Christa Wolf Seagull Books, 2019 Library of Congress PT2685.O36A9513 2014 | Dewey Decimal 833.914
Christa Wolf was arguably the best-known and most influential writer in the former East Germany. Having grown up during the Nazi regime, she and her family were forced to flee their home like many others, nearly starving to death in the process. Her earliest novels were controversial because they contained veiled criticisms of the Communist regime which landed her on government watch lists. Her past continued to permeate her work and her life, as she said, “You can only fight sorrow when you look it in the eye.”
August is Christa Wolf’s last piece of fiction, written in a single sitting as an anniversary gift to her husband. In it, she revisits her stay at a tuberculosis hospital in the winter of 1946, a real life event that was the inspiration for the closing scenes of her 1976 novel Patterns of Childhood. This time, however, her fictional perspective is very different. The story unfolds through the eyes of August, a young patient who has lost both his parents to the war. He adores an older girl, Lilo, a rebellious teenager who controls the wards. Sixty years later, August reflects on his life and the things that she taught him.
Written in taut, affectionate prose, August offers a new entry into Christa Wolf’s work and, incidentally, her first and only male protagonist. More than a literary artifact, this new novel is a perfectly constructed story of a quiet life well lived. For both August and Christa Wolf, the past never dies.
Rubem Fonseca's Crimes of August offers the first serious literary treatment of the cataclysmic events of August 1954, arguably the most turbulent month in Brazilian history. A rich novel, both culturally and historically, Crimes of August tells two stories simultaneously. The first is private, involving the well-delineated character of Alberto Mattos, a police officer. The other is public, focusing on events that begin with the attempted assassination of Carlos Lacerda, a demagogic journalist and political enemy of President Getúlio Vargas, and culminate in Vargas's suicide on August 24,1954. Throughout this suspenseful novel, deceptively couched as a thriller, Fonseca interweaves fact and fiction in a complex, provocative plot. At the same time, he re-creates the atmosphere of the 1950s, when Rio de Janeiro was Brazil's capital and the nexus of political intrigue and corruption. Mattos is assigned to solve the brutal murder of a wealthy entrepreneur in the aftermath of what appears to be a homosexual liaison. An educated and introspective man, and one of the few in his precinct not on the take from the bankers" of the illegal lottery, Mattos suffers from alienation and a bleeding ulcer. His investigation puts him on a dangerous collision course with the conspiracy to depose Vargas, the novel's other narrative thread. The two overlap at several points, coming to their tragic end with the aged politician's suicide and Mattos's downfall.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, northern resort towns were in their heyday as celebrated retreats for America's wealthy. "Lord, Please Don't Take Me in August" documents the experiences of African Americans in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Newport, Rhode Island--towns that provided a recurring season of expanded employment opportunities, enhanced social life, cosmopolitan experience, and, in a good year, enough money to last through the winter.
Affirming that the decision to live in their tiny resort communities was conscious and deliberate, Myra B. Young Armstead shows how Afro-Saratogians and Afro-Newporters organized their rhythms, their routines, and their communities to create meaningful identities for themselves.
Living on streets close to their churches, developing social organizations that promoted their standards of gentility and respectability, and lobbying for wider opportunities, these African Americans actively shaped their lives within the structures and limitations imposed on them.
Armstead situates the resort town between the poles of the rural South and the large industrial cities of the North. She shows how these small northern towns, with their seasonal economic rhythms and domestic wage work, permitted an important continuity between rural and urban lifestyles and a path from rural South to urban North besides the jarring, disruptive journey that often ended in the ghetto.
"Lord, Please Don't Take Me in August" tells a story that is at once American and uniquely African American: a story of economic imperatives and enlarged social aspirations culminating in a season--June, July, and August--that brought blacks as close as they could get to the American Dream.
A few years after the deadly 2011 terror attack in Norway’s Utøya Island, Otto and Sofie are attempting to put the pieces of their life back together without their beloved daughter, who was murdered alongside countless other youths on one of the worst day’s in Norway’s history. Seven Days in August is the story of Otto and Sofie’s grief, painstakingly narrated over just one week—a window into their attempts to navigate a life together, face to face with their own helplessness and mortality.
The week begins with a tick bite on Sofie’s hand, which continues to swell dangerously as the days pass. As her pain intensifies, so too does the marital strife present in a household stricken by grief. Told in award-winning Norwegian writer Brit Bildøen’s signature lyrical prose, the story slowly unfurls the horrors of a national tragedy, while peeling back the layers of sorrow that infect relationships over time.