SignAndSight.com

Features » Literature


02/10/2011

Angelika Klüssendorf's novel "The Girl"

Angelika Klüssendorf: "The Girl" (Das Mädchen)

Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag

English excerpt


The book:  Angelika Klüssendorf tells the touching story of a young unnamed girl, who works her way out of everything that holds her back: her tyrannical mother, the authoritarian teachers, the state bureaucracy. Her childhood seems to be over before it has even started: the father drinks and only shows up sporadically, the mother takes her anger out on the children, the schoolmates avoid the girl, and the younger brother completely closes himself off from everything. But there still is a power that carries the girl above all this: the illustrations from Brehm's Life of Animals, her dreams of a small house with a garden in the countryside, and Grimm's Fairy Tales. She has learned one thing: you've got to go out and get what you need. Even when she is caught shoplifting several times and is finally put into a children's home, she can adapt to her new situation. And the home is surprisingly a sort of refuge, where she can experience childhood for the first time.

With her clear, concise prose, with laconic and dry humour, Angelika Klüssendorf describes the unbearable conflicts of a young life, far removed from a happy childhood. Deeply touched, one follows a youth who has nothing to rely on, and despite that doesn't lose her will to live – she is no pitiful victim but a strong inscrutable character.

The author: Angelika Klüssendorf was born in 1958 in Ahrensburg and lived in Leipzig from 1961 until 1985. Today she lives in Berlin. Her publications include the stories "Sehnsüchte" and "Anfall von Glück", the novel "Alle leben so" and the story collections "Aus allen Himmeln" and "Amateure".

Photo © Alex Reuter

signandsight.com - let's talk european