Reading for the silly season

, by The editorial board of Treffpunkt Europa, Translated by Ivan Danević

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

Reading for the silly season
A must for a day at the beach: the right book in your bag Photo: CC0

It’s the silly season and you don’t have much to read? The reading recommendations by the editors of our German sister publication offer some help.

“Women”, Charles Bukowski, 1978

No one should have lived life without having read Bukowski. Beyond his impressive poetry, which uncovers life, love and society in a brutally honest manner and sketches them with Bukowski’s infamous, black humour, the three books Post Office, Factotum and Women are a declaration of bankruptcy and a declaration of love to life simultaneously. Bukowski offers not only a ruthless insight into the masculine psyche, but also sees through the constraints of our society as no other has done.

“Leviathan Wakes”, S. A. Corey, 2011

The ‘Expanse’ series has been the best work of science fiction for a long time. Not only because the world and the characters are impressively constructed, but also because it is a world in which space is governed by physics rather than by a Disney-coloured fantasy. Realistic, with a slight tendency towards dystopia, it depicts the future of mankind, which has spread throughout the Solar System, - nevertheless remaining politically and socially far from an ideal world. Even though the series begins to decline in quality with the seventh book, the first novel “Leviathan Wakes” remains a milestone of the genre.

"The Capital“, Robert Menasse, 2017

The book deals with Brussels, the EU and mostly with the Commission and the reasons for its indispensability; then it tells a story about a pig running through the streets of the Belgian capital. With a touch of humour, and a greater touch of absurdity, always with the ability to ask the right questions.

"To Kill a Mockingbird“, Harper Lee, 1960

An absolute favourite of Treffpunkt Europa’s editor Marie Menke, “To Kill a Mockingbirg” is a novel which can be read again and again even today, and it should be. It centres around a childhood in the southern states of the US. Harper Lee manages to render this period tangible even to us here to whom it appears quite strange.

“Mornings in Jenin”, Susan Abulhawa, 2011

Susan Abulhawa tells the story of a Palestinian family from 1948 - a story of the individual fate of the protagonist Amal, born in a refugee camp, through whose life, escape and expulsion, war and death run like a common thread. Her fate epitomises the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population in the Middle East and is above all a sharp criticism of the actions of the international community. The novel doesn’t offer a moral critique, but plays with a lot of tension and emotions - and stays in your mind even when you put it aside.

“After Europe”, Ivan Krastev, 2017

That Europe is in crisis can no longer be denied. The Bulgarian philosopher Ivan Krastev writes in his intelligent essay “European Twilight” about the origins of this crisis and what the future of Europe might look like. One focus of the essay is on the so-called refugee crisis and the resultant decline of the human rights discourse. In another chapter Krastev endeavours to explain the sceptical attitude of Eastern Europeans to the EU. If you expect advice on how to save Europe from decline, you will be disappointed. And yet the essay offers a good starting point for reflection on the current challenges of the European Union.

“Fritz Bauer or Auschwitz in court”, Ronen Steinke, 2013

Fritz Bauer, an attorney general in Hesse in post-war Germany and initiator of the great Auschwitz trial, was a staunch social democrat and a passionate fighter for human dignity. At a time when human rights are being trampled on in the European Union and nationalism and right-wing extremism are gathering momentum in Europe, it does not hurt to remember his life’s work. SZ editor Ronen Steinke has successfully created an impressive portrait of a man who was convinced that everyone was responsible for his own actions.

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