a deft hand with telling anecdotes. A gas company employee and his wife are evicted when they lack the necessary clout to defend themselves against political charges. In the deprivations of postwar Frankfurt, steel helmets become saucepans and a care package containing American foodstuffs elicits joyful tears. Also vividly described are bighearted Walter's staunch belief in the existence of 'the decent German' and budding journalist Regina's meeting with Otto Frank, who tells her how much she reminds him of his daughter, Anne. Although its setting isn't the exotic Kenya of the original novel and Comjean's translation is stiff and prolix, this is a worthy meditation on homelessness, exile and belonging. (Sept. 1)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“The strength of the novel lies . . . in telling with utmost sensibility how a Jewish family attempts the impossible: to lead a normal life in Germany just a few years after the Shoa.”—Allgemeine Jüdische Wochenzeitung
“A vivid slice of contemporary history, narrated in a suspenseful and witty manner without accusation or bitterness.”—Radio Bremen
About the Author
Stefanie Zweig, a novelist and journalist, was born to a Jewish family in Germany in 1932, fled with her parents to rural Kenya in 1938, and returned to Germany in 1947. Her autobiographical novels Nirgendwo in Afrika and Irgendwo in Deutschland have become European bestsellers. Nirgendwo in Afrika was made into a film that won the 2003 U.S. Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and five 2002 Golden Lola (German Film) Awards.