Katharina Hagena

On Sleeping and Disappearing

Vom Schlafen und Verschwinden

On Sleeping and Disappearing

English sample translation by Anthea Bell available

The novel is told in one sleepless night when Ellen thinks back on the events that led her to the place where she is now: in a big unfamiliar city, alone except for her daughter Orla, working in her profession as a sleep scientist when she herself has lost her peace of mind and her ability to sleep.

17 years ago when she was still living in Grund, her home village somewhere in the south between the Rhine and the woods, she spent the summer with Andreas, her best friend since childhood, and with her first love Lutz who had come to the village recently with his father after his parents divorced. When the summer is over, Ellen is pregnant with Orla, Lutz has disappeared and Andreas has stopped speaking. Ellen leaves the country and only when her mother is lying on her deathbed, does she return to Grund with her now teenage daughter and the mysteries of the past are slowly unraveled.

She meets Benno, a sleepwalker, who researches the history of a deserter who hid in these woods a hundred years ago, and a new beginning seems possible. But there’s also Marthe, an old lady, who recently moved to the village and who is carrying around a heavy weight that separates her from the people around her. Her grief has made her bitter and her age has made her invisible, she‘s just an old lady and nobody suspects that she‘s quietly observing everybody and that she has decided to punish those she feels are responsible for her misery. And finally Ellen meets Andreas again. Andreas who has stopped speaking but has instead become an observer, too. He knows all the village’s secrets and he is maybe the only one who sees how events of the past are threatening the peace of the present.

Written in the poetic style that already her first novel was praised for, the narrative is again expertly intertwined with the exploration of a central theme in all its nuances and meanings. Here this theme is sleep and sleeplessness and the way in which both have to do with disappearing and entering a state where life is suspended and dreams and memories and the subconscious take over.


Novel

Kiepenheuer&Witsch

ISBN: 978-3-462-04482-9
release: 10. September 2012
288 pages, gebunden mit SU
Available

Price

Germany
18,99 €
Switzerland
0,00 sFr
Austria
19,60 €

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sample translation

About the Author

Katharina Hagena was born in 1967 in Karlsruhe and lives with her family in Hamburg, where she works as a freelance writer. Her debut Der Geschmack von Apfelkernen (The Taste of Apple Seeds) was published in 2008 and became a major bestseller in Germany, France and Italy. Rights to her debut were sold to 25 countries, among them France (Anne Carriere), Great Britain (Atlantic), Italy (Garzanti), Netherlands (Cossee), Spain (Maeva).

Further titles by the author:
Das Geräusch des Lichts (The Sound of Light)
Der Geschmack von Apfelkernen (The Taste of Apple Seeds)