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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daring masterpiece from young German original, 2 Dec. 2007
D. Winchester "atomic83" (Bushey, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Book of Words (Hardcover)
Those familiar with her The Old Child will know already how densely harrowing Jenny Erpenbeck's prose is. Her second short novel The Book of Words, despite the knowingly opaque title, ratchets up the pressure in this gratifyingly claustrophobic masterpiece.

From the first, the anonymous narrator wrestles with her childhood memories, picking and piecing with cryptic method to `seize memory like a knife and turn it against itself, stabbing memory with memory. If I can.' The reader pursues the narrator's uncovering of secrets in a kind of skewed whodunit, aching to assist the reconstruction of her childhood. It becomes clear that her world is ravaged by the tyranny and churning revisionism of Communist government; though Erpenbeck carefully chooses a non-specific location, leading the reader to feel that such paranoia could reoccur anytime and anywhere. The sense of complicity and involvement magnifies as we begin to guess at secrets closer to the narrator's home, especially the role of her mysterious father.

I cannot recommend this too highly. It is a glorious riddle of a novel, darkly affecting and written in unflinchingly sharp prose. The legend of Erpenbeck's mastery of short fiction is spreading; enjoy her now before everyone else.
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The Book of Words
The Book of Words by Jenny Erpenbeck (Hardcover - 6 Dec. 2007)
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