18 December 2011

Broken Glass Park (Alina Bronsky)

(Ugh, so many apologies for the involuntary hiatus. Was laid low for nearly two weeks by an illness whose main symptom was constant, debilitating fatigue. GUESS HOW FUN THIS MADE DECEMBER RETAIL. Am now almost recovered, whether from a persistent virus or anemia, I'm not sure.)

Broken Glass Park was Russian-born German author Alina Bronsky's first novel, and while it's not the black-comic masterpiece that is The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, it shares with that book an unforgettable, fully realized, fully habitable voice. Here, it's teenage Sascha Naimann, a Russian immigrant to Germany struggling to deal with her mother's violent death at the hands of her stepfather. She's filled with helpless rage and guilt--but she's also smart as a whip and fiercely protective of those she loves, notably her half-brother and -sister, who've lost not only their mother but the father who shot her. A confrontation with the editor of a newspaper that published a supportive interview the killer leads to a relationship with him and his son that shifts unsettlingly between familial and romantic. Bronsky writes Sascha's raw, conflicting emotion, her simultaneously jaded and naive view of the world, and her understandably dark sense of humor with the ease that only comes with great talent--the kind that makes me want to learn German so I can see how much more amazing it is in the original. But since that continues not to happen? Much thanks to Tim Mohr and Europa Editions for bringing Ms. Bronsky into my world! (And thanks to the Europa Challenge blog for giving me still more incentive to keep reading this terrific publisher.)

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