The Mussel Feast

Birgit Vanderbeke

The Mussel Feast

A mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table. In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels. Why has the father not returned home? 4.4 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
The Mussel Feast

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Paperback
Pages 112
RRP
Date of Publication February 2013
ISBN 978-1908670083
Publisher Peirene Press
 

A mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table. In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels. Why has the father not returned home?

Reviews

Times Literary Supplement

Jane Yager

The Mussel Feast is arguably most damning as an indictment of the post-war West German family. The characters’ specific miseries are bound up with the stifling family roles prescribed by the prevailing culture: the striving businessman, the self-effacing housewife, the well-groomed daughter and sporty son. Vanderbeke skewers the soullessness of the Wirtschaftswunder.

17/05/2013

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The Guardian

Nicholas Lezard

While it's good to know that there is a reason why the needle on your metaphor-detector is trembling, it's also good to know that – unlike, say, Animal Farm – the book is not all metaphor, with everything in it capable of being neatly paired off with its real-life counterpart. The word that alerted me was "logical", which is itself a quality the scientifically minded father prizes highly. It may be that this is a portrait of the hysteria behind the calm, progressively technocratic Wirtschaftswunder [economic miracle] (as the father reminds his children many times, playing the piano and reading books don't get engines started); but there is real, felt horror at what we gradually learn is the monstrous, deranged behaviour of the father.

12/02/2013

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The Independent on Sunday

Lucy Popescu

There is a political edge to Vanderbeke's provocative examination of patriarchal violence, and part of the power of this darkly comic tale is how well it succeeds as an allegory for political tyranny. The father's tactics for exerting control in the familial home are similar to those an authoritarian regime exercises to keep the people cowed.

10/02/2013

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The Sunday Times

David Mills

Written in 1989, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Vanderbeke’s first novel won the leading German literature award. She has subsequently written 17 books. The Mussel Feast has never been out of print in Germany and has been translated into all the main European languages. We are playing catch-up here with something of a contemporary European classic.

21/04/2013

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