Alois Hotschnig: Ludwig’s Room

translated by Tess Lewis

In Ludwig’s Room, a village in Carinthia is bound by an unspoken agreement not to expose the guilt of several members in the community who had been associated with a nearby forced labour camp during the Second World War. This knowledge and the collusion it provokes poisons the community for generations. When Kurt Weber inherits his great-uncle’s lakeside house, he finds traces of dark secrets in his family’s past. In a room that had been kept locked throughout his childhood, Kurt finds a hidden stash of photographs, letters and documents. As he deciphers them, he gradually understands the degree of passive and active complicity in wartime horrors within his family and among his neighbours. It is a story of love, betrayal, honour, and cowardice, of the burden of history and moral demands of the present.

German original published by Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln, under the title Ludwigs Zimmer in 2000.