Mosebach’s latest is a modern-day slant on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Following his appointment as an ‘assistant executive’ in an American bank in Frankfurt am Main, Hans arrives in the city without his newly wedded bride Ina to find them suitable accommodation. He does not do well at this. After failing to find anything in more desirable areas, he opts for a cheap flat in a central but run-down locality, the only redeeming feature of which is its range of unconventional people. There is the caretaker of the block, a Moroccan named Souad, who takes Hans to a séance the purpose of which is to drive out evil, specifically from women. Then there are the participants in late-night discussions and drinking sessions behind a snack bar run by an Ethiopian. And finally there are a German couple called the Wittekinds. Unfortunately, when she arrives, Ina hates them all. This leads her, in a memorably described scene, to take an aimless, moonlit walk, on return from which she strikes her carousing husband over the head with a bottle. The author’s ironic stance, his liking for unexpected comparisons, a sardonic twist on the last page, and, above all, the unfamiliar settings mark this work by a master storyteller, who keeps the reader in a state of amused surprise from the first page to the last.
All recommendations from Autumn 2007