August is Christa Wolf’s last piece of fiction, written in a single sitting as an anniversary gift to her husband. In it, she revisits her stay at a tuberculosis hospital in the winter of 1946/47, which makes up the closing scenes of her 1976 novel Patterns of Childhood. This time, however, the perspective is a very different one: that of August, a young patient who has lost both parents to the war. He adores the older girl Lilo, a rebellious teenager who holds things together on the wards. Sixty years later, August thinks back on his life and the things that she taught him.
Written in taut, affectionate prose, August offers a new entry into Christa Wolf’s work and, incidentally, her first and last male protagonist. Yet, it is more than a literary artefacta perfectly constructed story of a quiet life well lived. For August as for Christa Wolf, the past was never dead.
About the Author
Christa Wolf’s (1929-2011) other works include the ground-breaking Cassandra, Patterns of Childhood and The Quest for Christa T. She has been awarded many prizes, among them the Büchner Prize of the German Academy of Language and Poetry the Austrian State Prize for European Literature and the Geschwister Scholl Prize of the city of Munich. Katy Derbyshire is a London-born translator who has lived in Berlin for many years. Her translations of Inka Parei’s Shadow-Boxing Woman and What Darkness Was, and Dorothee Elmiger’s Invitation to the Bold of Heart are also published by Seagull Books
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