Three stories, three generations, one family. And in the end it becomes clear: there's nothing deadlier than families. In her debut novel, Born brings a whole century to life, and, at the same time, paints a perceptive portrait of present-day society.
Can both happiness and misfortune be passed down through generations? Can repressed memories resurface decades or even a century later and still have terrible repercussions? Katharina Born tells the story of a family against the backdrop of three era-defining events. The young poet Peter Vahlen and the popular, much-admired Hella von Nesselhahn meet during the student protest movement of 1968. They both come from a rural area in the Rhineland and return there as a couple. Almost forty years later, Vahlen is dead. Hella still lives with her daughter and granddaughter in the villa where Vahlen wrote his great novel Westerwald. One day, young PhD student Andreas Wieland turns up asking to examine Vahlen's literary papers. Hella fears that the ghosts of the past have come to haunt her - for Wieland wants to find out to what extent the now-famous author's work is autobiographical. His research leads him back to the Nazi era and all the way to the nineteenth century, deep into the many entanglements of a family, its self-deceptions, vanities and blind spots. Bad Company is about searching for clues in a family's own home and history. Absorbing and full of irony, it abounds with colourful characters and unforgettable stories.
Katharina Born is a writer of remarkable confidence - well worth discovering. The author was awarded a prize for an excerpt of this novel at the distinguished Ingeborg Bachmann competition. "In her novel, depicting the domestic misery of one family across several generations, Katharina Born explodes the intransigent myth of the Generation of '68 utopia of Nazi exorcism and revolutions of politics, society and sexuality." Neue Zürcher Zeitung