Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for the best translated novel of 2014, now a New Directions paperback
Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Hans Fallada Prize, The End of Days, by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, consists essentially of five “books,” each leading to a different death of the same unnamed female protagonist. How could it all have gone differently?—the narrator asks in the intermezzos. The first chapter begins with the death of a baby in the early twentieth-century Hapsburg Empire. In the next chapter, the same girl grows up in Vienna after World War I, but a pact she makes with a young man leads to a second death. In the next scenario, she survives adolescence and moves to Russia with her husband. Both are dedicated Communists, yet our heroine ends up in a labor camp. But her fate does not end there….
A novel of incredible breadth and amazing concision, The End of Days offers a unique overview of the twentieth century.
This beautiful and ambitious novel by German writer Erpenbeck (Visitation) explores the many paths life can take. A baby girl dies accidentally in a small Eastern European town during the early years of the 20th century, spinning her family into disarray. But what if she had survived? Divided into five sections, each of which imagines a possible endpoint for the nameless female protagonist, the book begins with her death as an infant in Galicia, in the Hapsburg Empire, and spans nearly a century. The second section finds the teen girl living in wartime Vienna, hungry and rebellious. Her fate will hinge on an anguished stranger whom she meets after a heartbreak of her own. In the third section, she has left Vienna for Moscow, where she is an impassioned Communist worrying about her husband's arrest and fighting to secure her own place within the party. The story concludes with two more possibilities for her as she continues life in Russia and Berlin. Erpenbeck's graceful prose suits the understated tone of this Hans Fallada Prize winner, whose historical and political breadth could be stretched to unbelievability in less dextrous hands. The novel elegantly frames our human instinct to reimagine endings and tragedies as barely remembered moments over the course of a lifetime.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This is an extraordinary novel. Deeply moving insight into human life through a turbulent century. Thank you it is a revelation of beautiful writing.