New German Literature in the TLS

The TLS recently had a review of some new German novels. All of these were published this year and, of course, are not available in English yet (I hope they are some day). Three of them deal with the GDR and the third, from Switzerland, deals with the Rawandan Genocide and Swiss complicity.

Three of the books sound very intriguing. ADAM UND EVELYN by Ingo Schulze, DER TURM by Uwe Tellkamp, and HUNDERT TAGE by Lukas Bärfuss.

Schulze’s novel is formally impressive. It consists almost entirely of snappy, naturalistic dialogues, portioned out in tasty little morsels in chapters of a few pages each: that the reader is able to deduce the plot events is in itself no small feat.

And the Bärfuss sounds tough but intriguing.

In a final childish burst, wanting to prove to Agathe that he isn’t like the other white people and won’t run away at the first sign of trouble, he hides in his garden as the last foreigners are evacuated. The horrors of the ensuing hundred days are born of order, not chaos: “I know now that perfect order rules the perfect hell”, David says. Bärfuss takes the reader step by step down the path to genocide. He emphasizes the role of Western – and particularly Swiss – aid in supplying the modern tools of organization and communication that made atrocities on such a scale possible: “we gave them the pencil with which they wrote the death lists . . . we laid the telephone lines over which they gave the murder commands . . . we built the streets upon which the murderers drove to their victims”.