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Antje Rávic Strubel

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Antje Rávic Strubel lives in Potsdam, just outside of Berlin. She trained as a bookseller and then studied German and American Literature and Psychology in Potsdam and New York. The name Rávic is entirely invented to describe a separate identity she assumes while writing. She won the Ernst Willner Prize at the Klagenfurt literary competition in 2001.

Struble taught at the renowned German Creative Writing Program Leipzig, including a seminar on concepts of love in literature. She was invited to the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles and spent several stays in California. It was during that time that she discovered the work of Joan Didion, who she now translates. She often spends her summers in Sweden, a country that plays a role in several of her works. She is currently writer-in-residence at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (2012).

Featured Reading Group Title

Sturz der Tage in die Nacht (When Days Plunge into Night)

Strubel’s German Book Prize-nominated novel is set on a bird sanctuary island in Sweden. On his arrival, the young Erik is instantly fascinated by the older, aloof ornithologist Inez. Rainer Feldberg arrived on the island at the same time as him, a shady character who spies on the two of them. We find out that Inez and he know each other from many years ago. What game is being played here? Feldberg’s insinuations, the little that Inez reveals, and notes that Erik stumbles upon come together to tell an incredible story: the biography of an East German boy, invented as a Stasi legend and a political story. His own history.

“The characters’ past is described with a suggestive realism. The GDR has rarely been captured as specifically as in episodes of this novel; we feel the air, we smell the scents, we taste their consistency.”  Helmut Böttiger, Süddeutsche Zeitung

More Information

  • When Days Plunge into Night is featured in our German Reading Group Winter 2012-13.
  • Click here to visit the author’s website.
  • Click here to read an extract in English translated by Zaia Alexander on the No Man’s Land online magazine.
  • If you’ve read the book or translated extract, let us know what you think by commenting below or coming along to our reading group meet up.

2 Comments

  1. Nancy Chapple says:

    I loved this book. And I didn’t expect to, for a number of reasons which don’t matter. I often get impatient with landscape descriptions, with pages where nothing happens. And to some extent you could say that about the first 150 pages. And yet, and yet … The heat, the sun, the coast, the birds — I was there. And then the characters. The overwhelming love for Inez of the male character whose voice shapes those first pages. And then the first of the series of narrative spirals, circling like birds around the actual “story”, the core of the story.
    After 150 pages we move into Inez’s mind, her voice. We experience a narrator so obviously scarred by life, a woman whose emotional landscape is somehow echoed or reinforced — we don’t understand it yet — by the physical landscape, and that’s very special.
    And then as the book goes on, we get to know the Ekelpakete, the two men who together and separately behave so disgustingly towards Inez. We learn that the political motivation for their acts was so shaped by their psychological constitutions (perhaps vice versa as well, though I haven’t explored that yet); that was so clear and made so much sense. Capturing the language of Stasi spies, of people who went along with the system — it felt so real that I felt compelled to look up when she was born (only 1974. But maybe that was early enough for it to ring in Strubel’s ears forever — and for her to reproduce it for us readers).
    We spiral again and again from the young man’s and from Inez’s perspectives over the same material. And it’s never too much, it’s never repetitive or boring or implausible.
    This is the 5th book we’ve read together … and hands down my favorite.

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  2. sally says:

    I agree that the landscape is evoked beautifully, but I was unconvinced by the novel and found myself losing interest shortly after the midway point. I didn’t really believe in the characters, particularly Rainer Feldberg and Erik’s father, and I’m not sure that the love story and the Stasi story fit together. I found the portentous tone irritating (the first lines of ‘Flint Ball’ in the extract are an example of this) and the construction of the novel, with the shifts in narrative viewpoint, seemed forced to me. In short, this certainly isn’t my favourite of Strubel’s novels.

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