The wall was still coming down when critics began to call for the great Berlin novel that could explain what was happening to Germany and the Germans. Such a novel never appeared. Instead, writers have created a patchwork imaginary -- in the form of about 300 works of fiction set in Berlin -- of a city and a nation whose identity collapsed virtually overnight. Contributors to this literary collage include established writers like Peter Schneider and Christa Wolf, young authors like Tanja Dückers and Ingo Schramm, German-Turkish authors Zafer Senocak and Yadé Kara, and the Austrians Kathrin Röggla and Marlene Streeruwitz. The non-arrival of the great Berlin novel marks the reorientation in German culture and literature that is the focus of this study: the experience of unification was too diverse, too postmodern, too influenced by global developments to be captured by one novel. Berlin literature of the postunification decade is marked by ambiguity: change is linked to questions of historical continuity; postmodern simulation finds its counterpart in a quest for authenticity; and the assimilation of Germanness into European and global contexts is both liberation and loss. This book pursues a nuanced understanding of the search for new ways to tell the story of Germany's past and of its importance for the formation of a new German identity. Katharina Gerstenberger is associate professor of German at the University of Cincinnati.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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