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28/09/2009

Kathrin Schmidt: "You're not going to die"


Kathrin Schmidt: You're not going to die (Du stirbst nicht)


Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag


English excerpt



The book: Helene Wesendahl has no idea what has happened: she wakes up in hospital, has no control over her body, is unable to speak and has lost her memory. Through her eyes, we see the hospital ward, the other patients, the nursing staff and Helene's own body, which has suddenly taken on a life of its own. And we experience her laborious rehabilitation, the reactions of her family, her husband's selfless commitment – and the fragmentary return of her memory.
What comes back to her confronts Helene with a life in which she barely recognises herself and which calls into question much of what now seems so normal. She discovers inconsistencies in her biography, suppressed passions and commitments born out of necessity. When she realises her affections had begun to wander and that she was planning to leave the man who is now caring for her with such devotion, Helene's world starts to fall apart.
Kathrin Schmidt enables the reader to feel what it's like to lose one's sense of orientation and ability to speak after a stroke, and she describes a road to recovery that takes two directions, backwards and forwards. This is a coming-of-age novel of a very unique kind: the reader is riveted by its inner dynamism and fascinated by the wholeheartedness with which the protagonist confronts both her past and present.


The author: Kathrin Schmidt, born in Gotha in 1958, has worked as a psychologist, editorial journalist and social scientist. She has been awarded numerous prizes including the Leonce and Lena Prize in 1993. Her novel "Die Gunnar-Lennefsen-Expedition", which was published in 1998, received the Helmita von Doderer advancement prize and an award from the state of Carinthia as part of the Ingeborg Bachmann Competition in 1998. She lives in Berlin.
Further publications with KiWi: "Königs Kinder" (2002) and "Seebachs schwarze Katzen" (2005) Her works have been sold to France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain.

Photo© Susanne Schleyer

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