Have-Nots

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Overview

The Have-Nots is the winner of the 2006 German Book Prize for best novel and was praised by the jury for having confronted our age's most pressing issues: "Her protagonists are in their thirties, they know it all but know nothing of themselves. . . . Their questions are our questions."

In one of three interweaving storylines, Jakob and Isabelle move to London, where Jakob will fill the post of a ...

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Overview

The Have-Nots is the winner of the 2006 German Book Prize for best novel and was praised by the jury for having confronted our age's most pressing issues: "Her protagonists are in their thirties, they know it all but know nothing of themselves. . . . Their questions are our questions."

In one of three interweaving storylines, Jakob and Isabelle move to London, where Jakob will fill the post of a colleague killed in the World Trade Center attack. But their relationship, like the world they once knew and the happiness they once shared, becomes more fragile with each passing day.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Hacker (Morpheus; The Lifeguard) entwines the lives of three unusual households in post-9/11 suburban London. Isabelle and Jakob are 30-something German newlyweds who move to Britain after Jakob takes the job of a colleague killed on 9/11. Jakob is an attorney and Isabelle is an artist and wanderer, and their relationship, built hastily in the aftermath of 9/11 (Jakob was at the Trade Center on September 10 for business, and he met Isabelle the next day back in Germany; his colleague stayed behind in New York), has trouble reaching equilibrium. Next door lives Sara, a young girl with developmental problems who is abused by her parents and finds comfort in her cat, Polly. Meanwhile, Jim, a gruff drug dealer squatting in a house down the block, has taken a fancy to Isabelle, who reminds him of his missing girlfriend. Hacker plumbs the dark psyches of her characters-their capacities for violence, their desires and uncertainties and their guilt and shame-as Sara's home life worsens, eventually involving the neighbors. Hacker's prose, aided by Atkins's pristine translation, soars, particularly in her treatment of city and bourgeois life, and though her characters sometimes act inexplicably, she admirably explores modern urban life from the unsettled haves to the desperate have-nots. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Set primarily in London, this excruciatingly dark novel from Hacker (The Lifeguard, 2002, etc.), which won the 2006 German Book Prize, uses the colliding fates of a vapid middle-class German couple, an abused British child and a vicious petty criminal to reflect the malevolent undercurrents rumbling through post-9/11 Europe. Jakob, a German lawyer, is scheduled for a meeting at the Twin Towers on 9/11. But serendipitously, he returns to Berlin a day early to attend a party where he knows he'll find Isabelle, for whom he's been pining since their brief encounter years before. Within months of their lucky reunion, Jakob and Isabelle marry and move to London, where Jakob takes over the position of a colleague who did not skip the New York meeting and died. Jakob researches restitution for holocaust survivors while Isabelle continues to work for her Berlin graphic design firm from their rental house. Next door lives Sara, a frail, possibly retarded little girl who is regularly beaten by her father, who keeps her locked up during the day. Down the block lives Jim, a petty criminal whose girlfriend has disappeared. Although he does show reluctant kindness to Sara and her older brother, Jim is damaged goods, possibly sociopathic. Heedless of the menace around them, Jakob and Isabelle flirt with sexual danger, both together-in an ambiguous relationship with one of Jakob's coworkers-and apart. Jakob finds himself caught in sexual confusion concerning his aging gay Jewish boss. Isabelle finds herself drawn to Jim. At first the attraction seems mutual, but anger, not lust, is Jim's guiding emotion. He sees through Isabelle, who has walked through her charmed life unaware of her effect on others. Heuses the hapless Sara to teach Isabelle a lesson in consequences. Hacker overloads her often hateful characters with predictable emotional baggage in this metaphor-laden story about the world's moral decay. Deeply depressing fare that leaves a sour aftertaste.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933372419
  • Publisher: Europa
  • Publication date: 2/1/2008
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,540,121
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Katharina Hacker's previous books, Morpheus (2003) and The Lifeguard (2000), have earned her a reputation as one of the most discerning and elegant stylists in contemporary German literature. Born in 1967 in Frankfurt, she has lived in Berlin since 1996.
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