Synopses & Reviews
A charming and undeniably powerful debut novel set in Berlin about the friendship between a fading actor and a young married American woman who are both learning to live with the past
Walter Baum has one of the most famous voices in Germany, if no longer a famous face. A former television star, hes been dubbing Tom Cruises lines into German for fifteen years, since he returned from a failed attempt to make it as an actor in Hollywood. Now he finds himself nearing forty, alone and adrift.
In the apartment just below him, a young American woman named Hope is slipping further and further into herself. Having fled New York a month earlier to join her workaholic husband in Berlin, she finds herself more isolated than ever and unable to cope with the sense of foreboding created by the haunted city around her and the painful memories from the one she just left.
These two broken people form an unlikely friendship, at first out of loneliness, but then deepening out of genuine affinity. They are finally forced to reveal their secrets and examine their pasts, and, as a pair, they explore how to reconcile their hopes for the future with the ache of history that lingers, permanently, beneath the surface.
Funny, insightful, and moving, This Must Be the Place is an expertly crafted debut novel about the events that bind us together and the friendships that make and remake us whole.
"In Winger's touching and emotionally turbulent debut, the fantasy of new beginnings gives way to a persistent sense of haunted but oddly comforting history. Set in Berlin in the late fall of 2001, the novel focuses on the overlapping stories of grieving American expat Hope and has-been minor German celebrity Walter, who's dreaming of a new career in Hollywood. Hope recently suffered a late-term miscarriage and has reluctantly joined her economist husband in Berlin despite a widening gulf between them and her crippling depression. Walter's teenage heartthrob status has withered with age, and now he dubs American films into German. The friendship that blooms between them raises issues about personal and national identity, though their coming together is a bit too neat, as are the many oversimplifications of Americans and Germans that pepper the narrative. The real drama arises between the cities of New York and Berlin; both cities, like Hope and Walter, bear a profound survivor's guilt: the war, the wall and the towers overwhelm individual sorrows. There are a few clunky moments, but the elegant ending and confident storytelling are redeeming." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
As smart and cosmopolitan as the twenty-first-century Berlin she chronicles so well, Anna Wingers This Must Be the Place
is an essential love story for our confused and difficult times. Funny, touching, and unforgettable.
Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutantes Handbook and Absurdistan
"An unretouched yet touching portrait of a woman, a man and a city in flux...a story rooted in universal human emotions."
-The New York Times Book Review
"Funny, touching, and unforgettable."
-Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan
"With a wryly engaging voice, Winger...deftly reveals the rough-edged layers that make up places and people."
"Gracefully captures the odd emptiness of Berlin's streets as well as the subtleties of its inhabitants... a smart tasteful novel."
-The New York Sun
"Cosmopolitan, funny, and breezy to read...always smart and never sappy."
A "stealthily original" (The New York Times Book Review) debut novel of two people who find each other when they least expect it in a city haunted by history.
Walter Baum has one of the most famous voices in Germany. A former television star, he's been dubbing Tom Cruise's lines into German for fifteen years. Now he finds himself nearing forty, alone and adrift. In the apartment below is Hope, a young American woman, isolated in a lonely city. When they finally meet in the elevator of the building they share, what transpires is "an essential love story for our confused and difficult times."(Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan)
About the Author
Anna Winger grew up in Massachusetts and in Mexico. Her essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine and the Frankfurter Allgemeine, among other publications. She is also a photographer and the creator of NPR’s “Berlin Stories.” A graduate of Columbia University, she lives in Berlin with her family.