A witty, philosophical novel by the author of the internationally bestselling In Times of Fading Light
Sometimes a cat comes into your life when you least expect it.
An unnamed writer finds himself in Cabo de Gata, a sleepy, worn-down Andalusian fishing village. He's left behind his life in Berlin, which it turns out wasn't much--an ex-girlfriend, a neighborhood that had become too trendy for his taste. Surrounded by a desolate landscape that is scoured by surprisingly cold winds (not at all what he expected of southern Spain), he faces his daily failures: to connect with the innkeeper or any of the townsfolk, who all seem to be hiding something; to learn Spanish; to keep warm; to write. At last he succeeds in making an unlikely connection with one of the village's many feral cats. Does the cat have a message for him? And will their tenuous relationship be enough to turn his life around?
With sharp intelligence and wry humor, Eugen Ruge's Cabo de Gata proposes the biggest questions and illustrates how achieving happiness sometimes means giving oneself up to the foreign and the unknown.
In this short novel, Ruge (In Times of Fading Light) delivers a plaintive drawn-from-life piece of autofiction about a Berlin-based writer who abruptly decides to leave his life behind. He quits his university job, closes his accounts, sells his furniture, and says good-bye to his family before embarking on a new life in Spain, where he plans to do little but live as a transient in a place where he neither knows the language nor any of the people, winding up in the Andalusian village of Cabo De Gata. There, he watches the sea, collects shells, meets a pair of fellow expatriates a divorced Englishman and a doomed American and immerses himself in the mysteries of Cabo De Gata: Who owns the coffin that washes up on the beach one day and sits unclaimed? What is the meaning of the stray cat the narrator cares for? The task Ruge has set himself is to painstakingly catalogue his memory of an uneventful 123 days in a quiet place (many paragraphs begin "I remember"), mark the comings and going of fishermen, and even the shapes of clouds. Ruge's book is not a novel in the traditional sense, but something of a notebook that gradually reveals the shape of a life, the mood of a place, and the passing of time, as well as being a placid rejoinder to the autobiographical semi-fictions popularized by Karl Ove Knausgaard and Ben Lerner. Cabo De Gata a refreshing excursion, its moments effortlessly building meaning throughout.