The Atlantic Wall
Reinhard Jirgl's latest novel is the account of an existential crisis and the impossibility of "burning all bridges". A woman, born in Dresden and employed first as a nurse, then in a series of jobs – including theater work – in East Berlin, sees all her professional and private plans thwarted after German reunification and takes the radical decision to start a new life in New York. In due course, the American authorities send her back to Germany but by then Berlin has become a strange place, a non-place for her. Former plans, work, people, every loose end will reappear to haunt her: father, mother, an ex-husband who is a condemned serial killer and now imprisoned in a mental institution. Hostile, aggressive, repulsive – the new Berlin shows its ugliest face.
With powerful narrative and gripping images, Jirgl portrays men and women torn between the past and the future whose hopes of creating their own history, of entering their very own New World come up against the unyielding Atlantic Wall.