This month World Book Club is in Germany marking the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall with a programme from the St George’s Bookshop in the heart of the capital. We’re speaking with one of the country’s greatest living writers Jenny Erpenbeck about her highly acclaimed novel, Visitation.
Visitation’s central character is a beguiling house on the forested banks of a lake in Brandenburg near Berlin, which is inhabited by various occupants, one dislodging the next over the course of a turbulent century of upheavel and calamity. Encompassing the years from the Weimar Republic, through World War II to the subsequent Soviet-led Communist regime, and finally to reunification and its aftermath, Visitation forms a literary mosaic of the horrors of twentieth century German history filtered through the beauty of one house and the landscape it’s rooted in.
(Image: Jenny Erpenbeck. Credit: Katharina Behling.)
Bonus episode: A Broken Heart in a Warzone
In an unnamed warzone, two thieves come up with an audacious plan to use bombing raids for their own ends. All is going well, until an adulterous domestic drama and a wild animal threaten their complacency.
The dark comedy A Broken Heart in a Warzone is the first play by Aziz H, a Yemeni writer. This is one of the winning plays from the BBC World Service/British Council International Playwriting Competition 2018. The 2020 competition is now open for entries - find out how to enter at bbcworldservice.com/radioplay
Dalia - Sirine Saba
Rami - Paul Chahidi
Khalid - Waleed El Gardi
Ali/Old Man - Nabil Elouahabi
Hatem - Omar Malik
Samier/Presenter - Adam El Hagar
Soldier/Boy - Alexander Devrient
Producer/director: Marion Nancarrow
A co-production with The Open University
David Nicholls - Us
David Nicholls talks about his internationally successful novel Us.
Almost three decades after their improbable relationship first blossomed in London biochemist Douglas and his attractive artist wife Connie live seemingly happily enough with their moody 17-year-old son, Albie just outside London. Then Connie drops a bombshell: she thinks she wants a divorce.
Devastated but determined to fight to save their marriage, Douglas insists that the family stick to a previously planned Grand Tour of Europe where he secretly hopes to win his wife and son back.
Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest point of view, Us is the bittersweet but often very funny story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learn how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger.
(Photo: David Nicholls. Credit: Sophia Spring)
Héctor Abad - Oblivion
The Colombian novelist and journalist Héctor Abad discusses his memoir Oblivion, a heart-breaking tribute to his late father. Héctor Abad Gómez was a medical doctor, professor and human rights campaigner in the city of Medellín, Colombia, whose criticism of the Colombian regime led to his brutal murder by paramilitaries in 1987. One of the most exquisitely written accounts of profound love between a father and son in modern literature, Oblivion paints a picture of a remarkable man who followed his conscience and paid for it with his life during one of the darkest periods in Latin America’s recent history.
Presented by Harriet Gilbert
Ann Cleeves - Raven Black
British writer Ann Cleeves discusses Raven Black, the haunting first novel in her award-winning Shetland crime series, with presenter Harriett Gilbert, a studio audience and readers around the world.
On a remote Scottish island in the Shetland Isles, a teenage girl is found dead in a snow-covered field. Some years ago, another young girl disappeared in mysterious circumstances near to his house, but the body was never found. As Inspector Perez and local police pursue their investigation a veil of suspicion is thrown over the entire community. For the first time in years neighbours nervously lock their doors, whilst a killer lives on in their midst.