I am so happy that I have finally found back to books. To real books, books made of paper and with black print on white paper, full of letters telling a fascinating story. It took quite some time to find my way back and needed a really capturing book to get me away from stupid computer games.
But it did happen, about half a year ago! Le Monde had a feature about a theatre play that was shown in Paris, called Anonyma. The play was based on a story written by a German journalist, a diary of her experiences during the last weeks of WW II when the Red Army arrived in Berlin. The story sounded interesting, I ordered the book and could not stop reading; so vivid were her descriptions and her thoughts, and so dramatic and terrible were her experiences. I followed up with another book on the same theme, Freiwild by Ingeborg Jacobs; the personal portraits and traumas of so many different girls and women described here are very hard to read and it is almost impossible to believe that all this really happened. And – it is still happening – rape is used as a very effective weapon during war. Read more in a recent article in The Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/17900482
My next books were also a bit on the dark side: Margret Atwood’s recent story The Year of the Flood and the much earlier Oryx and Crake. A lot has already been written about these two fascinating books, which describe a world when chaos replaced normal daily life in high-tech societies, for example: http://yearoftheflood.com/ or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Year_of_the_Flood. In the beginning it was a bit hard to follow the different characters, but then I got deeply involved in the lives of the survivors, and could not stop reading.
On my way to Bangkok a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Feast of the Goat. This book is so well written (no surprise he got last year’s Nobel Price in Literature), but the story is sometimes almost too terrible to read. Several times I had to put the book aside, take a deep breath and wait until the next day to continue reading. To divert myself a bit from tough stories, but to be able to enjoy more of Mario Llosa’s lovely language, I bought The Bad Girl. This is another book one just wants to keep on reading!
And now I happened to buy Den röda grevinnan by Yvonne Hirdman, and cannot stop reading. Hirdman unfolds the unknown life of her mother, and tells at the same time much of Germany’s 20th century history. Her great background knowledge as historian helps to understand the circumstances and the political situation during the early and middle part of the 20th century. It would be great if the book would be translated into German.