Weiskern’s Estate is classic Hein. In a case study at once social and psychological, the reader experiences the protagonist’s bewilderment at contemporary society and anguish as he recalls incidents from his past that have led to his current plight.
Life doesn’t seem to accord literature professor Stolzenburg the respect due to his age and profession. He slaves part-time at an institute for cultural studies, and finds it increasingly hard to uphold his high standards at a time of cutbacks and apathetic students. His real passion is his life work, a Complete Works of obscure librettist Weiskern. But will anyone publish it?
Soon the cracks in Stolzenburg’s life start to show: an unexplained tax bill; being suspected by the police of offering faked documents for sale; assault by a group of schoolgirls. Everything comes to a head when he is on a flight to give a guest lecture, and suddenly the propellers stop working …
Hein’s works have consistently achieved wide appeal, and this novel also turns a mirror on some universal aspects of European societies: ageing, the crisis of higher education, the plight of older people, rising street violence, generation gaps, and the marginalisation of literature in the digital age.