Go Went Gone
Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck is an insightful exploration of the refugee crisis seen through the eyes of Richard, a recently retired academic in Berlin. Adjusting to the end of work, widowhood and the days endlessly stretching in front of him, Richard finds himself contemplating his past more than his future. What was his purpose after all? A post-war child, he carries the stories of last century, the trauma of the war and the guilt of his parents' generation. Berlin, a city divided by a wall, has been his constant adult companion until 1990. He understands borders, and the impact they have when they exist and when they supposedly don’t. After a tent city at Alexanderplatz is demolished, Richard’s interest is piqued. Tracking down the African refugees at a temporary facility, he starts to record their stories, stories of poverty, violence and desperation. What the refugees want is to work, but until they are assessed and granted asylum they don’t qualify to work in Germany. In his attempts to help, he comes up against bureaucracy and legal loopholes, reminiscent of his own past in East Germany, which make him question the compassion of his contemporary homeland and meaning in his own life. In this exceptionally well-written and compelling novel, Erpenbeck explores race, identity and the notions of nationhood and borders, both personal and geographical.
In this radical, exquisite novel, the winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize turns her attention to the contemporary refugee crisis and our responsibility in its creation.Richard has spent his life as a professor at the university, immersed in the world of books and ideas, but now he is retired, his books remain in their packing boxes and his ideas about how society works begin to change. One day, he notices a group of African men staging a protest on the Alexanderplatz. His interest is piqued and he visits the tent city they've set up.He meets Yussuf from Mali, Ali from Chad, Osarobo from Niger and Raschid, Yaya and Abdusalam. He fills his previously empty days helping his new friends fill out forms, finding them work, unofficially helping their official German teacher and learning about the intricacies of asylum law in Germany. But the laws of his land appear designed to prevent the people he has connected with from ever finding a home alongside him.At once a passionate contribution to the debate on race, privilege and nationality and a beautifully written examination of an ageing man's quest to find meaning in his life, Go, Went, Gone showcases a writer at the height of her powers.
The new novel from the winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
Jenny Erpenbeck is the author of The Old Child & The Book of Words (2008), Visitation (2010) and The End of Days (2014, winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize), all published by Portobello. Her fiction is published in fourteen languages.Susan Bernofsky has translated works by Robert Walser, Franz Kafka, and many others. The recipient of the 2006 Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize and the 2012 Hermann Hesse Translation Prize, she is the author of Foreign Words: Translator-Authors in the Age of Goethe and is currently at work on a biography of Robert Walser. Her translation of Jenny Erpenbeck's The End of Days was awarded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, the Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize, and the Ungar Award.