With a midnight high “To the future!” ends Inger-Maria Mahlke extraordinary novel “Archipelago”. The rich upper class of Tenerife welcomes in the villa of tomato and banana trader Theobaldo Moore the New Year 1920 with fireworks over Santa Cruz. About four hundred pages earlier and almost a century later the action in 2015 has begun.
If the last sentence you should have a little confused, so the book will do it even more so. Because its concept is unusual, his narrative style idiosyncratic, his style sometimes bulky: The reader is required, especially at the beginning, where he used to be tiny to the endless descriptions, seemingly incidental events and objects and develop from the few small events an act must.
the plot we follow in reverse. At the beginning of the novel is already everything that needs to be told, happened and unalterable. Our eyes and our expectations are habitually directed forward, but the story draws us back. If we find ourselves plunged at once, so to speak reason to the ground, we can learn only later the cause.
Moreover, the plot is highly ramified, which further complicates the orientation. As archaeologists, we are looking, led imperceptibly by the author, in the many small episodes and prospects for traces of the way to the roots. Only at the end of the book arises from an infinite number of pieces of the puzzle a whole.
The only character who accompanies us in this complex work from the present to the distant past beginnings, Julio Baute is.
Born in 1919 as son of a pharmacist, he may hope as a member of the middle class for a good future. But the emerging fascism and lasted over decades dictatorship of General Francisco Franco determine his life and provide for losses and permanent scars, as throughout the Spanish society and that of the remote archipelago.
After his return from the Civil War (in which he lost his six-year-older brother Jorge) and imprisonment in 1944 founds Julio a family. In 1964, the daughter Ana was born. She married Felipe, the last descendant of the noble family of tinerfenischen Bernadotte. Her daughter Rosa was born 1,994th Other important characters come from generations of poor domestic servants, employees, day laborers, wealthy businessmen, military officers, intellectuals and academics in and have to do with the Bernadotte.
So we can on hand of three representative and interrelated families – Bernadotte, Baute, Marrero – assemble a picture of how Spanish politics different layers of the island society has influenced in their social conditions and political attitudes between socialism and Falangism the end result of the development in our presence has dark colors and is in shambles. Julio’s daughter Ana is indeed risen to the Secretary of State and supervised the field of tourism in Tenerife, but it looks scandalous allegations of corruption exposed.
Her husband Felipe, anyway already frustrated professor of history and “the last conquistador” in a dynasty whose husbands occupied even under the Generalissimo Franco leading military post, loses to a young rival a project with which he’s crimes his family wanted to clear up under the dictatorship. Their daughter Rosa ( “what with art”) off given her studies and is now hoping for enlightenment with his grandfather Julio, which in turn has found as a porter for years in a nursing home, a place to live and a meaningful and responsible employment.
What makes a German writer to tell a Spanish history, moreover a problematic where but the Spaniards themselves have hardly worked up their fascist-dictatorial past? Even four decades after the end of which can be found throughout the country admirers, unchanged monuments and tributes of the Caudillo , but remained open wounds and memories of pain suffered. Inger-Maria Mahlke grew up in Tenerife and has experienced the strange survival of the disastrous epoch after its expiry date itself, and it was their concern to make tangible, as it has buried all the layers into the nature of man as unspoken suffering, erduldetes wrong, defeated lifestyles and repressed deeds burden many families. The author does not do the striking, but by looking at the small, unobtrusive, almost hidden details of everyday life of these people.
Although the novel is basically pursuing a historical-political concern, he considers himself discreetly on these issues back, anyway, can overshadow any rating. The story focuses on the personal feelings of the characters, the sense of time, everyday life processes of the islanders. Fascism, the visits of Franco on the island, the wars and military coups, a pit in the Cañadas ( “which were dated February 37, all with head shot.”): Hardly explained in greater detail edge Done Mahlke language is clear but not very easy to use the duct. Unending repetitions and enumerations, lack of explanations and orientation imaging ratings, content gaps, initially puzzling allusions and images ( “damned backpack under her breast,” “the cat’s away”), plus the absence of external action on sides and of course the reverse structural principle of consequences to causes make the text into a sequence of seemingly random snapshots. The reader is not served, but asked to do-it-yourself. Certainly not least for this literary Innovation Award “Archipelago” with the German Book Prize 2018th
A little assistance gives us the author by including in each chapter and subchapter with a year and the novel almost a catalog of his main characters with year of birth and family relationships prefixing. These pedigrees done it works to a certain extent from in reverse direction. Really I liked “Archipelago” until the follow-up. Those looking for quick entertainment, will be disappointed. Who gets involved in the challenge of applying concentration and occasionally a little flips back and forth will be rewarded with a special kind of reading pleasure.
Reading’s quite clear (about the descriptions of the barren volcanic landscape, its flora and fauna), some amusing (about Julio’s adventure at the portal of the old people’s home), sometimes moving (about the cages with colorful canaries to entertain the people with dementia). And everything is equally important: as a consumed one cup of yogurt, such as the sculpture of a square plastic bag in the eighties comes off as daughter Francisca is dressed, push to the Caudillo a bouquet to hand, such as shoes, how batteries searches for the radio. What will come of it – or chronologically correct: What was so happen once?