“Dear Mutti, everything is as crazy as you would imagine during a tour. We have been on the train continuously since Monday 7 am, everywhere we have 6 to 10 hours delays, and at the moment we are sitting in a Red Cross wooden barrack and have not been able to wash ourselves for days. We received rations behind Warsaw and have to wait until afternoon (now 6 o’clock in the morning, about minus 15 degrees) for the connecting train to Minsk, which we were not allowed to use this evening due to danger.”
When you think of the city of Klagenfurt, illustrious names of German language literary and popular culture come to mind. Robert Musil, Ingeborg Bachmann or Udo Jürgens. You will find the house where Musil was born right in front of the train station, while a sculpture of Bachmann is in one of the many parks which form a green belt around the history-laden old city centre. What brought me here, though, was a more notorious side of the city’s past or, to be more precise, that of a number of its former residents.
The novelist David Mitchell has suggested there are three ‘themes hardwired into all novels: identity, memory and time.’ With narrative comes time; with time, memory; with memory, identity. In the six years it took me to write my debut novel, Testament, I was grappling with Joseph Silk, a protagonist who reorders time, denies memory, and […]