In the High Peaks

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

German Postwar Literary Challenge

A hot and very humid day in the high 80s (just nudging 90) and I decided I wouldn't step outside all day. I've been out hiking and biking for days until today.

For my early morning read, I started a new mystery that many people have recommended: Julia Spencer-Fleming's In the Bleak Midwinter. Spencer-Fleming sets her mystery series in what she calls the "piedmont Adirondacks" region. The top two sleuths include a young ex-Army woman Episcopal priest and a seasoned ex-Army police chief. It's my "I'm just relaxing" read. And the novel's well done and has won several awards.

The German Postwar Literary Challenge: I realize I've been vigorously pursuing it, so I might as well, as my father used to say, "make a league of it," and announce my whole-hearted participation, just in case anyone wants to join me. This is a very simple challenge. Read one book by a German author published after 1945 and you're in.

Perhaps you're already a German-in-translation reader. Any book that you have read in the past counts as well. Films count too. Did you like Das Boot? (Incredible, highly acclaimed WWII submarine film!) Or The Reader based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink? (I highly recommend both the book and the film!)

I've nearly finished the extraordinary novella Lost by Hans-Ulrich Treichel, which was published by Pantheon in 1999. The narrator, like Treichel, was born after WWII. The narrator is an only child, age eight, whose parents never let him forget that their beloved firstborn, Arnold, was tragically lost when the Russians invaded their East Prussian farming village in 1945. Pursued by a horde of Russian soldiers, the narrator's mother passed the infant Arnold into the arms of a woman not under pursuit. Terrible trauma came next for the narrator's mother, followed by grief and mourning for the lost son and forced relocation (by the Allies) to Westphalia in western Germany. The novel, mixing pathos and absurdly comic moments, follows the narrators' parents frustrated attempts to search for Arnold. In such a novel, the reader comes closer to learning what it was like to be German after Hitler. Mind-blowing stuff!

1 comment:

  1. I just read In the Bleak Midwinter myself and liked it a lot.