Anthea Bell Julia Franck Back to Back

ISBN 13: 9780099572251

Back to Back

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9780099572251: Back to Back

Julia Franck's German-Book-Prize-winning novel, The Blindness of the Heart, was an international phenomenon, selling 850,000 copies in Germany alone and being published in thirty-five countries. Her newest work, Back to Back echoes the themes of The Blindness of the Heart, telling a moving personal story set against the tragedies of twentieth-century Germany.

Back to Back begins in 1954, and centers around a single family living in Berlin in the socialist East. The mother, Käthe, is a sculptor of Jewish heritage, who has been leveraging her party connections in order to get more important and significant commissions. Devoted entirely to becoming a success in the socialist state, she is a cruel and completely unaffectionate mother, putting the party above her children, who she treats as if they were adults - there is no bourgeois mollycoddling in her household. Thomas and Ella's father emigrated to West Germany after World War II, and they deeply long to see him again and dream of a life where they could be allowed to have the kind of childhood that other children enjoy. But Käthe's hard-nosed brutality - a reflection of the materialistic, unsentimental state in which she lives - means Thomas and Ella are unable to live the lives they want to - instead of his dream of becoming a writer, Thomas is forced to study geology, and do hard labor at a quarry as the practical part of his education. And Ella, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly introverted and strange - not least because the Stasi lodger the government has billetted in their home is beginning to abuse her...

Heartbreaking and shocking, Back to Back is a dark fairytale of East Germany, the story of a single family tragedy that reflects the greater tragedies of totalitarianism.

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About the Author:

Julia Franck was born in Berlin in 1970. Her novel The Blindness of the Heart, won the German Book Prize and sold over 800,000 copies in Germany alone. It was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize, and was named one of the best books of the year by Kirkus Reviews and the Guardian. Back to Back is her second novel to be translated into English. She lives in Berlin.

Review:

Praise for Back to Back:

Intoxicating . . . a curious fusion of stark realism tempered with quirkily stylistic flights of fancy: the trademark of one of Germany’s finest contemporary novelists.”—Literary Review

Nightmarish visions . . . Franck explores oppression at a time when the wall was being erected and change was nowhere in sight.” Guardian

"The psychological toll of living behind the Berlin Wall is one [Franck] conveys powerfully in Back to Back. . . . The world she chronicles in the novel is one of many shades of gray, a place where violence radiates outward from its immediate victims to shatter lives once- or twice- removes from the original harm.” Words Without Borders

Like an expert geologist, Franck is digging deep into her family’s extraordinary history creating things of great beauty from its dark recesses. Diamond-hard and full of glittering prose, Back to Back is a powerful and moving book. I suspect there are more gems to come.” Daily Telegraph

Mournful and intense, Back to Back captures a slice of life during a particularly harsh and brutal time and place, through the lens of a quickly disintegrating childhood innocence.” Bust Magazine

Set in East Germany during the 1950s and ’60s, this haunting novel depicts the constricted, oppressed lives of people living under the brutal policies of the country’s Communist government. . . . Thomas and Ella are little more than slaves to their mother, Käthe, a sculptor with a massive ego and deluded ideas about the triumph of the workers in the class struggle, while she herself lives in bourgeois comfort. . . . Heartbreaking reality.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

In Back to Back, Julia Franck throws a bright light on the early years of East Germany, the desires of its communist elite, and the privations and humiliations suffered by everyone else while it continued down its path to salvation.” Märkische Allgemeine

This novel, a deeply grim Sentimental Education from the early period of the State of Workers and Farmers” leaves the reader lost for words. Was it really so bad? . . . It was so much worse.” Saarbrücker Zeitung

To tell the story of Thomas and Ella, the author creates so many apt and impressive images that the intensity of her prose is almost painful. In Back to Back she writes with the urgency and depth shown in her earlier work.” Brigitte Woman

A novel that, with its hypnotic language, creates its own realm of relevance, a realm which the reader is drawn into, then paralyzed, and devoured. You dive back into the real world in shock.” Tages Anzeiger

[Franck] is an outstanding talent of the German literary landscape.” Stuttgarter Zeitung

Franck’s prose is extremely delicate and yet so vivid that by the end of the book you feel like you’ve just seen a visually spectacular film one that you will never forget.” Sie/Petra/Vital

Franck’s work draws on German literary tradition to explore the interconnection of public histories and private lives in the twentieth century. . .” World Literature Today

With great fierceness and sharp contours, in Back to Back Franck illuminates the potential consequences of well-intended efforts to create a completely new society, if fundamental things like humanity, intimacy and love are completely left by the wayside. . . . A very moving book.” Freie Presse

You read it, both fascinated and appalled by the evil things that befall these children. In Back to Back, Franck uses hyperbole to describe sensations that everyone is familiar with: the kind of dread that makes you shudder, the feeling of abandonment, what it is like to be scolded as a child. Anyone who hasn’t yet forgotten the child they once were will be taken along by Julia Franck down these blocked up shafts of the soul. Franck achieves this, quite unbashfully, through her visionary prose, in descriptions of weather and light, of unforgettable emotions amidst a snarl of despair, momentous experiences and the kind of feelings you always carry with you.” TAZ

The casualness with which Franck manages to evoke a mood of permanent mistrust, showing what it means when ones perceived reality does not correspond with the reality of others, with the reality of those in charge, is devastating. Rarely has the reader been so enjoyably on such shaky ground.” Spiegel.com

A virtuoso creator of poetically charged moods. . . never before has East Germany been so radically depicted as dead at birth as in the arresting, magical narrative web of Julia Franck.” Literarische Welt

The atmospheric pull in Back to Back builds up to a point where the reader is forced to give in to its power.” Süddeutsche Zeitung

Utterly moving.” Brigitte Magazine

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The moving story of a brother and a sister caught in the tide of the Cold War Kathe is a Jewish sculptor living in East Berlin. A survivor of the Nazi era, she is a fervent socialist who has been using her political connections to secure more significant commissions. Devoted entirely to success, she is a cruel and abrasive mother to her children. She barely acknowledges Ella s vulnerable loneliness and Thomas s quiet aspirations, and her hard-nosed brutality forces her children to build an imaginary world as a shelter from the coldness that surrounds them. As the Berlin Wall goes up, dreams are shattered, lives fall apart and this dark fairytale of East Germany unfolds. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099572251

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