I have only reached page 173 with another 800 pages to go. I am not sure yet whether I shall make it to the end. I cannot remember ever reading an author, either in English or German, who uses such convoluted language and bittily constructed sentences (some are half a page long), without the language in itself being a pleasure to read. It is utter torment and were it not for the fact that Tellkamp here and there does give the reader a glimpse into what it must have been like in the former GDR, I would have abandoned the book before now. It is in the hope of getting more of these insights that I struggle on. I find the book a disappointment considering the praise and prizes it received in Germany. A better author would have been able to use a language that is a pleasure to read as well as conveying the realities of having to lead a cultural and intellectual double life. However, I shall struggle on a little longer ... and this is where the book has some merit, this reader at least wants read some more of it, although I expect I shall end up reading diagonally.
Unfortunately this book - at the moment - is only available in its original German language. I do sincerely hope that one day it will get translated into other languages.
Tellkamp's account of the last 7 years of the German Democratic Republic is one of the most beautiful, gripping and touching books I have ever read. It revolves around the experience of a family living in Dresden, seen mainly through the eyes of one of the sons, Christian, his uncle Meno and his father.
The language is extraordinarily beautiful, full of vibrant images and metaphors and - if you grew up in the Germany of the 70s and 80s - will connect with you on a very personal level.
To get a glimpse of what it was like to live in the GDR of the 80s with all its limitations, threats to personal freedom, bargaining and bartering, and yet profound humanity is a truly unique experience for those who didn't get it first-hand.
I cannot recommend this book enough. Go and read it.
5.0 out of 5 starsEin ideales, ideologiekritisches Geschenk!
22 March 2013 - Published on Amazon.com
Eine in jedem Sinne fabelhafte Evozierung der Atmosphäre und Schikanen der untergehenden DDR. Die Sprachsensibilität und der gediegene, aber flexible und durchaus lebendige Stil machen die Lektüre zu einem seltenen Vergnügen und vermitteln ein lebhaftes Panorama des Alltagslebens einer doch mittelständigen Bevölkerungsschicht. Dabei dient der Humor einer manchmal abstrusen Absurdität mancher Ereignisse – die Beschaffung des Weihnachtsbaums, das traurige Schicksal des mit viel Liebe restaurierten Oldtimers. Glaubenswürdige Charaktere und allzumenschliche Fiesheit der Brüder und Schwestern der DDR... Unbedingt zu lesen und weiter zu empfehlen – meine Bestellung war eine Geschenksendung...
5.0 out of 5 starsTellkamp sees all, knows all, and tells all!
7 November 2012 - Published on Amazon.com
If you interested in the history of the DDR, this book is for you. Tellkamp sees all, knows all, and tells all! He is the new Thomas Mann. It's not easy to keep someone intertained for over 900 pages, but he pulls it off effortlessly.
I got this book with the intention of translating a chapter for a term paper and was thoroughly enthralled by it! I have not completely finished it, but so far it has been awesome! At times it can become a bit difficult to decipher some of the sentences, particularly as a non-native speaker, due to the amount of description Tellkamp uses. However, it certainly offers a unique insight into life in the DDR.