Berlin Cantata

Berlin Cantata

3 (25 ratings by Goodreads)
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'A city that has lost one of its limbs and is receiving a miraculous gift, a little bump under the flesh, where the limb is just beginning to grow back'. Thus does the American girl in Jeffrey Lewis' remarkable polyphonic novel describe Berlin and the 'remnant Jews, secret GDR Jews...Soviet Jews...Jews who'd fled and come back with the victors, Jews who were lost mandarins now, Jews who'd believed in the universality of man and maybe still did' whom she finds at a Day of Atonement gathering in the eastern part of the city in a year soon after the Wall fell. "Berlin Cantata" deploys thirteen voices to tell a story not only of atonement, but of discovery, loss, identity, intrigue, mystery, insanity, sadomasochism and lies. At its centre is a country house owned successively by Jews, Nazis and Communists. In the country house, the American girl seeks her hidden past. In the girl, a local reporter seeks redemption. In the reporter, a false hero of the past seeks exposure. In the false hero, the American girl seeks a guide. And so it goes, a round of conspiracy and desire.
Even as he describes his native city, the false hero describes the characters of "Berlin Cantata": 'We dined on wreckage. We were not afraid to beg. We continued our long tradition of believing either in nothing or too much'.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 230 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 29mm | 400g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1908323205
  • 9781908323200

Review quote

"[Jeffrey] Lewis employs thirteen different voices to tell an astonishing story that raises unsettling questions about cultural and personal identity, desire across time, conspiracies of silence, exile and return, and problematizing the notion of home itself. Berlin Cantata is a brilliantly conducted work by a master storyteller." -- Gary Percesepe 20120426 "With outstanding craft Jeffrey Lewis examines the political sentiments, and every possible, probable, and wrenching emotion we might imagine. The novel begs to be read more than once, to savor every nuance of expression, inner conflict, and resolution." -- Peggy Metsch "Linked by a history of shifting loyalties and deceit, the narrator's stories are filled with the agony of loss and the desperate search for identity. By giving voice to his characters, Lewis navigates their tales with compassion and fully explores the complications of living in a city haunted by its violent past." "Berlin Cantata is a beautiful novel whose extraordinary strands explain the conflict, love and burden of coming to terms with Germany. It is a most compelling story about reconciliation." 'Among Berlin Cantata's most interesting aspects is its inclusion of an oft-neglected population: Jews who continued to live in Europe-and Germany-after the Holocaust... Lewis also impresses with his ability to create distinct voices for each of first-person "soloists"...' -- Erika Dreifus 20120827
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About Jeffrey Lewis

Jeffrey Lewis has won a string of awards for his novels including the Independent Publishers Gold Medal for Literary Fiction. His novels include "Meritocracy: A Love Story," "Theme Song for an Old Show," "The Conference of the Birds" and "Adam the King." He has also received two Emmy Awards and the Writer's Guild Award for his work as a television writer and producer for "Hill Street Blues."
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Rating details

25 ratings
3 out of 5 stars
5 12% (3)
4 16% (4)
3 36% (9)
2 32% (8)
1 4% (1)
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