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Review: Siblings by Brigitte Reimann[trans. Lucy Jones] (1963/2023)

I finished Siblings by Brigitte Reimann (trans. Lucy Jones) is rightly described as a ground-breaking classic of post-war East German literature. 

This, I believe, is its first translation from German to English. 

Set in 1960 (and published in 1963) when the border between East and West Germany was closed. It examines the relationship between a brother and a sister as they each examine their place within the Deutsche Demokratische Republik/German Democratic Republic (GDR). 

The tension underlying Reimann’s style had me reaching to add tabs to moments I found notable. The pressure is mirrored in our main character Elisabeth’s relationship with her ideals, family, and co-workers. 

There is probably a literary essay to be written on reading this contemporary novel as historical commentary, as I have done. 

It is 129 pages, plus notes added at the back. I’m very grateful for the notes adding extra context.

It feels more profound and denser than its slight paperback form promises. 

I don’t want to give any spoilers but trust Reimann to lead you through the story, and you’ll get the answers you need, but perhaps not the answers you want.

Book of the Year, so far.

Rating: 4.75 Date: 26 Feb 23