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The Old Child & Other Stories
Sparse, engaging fiction by one of Germany's most original young writers.
"The Old Child & Other Stories" introduces in English one of Germany's most original and brilliant young authors, Jenny Erpenbeck. Written in spare, highly concentrated language, "a sustained feat of verbal economy" ("Die Zeit"), the one novella and four stories in "The Old Child" go beyond the limits of the expected, the real. Dark, serious, often mystical, these marvelous fictions about women's lives provide glimpses into the minds of outcasts and eccentrics, at the same time bearing out Dostoevsky's comment that hope can be found so long as a man can see even a tiny view of the sky. The parable-like novella "The Old Child" describes a girl's mind as seemingly blank: picked up off the street with no discoverable past, she is taken to a children's home where she discovers she can "succeed by her silence." Another story, "In the Penumbra of My Skull," tells of a girl lying sick in a room covered with rugs and tended by her lover's wife." In "Hale and Hallowed," a woman pays a surprise nighttime visit to the woman with whom she shared a hospital room when their two sons were born. Dark, revelatory, ultimately redemptive (though barely in some cases), these stories bear out Ira Panic's comment that "Erpenbeck's writing is so concentrated, so dense, that a slim volume of stories packs the weight of the world."