Christa Wolf, City of Angels or, The Overcoat of Dr. Freud
FSG, 2013; translated from German
The masterful last novel by one of East Germany's great writers.
Deeply autobiographical, the book takes place in Los Angeles in 1992-93, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall
and the end of the East Germany.
It tells of the
Clinton-Bush election, the homeless in America, the aftermath of the L.A. riots, the traces of an earlier emigration
of German artists and intellectuals to southern California, and life at the heart of
"what we are now allowed to call Capitalism again," while reflecting on the failures of memory and of
her own country's utopian dreams.
"Defying superlatives and superbly translated, [an] extraordinary autobiographical novel....
Written in a ruminative style, mournful and rueful, though occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, Wolf's complex tale
conveys every shade of agonized reflection on forgetting and remembering." —Booklist (starred review)
"Connoisseur of uncertainty, archeologist of delusion, Wolf...offers up, against hatred, what can only be called honesty, even if the idea of an honest novel sounds like a category error.
City of Angels is
a profound book, even a heroic one." —Todd Gitlin, The New Republic /
"Searls's excellent translation" —The New Yorker /
"Intensely autobiographical and vividly imagined at once...a nervy, vibrant translation" —David Ulin, L.A. Times /
"Wolf's engrossing and sometimes frustrating last work... The most extraordinary scenes in Wolf's book document her complex love-hate relationship with East Germany." —Joshua Hammer, N.Y. Times
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