cover image Here in Berlin

Here in Berlin

Cristina Garcia. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-61902-959-0

A nameless Visitor, lonely and insecure, spends several months in Berlin during 2013, absorbing the stories of dozens of people whose lives have been shaped, or twisted out of shape, by the Second World War and its aftermath. With the vividness—and unreliability—of a fevered hallucination, they tell haunting, and occasionally intersecting, stories that last only a few pages but linger much longer. An elderly Cuban, visiting the city for a funeral, recalls being kidnapped as an adolescent by the sailors on a German submarine, and then returned months later to his astonished family. A woman often mistaken for Eva Braun first embraces the similarity and then disguises it. A centenarian recalls visiting the United States in 1935 to research “the oratorical styles of black preachers in the South” for the benefit of Hitler. Garcia (Dreaming in Cuban) evokes a multicultural Berlin, shaped by those who arrived in East Berlin from Cuba, Angola, and Russia. The novel’s many excellent characters and their stories combine to create a sense of a city where, as an amnesiac photojournalist puts it, the ghosts “aren’t confined to cemeteries.” (Oct.)