Thursday, 31 March 2016

Zweig, Stefanie "Somewhere in Germany"


Zweig, Stefanie "Somewhere in Germany" (German: Irgendwo in Deutschland) - 1996

Since I reread "Nowhere in Africa" last year, I wanted to carry on and read the sequel again. I would like to add a little more than a general description, so there might be spoilers. If you have not read the book before, I refer you to my review here.

The Redlich family has returned to Germany since Walter can only work in his country. Regina finds it very hard to adjust and it's not easy to return to a country that is torn by the war and where there are still a lot of people who would rather not have them there. This is something I really don't understand. How could people, after all this time, still dislike the Jews? Shouldn't they all have felt shame, at least those that supported the Nazis? Regina meets a lot of people and they all swear they didn't know about the Holocaust and/or told her how they helped the Jews. Awful.

Regina (well, this is an almost-biography by the author, so Regina really is Stephanie Zweig herself) grows up and becomes a journalist. It is really interesting to see the story unfold, see how Regina and Max grow up and their parents grow older. I will read this book again in a couple of years, of that I am sure.

Stephanie Zweig has written many other good books, none of them translated into English, unfortunately.

From the back cover: "Somewhere in Germany is the sequel to the acclaimed Nowhere in Africa, which was turned into the Oscar-winning film of the same name. This novel traces the return of the Redlich family to Germany after their nine-year exile in Kenya during World War II. In Africa, Walter had longed for his homeland and dreamed of rebuilding his life as a lawyer, yet ultimately he and his family - wife Jettel, daughter Regina, and baby Max - realize that Germany seems as exotic and unwelcoming to them in 1947 as Kenya had seemed in 1938. Hunger and desperation are omnipresent in bombed-out Frankfurt, and this Jewish family - especially Regina, who misses Africa the most - has a hard time adjusting to their new circumstances. Yet slowly the family adapts to their new home amidst the ruins.
In Frankfurt, Regina matures into a woman and, though her parents want her to marry an upstanding Jewish man, her love life progresses in its own idiosyncratic fashion. She develops a passion for art and journalism and begins her professional career at a Frankfurt newspaper. Walter at last finds professional success as a lawyer, but never quite adjusts to life in Frankfurt, recalling with nostalgia his childhood in Upper Silesia and his years in Africa. Only his son Max truly finds what Walter had hoped for: a new homeland in Germany.
Although the Redlichs receive kindness from strangers, they also learn anti-Semitism still prevails in post-Nazi Germany. They partake in the West German “economic miracle” with their own home, a second-hand car, and the discovery of television, but young Max’s discovery of the Holocaust revives long-buried memories. Rich in memorable moments and characters, this novel portrays the reality of postwar German society in vivid and candid detail."

2 comments:

  1. We saw the movie Nowhere in Africa and thought it was incredible. I think maybe I should read the books.

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    1. There are only three German movies that received the Acadamy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. And Nowhere in Africa is one of them. It's a good film but - as usual - the book is SO much better, concentrates more on the girl and her experiences, since she's the one who wrote the book.

      I heartily recommend both these books, they belong to my favourite books ever, not just German books. And I heard the translation is not bad.

      Have a good weekend,
      Marianne

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