Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Juret Becker - Two Short Stories- "The Suspect" and "The Most Popular Family Story" (from The Wall and other Stories)

Two Short Stories by the author of Jakob the Lier, Juret Becker

There are still several days left in German Literature Month IV.  Lots of time left to participate. There are already over a hundred posts, reading through them is much like a fine class in German literature at a top academy.

Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014

1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)

24.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927

25.  "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817

26.  "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann 1971

27.  "Twilight" by Stefan Zweig 1928

28.   "The Lunatic" by Georg Heym 1913

29.    "Dissection" by Georg Heym 1913 - no post 

30.   "Blackbird" by Robert Musil

31.  "The Kiss" by Robert Walser 1914. - no post

Last week I read and posted on three intriguing stories by Jurek Becker, all translated by his wife in their first appearance in English in the just published collection, The Wall and other Stories by Jurek Becker.  Becker was born in Poland, after the war he and his family moved to the GDR (East Germany) where many felt Jews were more welcome.  (1937 to 1997). He stayed in the GDR when many Holocaust survivors left for America or Palestein. Much of his fiction focuses on the Holocaust.  I then read and posted on his wonderful Jakob the Lier is set in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland during the time of the Nazi occupation.  At the time Lodz was second only to Warsaw as the city with the highest Jewish population. Becker was born there.  

"The Suspect".  1980, published in translation in 2014

 "The Suspect" feels like it is set in East Germany.   It almost feels like a deliberate creation of a Kafkaesque story.  A man begins to think he is being followed, observed by the secret police.  He has nothing but his suspicions to substantiate this.  He begins to go out of his way to act totally normal.   
At his job he works hard, but not too hard.  He fears his girl friend may have informed on him so he drops her.  Nothing happens, no revelations, no conclusions.  

"The Most Popular Family Story".   1981, published in translation in 2014

This is a very funny delightful story.  We are at a big family gathering.  Uncle Gideon is getting ready to tell a family story.  Becker   Does a very good job of describing the big family gathering.  As Uncle Gideon starts his story, everybody has heard it before, we learn he does not like traveling but went to London for seven days to buy machinery for the family factory.  He does not like the English food and cannot locate a Kosher restaurant.  The man he bought the machinery from insists on taking him around London.  Then the man tells Gideon that he needs Gideon to fill in for him at a costume party as he has a business scheduling conflict.  Gideon buys himself an elaborate clown outfit and makes up his face.  The party is at a large mansion.  He is the first to arrive.  The host is in formal attire.  Compressing a lot, it is not a costume party but a formal dinner party for London's elite.  There Uncle Gideon sits, wanting to kill the man who sent him their in a clown outfit.  This is a very funny, warm hearted family story I liked a lot.

Both stories were translated by Justin Becker.

Mel von ü

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