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Gstrein has succeeded in writing a great novel about spiritual seduction, ideological vulnerability and the fragility of memory (Christoph Schröder Die Tageszeitung)
A pleasing blend of Gstrein's classic themes of small town and the universal, homeland and exile, trauma and liberation, innocence and hubris (Andreas Brietenstein Neue Zürcher Zeitung)
A magnificent tale, about all that makes up life (Andreas Wirthensohn Wiener Zeitung)
Probably Gstrein's best novel yet . . . melodic, rhythmic, elegant (Christoph Schröder Kulturspiegel)
Once again we are dazzled by an author who leads us through complex uncertainties to what is simple and true (Simone Dattenberger Münchner Merkur)
Gstrein unfolds a magnificently achieved game of memory, guilt and multiple layers of time (Ernst Osterkamp Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
A bomb threat is made at a provincial Austrian village station. An unattended bag placed next to three messages: "Repent!", "First and final warning!" and "Next time it will be for real!. But no-one takes it too seriously, not even the police. Then a teacher in the village thinks he recognises his favourite pupil Daniel on a wanted notice in a newspaper.
The teacher befriended Daniel when they spent a summer together at his house by the river, but Daniel has been growing increasingly obsessive of late, losing himself in religious and political dogmatism after a trip to Israel. For his teacher, this marks the start of a spiral of introspection and self doubt, reinforced by his inability to feel at home anywhere after spending several years in Istanbul.
What's more, he is suddenly swamped by memories of the pivotal moments of his own adolescence, which floor him completely. Was it Daniel's love for Judith and his fascination with an American fire-and-brimstone evangelist who is passing through on his way to Jerusalem or could it have been the complex relationship between the two of them that led the boy astray?
Norbert Gstrein examines the crucial decisions we take as we start out in life and the omnipresent reference points of childhood. This is a moving and absorbing story, told by an unparalleled author at the height of his powers
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