I’ll be here in sunshine and in shadowChristian Kracht
Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2008
In his novel Ich werde hier sein im Sonnenschein und im Schatten (I’ll be here in sunshine and in shadow) published in 2008, the Swiss author Christian Kracht rewrites world history: Lenin did not make it to Petersburg, but instead carried out a revolution while in exile in Switzerland. This led to the creation of the Socialist Swiss Republic (SSR), which at the time of the narration has been at war with a German-English fascist coalition for almost 100 years. The republic’s need for new soldiers is met with black recruits from its East-African colony. In return Swiss-East-Africa receives generous financial funding and has developed into a progressive region with modern cities in which tropical diseases, poverty and famine are regarded as defeated.
The Swiss colony Nyasaland (Malawi) is also the native land of the nameless first-person narrator, who has ascended to the rank of political commissar of the SSR. Appointed to hunt down a dissenter within his own ranks, he follows the ominous Colonel Brazhinsky from Neu-Bern to the Swiss réduit, which during the years of the never-ending war has been expanded into a gigantic alpine fortress. However, in the supposed command centre of socialist Switzerland, madness and anarchy are spreading, and the murals at the réduit, painted in the style of socialist realism, remind the first-person narrator more and more of the cave paintings of his African home country, the more he advances into the mountain. The progress of the European “motherland” in terms of civilization proves to be an ideological bubble. Freed from his feelings of inferiority, the black narrator returns to East Africa and leads his people from the colonial satellite towns back to the villages.