Category Archives: Lesung


Das Trugbild – so lautet der Titel des neuen Romans von Kiel Westö, wie immer hervorragend von Paul Berf übersetzt.
Ein Kriminalroman? Auch. Eine Liebesgeschichte? Vielleicht. Ein historischer Roman? In gewisser Weise. Vor allem ist dieses Buch eines: Eine großartige Studie der einzelnen Protagonisten und deren Vorstellungskraft oder -schwäche. Als Leserin wurde ich hineingezogen in diese Gesellschaft in Finnland, die ein Ausbrechen des 2. Weltkrieges erst ahnen und dann immer deutlicher zum Vorschein kommen lässt – stets mit kunstvollen Rückgriffen auf Historisches, auf Entwicklungszusammenhänge. So mischt sich Fiktion mit Realität und reale Personen erscheinen wie Fantasiegestalten, die plötzlich wie aus dem Nichts vom Meer heranrudern. Grenzen von Beziehungen und Staaten werden ausgelotet, in Frage gestellt oder neu angelegt. Besonders faszinierend erscheint in diesem Zusammenhang die Beziehung zwischen Anwalt Thune und seiner Kontoristin, Frau Wiik. Ihr Zusammenwirken und ihr Schweigen aus unterschiedlichen Gründen war zu Recht ein zentrales Thema bei der Lesung in den Nordischen Botschaften in Berlin, die ich besuchte, ohne das Buch gelesen zu haben und die nun, nach der Lektüre, eine neue Dimension bekommen hat.

Mehr möchte ich nicht schreiben, ich erkannte den ‚whodunnit‘ recht schnell, was mich freute, denn Kjell Westö hatte seine Spuren meisterhaft verwischt. Unbedingt lesen!

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Families and a War

A book that ends with a warm soup is comforting – together with all the other emotions The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt evokes. I was lucky to hear the author read from this book in Berlin and plunged into the world of Olive, Humphry, Major Cain and his friend, the ceramic artist Benedict Fludd and  their children. It is a time of change and upheaval in Britain and Germany, portrayed through this microcosm of people in search of fulfilment that isn’t always found – or sometimes – in the case of Philip and his sister Elsie – found in the most unexpected circumstances. Lives are intertwined and families aren’t always the safe heaven they are supposed to be. The title reveals the author’s great empathy for her children characters, and it is often heartbreaking to read what one misunderstanding, a bully or a war can do to (very young) people.

I recommend this book – a slow read – for long winter evenings and as  a present to really good friends and to your family, of course – either in the English original or the  translation Das Buch der Kinder by Melanie Walz, advisor on all things related to Munich/Bavaria and creator of the German version.

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A Reading in London

In my view, there is no better word than visceral to describe Hassan Blasim’s collection of short stories The Madman of Freedom Square. They touched me and they moved me deeply. The stories  tell us about the futile nature of war, about displaced people and people who stay at home. Home is in war-torn Iraq, where life is often perilous and marked by the loves, the joys and fears of everyday life. Death comes unexpectedly at home in The Market of Stories, where reading about a shoe has the same effect on me as a film scene with boots in ‚All Quiet on the Western Front‘ –  and is expected to turn up at every turn in the story The Truck to Berlin. I was lucky to be able to listen to Hassan Blasim and his English translator Jonathan Wright at an English PEN event, where they introduced the writer’s latest book The Iraqi Christ. They talked about the humour of the stories – a humour that doesn’t mask the horror. Humankind in all its rich facettes  – I’m looking forward to reading more by Hassan Blasim.

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Berlin liest

Berlin liest  – eine Initiative des Internationalen Literaturfestivals Berlin. Ich las auch – bei herrlichem Spätsommerwetter. Die Kurzgeschichte ‚A Long Winter‘ aus dem Buch….

(Fotografiert von: Christiane Keilig)

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by | 06/09/2012 · 20:37


If John Burnside writes well about men, Siri Hustvedt writes well about women. The title The Summer Without Men somehow implies who plays the main role. Men have a presence in this book. A presence that is examined and re-evaluated.
And then there are the women – remarkable in old, middle and young age. A very loving portrayal of what it means to be old and frail is one aspect that I loved about this book. And what it means to have hidden so much in a lifetime, yet to find a  way to tell the story in the end  (in the case of  Abigail – one of the so-called Five Swans). Then there are the changes of perspective. The analysis of „indirect“ emotions (while watching a film) versus „direct emotions“ confronted with the death of a loved one. The dialogue with me, the reader. A woman myself, drawn into the circle in Boden.
After the bout of madness comes Mia’s healing. The only thing I was missing in that process was a female friend from her past. Somehow, that person didn’t seem to exist. Maybe she’ll come after the return to New York. After all, a substantially changed life always invites new people in. Let’s see where it takes the poet and teacher Mia. I liked her. And I liked reading about her circle.

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Family men

I had met the author before I read the book. It was a beautiful summer evening in Berlin. Das Blaue Sofa  – brilliantly hosted by Barbara Wahlster – was taken apart and the discussion began. About the importance of editors. And translators. Social networks were also mentioned. And when we all gathered on the roof of the house to admire the sights and building sites of  ‚Unter den Linden‘, the conversation continued, the story unfolded and I knew what I wanted to read next. A Lie About My Father by John Burnside is one of those books that I won’t forget. It’s honest. It’s fiction and autobiography and it let me choose between the two. It is uncomfortable and heart-warming. It rummages in a family’s entrails and leaves me wondering why it’s so easy to take the wrong turn. And yes – it’s about addiction. Alcohol, other drugs – it’s all there. The mess, the hurt and the betrayals of self and others. And about men who want to hide.

At the beginning, there’s a quote by Patti Smith. I went to her concert the day after ‚Das Blaue Sofa‘.

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Filed under Bücher, Gelesen, Lesung