Shortlisted for The Booker Prize 2001
Appearing at the 2002 Adelaide Writer's FestivalThe Dark Room
is one of those rare novels that provokes its readers not just to enthusiasm, but a need to discuss with others how one responds to its careful, all-too-human investigation of the most difficult moral issues of the past century - the legacy of atrocity.The Dark Room
tells three stories that between them trace the legacy of the Nazi period on the lives of ordinary Germans. Helmut is a young photographer in Berlin in the '30's, who lives with a withered arm in a Nazi state that has little tolerance of the less than physically perfect. Finally called up in the closing months of the war, Helmut eventually has the chance to show his patriotic fervour. Lore is twelve as the war comes to the end. As both her Nazi parents are seized by the Allies, Lore crosses Germany, shepherding her three young siblings to eventual safety at the home of their grandmother.
Half-a-century later, Micha, a young schoolteacher, becomes obsessed with the war record of his much loved, and now dead, grandfather, who was in the Waffen SS on the Eastern Front during the war. He eventually travels to Byelorussia, in his grandfather's footsteps, but returns with more questions and fewer answers, as he struggles to love his grandparents and deal with his country in the shadow of their pasts.Rachel Seiffert is the daughter of a German mother and an Australian father and was born in Oxford in 1971. She now lives in Berlin. The Dark Room is her first novel.
Praise for The Dark Room:
'excellent ... a very readable, imaginative attempt to hold essential truths in living memory.' - The Economist
'stunning ... Seiffert writes with such extraordinary elegance that it takes your breath away. Her voice sings with aching precision yet possesses a glorious innocence that can trouble the simplest of words.' - Toronto Globe and Mail
'Ambitious and powerful ... Seiffert writes lean, clean prose. Deftly, she hangs large ideas on the vivid private experiences of her principal characters ... poignant and ultimately optimistic ... clever and engrossing' - New York Times
'explores the experience of "ordinary" Germans - the descendants of Nazi's and Nazi sympathisers - and poses questions about the country's psychological and political inheritance with rare insight and humanity.' The New Yorker
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