A much respected young playwright whose work is performed in some of the most innovative theatres in Germany, the author now publishes his first novel in which some will recognise echoes of Robert Walser.
Jakob Walter, the book’s flawed and self-absorbed hero, wakes up one Friday morning on what turns out to be Swiss National Day (1 August). Unfortunately this passive near-thirty-year-old hadn’t listened when his wife mentioned she’d be at home with her parents over the weekend. With his pet tortoise, the other stabilising force in his life, recently deceased, three long, lonesome days stretch ahead. What could be better than looking up his best friend from his bachelor past? But Ralf, he discovers, has been missing for a week, presumed dead, so at random he simply gets into a train and moves on. His subsequent encounters prompt a re-evaluation of key events in his life. Perhaps happiness is not just an incidental condition after all, but something one can strive to achieve?
A slow-burner, but all the richer for it, this is a work of substance and subtlety.
All recommendations from Spring 2009