Egypt (Kotob Khan), UK/USA (Seagull)
My first true love – blown out of all proportion by hindsight – didn’t even last a week from first kiss to break-up; but the heartbreak lasted a lot longer, right up till today, really, otherwise I wouldn’t be telling our story.
When he first fell in love he was fifteen, and no other love ever reached such untold levels of intensity. Over the course of a few – far too few – days a young boy experiences all the extremes of being in love. He watches the playground belle from afar, hangs around smokers’ corner every break just to catch another glimpse of that tantalizing gap between her front teeth. Their first kiss electrifies him like a stroke of lighting; a miracle, something holy that must remain forever inviolate. But hardly has he sipped from the spring of eternal happiness when the queen of the schoolyard casts him from her court.
Set in the microcosm of a 1980s West German high school against a backdrop of peace marches and civil unrest, Navid Kermani presents a masterpiece of poetic concision, his own take on the timeless spectacle of love in all its majesty and absurdity. Interweaving descriptions of first glances, tentative caresses and Dear John letters with the poignancy of Oriental love poetry, he takes the reader on an epic journey through landscapes both mundane and ethereal, spanning centuries and cultures almost imperceptibly. One thing is for certain: German literature is now home to one of the world’s most beautiful love stories.