Category Archives: Verschiedenes

My first book in 2019

I bought Hotel Silence by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir in Dublin – a little Christmas present to myself. It’s about a man’s journey, his relationships and his skills as a handyman – and about war and suicide. Not cheerful. But thoroughly heartwarming. The war took place in an unknown country, one assumes it was a civil war, neighbours against neighbours, the choir’s baritone against the tenor. Really messy, destructive and without much hope for the future. But somehow, Jónas’s arrival  – also meant to be (self-)destructive – mends instead. How that happens is wonderful to read, because it feels like it could happen to all of us. Throughout the book are diary entries by Jonas and quotes that made me pause my reading. Step back, take a different point of view, disagree, understand the young and the older mind.
Because I would have not been able to read this book in Icelandic (yes, it won the Icelandic Literature Prize), I’m very grateful that Brian FitzGibbon translated it into English. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on this enriching book.

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William Boyd is a master….

…of mixing facts with fiction. It’s almost impossible to think that Amory Clay is a fictional character. She comes to life in Sweet Caress – photos and all. The images are no real surprise, given she spent her life as a photographer, first capturing events in Berlin in the 1920s. London was not ready for these images from the Berlin demi-monde, and Amory’s first exhibition causes a real stir, unfortunately not leading to professional success and wealth. Yet she meets one of the most important men in her life and moves to New York to get away from it all. The readers follow her on this fascinating and often dangerous journey, a journey that claims war victims and destroys relationships, but also brings new hope and encounters. When New York is no longer a happy place for Amory, she moves back to London, documents a march of the Blackshirts and is seriously injured. But it wouldn’t be a William Boyd novel if the main character wasn’t incredibly resilient and ready for new adventures after her recovery. Germany at the end of WW II, then bliss in Paris and Scotland and – the war in Vietnam, where she finally gains real recognition as a photographer.
Perhaps I liked the Barrandale Journal best, little interludes throughout the book, where Amory Clay takes time out for quiet reflection in a rather isolated spot, walking her dog, the Labrador Flam. If you haven’t got all your books for the summer holidays yet, this is one to get!

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A new life?

Asylum and Exile – The hidden voices of London by Bidisha is a collection of stories – real-life stories. They remind us what it means to migrate, to search for a new (better?) life, to look for work, love, attachment – a home. As the reader, I do not get the comfort zone of fiction – these are people with real woes, sorrows and some happy encounters. Manny, Elodie, Marie, Glorianna and all the others do not have much in common, but in the public perception, they are often viewed as one anonymous group of refugees. For me, it is the greatest achievement of this book to lift these people from this anonymity and introduce them to us, the readers. They arrive from different places and backgrounds and – although in the same country now – do not want the same things from life. One thing they DO have in common, though, is the desire for physical safety and no violence. They’ve given up a lot and face a lot of unknown quantities. Frequently highly educated and equipped with at least one university degrees, they have to start from scratch. Their documented new beginnings show a glimpse of hope. Thank you, Bidisha, for unlocking „….the lost people in the city.“ The city that is London. And thank you to Seagull Books for this honest account of what it means to live in a new and often hostile place.

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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 | September 6, 2012 · 8:37 pm