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Photo: Christian Biadacz

Manfred Maurenbrecher:
Roter Salon

In German

Book launch

A literary exploration of the countryside in eastern Germany – with his loving descriptions of eccentric characters and bizarre entanglements, Manfred Maurenbrecher shows how the major issues of our times are reflected in the small things.

Somewhere in the Uckermark lies the village of Grünmantel. This is where Zara Mengeleng, ex-Berliner and “recent arrival”, is looking for a handyman to help renovate her rented, yet hopelessly decrepit house. When she finds one in the person of Karl Krassow, a man with speech inhibitions and a talent for renovation, she doesn't have a clue that the house is more than just a contract job for him.

Meanwhile, scenes from a vigilante conspiracy play out in Grünmantel: a village resident by the name of Friedhelm Benzler – decried as a child molester – is to be taught a hefty lesson, under the direction of his ex-wife. Independently of that, his sister-in-law is planning a kind of double judgment: not only is Benzler to be kidnapped, the crime of the kidnapping is supposed to be ascribed to a fascist group. These incidents are positioned in a flood of events that cover a village sickened with intrigue, emotional entanglements and an excessive amount of self-righteousness. This flood also doesn't care if you're not actually from there...

Grünmantel is a kind of Maurenbrecher-style Unterleuten (published by Juli Zeh in 2016): with an offbeat humour and just as offbeat characters, Manfred Maurenbrecher tells – without any literary or moral arrogance, and yet with ample linguistic power – of the universal human desire to always be on the right side. Chopped-off hands, liberated wild horses, old secrets and new love affairs: this portrait of a fictitious village in Brandenburg provides both marvellous entertainment as well as a revelation of society in a microcosm.

West Germans, fascists, Berliners, villagers, recent arrivals and locals: exaggerated sketches of an eccentric country population in the so-called “new states” and simultaneous revelations of the protagonists' various dark secrets create a colourful potpourri of stories. In all this, everyone stands for themselves, but can also be read as a reflection of the major issues of our times: the relationship between morality and self-interest, the – sometimes artificial – city-country and west-east contrasts, and the failure, or revival, of grand concepts for life.


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