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The Mussel Feast
on 8 February 2013
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.