Visitation

Jenny Erpenbeck

Visitation

By the side of a lake in Brandenburg, a young architect builds the house of his dreams - a summerhouse with wrought-iron balconies, stained-glass windows the colour of jewels, and a bedroom with a hidden closet, all set within a beautiful garden. But the land on which he builds has a dark history of violence that began with the drowning of a young woman in the grip of madness and that grows darker still over the course of the century: the Jewish neighbours disappear one by one; the Red Army requisitions the house, burning the furniture and trampling the garden; a young East German attempts to swim his way to freedom in the West; a couple return from brutal exile in Siberia and leave the house to their granddaughter, who is forced to relinquish her claim upon it and sell to new owners intent upon demolition. 3.7 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
Visitation

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Paperback
Pages 176
RRP £7.99
Date of Publication October 2010
ISBN 978-1846271908
Publisher Portobello Books
 

By the side of a lake in Brandenburg, a young architect builds the house of his dreams - a summerhouse with wrought-iron balconies, stained-glass windows the colour of jewels, and a bedroom with a hidden closet, all set within a beautiful garden. But the land on which he builds has a dark history of violence that began with the drowning of a young woman in the grip of madness and that grows darker still over the course of the century: the Jewish neighbours disappear one by one; the Red Army requisitions the house, burning the furniture and trampling the garden; a young East German attempts to swim his way to freedom in the West; a couple return from brutal exile in Siberia and leave the house to their granddaughter, who is forced to relinquish her claim upon it and sell to new owners intent upon demolition.

Reviews

The Financial Times

CJ Schuler

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25/10/2010

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The Guardian

Michel Faber

Impressive as it is, Visitation lacks the jewel-like perfection of The Old Child. Its richly populated, realistic narrative poses a big challenge for an author previously hailed as a miniaturist, and Erpenbeck is tempted by different methods of tackling it.

30/10/2010

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The Times

Kate Saunders

This haunting novel beautifully dramatises how ordinary lives are affected by history.

07/10/2010

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The Independent

Rebecca K Morrison

She [Erpenbeck] weaves a restrained, never indulgent, tapestry of individual stories laced with folklore, her descriptive riffs saved for appreciation of the shimmering lake and surrounding woodland.

19/11/2010

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The Independent on Sunday

Christian House

The collusion of average German civilians in the atrocities of those years emerges like a photograph in developing fluid. It is a slow waltz of a tale, dancing along to the riffs and motifs of human fallibility.

10/10/2010

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The Daily Mail

Clare Colvin

Erpenbeck, born in East Germany, based her intensely visual novel on the house in which she grew up and, in the space of 150 pages, concentrates a century of history.

15/10/2010

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The Observer

Natasha Tripney

The novel, which is a spare, delicate thing, only 150 pages long, encompasses both the domestic and the horrific. Erpenbeck's writing, with its repetitions of situation and expression, is soothing and cocooning, which only magnifies the moments of horror: the brief, brutal fate of an elderly Jewish couple is captured in one chilling line; a young girl slowly starves in a closet in the Warsaw ghetto.

17/07/2011

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Times Literary Supplement

James Copnall

Visitation cannot have been an easy book to translate, but Susan Bernofsky masters its occasional glints of poetry, and the hints of madness expressed through words shedding their conventional meaning while maintaining a sort of warped sense ... Jenny Erpenbeck’s control of different voices, and different periods, is confident and sure-handed. Visitation is an important work by a novelist of great talent.

19/11/2010

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The Daily Telegraph

Kasia Boddy

No story is given priority but each instead hints at the connections that place forges between various owners, renters and subtenants. Erpenbeck encourages us to act like detectives, noting the re-emergence of previously insignificant details in new contexts.

09/12/2010

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The Guardian

Alred Hilckling

Erpenbeck describes wartime atrocities in the unsettling tone of a fairy tale, but the stream-of-consciousness flourishes are a bit winsome: "Let's go hide under the fir bush, give me a – I want to twitter, me too."

22/07/2011

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The Sunday Times

John Spurling

Occasionally touching, more frequently ironic and impassive, this is a demanding but not very enjoyable novel, somewhat reminiscent of Virginia Woolf, with a German bite.

14/11/2010

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