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Judith W. Taschler’s ”Sommer wie Winter” (Like Summer like Winter) may be her first novel, but it is nevertheless a mature book as regards both style and narrative technique. The author links the narrative threads to form a complex network of stories in a masterly manner, and she shapes the speech of her lifelike figures with a sure sense of style. The author’s sure touch gives ”Sommer wie Winter” a certain lightness, even though the book deals with very difficult topics: traumas of origin and guilt, taboos and bans, otherness and identity, conformity and exclusion. In doing this Taschler does not provide any definitive truths but creates zones of ambivalence, of a confrontational interpretation of the world. All this succeeds thanks to the many perspectives which the structure of the novel displays: the members of the Winter family, who are farmers and hoteliers in Söll in Tyrol, tell their family history with regard to their foster child Alexander Sommer in a series of therapy sessions. Alexander himself is given the most space, but without the story of his life remaining unquestioned or being located as a form of metatruth outside the system of family relationships.
The background to the therapy sessions is revealed to the reader only slowly. Even at the beginning it is clear, however, that something terrible must have happened. The nineteen-year-old Alexander and his stepsister of almost the same age had an accident in circumstances which are initially vague and confused. Light is thrown on them and the family history is gone into in the therapy sessions held between January and April 1990.
Just as Alexander finally decodes the true circumstances of his origin and life history so too can the reader expose the various layers of Judith W. Taschler’s narrative cosmos in all its symbolic density and narrative diversity.
Abridged version of a review by Gerald Lind, September 2011. English translation by Leigh H. Bailey.
Full German text: http://www.literaturhaus.at/index.php?id=8761
[ book info ] Taschler, Judith W.: Sommer wie Winter.
(Book language: Deutsch)
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