Reading Europe German Lit on the radio

 

 

Look who's back

Today saw one of my favourite books get on the radio , Look who’s back by Timur Vermes  I reviewed this book last year .The book is a satire about Hitler returning to Germany in 2011 , 66 after the last day he remembered was in 1945 , as we see him tackling the new world that surrounds him . He finds people have forgotten who he is or thing he is a comic that does Hitler on the german tv .The amount of turkish people now in Berlin and things like TV , Starbucks or Herr Starbuck’s as he calls it the rise of his coffee shops . I’m so happy this was choosen to as part of the BBC reading europe series . For me when I reviewed this I said how well Jaime the translator of the book   had caught the  voice of hitler , this has been carried over in the performance of David Threlfall  which is  just perfect .He has  long been one of my favourite actors and in this performance he  captures what we feel Hitler must have been like if he spoke english in the 1940’s , that madness that is just below the surface of him  ,.He has the feel of a man on the edge but just on the edge . we see how Hitler becomes a star of the new media age  on a comedy show (presented by a Turkish comedian ), The TV folk think he is actually a very clever comedy  act , not the real person . Some great lines , where he takes some one to pieces about their knowledge of Poland , his constant thoughts about  what he would do to people around him  and looking for his  new Bormann .The final discovery the internet a wonder to him  .You can find this the first episode here  .If you want to see how Hitler finds modern Germany .Another triumph for Jamie Bulloch , he also translated Every seventh wave and forever yours which were also on the radio .

 

Portrait of the mother as a young woman by Friedrich Christian Delius

 

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman

Portrait of the mother as a young women by Friedrich Christina Delius

German Fiction

Original title – Bildnis der Mutter als junge Frau

Translator – jamie Bulloch

Source – review copy

My Wandering Days Are Over”

You know my wandering days are over
Does that mean that I’m getting boring?
You tell me
I’m tired of listening to myself now
I’m tired of fixing things for Michael and the rest of them

You know my bip-bopping days are over
I hung my boots up and then retired from the disco floor
Now the centre of my so called being is
The space between your bed and wardrobe with the louvre doors

I said “My celibate days are over”
You put me straight on the finer points of my speech rehearsed
In the mirror of my steamy bathroom
Where the lino tells a sorry story in a monologue

Well after watching the film last night of Stuart Murdoch first film , I thought of his lyrics as he seems to capture what is going on in the mind so well in his songs and wandering days from Belle and Sebastian debut album seemed just right .

Well I reach last of the first year of Peirene books , the year of the woman series and this was actually Peirene no 1 .Now I will spare you another stream of consciousness homage  review like I did for the first review .Since the book came out FC Delius has written three more books and won the Georg Buchner prize , considered the most important prize in German literature .

Her beloved husband could not have sought out a better refugee , she could not have found a lovelier German island , and the child inside her stirred at these thoughts , she stopped , felt the movement of the little legs and arms , she took this as a sign of consent and responded by slipping her right hand under her coat and slowly stroking her dress and curved belly ,

Just as she is walking clues to a forthcoming son maybe ?!

The book follows a young woman on a walk through the streets of Rome to see a Bach concert , whilst taking this walk we enter her mind and see what she is thinking as she is walking her husband is due to be moved to fight for the Germans on the African front again .A clue to what is making her think this is the fact she has just left the doctors ! She things over her past present and future as she walks alone , things like a concert they saw in kassel ( I remember this although near end of the book as it is where an old girlfriend of mine was from so I spent time in Kassel years ago ) .What comes across is the feeling of being a woman lost during the war , a husband away fighting for the homeland and wondering how the world they live in  end up this way .

every time she went to church this old poster reminded her of the days shortly before her engagement in October ’40 , when Gert and she had heard Orpheus and Eurydike in Kassel Opera House and had so enraptured by the blissful music that afterwards she hummed the she is gone , and gone for ever ,

The scene from earlier in their relationship when they were in kassel .

Now to be honest I struggled to review this book five years ago and still have this time , although I enjoyed it more second time round and felt I got more out of the prose this time .There is a real sense of being in the mind in the thoughts of the woman , who has just left the doctors and is thinking mainly back on her life and meeting her husband and their life .There is also a bit of denial and fear in one she is trying yo avoid what may face her husband but also knows deep down what is happening and that at this point the war seems to have no end in sight in 1943 .It’s hard to imagine this book isn’t partly inspired by Delius own mother in some way , he was born in 1943 , which is the same year and time as the woman in the book leaves the doctor in January 1943 .I made more of the connection to James Joyce in the first review , of course the title is a play in a way to Joyce’s book a portrait of an artist as a young man .Delius has written this in a modernist style but it isn’t as complex prose wise as say Joyce or Woolf .More a nod to these master using a small glimpse of time a walk to a concert , like the day of Ulysses or day of Mrs Dalloway’s party to expand a small amount of time into a lifetime and the events of a simple walk through the mind’s eye become the events of ones life .

Have you read this book ?

The Chef by Martin Suter

 

The Chef by Martin Suter

Swiss fiction

Original title – Der Koch

Translator – Jaime Bulloch

Source – Review copy

 

I can change the world
With my own two hands
Make it a better place
With my own two hands
Make it a kinder place
With my own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands
I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
I can clean up the earth
With my own two hands
I can reach out to you
With my own two hands

with my own two hands a love song by Jack Johnson , reminds me of what Maravan made with his own two hands source 

Well its been a quiet German lit month here on winstonsdad , I’ve chosen a bestseller from Switzerland .Martin Suter started out as a copywriter , working for one of the best known ad agencies in Basel for twenty years ,before setting up his own company .He also has a well-known coloumn in a monthly magazine in Switzerland .He got his breakthrough novel in 1997 , small world which was made into a film .The cook is his seventh novel .he spends his time between Spain and Guatemala now .

By the time  Andrea left that evening she had been initiated into the aphrodisiac secrets of milk and urad lentils , saffron and palm sugar ,almonds and sesame oil ,saffron Ghee and long peppers , cardamom and cinnamon , asparagus and liquorice ghee .

The food describe at times makes you mouth water and you Andrea discover the power food can have .

The chef  is the story of two former restaurant employees , their former restuarant was one of the best known in Zurich to the fact its chef was a well-known , but after the financial crash lead to job cuts . So  Maravan the Tamil who was the dishwasher and Andrea the beautiful waitress find themselves without a job .The pair discover that Maravan , is actually a wonder in the kitchen , he learnt to cook back in his native Sri Lanka .But the food he cooks is more than food it has almost magical powers in the love department , as the people who eat it seem to be given added sexual powers they discover this after Maravan cooks one of his meals for Andrea and she falls for him after eating the food he cooks .This leads to the idea of starting a company cooking for couples and becoming partners in the buisness  .As the business grows we start to find out a little more about Maravan’s life before he came to switzerland ,where he shouldn’t be .They also grow and some of the people he is dealing with are shady seling arms this leads them into a underworld .

“The dirty stuff ”

Andrea understood immediately what he was saying , but asked “what dirty stuff ”

Maravan paused .

“If someone rings and wants ,you know , sex dinners .As far as I’m concerned you can say yes ”

“Oh that .All right , I’ll take that on board , anything else ?”

“Nothing.”

As soon as Maravan had hung up ,she looked for the number of the caller who had asked about the sex dinners ,she had noted it down , just in case .

They decide to move their business in a new direction using the special qualities in Maravan’s food .

Now I don’t usually read blockbuster novels in English , the books you may call airport books , but as I read just translation these days we come across these books from time to time Suter is a big star in Europe ,his books have been made into films .His novels from what I read tend to have like this one a social justice message behind them from Maravan’s own story to that of his friend from Ethiopia  , a bit of love and a bit of crime .I can’t really match it to an English writer as I say I don’t really read blockbuster novels .but that said I was reminded of the thing Stephen king does in his books and that is the sense ,Suter seems to have  an eye for this book ,possibly becoming a film .In fact the film version of this book is out in the next few weeks in German-speaking world .Entertaining quick read , that has a little bit of everything thrown into the mix , culture clash , cooking , love ,sex ,crime and murder , also a detailed description of the financial events around the world as the crash starts to happen .We also get the recipes that Maravan cooks .

Have you read a bestseller from around the world that has been translated into English ?

Someday we’ll tell each other everything by Daniela Krien

someday we'll tell each other everything

Someday we’ll tell each other everything by Daniela Krien

German fiction

Original title – Irgendwann werden wir uns alles erzählen.

Translator Jamie Bulloch

Source – Review copy

Despair and Deception, Love’s ugly little twins
Came a-knocking on my door, I let them in
Darling, you’re the punishment for all my former sins

I let love in

source Nick cave’s Let love in ,did Henner let love in was he ready ?

Time is running short for women in translation month I ‘ve three books left to put up for the month here is the first a German novel from one of my favourite publishers Maclehose .Daniela Krien was born in Jena in former East Germany  ,then lived in Lepzig ,she has been a scriptwriter for a number of years for a German film company that make films about artists .This was here début novel and won high praise in Germany for it use of  Powerful language it also was a best-selling German  Audiobook .

 Henner truly is a handsome man .I realised that when he was in the shop :a hulking body that moves powerfully , but with fine facial features .He has deep-set ,expressive eyes surrounded by small ,dark lines ,and a hint of bitterness around his mouth ,although when he smiles it disappears completely .You can’t tell he’s a drinker .

Maria first time see really sees Henner as the young women she is now .

Now it is 1990 the wall has fallen in Germany and slowly east is meeting west ,this story is the story of that summer .But this is in the hinterland of East Germany in a sleepy back water town .Maria is a 16  year old that is enjoying her first real summer of freedom .Now next door to her parents farm lives Henner a hard-drinking man ,that has many dogs and a reputation for being a womaniser.Now I have no need to say any more really .But it’s not as you may think ,no Maria is the one that falls for the rough unkempt Henner and starts to make moves for him .Henner responds as this affair grows it starts to cause Maria problems at home what will she do ? How does Henner really feel for Maria ? . where will they all be when summer is over ?

Shortly before midnight I leave Henner’s house carrying my case .As a goodbye he takes my head in his hands and plants a kiss on my forehead .Then he puts his index finger to his lips .I nod,perhaps not distinctly enough ; i sense that his eyes on my back lack their usual certainty .So I turn and repeat the gesture he was looking for .

The affair has to be secret at first .

I initially wasn’t keen on this when I was sent it from Maclehose something about the cover said a female read (I know I shouldn’t think this but I did ) .But I was sure there would be something in it I would like as Jamie whose previous translation choices I have always enjoyed .I am so pleased I looked past the cover on this one .The book is a reverse of what on the surface you imagine a 16-year-old girl and forty-year man would be and that is the Man seducing the younger girl .Maria is a great character a rebellious dreamy  teen want to shake the shackles of her family ,she is dreamy and sees Amour Fou in Henner .Yes this is a tale of passion ,passion for the wrong man but she sees more in him than maybe Henner sees in himself  .A summer romance but more than the average summer romance no this affair  is a raging forest fire of a romance and both may get burned in the end if they don’t control it .All this and in the background little hints at the joining  of east and west Germany ,one could almost say this relationship is rather like the joining  of the two  Germany’s  Maria as west German  young dreamy and in love and Henner broken ,stumbling through his life as East Germany .Have you a favourite book about romance desire or passion ?

Look who’s back by Timur Vermes

Look who's back

Look who’s back by Timur Vermes

German fiction

Original title – Er ist wieder da

Translator – Jamie Bulloch

Source – Review copies

There are times a book published elsewhere in the world gets noticed before it is even translated this is one such book it cause a storm when it was published in Germany ,and me with my finger just on the pulse really hoped it had a uk publisher pick it up so when those lovely folks at Maclehose said they had brought the rights and the rising star of translation from German Jamie Bulloch had been given the task of translating the book I knew it was going be great .Timur Vermes was born in Nuremberg to a German mother and Hungarian father he has written for various paper in German and also ghost-written a couple of books .This is his first novel .

The boys gathered around me , but kept a certain distance .After affording me a cursory inspection , the tallest of the youths , clearly the troop leader ,said :

“You alright ,boss ?”

Despite my apprehension ,I could not help noticing that the Nazi salute was missing altogether .I acknowledge that his casual form of address , mixing up “Boss” and  “Führer ”

Just after he wakes up and talks to a group of boys he still thinks it is 1940 something .

 

Well to the book Look who’s back ,now from the cover on the top you may already have a clue what the book is about .We meet Hitler but not in 1940’s German no he has woken up in the middle of Berlin in 2011 .Now he has to adjust to modern Germany .At first people see him as a bloke dressed as Hitler maybe from a party the night before,as Hitler slowly gathers that he has been brought forward sixty plus year his beloved fatherland as he sees it now is in a state of trouble .So he decide to try to regain power but as he thinks he is starting to be taken seriously .People actually think he is a very clever satire act ,but as it unfolds they laugh but the laughter stops with the more he says .As he become a star on You tube with his rants and views .Bur what do the modern extreme right make of him ? Will he ever accept a German run by a women ?

My supporters were fewer in number than ever before .And,mein Gott , there had been times in the past when they were in terribly short supply .I have a clear recollection of that occasion back in 1919 when I paid my first visit to what was still then the German worker’s party : seven people were present .

He starts small again in the present but remembers the past .

Loook who’s back is part of the continuing German looking back at the war years and figures involved in the war years ,this started a couple of decades ago with films like Europa ,europa ( a film following a Young Jewish boy who joins the Hitler youth to avoid the death camps ) ,Stalingrad ( a group of German soldiers get cut off from the troop and stuck in the deep Russian winter )  then of course Downfall .Now Timur has tackled modern German as  viewed through the eyes of the past and how often have we wondered what the  leaders of the past would make of the present .What would Churchill make of modern Britain is one thing I wondered ? Also the part I like is how Hitler is now viewed as a figure of fun by the modern German public what was once his true power the rant speech is now just surreal to a modern German public .It also shows how we view people in Modern media his rise now is because he is viewed as a clever satire ,but isn’t ,but people just think he is pulling the wool over their eyes .Vermes has tackle something that at times is still at the heart of modern Germany ,how did the past happen and could it happen again ? Jamie also really caught that voice of Hitler well .

Do you have a favourite satirical novel ?

 

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