Paula by Sandra Hoffmann

Paula by Sandra Hoffmann

German fiction

Original title – Paula

Translator – Katy Derbyshire

Source – review copy

As I work towards 100 books from Germany I will be featuring the other two books from the new publisher of German translations V and q here is the second of three books they brought out. The writer Sandra Hoffmann was born and still lives in Munich. She teaches creative writing. She writes for radio and her first novel what he will miss when he’s dead won a prize.  As this book did this won the Hans Fallada prizes.two years ago she was the writer in residence for the summer school for the British centre for literary translation two years ago.

Like my grandmother, I enjoy sitting by the window, and like my grandmother, I enjoy looking out at nature, I enter a state of peace that mekes me me wish she also got to experience moments like these. Sometimes, at least. I hear her sayiong: Can you see the squirrel? Can you see the yellow butterfly? And :Does that farmer have to make so much noise at this time of day? I hear her speaking her language,Her Swabian dialect, in which the sentence aboutthe farmer is Muos der um dia zeit no so n’ krach macna.”

I loved this as it remind me of my grandfather trhat loved nature as well .

This novella is told in the first-person narrative of Sandra Hoffman as a young woman and the time she spent with her grandmother of her. The big secret in the family is who was her mother’s father this is something Paula a devout catholic who has filled the house with the silence of these events. What we see is Sandra looking at photos she found after her gran’s death hidden in drawers as she tries to picture the women she knew with the woman much younger in the pictures alongside this is the everyday coming and goings of her youth her memories as she says she has had talking therapy and is maybe an unreliable narrator. I loved the touches of the times the 70s. Like when she translates Simon and Garfunkel lyrics for the song Boxer or remembering watching  Bonanza which reminds me of Sundays as a young child when it was shown here in the Uk. What we have here is a grandchild remembering a singular gran that had a secret that she never revealed like many of her generations it was a scar on her life having this child te love than in her teen years the usual hormonal struggles of the generations as they distance themselves.

My grandmother works as a cleaning lady in a big pharmaceutical company, so there are some days when she’s not at home, They, are good days because my mother is relaxed. Sometimes they’re even very good days. We wtalk to each other more. My grandmother doesn’t tell us much about  her work. Nothing much to say,she says. The most important thing is that she gets out of the house,sees other peeople whose names she never mentions, goes to a job where you have to loass through airlocks in protective clothing, where you’re deliberately silent because you’re deliberatelysilent because you’re to caught up in the protective clothes and your own thoughts

The silence and influence of her grandmother over the house is obvious here.

This is a great piece of autofiction broken memories of a relationship that at its heart of it is a void of this secret who was the Father Sandra own Grandfather the silence of the grandmother just falls off the page at times having lived with a step paren that was a silent man it is hard to fill this void as it always lingering. But the other side of this is those small everyday things we remember the memories of the little things her the jam pots she collected and her own mother as she makes things every winter. Then there are the everyday life events as the two once close as she is a child but over the years she grows apart and to dislike her part of the looking back and writing this a long time after she passed away is trying to fill in the void of her gran and the pictures she left trying to imagine what they all were about what her gran was like how she became this harden woman at the time. I often use the movie night book that Meike at Peirene uses for her novellas this is a perfect example I reread it today over a couple of hours. It walks the line between fiction and autobiography as she says she is an unreliable narrator.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JacquiWine
    Oct 27, 2020 @ 09:53:31

    This sounds very good indeed, Stu. A book that taps into the growing field of autofiction in a thoughtful and compelling way. V&Q seem to have got off to an impressive start with this one.

    Reply

  2. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Oct 27, 2020 @ 14:32:49

    It’s a great book, isn’t it Stu? So brilliantly written and really has you seeing both sides of the story.

    Reply

  3. heavenali
    Oct 27, 2020 @ 18:08:41

    I really enjoyed this one too. V&Q do seem to have started really well. I must get round to the other two books they have published.

    Reply

  4. Claire 'Word by Word'
    Nov 03, 2020 @ 07:19:49

    This does sound good, autofiction or creative nonfiction is getting a good wrap at the moment, more like this please.

    Reply

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