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Type: Paperbook
Categories: Novels
Origin country: Germany
Translation: Beinir Bergsson
Making up: Sára Mikkelsen
Date of publication : 28. August 2023


Bernhard Schlinck

The book is celebrated for its eroticism and the moral demands it places upon its readers. It is a tempting tale of love and secrecy, horrors and compassion.

The story takes place in Germany after World War II. Fifteen-year-old Michael Berg becomes ill one day at school. Hanna, a mysterious and beautiful woman past her thirties, takes care of him. The relationship becomes more than friendly – they enjoy and intensely excite each other sexually.

One day, she is gone, and no one knows why. 

When Michael sees her several years later, he is studying to become a lawyer. One day when he is in court, she is brought before the court accused of being a Nazi who has committed a terrible crime. He observes her and realises that she is not going to defend herself, and he gradually comes to understand that Hanna holds another secret that she believes to be more terrible and shameful than manslaughter.

What is guilt ultimately – and how can the mind survive when it is threatened by abysmal, shattering truths?

During the trial, the defendant asks the prosecution: What would you have done?

That is one of the questions later repeated by one of the German professors: How can the next generation of Germans after the war come to terms with the Holocaust?

The treatment of this question stirs the soul but it remains unresolved

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