Accident: A Day's News

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Overview

On a flawless spring day in late April, an East German writer awaits a call from the hospital where her brother is undergoing brain surgery and instead receives news of a massive nuclear accident at Chernobyl, one thousand miles away. In a potent, lyrical stream of thought, the narrator confronts both mortality and life and, above all, the importance of each moment lived.

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Overview

On a flawless spring day in late April, an East German writer awaits a call from the hospital where her brother is undergoing brain surgery and instead receives news of a massive nuclear accident at Chernobyl, one thousand miles away. In a potent, lyrical stream of thought, the narrator confronts both mortality and life and, above all, the importance of each moment lived.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
East German writer Wolf's Cassandra latest novel, a slender, claustrophobic monologue, distinguishes itself from much contemporary fiction in focussing on the essential: the destructive demiurge lurking under the human skullcap, a destructiveness apparently inextricably linked to our creative intelligence. But she fails to say anything illuminating or fresh about this well-worn subject or, except glancingly, to say it in an interesting way. Her 60-ish narrator, a grandmother living alone in a German village, is much occupied with tending her garden, but most of all--against a backdrop of beautiful spring weather--with the Chernobyl disaster then in progress. At the same time, in neat juxtaposition, she is preoccupied with the operation her brother is undergoing for a brain tumor. An epigraph and references make it clear that Wolf drew substantially on Carl Sagan's popular writings which, provocatively pithy as they may sometimes be, are insufficient in themselves to furnish an interesting novel. The culminating citation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness draws attention all too invidiously to Wolf's failure to develop her heartfelt perceptions, with the requisite creative and subtle imagination, into a novel that moves the heart and mind. Apr.
Library Journal
Where is the danger zone for humanity today? For an East German writer, struggling with her thoughts on the day of her brother's surgery in April 1986, it's near the Chernobyl reactor's glowing core, near a brain tumor's malignant cells. Engulfed by these concerns, she offers the monologue that forms this truly remarkable novel, a speculative consideration of human knowledge versus technology by a mind forced ``to overcome reluctance.'' As the knife cuts deeper into her brother's diseased tissue, the writer questions how she has come to know her world and whether ``there is such a thing as an established right to luck.'' Wolf is in the vanguard of German writers, and this novel's popularity in West Germany (where it was a best seller for 26 weeks) demonstrates the timeliness of her themes.-- Paul E. Hutchison, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Elayne Rapping
"A profound and courageous work. Wilson's recording and experience of loss, impotence and terror. To read this novel is to plunge into that abyss in the best possible company." -- The Nation
Mary Gordon
"Wolf's books are difficult, like certain kinds of prayers. But finishing them, the reader is covered by a sense of completeness, of having been taken on a journey in the company of the sphere who has started, with attention, mercy and courage, into the world's heart." -- The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226905068
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2001
  • Series: Phoenix Fiction Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 121
  • Sales rank: 540,331
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Christa Wolf, born in 1929, is the author of many novels and stories including Cassandra, Pattern of Childhood, No Place on Earth, The Quest for Christa T., and What Remains and Other Stories, the last published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents

Accident/ A Day's News
Translator's Notes

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Recipe

On a flawless spring day in late April, an East German writer awaits a call from the hospital where her brother is undergoing brain surgery and instead receives news of a massive nuclear accident at Chernobyl, one thousand miles away. In a potent, lyrical stream of thought, the narrator confronts both mortality and life and, above all, the importance of each moment lived.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Accident: A Day's News is a strange and fascinating little novel

    Accident: A Day's News is a strange and fascinating little novel. Our narrator (never named, though intimated to be Christa Wolf herself) waits for a call to tell her how her brother's brain surgery went, while ruminating on the recent nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. As she goes about her daily business, gardening, shopping, answering her mail, she contemplates humanity, and human responsibility. Imagining the details of her brother's surgery she juxtaposes it with the spreading nuclear crisis. The pursuit of technology, without clear understanding of its ramifications, may well be the tumor nestled in the brain that is humanity. This is a short novel, but the dense stream-of-consciousness prose packs the punch of a much larger book.

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