Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (tr. Susan Bernofsky)

a nutshell: an esteemed professor (and former east Berliner) retires, only then to learn how myopic his world-view has been as he arbitrarily gets to know asylum-seekers housed nearby

a line: “Richard has read Foucault and Baudrillard, and also Hegel and Nietzsche, but he doesn’t know what you can eat when you have no money to buy food.”

an image: a boy from Niger plays the piano for the first time, producing lopsided, harsh, stumbling, beautiful notes – Erpenbeck writes of how black and white keys tell stories here that have nothing at all to do with their colours

a thought: quite simply, I’d recommend this book to everyone I know

a fact: at one point Richard recalls reading a report in 1995 in which his colleague, a Stasi informant, had fed officials various details about Richard’s personal life and concluded that he was unsuitable for conspirational collaboration according to Directive 1/79, revealing the extent to which individuals in the GDR had to be on their guard – I then found out Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967

 

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