Bury the Dead

Peter Carter, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $17 (373p) ISBN 978-0-374-31011-0
This is a singular novel, by an extraordinarily able author, about people in the Soviet zone of Berlin. Carter is so unobtrusive that his many characters quickly assume their own voices, while the story practically tells itself. The Norderns aren't affluent but are secure as citizens of the German Democratic Republic. Erika and her young brother Paul have friends and interests like those of adolescents in other places: Paul prefers rock music and cowboy movies to school; Erika, an A-student, trains for athletic competitions. They live with their parents, government employees, and their maternal grandmother Omi. Herr and Frau Nordern adhere to communist principles, which Omi, the daughter of Prussian aristocratics, merely accepts. The days pass as usual until the sudden, incredible arrival of Omi's brother, Karl von Bromberg, reported killed as a German officer in 1945. Now living in West Berlin, Karl is on a business trip, which gives him the opportunity to visit Omi and other kin. His family is impressed by Karl's explanation of his disappearance and ""rebirth.'' Epitomizing the rich uncle, he treats the family to luxuries, and there are celebrations in his honor and Erika's, a champion high jumper and pride of the GDR. Amid the rejoicing, Erika and her parents are conscious of recurring puzzling incidents. These form a subtly sustained narrative revolving around a secretone that insures readers will not soon, if ever, forget anyone involved in this powerful drama. Ages 12-up. (April)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1987
Release date: 03/01/1987
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