Takis Würger, trans. from the German by Liesl Schillinger. Grove, $25 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8021-4917-6
Würger’s spare, affecting novel (after The Club) sets a coming-of-age story amid the deceptions and cruelty of Nazi-dominated Berlin. Friedrich grows up outside Geneva, son of an affluent textile importer and an alcoholic, anti-Semitic painter who hopes to nurture in her son the artistic greatness she never achieved. When Friedrich is eight, he suffers an injury in a snowball fight that robs him of color perception, disappointing his mother and sending him into despair. By the time Friedrich is 20, in 1942, he’s developed a romantic idea of Berlin from literature and newsreels, and travels there despite the raging war, believing “a little bit of [the Germans’] strength could pass to me.” There, he falls in love with beautiful artists’ model Kristin, who doesn’t allow him to see her home or meet her family. After Kristin is raped, beaten, and shaved, she admits to Friedrich she is a Jew named Stella Goldschlag (a historical figure subsequently known for collaborating with the Gestapo). Stella tells Friedrich she can save her parents by locating a Jewish document forger, but Friedrich worries she is still not telling him the truth. While the novel’s ending doesn’t feel fully resolved, Würger skillfully intertwines fact and fiction. This subtle, thought-provoking narrative is worth a look. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/08/2020
Release date: 03/09/2021
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-8021-4919-0
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