Detlev's Imitations

Hubert Fichte, Author, Martin Chalmer, Translator Serpent's Tail $14.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-85242-167-0
This novel by Fichte, an important figure in the postwar German literary renaissance who died in 1986, is a sequel to The Orphanage and the middle volume of a trilogy. The book moves fluidly from the adventures of Detlev, a half-Jewish illegitimate child growing up in the Third Reich, to his adult persona, Jacki, a bisexual radical mixed up in the demimonde of Hamburg in 1968, slidingpk kaleidoscopically among the streams of consciousness of the protagonist's two faces, excerpts from documentary material on the 1943 Allied firebombing of Hamburg and conversations overheard by both boy and man. In the postwar maelstrom of occupation and denazification, Detlev and his mother become involved in the theater, while Jacki skirts the periphery of the '68 student riots. Man and boy come to difficult awakenings regarding their homosexuality and, metaphorically, the collective guilt of the German people. The result is a dizzying, dazzling, but often frustrating technical feat. American readers may find Chalmers's very British translation another source of confusion. However, Fichte is a major literary voice, distinctive and challenging. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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