“Taking on the family demons has become something of a literary project for the raven-haired, soft-voiced author, who, at forty-three, ranks among Germany’s most respectedand fearlessnovelists . . . Spellbinding . . . [One particular scene is] masterly in its control . . . utterly gothic, impossible to forget.”
Megan O’Grady, Vogue.com
Julia Franck’s German Book Prizewinning novel The Blindness of the Heart
was an international phenomenon, selling 850,000 copies in Germany alone, and was published in thirty-five countries. Her newest work, Back to Back
, is the moving story of two unhappy children in communist East Germany in the 1950s and 1960sa sharp portrayal of how totalitarianism can poison the family along with the rest of society. As the book opens, Thomas and Ella, age ten and eleven, are home alonetheir mother Käthe, a sculptor, has left them unaccompanied for two weeks. As they grow up in this loveless family, Thomas and Ella find solace in each otherthey sit back-to-back and strain to recall early memories of their father, who fled to West Germany after the war, and daydream of a life where they could have the kind of childhood other children enjoy. Thomas and Ella find strength through their powerful bond with each otherbut faced with such a hostile world, will this be enough?