26 June 2013

Why Gysi didn’t sue Simon Urban

Back in August 2011, the Hamburg based Simon Urban released Plan D, his first novel. The reaction of the German Feuilleton – something like a Grand Central Committee of Literary Taste, housing inside the press – was so unanimously, screamingly positive, that you might suspect its unanimity had been argued through in advance; that tactics were at play. The novel is itself set in 2011, in an East Germany to which reunification has never happened. In Urban’s alternative future the collapse of the iron curtain was followed, in 1992 already, by Die Wiederbelebung – The Resucitation – of the old East Germany, which has slugged on, stubbornly & monotonously socialist, with as much restriction on emigration – i.e. almost total – as there was in the GDR up til 1989. This author combines this gimmick with a whodunnit, airport thriller genre – the victim found hanging right at the start; both shoes tied together being the boasty stamp of a Stasi ritual revenge murder – to milk every West German sterotype about the old East for all it is worth. And these stereotype’s are worth more than a bit. Hard on the heels of the Holocaust industry, an ‘Ost’-algia industry – complete with torchlit tours through the old Stasi interrogation cells – has followed. I had to wait til February of this year for the paperback to gorge myself on those sterotypes; and now I’m glad I waited.