Inka Parei: The Cold Centre

translated by Katy Derbyshire

Inka Parei’s novel begins with a man who receives a startling call from his ex-wife. She’s in the hospital awaiting a cancer diagnosis. His mind races as he suddenly realizes he must find out whether she was contaminated by fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Quickly returning to Berlin, he tries to reconstruct the events of a few days so many years ago and he revisits and questions his memories of working in the chilling “cold centre” – the air-conditioning plant for the East German Communist Party newspaper. Die she come in contact with a contaminated truck from the Ukraine? Was he a cog at the heart of the system, failing to prevent a tragic accident? Can he find out what happened before it’s too late? He soon begins to lose control over his days in Berlin, entering into a desperate search for orientation over a fracture in his own life – one he never got over.

German original published by Schöffling & Co., Frankfurt/Main, under the title Die Kältezentrale in 2011.