Friday, 15 May 2009

Judith in Aliceland

Judith Hermann is one of those writers people either love or hate. Her previous two short story collections have been published in English as Summerhouse, Later and Nothing but Ghosts. She has a very characteristic, sparse prose style, and I know I've read a mickey-take called something like How I Wrote A Story Like Judith Hermann, in which young women sit down and drink tea and talk about relationships - but I can't for the life of me remember where.

Hermann is a bit of a literary superstar, although perhaps an unlikely one, as she's very unassuming and careful with her words, loathe to reveal too much about herself. But she's been celebrated as the voice of her - and I suppose my - generation, with films made of both previous books. I once saw her at that haven of haute cuisine, Alles Wurscht in Alexanderplatz station, so she must have stayed pretty down to earth despite the fame.

Anyway, her new book is out, entitled Alice, and the press are going absolutely wild. Most critics seem to love it, and Spiegel featured a long interview with her a couple of weeks ago. There have been (favourable) comparisons to Daniel Kehlmann, especially as the stories in the book are at least as interwoven as in Kehlmann's recent Ruhm, yet Hermann hasn't made the claim that the book is a novel. It's all about death, apparently, rather than drinking tea and smoking cigarettes in Prenzlauer Berg. I've got it and will let you know what I think at some point.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of "smoking cigarettes in Prenzlauer Berg," have public smoking restrictions resulted in many Deutsche Selbstmorde?

kjd said...

Not that I'm aware of. They've relaxed the restrictions in Berlin now (not that anyone took them all that seriously) - a publican complained banning smoking was a violation of human rights, as far as I remember. I suppose we don't have a right to breathe clean air.

What you do see is lots and lots of people smoking outside, like in other countries. But of course in winter that's pretty tough. Oh and they're going to outlaw those awful outdoor heaters soon too, so it really will be "nur die Harten gehen in den Garten".

Anonymous said...

you really should read "Alles was du siehst" by Stefan Beuse (published spring 09). You will love it. I'm sure.

kjd said...