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Aller Tage Abend by Jenny Erpenbeck
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Aller Tage Abend (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Jenny Erpenbeck

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1761267,448 (4.05)27
Member:teofilaruch
Title:Aller Tage Abend
Authors:Jenny Erpenbeck
Info:Knaus Albrecht (2012), Hardcover
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (2012)

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» See also 27 mentions

English (8)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
A very big story for such a short novel. With so many overlong books published these days, it's good to have a story spanning the lives of one family across the 20th century told with such economy. It uses the same conceit as Kate Atkinson in 'Life after Life' - reversing time to go back and bring someone back to life or change some dramatic life-changing event to see how the story changes. A very effective and moving book. ( )
  stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
It was a friend who recommended this novel – and while people recommend books pretty much all the time, something about this one sounded like it might appeal. So I bunged it on my Amazon wishlist, and was subsequently given it as a Christmas present. The back-cover blurb makes explicit comparisons to Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life (a book I very much liked, and, in fact, nominated for a Hugo, during my one and only attempt at nominating for the Hugo), but the novel The End of Days reminds me of the most is Katie Ward’s Girl Reading, another book unknown to me until someone recommended it… and which turned out to the best book I read that year. Plotwise, Atkinson’s novel is certainly a closer match, given that The End of Days describes the life of a woman born in Galicia in the latter days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and her life throughout the twentieth century as she survives WWI, joins the Communist Party in Vienna, moves to Moscow, and then Berlin, and becomes a famous East German writer. As in, that’s it in the final section in which she lives a long and eventful life. Earlier sections cut it short at various junctures. The writing throughout is stunningly good, the structure is very carefully built up, and this is one of the most impressive books I’ve read so far this year. I fully expect it to make my best five of the half-year, if not the year. I also want to read more by Erpenbeck. ( )
  iansales | Apr 3, 2016 |
This strange and beautiful -- and sad -- book explores the mutability of time and history, working through the horrors of twentieth century Europe. The structural device is simple: the author shuffles the cards at the moment when the central character dies, and examines the "what if" of choices made differently that would not have lead to the death. This starts with the death of a baby of a young Jewish woman in the Habsburg Empire -- the mother mourns, the husband leaves, but -- what if the baby hadn't died? Then, we move forward with the story of the undead baby, the unleaving husband, the contented wife, until the end of the War brings disaster to Vienna, and the grown up daughter dies a sort of suicide, but -- what if she hadn't despaired? And so on and so on. Some of the choices that push the character towards death or away from it are profound, others trivial in the extreme. The book ends with the character in an old age home, slipping towards a death that, this time, can't be shuffled away.

This isn't a straight linear read, but the characters are alive, and one has the momentum of history to keep the pages turning. I thought it was beautifully written, and found the story touching. In some way, despite the sadness of so much of the story, it is tremendously life affirming: there is an extraordinary amount of detail about things and people, showing the richness, as well as the pathos, of life. ( )
  annbury | Mar 24, 2016 |
This is a profoundly moving book, a poetic reflection on the fragility of life and the endurance of the human spirit which follows the life of a woman through the traumas and upheavals of twentieth century Europe, from Austria to East Berlin via Moscow. In each section of the book, alternative scenarios are explored in which small and apparently random events lead to her early death, and the story often moves focus between global events and deeply personal experiences. ( )
  bodachliath | Mar 1, 2016 |
The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck

I've harped on about Jenny Erpenbeck ever since hearing her in conversation with Michel Faber during the BookFest, so I won't bore you again with all of that. Suffice it to say, I've been so taken with her writing that this is the third of her books I've read since August.

This one is difficult to categorise. It's a little bit like Life after Life by Kate Atkinson as it chronicles a family's history to the point of the first daughter's death, but then has an intermezzo chapter along the lines of...but what if blah didn't happen. Then the next section picks up from the what if.

It's about a half Jewish girl born in Austrian Galicia (bizarrely the bit of Ukraine my father is from) before WW1. Her longest life span is going to see her live through some very traumatic history in parts of Europe affected the most.

There are five iterations of her life, in some you learn very little about her because it deals with the aftermath of her death on her family, but all of them are interwoven and bring you back to the whole family's history.

As I mentioned, she is born in pre-WW1, Austrian, Galicia, the family then move to Vienna before she moves to the Soviet Union then East German Berlin before finally closing in post unification Berlin. Being part Jewish brings the obvious traumas to her family along with some that may be less obvious to those that don't know the history of these places.

I hadn't realised prior to picking this up, how much of it would resonate for me. My family are from a village very close to where the character is born and my Grandfather also spent much of his early adulthood in Vienna in the service of the Austrian Cavalry. Also pre-WW1. It was strange for me to think that he had lived through those very times in similar places. Quite spooky.

Another thought provoking book that has been beautifully written. I think I preferred Visitation for its, almost, poetic language, but this one is also very moving and well worth reading.
( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
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We left from here for Marienbad only last summer. And now--where will we be going now? (W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz)
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The Lord gave, and the Lord took away, her grandmother said to her at the edge of the grave.
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Wie beslist met welke gedachten de tijd wordt gevuld? (in tweede intermezzo)
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