I’m a sucker for literary novels centered on teens and young adults. It’s very difficult to write a mature literary novel with juvenile characters at its focal point. A very fine balance of perspective needs to be upheld, and too often the author isn’t up to the challenge. But when it clicks, I’m always smitten. Set in the late 60′s, here’s “a story about a friendship so potent that it’s taken years for the narrator to understand what happened and what it meant.” And it sounds like Slouka pulls it off with aplomb. The review is short and sweet, give it a read.
Off the top of my head, I can think of a number of people who would probably love this multigenerational book–if Langer’s praise (“a pulsing, vibrant, thrillingly alive work, full of formal inventiveness, remarkable empathy and, above all, mordant and insightful wit.”) is warranted. I mean take this description and tell me you don’t think of Middlesex or Cav & Klay:
Suffused with the odors of coal fire and hot bockwurst; resonant with the clanks of Lada and Trabant automobiles; replete with references to Trotsky, Gorbachev, Erich Honecker, Sputnik and the gulag, Eugen Ruge’s “In Times of Fading Light” might sound like an edifying but ultimately dour Eastern Bloc affair. Yet one of the most remarkable things about this multigenerational saga of an East German family before and after the demise of Communism is how contemporary and, well, Western it seems.