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The Mussel Feast (Peirene's Turning Point Series) by [Vanderbeke, Birgit]
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The Mussel Feast (Peirene's Turning Point Series) Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Length: 112 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Review

'We are playing catch-up here with something of a contemporary European classic.' David Mills, SUNDAY TIMES ------ 'The novella brilliantly renders both the power of the revolutionary moment and the uncertainty of the future it unleashes.' Jane Yager, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT ------ 'This is one of those books that doesn't tell us what to think, but sets us off thinking ... Who writes this kind of nuanced work in Britain?' Nicholas Lezard, GUARDIAN ------ 'Sinister, funny and heartening, this taut novella reflects, within the microcosm of the family, the dissolution of the East German state, with an insight, economy and controlled fury that have made it a modern German classic.' Chris Schuler, INDEPENDENT ------ 'There is a political edge to Vanderbeke's provocative examination of patriarchal violence, and part of the power of this darkly comic tale is how well it succeeds as an allegory for political tyranny.' Lucy Popescu, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY ------ 'Astute, darkly funny, provocative, often uncomfortable in its devastating depiction of patriarchal oppression but ultimately uplifting.' Pam Norfolk, LANCASHIRE EVENING POST ------ 'An extraordinary book, the story unspooled with masterful restraint, and written with simplicity and precision.' Francesca Segal, STANDPOINT

About the Author

Birgit Vanderbeke, born in 1956, is one of Germany's most successful literary authors. She has written 12 novels. The Mussel Feast was her first publication and won the most prestigious German language literature award, The Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. The book was published in 1989 and has never been out of print since. It has been translated into all major European languages, including French, Spanish and Italian.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 913 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Peirene Press (1 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B0SSSDW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #189,035 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

Top customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the way the Germanness of German shows through no matter how good the translation (and this one's exemplary) but this grim domestic interior makes Thomas Bernard seem a humourist. Maybe it's the small number of words per line in Peirine's dinky format, but I found myself scrolling forward furiously, something I really hate doing. BOY was I bored!!! I wonder what Katherine Mansfield would have done with this - or my favourite depressive, Mary Lavin? (And can what is presumably neu-alt not be better rendered than by new-old? Reproduction? Retro?)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A brilliant portrayal of a tryannical, ambitious disloyal father by his clever, rebellious teenage daughter, and set in Germany after reunification.
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By Freckles VINE VOICE on 8 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
Written in Germany in August 1989 , just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, this entriguing monologue is simple in it's telling, but huge in it's comprehension and impact.

One evening, a mother and her two teenage children are awaiting the anticipated return from work of the patriach of the family. Everything has been prepared and set out as usual on the dinner table, but tonight they are having mussels. Tonight is to be a celebration. A surefire promotion is expected and they are waiting for him to announce the wonderful "news." Uncharacteristically, of father there is no sign. Why is he late? Why no phone call explaining his delay?

As the mussels are cooked and allowed to go cold and a bottle of Spatllese is opened and consumed by all three, the atmosphere subtly changes. Told from the daughter's perspective, the lives of these seemingly ordinary people are pulled apart and, glimpse by glimpse, the reader begins to realise that things are not what they seem.

As expected from the wonderful Peirene, a justifiably respected publisher who go from strength to strength in their choice of impeccably translated European fiction, this is another jewel in their crown. This modern German classic by multi award winning Birgit Vanderbeke displays subtle storytelling, which suddenly delivers a virtual punch to the face to the unsuspecting reader, "The Mussel Feast" is a must read and highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
In this novel, first published in Germany in 1990, a mother and her two children sit at a table with a cooling dish of mussels, awaiting the arrival of the family's father. "The Mussel Feast" is narrated by the daughter in a continuous monologue full of repetition and reported speech. The description of the wait is interspersed with recollections of the past and gradually a picture of the family and its tyrannical head emerges.

The hellish vision revealed by the daughter is often difficult to read, although the book is lightened by moments of wry humour. In her portrait of a family Vanderbeke has given us a microcosm of a repressive state and it is no coincidence that the novel was written shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"The Mussel Feast" is a short book which can be read in a few hours; it leaves a powerful and long-lasting impression, however, and I finished admiring Vanderbeke's skill and wanting to read more of her work.
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Format: Paperback
A mother and her teenage daughter (the narrator) and son are gathered round the table, on tenterhooks, waiting for Father's return from a business trip. And very quickly the reader sees that this is no normal family dynamic: the happy, easy-going life of the last few ays is dissipating as they await the heavy presence of the head of the house.... And as his return is delayed, the conversation and memories start to reveal the truth.

The author wrote this just before the fall of The Berlin Wall in 1989: "I wanted to understand how revolutions start. It seemed logical to use the figure of a tyrannical father and turn the story into a German family saga."
And the analogies between the two situations are there throughout: the constant fear that he can hear their rebellious thoughts; the way that they are encouraged to inform on one another, to garner his praise, causing them to distrust each other, and not join forces against him...

A short (105p) but powerful work which I read in one sitting
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Format: Paperback
Translated from the German and written just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Birgit Vanderbeke's brief debut novel makes for an unusual and very unsettling read. Narrated by an unnamed teenaged girl, we read of how she and her brother and mother are anxiously awaiting the return of her father from his work. He is expecting a promotion and the mother has prepared a huge bowl of mussels for her husband in celebration of his almost certain advancement; she does not particularly care for mussels herself, but she has scrubbed them assiduously under the cold tap and cooked them carefully. At six o'clock, when the father usually returns home, there is no sign of him; the three of them sit around the table unsure of what to do - the father can be a difficult man and none of them want to upset him by starting the celebratory meal without him. However as the time passes and still there is no sign of the father's return, the mother daringly opens a bottle of Spatlese, sharing it between herself and her children and, while the wine flows, the three of them begin to relax and open up with each other. And as the reader listens to the girl's increasingly chilling narrative, we gradually learn that the father is a sadistic tyrant who bullies and terrifies his entire family, and he is all the more frightening because he is convinced that he is helping them to become what he thinks of as a proper family...

Deftly translated by Jamie Bulloch and attractively presented by Peirene Press 'The Mussel Feast' is, as commented at the beginning of this review, an unusual and very unsettling read, and the further one reads, the more unsettled one feels.
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