Thursday, 2 December 2010

Irish Times on German Books

In today's Irish Times, Derek Scally has a nice piece about Markus Feldenkirchen's novel Was zusammengehört and the affectionate feelings many Germans have for Ireland. Scally writes:

The original of this particular species of book is Ireland Journal , by German Nobel Prize laureate Heinrich Böll. This slim volume encouraged a wave of immigration to Ireland in the late 1960s of West Germans who felt alienated at home. At first Böll’s book, and his immigrants, were greeted in Ireland with baffled amusement and then, as the country hurried down the road to modernity, with increasing annoyance. If these blow-ins had their way, the natives complained, Ireland would be forced to retain its backward ways and become a rustic, open-air clinic for emotionally damaged Germans.

Which I find very amusing, seeing as I know a good few of these teutonic celtophiles myself. Feldenkirchen is younger and writes about today's Ireland, with an added love interest. The critics are loving it. In this case, the book has a nice modern cover and is clearly not being marketed specifically to the Guinness-loving crowd.

Compare and contrast Swiss writer Rolf Lappert's award-winning Nach Hause schwimmen (a couple of extracts translated by Donal McLaughlin are available on Donal's homepage), also set partly in Ireland. I haven't read this novel either, but the cover so obviously plays on the Böll-style rural idyll cliché it makes my teeth hurt.


Berlinica said...

Hi - I linked you blog (left column, somewhat down. feel free to send me a logo


kjd said...

Thank Eva - I don't have a logo though. Good luck with the publishing project, I shall be following from afar.


Anonymous said...

I am from the west of Ireland originally and I absolutely loved Feldenkirchen's book. What is so perfect about it is his really incisive presentation of both Germany and Ireland in the time periods covered. I am just couple of years older than the author so I had goosebumps at times as he captured the atmosphere of the 1980s in Ireland. The love story itself is also emblematic of its time when those who loved wrote letters and not texts, a point which he features in the novel. I have read so many novels by Irish authors set in Ireland but not many of them capture Irishness as well as he does. Equally there are not many novels of love that leave you gasping for air in quite the way his does. I am not sure how well it work in an English translation though.
Like the not dissimilar "Gut Gegen Nordwind" reading the same sentences in a literal English translation might disppoint, German writing does have a particular atmosphere.