Settlement

Settlement

by Christoph Hein
     
 

In “one of the most important German novels of recent years,”* a man, a town, and a country wrestle with fifty years of displacement and political upheaval

Provincial Guldenberg is still reeling from World War II when a flood of German refugees arrives from the east, Bernhard Haber’s family among them. Life is hard

Overview

In “one of the most important German novels of recent years,”* a man, a town, and a country wrestle with fifty years of displacement and political upheaval

Provincial Guldenberg is still reeling from World War II when a flood of German refugees arrives from the east, Bernhard Haber’s family among them. Life is hard enough—Bernhard’s father has lost an arm and his carpenter’s income. But added to this injury comes an accumulation of insults, as the upright town turns hostile toward the newcomers. After a string of mysterious losses—from the killing of the boy’s dog to the unexplained death of his father—Bernhard is set on extracting revenge.

Rich with psychological insight, Christoph Hein’s acclaimed novel tells Bernhard’s story across nearly fifty years, chronicling his remarkable rise from victimized outsider to Guldenberg’s most prominent burgher. What began as a geographic dislocation evolves into a personal quest: the thirst for vengeance yields to the deeper need for a home and settling down proves more important than settling grudges. As the socialist state gives way to reunification and the capitalism of the 1990s, Hein’s masterful, multivoiced narration charts the transformation not just of one man but of an entire nation struggling to leave history behind and claim a home.

—*The Times Literary Supplement (London)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starting off as a refugee in Guldenberg, Germany, was tough enough, but for Bernhard Haber, whose family-led by his one-armed carpenter father-fled Breslau after the 1945 Soviet invasion, things never got easier. From his first days in school, tossed into a class with students a year younger than he, when Bernhard makes quick business of exacting revenge upon a bully, to later injustices like the arson of his father's workshop, the murder of his dog and his father, Bernhard can't get a fair shake. Not one to gripe, he sticks it out. Through stints as a goon for a farmers' collective, a smuggler, a carpenter and town powerbroker, Bernhard remains a steady, if mysterious, character as his story is told by five acquaintances. Hein, a former president of PEN Germany, has a history of politically themed writing, and this novel does his legacy proud with its smart prose and keen social commentary. Seeing the postwar German landscape through the eyes of smalltown dwellers whose greatest moments involve their wooden bridge being used for a briefly rerouted autobahn, a reader can soak up the refugee experience. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805077681
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
11/25/2008
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 8.48(h) x 1.05(d)

Meet the Author

Christoph Hein, novelist, playwright, and essayist, is one of Europe’s most respected literary and political voices. He is the author of the widely translated and internationally acclaimed novels Willenbrock, The Distant Lover, and The Tango Player, among others. A former president of PEN Germany and the winner of several literary prizes, he lives in Berlin.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >