Monday, May 18, 2020

Eight books about being haunted by the past

John Elizabeth Stintzi is the recipient of the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, and their work has appeared in the Malahat Review, Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares. They are the author of the novel Vanishing Monuments as well as the poetry collection Junebat.

At Electric Lit Stintzi tagged eight books about characters trying to escape their history, including:
The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert

Composed of three novellas, The Dark Room grapples with World War II from the perspective of three German civilians: Helmut (a photographer early on in the war in the 1930s), Lore (a twelve-year-old girl trying to escape the Russians to West Germany in 1945), and Micha (a teacher living in contemporary/late 90s Germany). In Micha’s novella, Micha is shocked to learn that his grandfather was a Nazi, and finds himself obsessed with learning the truth about what his grandfather’s role in the war was. Micha’s dark and relentless curiosity begins to create rifts in his family as he refuses to stop unearthing what they would prefer remain earthed. Reminiscent of Michael Verhoven’s film The Nasty Girl (1990), The Dark Room’s final novella does an excellent job of capturing the discomfort and trauma people experience in learning their proximity to both atrocities and their perpetrators.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue