Open and free to all literature friends we discuss the novel 'Cold Water' by Jakob Hein. Books are available to buy from the library beforehand.
As if Felix Krull and Zelig got together to shake things up in Berlin
Friedrich Bender’s childhood home isn’t exactly the most exciting. Growing up in East Germany isn’t necessarily a wild adventure. But things get interesting when, at camp, Friedrich takes up with the daughter of English communists, who’s not just from West Germany, but – serious craziness – is a punk to boot. In the eyes of his classmates, this makes him a star, eyed with envy. There’s just one small catch: This punk girl doesn’t actually exist. Friedrich Bender just made her up. He’s also embellished – or downright invented – some of socialism’s incredible accomplishments, which, as an agitator, he’s supposed to announce to the class every day.
And while the fall of the Wall leaves his parents, loyal to the party line, and most of his classmates in a state of shock for years, Friedrich quickly grasps the new rules: This young man with his creative relationship to reality can soon be seen by the currency exchange booths at the Zoo station, where he manages to bring in more than a tidy little sum of seed money. As a student, he’s so put off by the overcrowded lecture halls and tough seminars that he comes up with another way of graduating quickly. As for working life in the capitalist West, as far as Friedrich is concerned, it doesn’t seem to set any limits at all…
Jakob Hein has written a superb picaresque novel about an East German who out-Wests the West Germans. But also about someone who runs away from himself with made-up stories for so long that eventually there’s nothing left of him anymore.
, born in Leipzig in 1971, has been living in Berlin with his family since 1972. He works as a psychiatrist. Since 1998, he has been a member of the reading stage Reformbühne Heim & Welt. He has published 14 books, including Mein erstes T-Shirt (2001), Herr Jensen steigt aus (2006), Wurst und Wahn (2011) and, together with Jürgen Witte, the polemic Deutsche und Humor. Geschichte einer Feindschaft (2012).