Eine Übersetzung wie Musik

Das ist ‚Geh nicht einsam in die Nacht‘ – aus dem Finnlandschwedischen von Paul Berf übersetzt und im Original von Kjell Westö geschrieben. Die Melodie der Geschichte begleitet mich, auch wenn ich das Buch schon längst ausgelesen habe. Eigentlich beschreibt es ein Zitat aus dem Buch am besten, was die Lektüre mit mir gemacht hat. Es steht auf S. 489 der gebundenen Ausgabe. Dort geht es darum, wie man berührt wird – von Liedern und von Menschen. Ich empfehle, zumindest diese Textstelle nachzulesen. Am besten aber gleich das ganze Buch. Die Geschichte von Jouni, Ariel und Adriana und allen, die mit ihnen in Berührung kamen, ist gleichzeitig Liebes- und Zeitgeschichte. Und erzählt ganz wunderbar, warum man in einer Sprache manchmal mehr zuhause ist als in einer anderen. Und warum man so häufig grandios aneinander vorbeiredet – oder auch vorbeischweigt.

Ein großer Roman.

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Neighbours (in Mumbai)

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but when I do, I like the book to tell me a good story. When I heard about Behind the Beautiful Forevers, the title made me curious and the fact that it was set in India even more so. Mumbai – vast, with many hidden corners – that is the setting – or rather, Annawadi, a neighbourhood where very poor people live in the vicinity of bustling Mumbai airport. The author Katherine Boo spent three years with the people we get to know in the book and witnessed their joy and their pain – well, it’s mostly pain with a glimpse of hope here and there. Corruption is one big theme and while I was reading the book, I almost despaired of all the injustice, the tedious criminal law procedures and the unfair medical treatment of the very poor. But above all, there was a sense of the very familiar – the squabbles of neighbours, the suspicious looks at somebody who is different, the girl struggling for a better life through education. The kids dream the universal dream of a better life. May at least some of them find it!

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Two (Crime) Stories

I listened to John Lanchester when he read from his book Capital and knew I had to read it. It is about London after all – or rather about a street in London. It tells the tale of several families and their sorrows and joys in 2008. Their lives are disrupted by postcards, followed by nastier messages.
The book is also about suspected and real criminal activity, fraudulent and destructive behaviour, love in various forms and great despair. The „hurly-burly of family life“, as the author puts it, is presented to the reader without judgement. The double entendre of the title stayed with me throughout the story – and on a recent visit to London, I was wondering whether it would always be the place of choice for those who have made this city truly great – its people from all over the world and their creative approach to life.

A friend recommended the other story  to me. Luckily, one of my favourite London bookshops had this little gem in stock. Dag Solstad’s Professor Andersen’s Night is a fascinating study on solitude, inner monologues, their sometimes rather destructive and misleading nature and on friendships and how they evolve over time. I think it’s a novella. Would you agree?


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Just a quick note to say: Ratlines by the Northern Irish writer Stuart Neville is a GOOD read and hadn’t been on my book wish list for nothing. After reading a review in the Saturday edition of the Financial Times on 25 January 2013), I was intrigued by this story that travels between Germany’s, France’s and Ireland’s past and the present. But then I forgot about it for a while, until it caught my eyes on my way back to Berlin at Dublin airport. It’s not your ordinary crime thriller, since it uses quite a lot of historical facts and blends them with the fictional (and sometimes not so fictional characters). The main character Lieutenant Albert Ryan has a tough job to do and some difficult decisions to make, testing his integrity and makes him wonder what loyalty means. There are lots of twists in the story and yes, there’s love, too.  Or something like it. I know now what the title means. Do you want to find out, too?

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Philosophical in 2013

I was given a question for Christmas – and quite a big one it was. No less than Who Are We? was on the agenda. This book by the journalist Gary Younge takes the reader’s thoughts into new directions. Every time I thought „Yes, that’s what I’m already doing. Ok, that’s something I could do better“, there was still another thought around the corner that I hadn’t even contemplated. All wrapped into stories about different people’s identities, why they feel comfortable (or too comfortable) in their own skin or why they don’t. Never really having to justify why I want to cross a particular border is a great privilege. I knew that before I’d read the book. But now I understand even better what it means not to be in that position. Plus: It’s great about Ireland ….
I pass the question on – and recommend the book to anybody who might want to discuss this big question with me and others.

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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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The writer John Boyne

… writes fiction for children and adults. First, I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and introduced it to a group of kids. They all wanted to read about the precarious friendship between two boys who lived in dangerous times and different worlds. A sad and utterly readable story. I was hooked and wanted to understand this writer’s world better.
Next came Noah Barleywater runs away, followed by The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket. Both books tell us what it feels like to be different. And how lonely it can be to be a child in a world of often indecipherable and incomprehensible adults. John Boyne evokes new destinies. And tells me as his adult reader how important it is to never lose our sense of wonder. I guess I ought to read one of John Boyne’s novels for adults next ….

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Herbstzeit – Krimizeit?

Diese Frage kann ich eindeutig mit „ja“ beantworten. Wenn die Tage länger werden, gruselt sich’s schöner. Und wenn der Krimi dann noch mit gutem Essen (meistens) und mit leckeren Weinen von der Mosel aufwartet, ist er in 2 Tagen „verschlungen“.

„Teufelsfrucht“ von Tom Hillenbrand ist eine schöne Einführung in die Welt der Gourmetküche und warum nicht immer alles Käse ist, was so aussieht, riecht und schmeckt. Außerdem lernt man ein bisschen Letzeburgisch, streift mit dem Antihelden Xavier Kieffer durch die Kasematten und wird beim Lesen richtig hungrig. Enjoy!

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A fashion statement

I like clothes and what they say about me and others. I like reading Vogue magazine. And I was intrigued by ‚The Thoughtful Dresser‘, because the title implied that it goes beyond skin-deep observations on fashions. In fact, the book does all but that and Linda Grant (who has a blog with the same title) finds unusual ways into the minds of fashionistas. She writes about Auschwitz. And 9/11. About the truths of nakedness and the comfort (and discomforts) of a pair of shoes. And the family stories told by handbags. One German translation of ‚thoughtful‘ is ‚wohlüberlegt‘ – I try to apply that to the clothes and accessories I wear. And another is ’nachdenklich‘ – and that’s what the book made me.

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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