SHORT STORIES by Kathrin Schmidt, translated by Sue Vickerman
These are tales of small, damaged lives that unfold towards sometimes deadly ends. Desolate or downright funny, often they are about women: single and lonely, or ordinary and kind, or who neglect their children, or whose children abuse them. Immigrants, the homeless, the sexually abused, the suicidal – these and other aliens populate a ‘left behind’ region where a sense of powerlessness holds sway. Gay, straight, or transitioning, most of Schmidt’s characters are jobless, and mostly middle-aged, or else very old: a senile pedophile grandmother; another whose stinking belches accompany the wartime trauma she hands down to her offspring, for they too must suffer.
Kathrin Schmidt draws us alongside people limited or trapped by circumstances imposed on them, whether by the socialist regime or the one that came after, her stories set variously in the twilight hour of the German Democratic Republic and the post-1989 decade when the GDR was subsumed into the Germany of today. All is not bleak, for adversity generates human kindness and heart-warming responses, even love affairs and comedy. But Schmidt makes her point.
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angry and laconic… Kathrin Schmidt at the height of her powers
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
…powerful, bitter, tender, and as always, humour that bites
West Deutschland Radio
tragic and witty, perverse and savage, grotesque and elegiac