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review 2017-10-26 10:01
Schuldig oder unschuldig?
Im Traum kannst du nicht lügen: Roman - Malin Persson Giolito,Thorsten Alms

Auf „Im Traum kannst du nicht lügen“ von Malin Persson Giolito wurde ich durch den Newsletter der Lesejury von Bastei Lübbe aufmerksam. Die Mail pries den Thriller, der als bester Kriminalroman Schwedens 2016 ausgezeichnet wurde, für eine Leserunde an. Meine Erfahrungen mit Leserunden waren bisher eher negativ, doch der Klappentext weckte meine Neugier. Ich gab der umfangreichen Leseprobe eine Chance. Die ersten 60 Seiten nahmen mich gefangen. Ich wollte überhaupt nicht mehr aufhören zu lesen und schoss all meine Zweifel spontan in den Wind. Für dieses Buch würde ich die Leserunde in Kauf nehmen. Ich bewarb mich und erhielt etwa 2 Wochen später die Zusage. Was machte ich für Augen, als ich in meinem Briefkasten kein Buch, sondern ein echtes Manuskript vorfand, das extra für mich gedruckt worden war! Mühsam geduldete ich mich bis zum vorgegebenen Termin, um die Lektüre gemeinsam mit allen anderen zu beginnen.

 

Als die Polizei das Klassenzimmer in Stockholm stürmte, saß die 18-jährige Maja Norberg in der Mitte des Raumes. Überall war Blut. Um sie herum lagen die regungslosen Körper ihrer besten Freundin Amanda, ihres Lehrers Christer und ihrer Mitschüler Samir und Dennis. Auf ihren Schoß hatte sie den Kopf ihres Freundes Sebastian gebettet. Sebastian, der Sohn des reichen Unternehmers Claes Fagermann. Sebastian, der langsam kalt wurde. In der Luft hing der Geruch nach faulen Eiern und Pulverrauch. In ihrer Hand hielt Maja eine Waffe. Sie war unverletzt.
Jetzt, Wochen später, muss sich Maja vor Gericht verteidigen, während ganz Schweden von ihrer Schuld überzeugt ist. Doch was ist wirklich in dem Klassenzimmer geschehen? Wie kam es zu dem Massaker, das mehrere Menschen das Leben kostete? Ist Maja eine Mörderin?

 

Was ist das wichtigste Element eines guten Thrillers? Wenn ihr mich fragt, ist es der Spannungsbogen. Ein Thriller darf weder langweilig, noch zu vorhersehbar sein, er sollte den Leser_innen aber trotz dessen die Möglichkeit bieten, mitzurätseln. „Im Traum kannst du nicht lügen“ stellt meiner Meinung nach die geschickteste Konstruktion eines Spannungsbogens dar, die mir in diesem Genre jemals untergekommen ist. Das Buch ist überwältigend. Es lebt von der Frage, was geschehen ist, ob Maja, die eigentlich Maria heißt, tatsächlich in der Lage war, ein Blutbad anzurichten. Die Spannung wird die ganze Zeit aufrechterhalten, flaut niemals ab und riss mich mit. Ich ahnte bereits nach der Leseprobe, dass dieser Thriller außergewöhnlich sein könnte und ich behielt Recht. Malin Persson Giolito lässt ihre Leser_innen grübeln, mitfiebern, abwägen, zweifeln, mutmaßen und hoffen. Die nichtlineare, bruchstückhafte Erzählweise der Protagonistin Maja, der die Autorin erlaubt, ihre Geschichte selbst in Ich-Perspektive zu schildern, wirkt ungemein realistisch und erzeugt eine enorme Nähe, die sich stetig steigert, bis sie im letzten Viertel des Romans sogar die vierte Wand durchbricht und die Leser_innen direkt anspricht. Wir treffen Maja zu Beginn ihres Prozesses und das erste, was mir an ihr auffiel, war die unbändige Wut ihrer kalten, harschen Worte. Sie erschien distanziert, genervt, nahezu desinteressiert am Verlauf ihrer eigenen Verhandlung. Obwohl sie sich dadurch nicht gerade als Sympathieträgerin qualifizierte, hatte mich Malin Persson Giolito auf diese Weise sofort am Haken. Ich wollte wissen, warum Maja so zornig ist und begriff bald, dass sich unter ihrem Zorn ein Meer der Resignation, Schuld und Verzweiflung verbirgt, das mir beinahe das Herz brach. Ihr Charakter, ebenso wie die Chronologie der Ereignisse, die zu dem Massaker im Klassenzimmer führten, schälen sich absichtlich sehr langsam heraus. Ich lernte sie in ihrem eigenen Tempo kennen und entwickelte Stück für Stück Sympathie und Mitgefühl für sie, wodurch sich der emotionale Sog ihrer Erzählung graduell verstärkte. Maja stammt zwar aus einem gut situierten Elternhaus, wofür sie in der sensationslüsternen schwedischen Presse wiederholt angegriffen wird, doch Geld schützt eben nicht vor Schmerz und Kummer. In den Monaten und Wochen vor der Bluttat war sie verloren, überfordert, einsam. Ich sehe euch jetzt bereits wissend mit dem Kopf nicken. Vermutlich ergeht es euch ähnlich wie mir: ihr neigt dazu, zur naheliegenden Schlussfolgerung zu springen und Maja vorzuverurteilen. Haltet ein. So einfach ist es nicht. Diese Geschichte ist viel komplizierter, als sie anfangs erscheint und ich musste tatsächlich den Schlussakt abwarten, um endlich herauszufinden, ob Maja eine Mörderin ist. Für mich steht fest, dass „Im Traum kannst du nicht lügen“ eine Tragödie ist; nicht nur aufgrund des grauenvollen Massakers, sondern auch, weil sie eigentlich nicht ihre Tragödie ist. Schuldig oder nicht – Maja ist ein Opfer.

 

Mein Leseerlebnis mit „Im Traum kannst du nicht lügen“ war fantastisch. Einerseits ist das Buch ein hervorragender Thriller, in dem Malin Persson Giolito munter und unberechenbar mit der Erwartungshaltung der Leser_innen spielt und das brillante, glaubhafte und einfühlsame Bild einer verzweifelten Jugendlichen zeichnet, andererseits gefiel mir auch die Leserunde der Lesejury erstaunlich gut. Ich empfand den Austausch mit anderen Leser_innen als wertvoll, da ich früh einsehen musste, dass ich viele meiner Überlegungen und Theorien in dieser Rezension nicht würde verwenden können, ohne heftig zu spoilern. Die Ungewissheit während des Lesens hält Spannung und Geschichte am Leben; sie ist ein unverzichtbarer Bestandteil des Romans, der Neugier schürt und zu eigenen Hypothesen einlädt. Diese Erfahrung möchte ich niemandem nehmen, weshalb ich versucht habe, so vage wie möglich von „Im Traum kannst du nicht lügen“ zu berichten. Meiner Ansicht nach steht der Autorin eine schillernde Karriere bevor und ich bin froh, dass mir Bastei Lübbe die Möglichkeit einräumte, an ihrem Anfang dabei zu sein. Malin Persson Giolito ist ein Name, den man sich unbedingt merken sollte.

 

Vielen Dank an die Lesejury und Bastei Lübbe für die Bereitstellung dieses Rezensionsexemplars im Austausch für eine ehrliche Rezension!

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/malin-persson-giolito-im-traum-kannst-du-nicht-luegen
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review 2017-10-20 20:55
A Western, a Civil War novel, and a love story whose narrator you won’t forget.
Days Without End - Sebastian Barry

I had not read any books by Sebastian Barry before, and when I read some of the reviews of this book I realised that the author has been chronicling, in some of his novels, the story of two Irish families. One of the protagonists of this story, and its narrator, Thomas McNulty, is a descendant of one of these families. Rest assured that you don’t need to have read Barry’s other novels to enjoy this one (I didn’t find out about this until I had finished reading it) but now that I know I confess I’d like to see how they all relate to each other.

Thomas is a young boy who ends up in America fleeing the Irish famine and we follow him through his many adventures. Very early on he meets a slightly older boy, John Cole, and they are inseparable throughout the story, or almost. In XIX century America they live through many experiences: they take to the stage dressed as girls to entertain miners (who have no women around); when they are old enough they join the army and fight in the Indian Wars. They later go back to the stage, this time with Thomas playing the girl (a part he enjoys), John her suitor and an Indian girl they’ve adopted, Winona, as their side act. As times get harder, they go back to the army, this time fighting for the North in the Civil War. And… it goes on.

The book is narrated in the first person by Thomas, who has a very peculiar voice, full of expressions appropriate to the historical era, some Irish terms, colloquialisms, witty and humorous saying, poetic passages and amateur philosophical reflexions. In some ways it reminded me of novels narrated by tricksters or other adventurers (I’ve seen people mention Huckleberry Finn, although the characters and the plot are quite different and so is the language used), but although Thomas is somebody determined to survive and easy-going, he never wishes anybody harm and seems warm and kind-hearted, even if he sometimes ends up doing things he lives to regret. I know some readers don’t enjoy first-person narrations. Whilst it can put you right inside the skin of the character, it also makes it more difficult to get to know other characters and if you don’t like the way a character talks, well, that’s it. Although I really enjoyed Thomas and the use of language, I know it won’t be for everybody, so I recommend checking it out first. Some reviews say that he is too articulate, but although we don’t know all the details of the character’s background, he is clearly literate and corresponds and talks to people from all walks of life through the book (poets, actors, priests, the major and his wife). And he is clearly clever, quick, and a good observer.

Although the story is set in America in mid-XIX century and recounts a number of historical events, these are told from a very special perspective (this is not History with a capital H, but rather an account of what somebody who had to live through and endure situations he had no saying on felt about the events), and I this is not a book I would recommend to readers looking for a historical treatise. Yes, Thomas and John Cole love each other and have a relationship through the whole book and Thomas wears a dress often. There is little made of this and Thomas is better at talking about events and other people than at discussing his own feelings (and that, perhaps, makes the snippets he offers us all the more touching). Although perhaps the historical accuracy of some parts of the story (mostly about the characters’ relationship) stretches the imagination, the descriptions of the battles of the Indian Wars and the Civil War, and especially the way those involved in them felt, are powerful and evocative, horrible and heart-wrenching. There are no true heroes or villains, just people who play their parts as cogs in machines they don’t understand. (There are funny moments like when quite a racist character discovers that he’s fighting in the pro-abolition side. His reason for fighting is because the major he’d fought under in the Indian Wars asked him to. He never thought to ask what the war was about). Thomas reflects at times upon the similarities between what is happening there and what had happened in Ireland and does not miss the irony of the situation.

I had problems choosing some quotations from the book as I’d highlighted quite a lot of it, but here go:

If you had all your limbs they took you. If you were a one-eyed boy they might take you too even so. The only pay worse than the worst pay in America was army pay.

We were two wood-shavings of humanity in a rough world.

The bottom was always falling out of something in America far as I could see.

Every little thing she says has grammar in it, she sounds like a bishop.

Things just go on. Lot of life is just like that. I look back over fifty years of life and wonder where the years went. I guess they went like that, without me noticing much. A man’s memory might have only a hundred clear days in it and he has lived thousands. Can’t do much about that.

There’s no soldier don’t have a queer little spot in his wretched heart for his enemy, that’s just a fact. Maybe only on account of him being alive in the same place and at the same time and we are all just customers of the same three-card trickster. Well, who knows the truth of it all.

He is as dapper as a mackerel.

How we going to count all the souls to be lost in this war?

Men so sick they are dying of death. Strong men to start that are hard to kill.

Killing hurts the heart and soils the soul.

I loved the story and the characters and I hope to read more novels by Barry in the future. I recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction and westerns, with a big pinch of salt, those who love narrators with a distinctive voice, and fans of Barry. From now on I count myself among them.

Thanks to Faber and Faber and to NetGalley for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

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review 2017-09-28 18:00
The Essential Jennifer Johnston: The Captains and the Kings, The Railway Station Man, Fool's Sanctuary - Jennifer Johnston,Sebastian Barry

A quiet, thoughtful book by a writer who is much underappreciated. She deserves a wide audience, although I fear the sort of book she writes -- gentle, interior, full of the depth of ordinary lives -- is much out of fashion in favor of dystopian horrors, angry screeds, and extreme character portrayals. Pity.

 

This novel deals with aging and youth, scandalous talk, resentments, misunderstandings, foolishness, closemindedness and the pain of injustice. Set in Ireland in the mid-20th c, Mr. Pendergast is a man at the end of his life, a solitary man, of few passions. He is a Protestant and, much against his will, finds himself in an unlikely friendship with a Catholic boy. It's heartbreaking and beautifully drawn.

 

I highly recommend it and will be reading the rest of Johnston's work. A fine article about her appears here... https://www.theguardian.com/books/2004/feb/11/fiction.rosiecowan

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text 2017-09-13 03:41
Thoughts on the Eve of the 2017 Man Booker Shortlist
Home Fire: A Novel - Kamila Shamsie
Exit West - Mohsin Hamid
Days Without End - Sebastian Barry
Autumn: A Novel - Ali Smith
The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead
Solar Bones - Mike McCormack
History of Wolves - Emily Fridlund

The Man Booker Prize shortlist announcement is hours away and I've been working hard to read my way through the list. Despite my best intentions, I was only able to completely read seven of this year's nominees as well as three others in part. That leaves three novels that are at this point a complete mystery to me, so I cannot speak on them. Here are some thoughts on who might make the list tomorrow.

I think Home Fire, Exit West, and Days Without End are the three strongest contenders from the ten I've read. I will be surprised if these three do not make the shortlist. I'll be really surprised if none of the three do.

Personally, I didn't enjoy The Underground Railroad much, but I think it also stands a good chance of being shortlisted. I'll be annoyed if wins the Prize given how much attention it has garnered this year, but a shortlist nomination would be accepted.

Rounding out the list is difficult. Autumn and Solar Bones are possible contenders.

I'd love to see History of Wolves on the list as it has been a personal favorite, so far. I know many readers had a very different reaction to this novel, however, so it's a long shot to make the list. (And it has zero chance of winning the Prize.)

If I had to put money on six and only six titles, they'd be
1. Home Fire
2. Days Without End
3. Exit West
4. The Underground Railroad
5. Autumn

6. History of Wolves (anything's possible, right?)

Have you been reading the Man Booker nominees? Have any thoughts on who might be shortlisted?

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review 2017-09-12 16:49
Review: Days Without End
Days Without End - Sebastian Barry

The following review contains a few potential minor spoilers. In my opinion, these details do not spoil much and are established fairly early in the narrative, but I feel it's only fair to mention their inclusion for readers who desire a clean slate.

...
Initially, I struggled with believing a word of this novel. Told from the perspective of Thomas McNulty, Days Without End illustrates the setting and period in a manner that feels extremely authentic. The problem had to do with the story itself: two gay men, one who commonly wears dresses, along with their daughter, fight in the biggest American battles of the 1850s and 60s, and are generally well liked. It sounds ludicrous, does it not? Because, frankly, how many such people could there have been in those years? The more I thought about it and the deeper I read, the more I began to question my original doubt. It's not at all ludicrous. Even the part about being well liked seemed accurate as I got to know these characters. This is the biggest compliment I can give Sebastian Barry and his most recent novel—Barry took a very hard-to-sell story and made it not only convincing, but enjoyable.

Evocative of Cormac McCarthy in its blend of lyrical prose and brutal western themes, Days Without End is a different kind of story all together. It's an improbable historical novel of epic proportions in a small package. Its blend of a less-educated vernacular with gorgeous and insightful passages is hard to believe at times, but like the story itself, it works surprisingly well. Perhaps it is exactly because of the implausibility of language and story that this novel excels. Without the unique perspective and the powerful lyricism, this novel would likely be just another addition to the long list of fictional accounts of the American Civil War without anything to set it apart.

Days Without End is constantly immersed in tales of war and of family. The “war” in the novel perhaps drags on a big too much, especially considering the brevity of the novel. For my benign tastes, there were a few too many conflicts. By the time I arrived at the fourth or fifth major conflict, I didn't much care about the results. I suspected the outcome would be similar to all those that preceded it. I'd have preferred a little more time spent on the family aspect, though surely the two overlap considerably. Another reader may have hoped for the opposite.

Days Without End is one of those novels that seems so simple in so many ways that you can imagine the author whipped it out in a matter of weeks and didn't need to look back. It's short and it's straight-forward. But you can also imagine the author spent considerable time with each and every sentence. They're painstakingly beautiful, yet they smack of the language of the time and place. Whether Barry labored over the making of Days Without End or not, the talent is obvious. Here is a story that glosses over some of the rough edges of mid-nineteenth century America, but sharpens others. The result is a gritty but beautiful novel, a fable where uncertainty melts away one page at a time.


Man Booker Prize 2017:
Days Without End stands a good chance of making the shortlist, in my opinion. It's an excellent contender with a strong historical narrative. Though some readers may be turned off by its implausible themes, it is because of the superb handling of these themes that this book rises above other well-written Civil War novels. Perhaps the greatest deterrent for shortlisting Days Without End is that it is yet another book about America in a year where perhaps there are too many nominees about the American experience. I feel confident that Days Without End will be shortlisted and will be an excellent contender for the top award, but I have doubts that Barry will bring home the prize this year.

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