* How do you look to the future when all around you are living in the past This stunningly written coming-of-age story explores life in a 1960s German Jewish family with all its contradictions, frustrations and occasionally, mesmerising glimpses of light
How do you look to the future when all around you are living in the past? This stunningly written coming-of-age story explores life in a 1960s German Jewish family with all its contradictions, frustrations and occasionally, mesmerising glimpses of light.
Hamburg, 1967. Fania Schiefer is growing up, or trying to, in a dilapidated house full of holocaust survivors. Her mother and grandmother survived in hiding but lost siblings, nieces and nephews; their lives and identities are now shaped by a world that has 'more death than life in it'. Her parents' experiences and past invade her present and Fania and her sister feel imprisoned by their family's love. Enveloped in parental protection, they are not able to go anywhere unaccompanied except for school and are teased by classmates for running home from school every day. Fania starts to realise how her world differs from that of her peers: 'You are crazy, your mother is not going to kill you if you are late...' but Fania knows: 'Of course my mother is not going to kill me, she is going to kill herself.' Challenging, lyrical and life-affirming, THE SPECTACLE SALESMAN'S FAMILY is a lesson in life after death.
** '[A] powerful novel . . . It tells the story of a Jewish family in post-WWII Germany from the point of view of the generation born after the war; every scene is perfectly controlled, every character masterfully drawn - at once sharply delineated yet psychologically complex - DER SPEIGEL
** It's an intimate, rambling story, rich in detail, character and tradition. The tremors and hidden anxieties of adolescence are keenly drawn. - GUARDIAN
** 'In her warm and touching debut novel, Viola Roggenkamp draws us into a family both suffocating and adorable... Roggenkamp's characters are well drawn; the family dynamic amusingly conveyed. - INDEPENDENT
** 'Roggenkamp's is a lovely narrative, strong in Jewish customs and the political background of the time - FT