‘I can’t remember what it was like being born, but from what they used to tell me it seemed almost as if everything had been fine up to that point.’
Standing in her family’s two-bedroom flat in the Promised Land, a little girl realizes that once again she won’t be getting a cat for her birthday. She’s been wanting one ever since she was five — all the way back to when they were living in the refugee camp. In the East, her Grandma made cakes and kept rabbits; now there is no baking, no pets and certainly no Grandma. West Germany in the early 1960s is a difficult place for a seven-year-old East German refugee, particularly when no one will listen to you.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book:
Today, as in the past, people flee from one country to another in the hope of finding a better future. But how do children experience such displacement? How do they cope with traumas of a refugee camp? In this novel Birgit Vanderbeke goes back to her own childhood in the divided Germany of the 1960s. She shows how the little girl she once was saved herself by imagining countries on the far side of the world. A masterpiece of memory turned into fiction.
‘A hauntingly brilliant evocation of childhood.’Jackie Law, Never Imitate
‘A graceful, feather-light novel whose true weight is revealed only gradually.’MDK Kultur