Regener, Sven "Berlin Blues" (German: Herr Lehmann) - 2001
It doesn't happen often that German books are translated into English so I was quite surprised to find that this one was.
This is the story about a guy who would probably be called a loser by many. Frank comes from Bremen but lives in Berlin and works in a pub. His parents think he could do better, his brother certainly thinks that. His friends call him Herr Lehmann, one girl after the other leaves him.
You would think this book is boring but it's not, it describes the last year before the fall of the wall in a city that had been divided for decades. It is both humorous as well as philosophical, a difficult line to walk down but Sven Regener managed this quite well. In a quite ironic way, he talks about language and life, about all the little things that make life difficult but also wonderful.
Nice story, well written, a realistic tale about the life of the "little people". I will go on and read the two other books of this trilogy, "Neue Vahr Süd" and "Der kleine Bruder" [The little brother], both of which have not been translated. Yet, I hope.
From the back cover:
"It's 1989 and, whenever he isn't hanging out in the local bars, Herr Lehmann lives entirely free of responsibility in the bohemian Berlin district of Kreuzberg. Through years of judicious sidestepping and heroic indolence, this barman has successfully avoided the demands of parents, landlords, neighbours and women. But suddenly one unforeseen incident after another seems to threaten his idyllic and rather peaceable existence. He has an encounter with a decidedly unfriendly dog, his parents threaten to descend on Berlin from the provinces, and he meets a dangerously attractive woman who throws his emotional life into confusion. Berlin Blues is a richly entertaining evocation of life in the city and a classic of modern-day decadence."