The Lada Niva in the Rye
The main character is Maik, who is shortly to take his school-leaving exams. His mother regularly goes to a detox clinic, while his father affords himself a young lover. Maik makes friends with a Russian called Tschick from a sink estate. Together, the pair steal a Lada Niva and go off to the back of beyond. Transylvania? Blood? Yes!
Herrndorf spices up his story of a summer heatwave and bewildered teenagers with a good dash of humour. Their weird attempts to use the Niva to write their signatures in the rye are described. The boys are a bit weak on geography, too – they reach some mountain range or other that looks like the Wild West, with craters left by open-pit mining and guys with guns.
Herrndorf’s expedition with the stolen Niva is a reconciliatory novel; the clashes tend to be with one’s own limits and prejudices. The world is a single demonstration of the fact that things are only easy and normal outside the family, since one’s own family is pathologically unrivalled. The proportion of off-beat characters appears to suggest that everyone, including Maik and Tschick, has a right to be different, and perhaps even has a right to use other peoples’ cars.
Čik. (original title: Tschick)
Translation: Brane Čop
Ljubljana : Cankarjeva založba, 2013