A treasure of Irish literary fiction set in DONEGAL
An Ordinary Youth
Genre(s): Historical, Fiction, In Translation
A bestseller in Germany, Walter Kempowski’s autobiographical novel is a sensorial coming of age story during the years of World War II and a chilling exploration of how one family adjusted to life under the Nazis
Growing up in Rostock, in the north of Germany, Walter has a comfortable upbringing: quiet and content, he spends his days scheming with school friends and resisting the torment of his older siblings. But, as the country rolls toward war, the attitudes of his teachers, peers and family begin to slide, and it isn’t long before the roar of falling bombs, charged silences and mounting intolerance begin to puncture Walter’s carefree youth.
Following the Kempowski family from the months before the outbreak of war through to the fall of Berlin, An Ordinary Youth is the fascinating story of an ordinary childhood in extraordinary times. Here, Walter’s academic struggle sits alongside his father’s conscription; his brother’s love of jazz burgeons amid the destruction of the barrages. And all the while, the horrors of Nazism loom in the peripheries – communicated in furtive looks or hushed conversations – running alongside the Kempowski family’s daily rituals and occasional scandals.
A bestseller in Germany on publication, An Ordinary Youth is all the more unnerving for the warmth, humour and empathy with which Kempowski imbues his hometown. Written with a sensorial immediacy, it is a meticulous chronicle of daily life in 1930s Germany, and a discomfiting exploration of the many forms that complicity can take.
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