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Angel of Oblivion
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Published:
Steerforth Press 2016
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Description
Haderlap is an accomplished poet, and that lyricism leaves clear traces on this ravishing debut, which won the prestigious Bachmann Prize in 2011. The descriptions are sensual, and the unusual similes and metaphors occasionally change perspective unexpectedly. Angel of Oblivion deals with harrowing subjects - murder, torture, persecution and discrimination of an ethnic minority - in intricate and lyrical prose.The novel tells the story of a family from the Slovenian minority in Austria. The first-person narrator starts off with her childhood memories of rural life, in a community anchored in the past. Yet behind this rural idyll, an unresolved conflict is smouldering. At first, the child wonders about the border to Yugoslavia, which runs not far away from her home. Then gradually the stories that the adults tell at every opportunity start to make sense. All the locals are scarred by the war. Her grandfather, we find out, was a partisan fighting the Nazis from forest hideouts. Her grandmother was arrested and survived Ravensbrück.As the narrator grows older, she finds out more. Through conversations at family gatherings and long nights talking to her grandmother, she learns that her father was arrested by the Austrian police and tortured - at the age of ten - to extract information on the whereabouts of his father. Her grandmother lost her foster-daughter and many friends and relatives in Ravensbrück and only escaped the gas chamber by hiding inside the camp itself. The narrator begins to notice the frequent suicides and violent deaths in her home region, and she develops an eye for how the Slovenians are treated by the majority of German-speaking Austrians. As an adult, the narrator becomes politicised and openly criticises the way in which Austria deals with the war and its own Nazi past. In the closing section, she visits Ravensbrück and finds it strangely lifeless - realising that her personal memories of her grandmother are stronger.Illuminating an almost forgotten chapter of European history and the European present, the book deals with family dynamics scarred by war and torture - a dominant grandmother, a long-suffering mother, a violent father who loves his children but is impossible to live with. And interwoven with this is compelling reflection on storytelling: the narrator hoping to rid herself of the emotional burden of her past and to tell stories on behalf of those who cannot.From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/30/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780914671473
ASIN:
B018CH0MTQ
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Maja Haderlap. (2016). Angel of Oblivion. Steerforth Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Maja Haderlap. 2016. Angel of Oblivion. Steerforth Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Maja Haderlap, Angel of Oblivion. Steerforth Press, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Maja Haderlap. Angel of Oblivion. Steerforth Press, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: MAJA HADERLAP is a Slovenian-German Austrian writer and translator. She studied German language and literature at the University of Vienna and has a PhD in Theatre Studies. Between years 1992 and 2007 she worked as drama supervisor at the Klagenfurt City Theatre and was editor for the Carinthian Slovene minority literary magazine Mladje. Haderlap writes poetry, prose and essays in both Slovenian and German. Her work has been published in numerous international literary journals and anthologies. She was awarded the Ingebjorg-Bachmann-Preis and the Rauriser Literaturpreis for her debut novel Engel des Vergessens (Angel of Oblivion).
        TESS LEWIS is a translator of German and French. She has been awarded translation grants from PEN America & UK, an NEA Translation Fellowship, and a Max Geilinger Translation Grant for her translation of Philippe Jaccottet. She is an Advisory Editor of The Hudson Review and writes essays on European literature for numerous literary journals.
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shortDescription
Haderlap is an accomplished poet, and that lyricism leaves clear traces on this ravishing debut, which won the prestigious Bachmann Prize in 2011. The descriptions are sensual, and the unusual similes and metaphors occasionally change perspective unexpectedly. Angel of Oblivion deals with harrowing subjects - murder, torture, persecution and discrimination of an ethnic minority - in intricate and lyrical prose.
The novel tells the story of a family from the Slovenian minority in Austria. The first-person narrator starts off with her childhood memories of rural life, in a community anchored in the past. Yet behind this rural idyll, an unresolved conflict is smouldering. At first, the child wonders about the border to Yugoslavia, which runs not far away from her home. Then gradually the stories that the adults tell at every opportunity start to make sense. All the locals are scarred by the war. Her grandfather, we find out, was a partisan fighting the Nazis from forest...
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title
Angel of Oblivion
fullDescription
Haderlap is an accomplished poet, and that lyricism leaves clear traces on this ravishing debut, which won the prestigious Bachmann Prize in 2011. The descriptions are sensual, and the unusual similes and metaphors occasionally change perspective unexpectedly. Angel of Oblivion deals with harrowing subjects - murder, torture, persecution and discrimination of an ethnic minority - in intricate and lyrical prose.
The novel tells the story of a family from the Slovenian minority in Austria. The first-person narrator starts off with her childhood memories of rural life, in a community anchored in the past. Yet behind this rural idyll, an unresolved conflict is smouldering. At first, the child wonders about the border to Yugoslavia, which runs not far away from her home. Then gradually the stories that the adults tell at every opportunity start to make sense. All the locals are scarred by the war. Her grandfather, we find out, was a partisan fighting the Nazis from forest hideouts. Her grandmother was arrested and survived Ravensbrück.
As the narrator grows older, she finds out more. Through conversations at family gatherings and long nights talking to her grandmother, she learns that her father was arrested by the Austrian police and tortured - at the age of ten - to extract information on the whereabouts of his father. Her grandmother lost her foster-daughter and many friends and relatives in Ravensbrück and only escaped the gas chamber by hiding inside the camp itself. The narrator begins to notice the frequent suicides and violent deaths in her home region, and she develops an eye for how the Slovenians are treated by the majority of German-speaking Austrians. As an adult, the narrator becomes politicised and openly criticises the way in which Austria deals with the war and its own Nazi past. In the closing section, she visits Ravensbrück and finds it strangely lifeless - realising that her personal memories of her grandmother are stronger.
Illuminating an almost forgotten chapter of European history and the European present, the book deals with family dynamics scarred by war and torture - a dominant grandmother, a long-suffering mother, a violent father who loves his children but is impossible to live with. And interwoven with this is compelling reflection on storytelling: the narrator hoping to rid herself of the emotional burden of her past and to tell stories on behalf of those who cannot.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
sortTitle
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Peter Handke
      • content: "A heart-wrenching story"
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 27, 2016
        In her debut novel, Haderlap plunges readers into a morass of European history. The book is an attempt to rescue the memories of her elders among the Slovenes living in southern Austria during the aftermath of the Second World War from the “angel of oblivion.” The author recounts her childhood in a landscape that bears silent witness to her people’s betrayal and butchery by Austrian Nazis. The author’s family is reticent and damaged, yet as she grows up, she gathers their recollections. Her grandfather and brother were partisans, fighting against the Nazis, and for this the grandmother was taken to Ravensbrück. Her son, the author’s father, was tortured as a child for information, suspended by a policeman from a tree. “He thought I was foliage,” the author’s father says on his deathbed. As the narrator matures, she is able to discern the reasons her father is violent and drinks himself into oblivion, why her mother argues with her grandmother about the girl’s exposure to the past, and why her grandmother grows cold as she is dying. Parts of these people have been stolen— “the force of their memories disconcerts them”—so they must preserve the rest.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 1, 2016
        In this searingly lyrical work, a young child bears witness to her family's past."Grandmother signals with her hand, she wants me to follow." So begins this remarkable book about the experiences of a Slovenian family in the 20th century. The narrator, a young girl at the novel's beginning, is about to be shown her grandmother's kitchen. But her grandmother might as well be leading her into memory, for it's primarily the past to which she's being introduced. Haderlap, an award-winning poet and writer, has based this novel on her own family's experiences during the second world war. Her grandmother survived a concentration camp. Her father, still a child, was tortured by German police officers; by age 12, he'd gone off to fight with the partisans. Their neighbors in this small village just barely across the Austrian border fared similarly. It is a community of hardship and suffering. Haderlap's narrator listens, horrified and rapt, to her father's and grandmother's stories. When neighbors discuss their own experiences, she stands "near the door left ajar and listen[s]." As she herself says, "The child understands that it's the past she must reckon with." For the past is not static and distant. Instead, "that time reaches out to grab me," as sinuous and supple as any living thing. By now, decades have passed since the end of the war, but in this family, in this community, every detail, no matter how small, points back to that time, as the arrows in a compass point north. One night, the narrator observes her father smoking outside their house with a few other men. "Stanko is telling them that whenever he sees a cigarette glimmer in the dark, a firefly flutter past, or even someone strike a match, it's always a shock for him, because it reminds him of the partisans who smoked in the dark." Haderlap excels when, like here, she allows her characters to speak for themselves, to tell their own stories. But her book falters in more self-indulgent passages when she seems to lose herself in her own thoughts. Her mother is conspicuously absent from most of the book, and her own evolution as a thinker and writer could have used more patient description. Still, Haderlap's is a significant achievement, hopefully a herald of more to come. An arresting evocation of memory, community, and suffering.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

popularity
24
publisher
Steerforth Press
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