In “one of the most important German novels of recent years,”* a man, a town, and a country wrestle with fifty years of displacement and political upheaval
Provincial Guldenberg is still reeling from World War II when a flood of German refugees arrives from the east, Bernhard Haber’s family among them. Life is hard enough—Bernhard’s father has lost an arm and his carpenter’s income. But added to this injury comes an accumulation of insults, as the upright town turns hostile toward the newcomers. After a string of mysterious losses—from the killing of the boy’s dog to the unexplained death of his father—Bernhard is set on extracting revenge.
Rich with psychological insight, Christoph Hein’s acclaimed novel tells Bernhard’s story across nearly fifty years, chronicling his remarkable rise from victimized outsider to Guldenberg’s most prominent burgher. What began as a geographic dislocation evolves into a personal quest: the thirst for vengeance yields to the deeper need for a home and settling down proves more important than settling grudges. As the socialist state gives way to reunification and the capitalism of the 1990s, Hein’s masterful, multivoiced narration charts the transformation not just of one man but of an entire nation struggling to leave history behind and claim a home.
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Christoph Hein, novelist, playwright, and essayist, is one of Europe’s most respected literary and political voices. He is the author of the widely translated and internationally acclaimed novels Willenbrock, The Distant Lover, and The Tango Player, among others. A former president of PEN Germany and the winner of several literary prizes, he lives in Berlin.